We've already lost count on the times we've heard people rave about coconut oil as the elixir for hydrated skin (Iza Calzado and Lais Ribeiro swear by it, to name a few). While that isn't wrong per se, in reality, oil shouldn't be taking all the credit. Because while the slick and slippery feel of oils does remind us of moisturizers, they aren't necessarily an alternative to them—especially when it comes to hydrating your face.
"Facial oils are not moisturizers. They are sealants," says board certified dermatologist and Allure contributor Dr. Shereene Idriss in one of her casual #PillowTalkDerm Instagram stories. "They seal in moisturizing ingredients like humectants, [which are] things that bind water, or creams or lotions."
Common humectant ingredients you might recognize are glycerin, butylene glycol, and aloe. You can find these in everything from toners, essences, to of course, moisturizers. These increase your skin's hydration by holding on to water, while face oils, being the polar opposite of water, do not.
"Basically, applying [facial oils] alone onto your skin is basically a bad idea. You're holding on to nothing," Dr. Shereene continues. "The same way that drinking coconut oil is not going to hydrate me, applying it to my skin is not going to serve as moisturizer. It's just not gonna happen."
So should you still use your favorite face oil? Definitely, but perhaps not on its own. According to the derm, you should apply your moisturizer of choice first to provide hydration, before going in with an oil. (We recommend warming the oil on your palms and patting it onto your skin instead of rubbing.) That said, Dr. Shereene does make an exception for marula oil. "In winter time I use that before I moisturize only because it is a lightweight oil that gets really easily absorbed because it's rich in fatty acids so it does help moisturize a little bit stronger," she explains.
Now you know the derm-approved way to use face oils, here are a few your skin might love:
HUMAN NATURE Sunflower Beauty Oil Luxe, P300, SM North Edsa The Block
THE INKEY LIST Squalane, P1050, Beauty Bar
KORA ORGANICS Noni Glow Face Oil, P3100, Freyja