The Only 4 Face Oils You Need for Soft, Smooth Skin

Despite the fact my own complexion is oily and I’m no stranger to a breakout, the most effective beauty product I’ve ever used to both moisturize my skin and control congestion is a $19.95 jar of pure jojoba oil.

Many dermatologists have warned me about using oil on my skin, but expensive creams and serums often cause my skin to break out (using one well-known expensive tub of moisturizer spurred the worst chronic cystic acne breakout of my life!). Meanwhile, this humble — and cheap — face oil keeps my skin glowing, hydrated and relatively blemish-free.

Since making this discovery a few years ago, I’ve broadened my regimen to include more oils. Some nights I’ll layer rosehip or passionfruit seed oils on top of jojoba for their powerful anti-aging properties, and I rarely get on a plane without a small tub of tea tree oil to address any spots that pop up while traveling. I’m not the only person who swears by this natural elixir, either — before Tazorac became the topical anti-acne cream of choice and we started shelling out hundreds of dollars for retinol creams, natural, plant-based oils were the ointments of choice. In fact, some cultures still use the holistic skin-care treatment to fix all kinds of issues, and it’s only relatively recently that Western beauty brands and dermatologists have started catching on.

However, not every oil is created equal, and you should be looking at different types to address various issues. Some are antiseptic and will help stave off an acne, while others are both hydrating and have aromatherapeutic qualities that can help you manage stress.

Check out four of the most popular face oils below, and discover which one is right for your skin:

Olive Oil

In addition to pairing well with a caprese salad, olive oil can help fight the signs of aging. "Extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, giving it anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits," explained Dr. Debbie Palmer, dermatologist and creator of Replere skin care.

Marula Oil

As its name suggests, this oil comes from the nut inside the marula fruit, and it also happens to be a powerful anti-aging ingredient, and it's safe for skin that’s no stranger to a breakout. "It contains antioxidants and essential fatty acids such as omegas 6 and 9. It is anti-inflammatory, non-comedogenic and antimicrobial — making it great for acne and skin rejuvenation," explained Dr. Palmer.

Tamanu Oil

Tamanu oil comes from the Ati tree and is native to the South Pacific Islands, and can help slow down the aging process. It’s actually also been used for generations by Polynesian women to clear acne and reduce the appearance of scars, and in Pacific folk medicine to accelerate wound healing. "Tamanu oil is high in oleic acid [which is] rich in coumarin calophyllolide, a class of phytochemicals with powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities and anti-inflammatory properties,” said Jess Assaf, the founder of natural beauty brand Raw is Everything. "A recent study showed that tamanu oil exhibits high anti-bacterial activity against the bacterial strains that cause acne,” she added. (Tamanu is a little thicker than some other oils, and greenish in color.)

Passionfruit Seed Oil

Native to the Amazon and extracted from the seeds of the passionfruit, this fruit-scented oil has been used for centuries as a powerful moisturizing emollient. "Passionfruit seed oil has high levels of the omega-6 essential fatty acid linoleic acid, which is essential in skin hydration and elasticity,” explained Assaf, adding that studies have even shown that this essential fatty acid also helps to lighten UV-induced hyper-pigmentation of the skin. Passionfruit seed oil is rich in polyphenols, which Assaf said contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA-repair properties. “It's also rich in tocopherols, one of the two classes of naturally occurring vitamin E, which prevents skin damage caused by free radicals,” she added.