Face oil or moisturizer… what’s the difference & what should you choose?

Posted on March 18 2020

Face oils have been a hot topic for a few years now, but what is the difference between a face oil & a moisturiser? And do you really need both?

It depends, on your skin and the time and money you want to spend on your skin care routine.

Face oils for dry skin


Face oil is what it sounds like – it’s a formula based on oils & oil soluble ingredients that is meant to moisturize your face. A face oil can vary from a simple formula containing a few carrier oils & essential oils to more complex containing other types of lipids & active ingredients.

Face Oil

Many believe that essential oils have different benefits for the skin. Personally I only use them to create scents. I haven’t seen any real evidence that essential oils would do anything for your skin, apart from causing an allergic reaction (and no essential oils do neither cure nor protect you from the corona virus)

More complex face oils usually contain active, oil-soluble ingredients, which are more likely to actually do something for your skin. Examples of active ingredients are vitamin E, q10 & bisabolol. Check your INCI list to find out exactly what’s in your oil.

Benefits of a face oil

I see two main benefits with face oils. Firstly, they are good moisturisers & leave the skin soft all day. This is especially useful during the winter months or if you live in a very dry climate. Secondly, applying the face oil also give you a mini face massage. A face massage is one of the simples anti-aging routines you can do. If your facial muscles are relaxed you will instantly get smoother skin.

Moisturizer defined

A moisturizer is an emulsion, a mix of oil & water. The benefit of an emulsion is that it can contain oil soluble & water-soluble ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid & vitamin C. Usually it’s easier absorbed by the skin compared to a face oil.

Face oil or moisturizer? That is the question

The choice between a face oil & a moisturiser (or both) depends on your skin & your daily routine. Personally I use both, I like to combination of the hydration & protection of a face oil and a good moisturizer packed with active ingredients. If you want to stay minimalistic and only choose one of them, I would recommend a face oil for dry skin. If you have “normal” or oily skin or if you’re concerned about signs of ageing look for a moisturizer with active ingredients that fulfills your skin care needs.