Soothe & nourish dry skin with one of these fabulous face oils

Let’s discuss face oil. Arguably the most divisive product in the skincare sphere, it tends to be loved or loathed in equal measure. But whichever club you belong to, oils have come a long way in recent years with advancements in the field making it a skincare staple for many – particularly for drier skin types. Why, we hear you ask? Well, face oils can help lock in moisture, preventing water loss and perking up parched skin with a hydration boost like no other. But, as with the best foundations for dry skin, the trick is finding the perfect pick for you. Here, we round up the best face oils for dry skin and the experts break down exactly how to use them.

What is a face oil & what does it do?

A face oil’s main purpose is to stop moisture escaping. "They work by forming an occlusive barrier, which sits on the outer surface of the skin, helping to lock moisture in," says Dr Sophie Shotter, an aesthetic doctor and founder of Illuminate Skin & Wellness Clinic. Differing from serums and moisturisers – which work to nourish and hydrate skin – "face oils are designed to act as a barrier", continues Dr Shotter. 

As for ingredients, "face oils are typically formulated with botanical oils and essential oils, and may incorporate other plant extracts, oil-soluble ingredients or antioxidants to help support the skin barrier," explains Dr Maryam Zamani, an oculoplastic surgeon and face aesthetics doctor. So, while they can’t prevent dry skin per se, they can help protect it from water loss.

What are the benefits of a face oil for dry skin?

"Face oils can help decrease transepidermal water loss, enabling dry skin to retain more of its natural water content," says Dr Shotter. But the key is choosing the right formula for your skin type. "Rose oil serves as an excellent emollient for dry or sensitive skin," says Dr Zamani, "while jojoba oil is effective in a wide range of skin types and can help bring balance to the skin, making it excellent for replenishment." 

To get the most out of your face oil, Dr Shotter recommends using it alongside other hard-working ingredients to help boost the moisture content of the skin, "such as hyaluronic acid". For example, apply a hyaluronic acid-rich moisturiser first, followed by your chosen face oil.

How & when should you apply face oil?

"Face oils can be used on particularly dry or flaky patches of skin as a targeted treatment, morning or night," says Dr Zamani. "And the usual sequence is to apply face oil after moisturiser to support with sealing in moisture."

Dr Shotter recommends applying oil before bed as it tends to get along better with products used at night, in her experience. "If you're using oil for dry skin to help lock moisture in overnight, then it should be the final step of your routine, as it will stop other products from penetrating," she says.

Is face oil unsuitable for certain skin types?

‘"n acne-prone skin type will rarely do well with a face oil, as they can contribute towards blocked pores," says Dr Shotter. "Rosacea-prone skin types can also struggle with face oils, largely because many of them contain irritant essential oils."

Regarding essential oils, Dr Zamani adds that "they’re not for everyone as they can have a higher rate of skin sensitisation".

10 of the best face oils for dry skin, available at

Whether you’re a face oil fanatic or first-timer, we’ve got you covered. From budget to blowout, here are 10 of our faves for those with dry skin. 

Find more top-rated face oils in our full range.

Best for moisturising

Try: REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Barrier Support Elixir

• Size: 30ml

• Fragrance-free

• 100% natural origin ingredients

Looking to give your skin a gulp of hydration? Give this non-greasy, moisturising oil a whirl. Enriched with a nourishing blend of seven natural oils, the fabulous formula gets to work on the skin, helping combat dryness, while also helping to soothe irritation. If you’re aiming for supple and comfortable skin, make this your new go-to.

Best for brightening

Try: Botanics All Bright Bi-Phase Glow Facial Oil with Natural AHAs & Vitamin C

• Size: 25ml

• Cruelty-free

• Not suitable for sensitive skin

If skin is looking lacklustre, turn your face to this brightening beauty from Botanics. Formulated with vitamin C and natural AHAs from the hibiscus plant, this hard-working oil helps brighten and smooth skin for a healthier, more radiant-looking complexion. Note, it does contain a light fragrance and isn’t suitable for sensitive skin types.

Best for mature skin

Try: No7 Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• Lightweight texture

No7 knows a thing or two about skincare and its Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil doesn't disappoint. Starring jojoba oil, this formula delivers a hefty dose of hydration by locking in moisture to help prevent any future dryness. Skin is left looking smooth and supple, with fine lines softened.

Best for soothing

Try: Boots Rose Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• Lightweight texture

Soothe dry, stressed-out skin with this facial oil, featuring rosa damascena flower oil. To use, apply a few drops onto the palms of your hands and massage into skin until fully absorbed, morning and night.

Best for overnight

Try: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

• Size: 50ml

• 99.8% naturally derived formula

• Lightweight texture

• Recyclable glass bottle

If you’re not yet familiar with Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil, let us introduce you. The botanical blend features moisturising squalane, primrose oil and soothing lavender oil to help replenish skin, while you snooze so that come morning, you look rested and radiant. Double tick!

Best for natural skincare routines

Try: Florena Fermented Skincare Regenerating Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• 100% natural origin formula

• Certified COSMOS Natural by the Social Association

This is the perfect pick for anyone keen to follow as natural a skincare routine as possible. Certified COSMOS Natural by the Social Association, the formula is 100% naturally derived and only contains natural fragrances. As for ingredients, there’s fermented white helichrysum, argan oil and safflower oil to help rehydrate and rejuvenate dry skin.

Best for balancing

Try: Liz EarleTM Beauty Superskin Concentrate Oil for Night

• Size: 28ml

• Cruelty-free

Step up your evening skincare regime with this luxurious blend from Liz Earle. Brimming with botanical oils, including hydrating rosehip and vitamin-rich avocado oils, the formula gets to work while you snooze to help revitalise dry skin. To apply, warm one to two pumps in your palms before massaging onto your face and neck.

Best for pre-cleanse

Try: Superfacialist Rose Miracle Makeover Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• Pre-cleanse facial oil

• Can be added to moisturiser

Designed to be used as a pre-cleanse facial oil, this multitasking wonder doubles up as a leave-on treatment. Laced with vitamin-rich avocado and carrot oils, as well as raspberry oil, it helps calm skin without stripping it of moisture (when used as a cleanser). It also smells divine.

Best for evening skin tone

Try: The INKEY List Rosehip Oil

• Size: 30ml

• 100% pure rosehip oil

Rosehip oil can benefit all skin types, but especially drier skin. Packed with omega-6, vitamins and essential fatty acids, it helps nourish dry skin, while also balancing oil production and uneven skin tone.

Best for city dwellers

Try: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• 100% free of essential oils and silicones

• Fragrance-free

• Cruelty-free

• Quick to absorb

Ideal for city dwellers, this luxurious pick stars conditioning marula oil straight from the marula fruit pip. Rich in fatty acids omega-6 and -9, it leaves skin looking plumped up and glowy. Want a top tip? Exfoliate regularly to ensure maximum absorption of the product.