When Should I Apply Facial Oil?

Facial oils are a very new addition to the typical skincare routine. Strangely, many people can’t believe they ever lived without oils. If you’re new to using a facial oil, you may be confused about when to use it. Should you apply oil before or after moisturiser? Can you use oil both morning and night? Does oil replace serum? All of these questions are easily understood once you’ve gotten a grip on the skincare layering rule.

The Skincare Layering Rule

Every skincare product has a different molecular structure. The order in which you apply toners, creams, and serums depends heavily on the thickness, or viscosity, and other properties of each product.

For example, you wouldn’t want to use a toner after a moisturiser. The toner will only break down your cream or lotion, and neither product will end up having much of an effect on your complexion.

Skincare products are best applied from thinnest to thickest, with the final layers providing increased barrier function to your skin. Depending on which products you use, application based on the skincare layering rule should follow this order:

  1. Toner
  2. Essence/Ampule
  3. Facial mist
  4. Serum
  5. Lotion
  6. Regular Moisturiser
  7. Emollient or Barrier Moisturiser
  8. Facial Oil

As you can see, facial oils should always be the last step of your skincare routine. If you used a facial oil before a water-based product such as a moisturiser, the water-based product wouldn’t penetrate your skin as effectively or this is the best order to apply skin care products.

Facial Oils: Morning, Night, or Both?

Appropriate use of a facial oil depends to some extent on your skin type. That’s because skin produces its own oil, or sebum, at different rates throughout the day.

This is important because skin that produces a lot of its own oil will absorb less of an added facial oil. This is especially true if you have oily or combination skin, which naturally makes more sebum throughout the day.

Your skin follows a daily cycle of sebum creation as outlined below:

  1. Sebum secretion rate increases throughout the night and morning.
  2. Skin is oiliest at midday.
  3. Sebum secretion rate declines from midday to evening.
  4. Sebum secretion is lowest in the evening, just before your bedtime.
  5. The conclusion is that facial oils are best used when they’re most easily absorbed: at night.

There is, however, one exception: if you have dry skin, you may benefit from adding a few drops of facial oil to your morning routine to layer under your makeup. Dry skin struggles to make enough sebum, which is why applying a facial oil in the morning and even at noon may improve the overall condition of your skin.


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