Fight off flakey patches once and for all.

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As the temperature drops, our skin becomes dry—a cause-and-effect cycle you can break with the correct products. Enter oils: They have so many benefits and are simple to incorporate into your regimen. To help you find the correct option for you complexion, we tapped Dr. Harold Lancer, a celebrity dermatologist and the founder of Lancer Skincare, and Dr. Christine Choi Kim, a Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist, to break down everything there is to know about this product category, including how oils combat dehydrated skin.

Oils nourish the skin and lock in moisture.

A face oil nourishes skin, locks in moisture, and protects, says Dr. Lancer, adding that they work in tandem with the oils and lipids we produce naturally to prevent water loss. Not to be confused with serums, which deliver active ingredients deeply into the skin, Dr. Choi Kim notes that oils have larger molecules; they can only penetrate the outer surface of the epidermis. Their main function, however, is to create an occlusive lipid barrier to lock in moisture. But the benefits of these oils go beyond preventing water loss: They plump skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines, as well. These products also regulate oil production, notes Dr. Lancer, which reduces breakouts and blemishes and have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties to boot. Dr. Choi Kim notes that oils are known to have antioxidants like vitamin A, C, and E to protect against environmental aggressors.

For the best results, use oil last—and layer it.

Oil should be the very last step of your skin care regimen. "Because oil is the heaviest—or the densest—product in your routine, it's able to penetrate your moisturizer, allowing it to reach your skin. But the reverse isn't true," notes Dr. Lancer. "If you want to really amp up the hydration, apply your oil after applying moisturizer onto damp skin."

woman applying face oil with dropper
Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

Find the right variety for your skin type.

These formulas are generally safe for all skin types—even oily, acne-prone and sensitive ones. You just have to pick the right variety for your specific needs. According to Dr. Lancer, mature skin benefits most from argan and rosehip seed. "These oils can reduce your wrinkles because they contain essential ingredients (like antioxidants) and pass through the skin quickly, preventing water loss and keeping the skin plump," he says. "Antioxidants boost collagen production and strengthen skin elasticity, thus reducing fine lines." Those with dry complexions should turn to maracuja, argan, olive, sunflower, jojoba, and coconut iterations. "Quick-absorbing, nutrient-rich face oils help to moisturize and smooth," he says. "For dehydrated skin, use a hydrating serum first, followed by a moisturizing oil, to lock in all of the benefits of the serum."

And if you're naturally shiny? Tea tree oil is the solution: "Overly stripping oily skin in an attempt to get rid of shine actually causes your skin to produce more oil to compensate, creating a vicious cycle," he says. "Certain oils can actually help balance your skin's oil production and minimize the appearance of pores. These oils can dissolve excess sebum and remove grime and fats from pores, thus minimizing their appearance." Last but not lease, those with sensitive skin should consider primrose, argan, and yangu. "Free radical-fighting antioxidants also protect your skin and combat future damage by reducing cellular oxidation, one of the processes by which skin ages," he says. "Some oils [also] have calming anti-inflammatory properties, which means they can reduce rashes."

Apply as needed—but take caution if you're sensitive or reactive.

Dr. Lancer recommends applying your oil as needed, morning and night. A product like the Lancer Skincare Omega Hydrating Oil ($80, amazon.com), he says, is lightweight and delivers antioxidants, minimizes redness, and smooths out texture. Dr. Choi Kim says to be cautious if you have very sensitive or eczema-prone skin, however, as some oils can be irritating. She recommends Dermalogica's Retinol Clearing Oil ($80, ulta.com). "It's a unique product that contains argan, rosehip seed, and golden jojoba oils along with slow-release retinol to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation," she says. "It also has salicylic acid to both prevent and treat acne breakouts."

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