Tried and tested: facial oils

Tried and tested: organic facial oils
No longer is moisturiser the only way to hydrate your skin. Thanks to Shu Uemura’s pioneering oil-based range, facial oils are becoming a serious alternative to traditional creams. But which are the most planet friendly?

There’s a new buzzword in beauty and it’s oil. Forget balms and creams, the quickest way to feed your skin is by adding a drop or two of the slippery stuff to your beauty routine. Thanks to Shu Uemura, whose revolutionary cleansing oil kickstarted the trend for oil based products, facial oils have become a key alternative to traditional cream-based cleansers and moisturisers. What’s more, despite appearances, oil based products won’t leave your skin looking shiny, with the new breed of facial oils sinking in quickly and nourishing skin from within.

One convert to the power of facial oil is Danish skincare guru Ole Henriksen, whose eponymous line of natural skincare products has built up a cult following among the celebrity set. ‘Word from London has it that Kate Moss loves my Black Currant Complexion Oil,’ he says. ‘Massage a thin layer of the complexion oil into damp skin, and follow with your moisturiser as the second layer of environmental protection. This way your skin will feel cushioned and comforted all day long, while remaining properly hydrated.’

Winter can take a real toll on skin, when environmental stresses such as freezing weather, central heating and constant switching between hot and cold combine to cause irritation and dryness. What’s more, other factors such as pollution and using too many products can also stress skin, which means choosing a gentle, natural oil and cutting down on conventional beauty products can make a big difference. ‘You need just four key products,’ says celebrity facialist, Vaishaly Patel. ‘The right type of cleanser plus an anti ageing moisturiser with an SPF and a night time nourishing oil that contains ingredients to calm, soothe and desensitise the skin.’ ‘Many people are worried that using facial oils may overload the skin, particularly where it is prone to oiliness,’ adds Neal's Yard Remedies’ Amanda May Watson.  ‘However, facial oils are beneficial for all skin types, even oily skins, as they replenish essential nutrients and balance oil levels where needed.’ So who does it best and which one should you choose? Green Living  Editor Ruth Styles put the latest crop of facial oils to the test.

Ila Face Oil for Glowing Radiance, £56.40
There’s a big buzz around argan oil at the moment and Ila’s skin-booster contains plenty of it. ‘It's phenomenal,’ enthuses Ila founder, Denise Leicester. ‘It's a fantastic oil and it comes from Morocco. Really good argan grows at high altitudes -  all great ingredients that have high amounts of healing qualities tend to grow at higher altitude -  they produce more esters when they grow higher and the esters are the parts of the plant that bring healing.’ Argan is also a dry oil, so won’t leave a slick and even works under make-up provided you wait a few minutes before applying it. Denise is right about the healing powers too – I started using it during a breakout and it cleared up within days with no marks to be seen. One for sceptics – if this doesn’t convert you, nothing will.
Find out more:


Suti NOURISH Face Oil for Night, £28
Boasting excellent eco credentials, Suti has a small but perfectly formed range of organic balms and oils, including the NOURISH Face Oil for Night that I put to the test. I was initially wary of the sheen it left on my skin – this one definitely won’t double up for day – but by morning everything had sunk in bar the lovely jasmine scent that left my pillow smelling like a flowerbed. It did a great job of softening up my skin, especially around my nose where a cold had left my skin irritated, red and dry. It also does an excellent job on elbows and I’ve taken to dabbing a tiny bit onto my cheeks over make-up to produce a natural glow. Better for dry types, as oily skin might find it a bit much. The affordable price is a bonus.
Find out more:

Spiezia Rose and Vanilla Facial Oil, £31.50
Housed in a ridiculously pretty pink recycled glass bottle, Spiezia’s offering is contains a skin soothing blend of vanilla and rose essential oils, which means it smells just as fabulous as it feels. Unsurprisingly, it has racked up a cult following among Spiezia fans, chalking up feedback that includes ‘wonder product’ and ‘smells amazing’.  The latter is certainly true and made slathering it on a real pleasure. A word of warning though: this is one product where a little goes a long way. I overdid it first time and awoke to an oil slick but if you use it sparingly, it does an excellent job of softening up dry skin. It’s also well-priced, 100 per cent organic and made in Cornwall.
Find out more:

Ole Henriksen Black Currant Complexion Oil, £41
Danish skincare legend, Ole Henriksen, has built up a stellar reputation among the style set, thanks to his easy-to-use, seriously effective products. Better still, the focus on natural ingredients means that greenies can get in on the action guilt-free. The Black Currant Complexion Oil isn’t cheap but works brilliantly under moisturiser for an extra shot of hydration. Based on a combination of black currant, lemon, cypress, apricot kernel and geranium essential oils, it smells pleasantly fresh and isn’t too slippery. Helpfully, the oil sinks in instantly, which means you can use it under make-up. It also did a great job of safeguarding my skin in sub-zero temperatures during a recent trip to Copenhagen - no wind burn or redness in sight.
Find out more:

Vaishaly Night Nourisher, £65
Part of the organic beauty range created by ‘super facialist’ Vaishaly Patel, I was expecting big things from Vaishaly’s Night Nourisher treatment oil and I wasn’t disappointed. Night Nourisher is formulated with combination skin types in mind, and although you wouldn’t expect an oil to be particularly effective at getting rid of grease, that’s exactly what it does. Boasting antiseptic lemon and peppermint, it also contains spot-fighting calendula and free-radical busting grapeseed oil. I really enjoyed using it and loved its simultaneous attack on dehydration and shine; both of which it dealt with speedily. It’s expensive but for problem skin that needs a bit of chemical-free TLC, it’s dynamite.
Find out more:


Add to StumbleUpon
The Ecologist meets… Ila founder Denise Leicester
Tucked away in leafy Gloucestershire is a beauty brand with a ‘beyond organic’ philosophy that’s making the world sit up and take notice. Ruth Styles hopped on the train and went to meet the inspirational Denise Leicester
Review: the Relax and Rejuvenate uplifting facial
If your visage has lost its va va voom, some TLC could be required. Luckily Covent Garden’s Relax Spa has just the thing for skin-conscious greenies
The Ecologist A to Z of beauty goodies
You’ve learned to avoid parabens and sulphates but what should you be using instead? The Ecologist takes a closer look at the natural beauty ingredients that can make a positive difference to your skin
Five of the best… natural beauty quick fixes
Whether it’s tiredness, stress or winter skin, Green Living Editor Ruth Styles has some super speedy suggestions – and no chemicals involved
Future perfect: organic beauty in 2012
From natural facelifts to slow beauty, Ruth Styles takes a look at the trends, products and brands set to hit the big time this year

More from this author