Facial Oils: Yes to a “New” Industry Standard

Breakouts, blemishes, milia and acne are skin conditions that are either caused or aggravated by an overabundance of oils. Naturally, one would avoid applying facial oils to already overly oily skin and would, instead, choose oil-free products. But the fact that the right combination of oils can actually REDUCE clogged pores and breakouts is over-looked by many in the skin care world. Consider these facts before deciding to eliminate facial oils from your skin care.

  1. “Like” dissolves “Like.” Oil dissolves oily substances. As in the chemistry lab, the same goes for your skin. Water and oil do not mix, so using water-based products on oily skin does not impact the oils that are clogging pores and over-lipidizing the stratum corneum. An effective way to remove the oils that are causing skin issues is to apply oils. Like dissolves like.
  2. Oils are good for your skin. Facial oils have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and nourishing properties. In addition, they help maintain a lipid-moisture balance as well as deliver fatty acids that protect cell membranes.
  3. Oils are not the only cause of breakouts. Oil, alone, does not cause skin problems, which are a result of a variety of factors such as hormones, bacterial, dead skin cells, pore size and lack of exfoliation.
  4. Not all facial oils are equal. Use only non-comedogenic oils which are unlikely to cause comedons (breakouts, milia, etc.). Although fatty acids are good for your cells’ membranes, not all types of fatty acids benefit the skin. For instance, safflower oil comes in two types: oleic and linoleic. The oleic type, which clogs pores, is used for cooking. The linoleic type, which is non-pore clogging, is used in skin care. Sunflower oil, high in linoleic acid, is a favorite for skin.
  5. “Leave-on” versus “rinse-off” products. Consider the purpose of the product that contains facial oils. Cleansers are ‘rinse-off’ products and will not likely cause problems no matter which oils are selected. Moisturizers are ‘leave-on’ products and are more likely to cause breakouts. Use only non-comedogenic oils for leave-on products.


Applying non-comedogenic oils to oily, breakout-prone skin can help dissolve and remove existing oils, thus preventing over-lipidization. Applying oils to dry skin deposits needed oils to lipid-depleted skin cells. Your skin naturally produces oil for a reason---it needs it to function properly. Since your skin is the body’s largest organ, too much or too little oil can cause problems with healing, protecting and moisturizing your skin. For clean, clear, nourished, glowing, supple skin, learn to use the right combination of oils in the right way. The correct combination of oils is good for all types of skin.

A special commendation goes to Dr. Erno Laszlo, a Hungarian-born dermatologist, who made using facial oils a basic part of his skin cleansing recommendations over 70 years ago. It is the first cosmetic line I used and continued to do so for 20 years. Thank you, Dr. Laszlo for this “new” advance in skin care.

Susan Nathan, LE, B.S. Microbiology