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Take a walk down the aisles of any beauty emporium and it’s hard not to notice we’ve struck oil—literally. The popularity of argan oil in skin-care products has segued into an array of other exotic nut and berry extractions, including marula, coconut, and sea buckthorn. Packed with nutrients, these slick potions are just what your skin is thirsting for—even if you have an oily complexion.
It wasn’t long ago that “oil-free” was the rallying call in cosmetics, and many of us wouldn’t dream of using anything remotely resembling an oil for fear of clogged pores. Talk about a paradigm shift! Now oils are our friends. Unlike synthetic and mineral oils that just sit on skin’s surface, today’s are packed with antioxidants and omega fatty acids, and come courtesy of Mother Nature—who (almost) always knows best. “These lipid-loving natural oils are absorbed quickly into the skin, plumping it from within while protecting with a barrier that helps prevent water loss and encourages cellular repair,” says New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. So even acne-prone skin won’t be left feeling greasy. Yet picking among all the good-for-you-sounding options can feel overwhelming. Naturopathica skin-care founder Barbara Close prefers “cold-pressed” oils, saying she believes the heat- and solvent-free process preserves their nutritive value. “Read the labels,” she advises. “If additional ingredients are listed, do some research to see if they’re adding value—as preservatives, or for therapeutic benefits—or just acting as filler and diluting the potency.” But above all, she cautions against a one-size-fits-all approach. “Each oil has a different weight and profile,” she says—so choosing the wrong type may not give you the results you want. To find one suited to your needs, check out our chart.
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Skin Type: Oily
Excessive shine; prone to enlarged pores, blackheads, or blemishes
This oil, from the fruit of the South African marula tree, is absorbed quickly without feeling greasy or heavy.
TRY Drunken Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury facial oil, $72, drunkenelephant.com
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Skin Type: Sensitive
Feels tight, stings, itches, or reddens easily
Containing omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9, this berry’s oil has long been used in eastern European countries to protect skin from blustery conditions.
TRY Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing face oil, $50, fresh.com
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Skin Type: Mature
Dull and dry, with fine lines and wrinkles
A curative oil for worn skin, it’s extracted from an herb also called Siberian oilseed, which thrives in subzero temperatures.
TRY Skyn Iceland Arctic face oil, $35, skyniceland.com
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Although technically a wax, the substance derived from the southwestern shrub’s seed boasts a sebum-like, easy-to-absorb consistency.
TRY L’Oréal Age Perfect Cell Renewal Facial Oil Light, $25, lorealparisusa.com
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Skin Type: Dry
Rough, scaly, flaking, chapped, or dehydrated
Rich in antioxidants, camellia (aka tsubaki) oil is native to Asia and was prized by geishas to help remove stage makeup and nourish skin.
TRY Boscia tsubaki beauty oil, $46, boscia.com
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