Photography: Winston Chuang; Art direction: Nonie Chen
Repeat after me: Oils are good for your skin. Well, some oils are, at any rate. Yes, I’m still obsessed with oils of a topical nature, and I’m on a mission to convince you, dear reader, to fall in love with the liquid luxury as well.
Not sure where to start? The current crop of featherweight formulas are fantastic for just about anything – some are even good for on-the-go top-ups without mussing up your makeup. Dip your dainty feet into the lardy pond with this sexy septet of fabulous facial oils:
La Mer The Renewal Oil, $370
An oil that’s perfect for pores? Wonders never cease. Here’s what Loretta Miraglia, senior vice president of product development and innovation has to say about La Mer’s latest miracle: “[This treatment] actually helps balance sebum and purify pores while hydrating, renewing and bringing serious ageless benefits to skin.” That’s a #TakeAllMyMoney sales pitch right there.
Because this is La Mer we’re talking about, expect an aquarium’s worth of algae thrown into the mix: There’s the posh beauty brand’s patented Miracle Broth (but of course), which for the uninitiated consists of a skin-plumping slurry of soothing sea kelp, plus the power of premium sesame and eucalyptus oils.
The satiny serum-like consistency makes for supremely comfortable wear in sweltering Singapore, and the dewy finish is divine on bare skin as a as a brightening base; on good skin days, this oil under sunscreen should suffice.
In the mood to jack up the juice? Easy: Tap tiny dots over your conventional foundie to lend light to specific focal points on your face; think brow bone, cheeks and chin. I’ve found that this V-shaped contour lends my visage a sun-kissed smoulder – very fetching, very flirty, very natural. Will repurchase this in a heartbeat!
Lancome Absolue Precious Oil, $380
Lancome’s latest libation is almost ridiculously rad; I love it so much. This sexy salve comes steeped with the subtlest of scent (courtesy of the legendary Lancome Absolue rose, natch) plus it’s skin-tinglingly sensuous to the touch, too, like liquid cashmere caressing my face.
There’s also a nice little element of instant gratification going on here, with the subtly shimmery liquid lending a gorgeous glimmer; I see this doing double duty as a beautifying makeup base or an on-the-go highlighting pen; simply dab a drop just above your cupid’s bow for a pouty pick-me-up.
Other inventive hacks to consider: Try elevating your lip wardrobe with a holographic overlay; mix the oil into a swatch of your favourite matte lippie to lend it a subtle satiny finish. Or try swirling a smidgen into a shimmery shadow for a really intense “wet” eye.
What else? Honorary mention must surely go to the perfectly posh packaging – the gilded glass this elixir comes in is almost obscenely opulent! – just another instance of the thoughtful little touches this F-Beauty brand is justifiably renowned for. #DieDieMustBuy!
The Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil, $65.90
We interrupt this broadcast with a vote of confidence from a reassuringly sciencey source. To wit: “There’s a reason why oils have become skincare’s new obsession,” remarks Dr Terry Loong, a London-based skin doctor who also reps as The Body Shop’s designated global skincare expert. “Using a moisturiser is like feeding your skin a daily green juice, and an oil acts like a booster for your juice.” Noted!
This superbly silky skin saver is stacked with seed oils that are said to sop up free radicals for a “fresher” face; a month’s use gave me a visibly lifted visage with a gorgeous glow. I’d say this emollient is excellent for drier skin, although it does seem to take a second or so longer to sink in compared to its peers. To maximise the mileage out of this marvel, use sparingly – just one or two drops are plenty – and pat into cleansed skin on top of your serums and under your sunscreen.
Oh, and like finger painting with the finest lacquers, give your work of art – that’ll be your face! – time to fully absorb each layer before adding the next. A good rule of thumb (and we mean this quite literally): If your fingertips feel damp when you press them into your face, give the product another two minutes, then test again.
Aesop Fabulous Face Oil, $77
Fascinating conundrum: What happens when an oily complexioned person applies oil to her face? No, you won’t spontaneously combust into flames. Instead, think of targeted oil treatments as adhering to the Chinese proverb of fighting poison with poison; using an oil product may actually reduce the amount your skin produces by tricking the sebaceous glands into cutting back on overproduction.
Take Aesop’s awesome oil offering, which is composed of carefully calibrated “good” oils like sweet almond and evening primrose to stabilise sebum secretion. This lightweight liniment also takes the “kwali face” fear factor out of the equation – it doesn’t feel greasy and gross in the least, and smells so so very sublime, too.
Sensorial pleasures aside, I love how this oil lends me a lit-from-within luminescence, even when I’m breaking out in lumps and bumps. To purge pores and even zap zits fast, try layering this oil on top of your salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide blackhead treatments; this helps fend off the frightful flakiness that can be a side effect of some of your harsher medications.
Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil, $82
Meet Sha-ji, the “new” old skincare superhero you’ve probably never heard of.
Sha-what? That’ll be Hippophae Rhamnoides (for the botanists) and seaberry for the rest of us. This TCM treasure – mosey around any heartland store and chances are you’ll spot the blackened berry being sun-dried in open baskets – is a “warm” food traditionally used to treat all manner of maladies, from bloated belly pain to burns, boils and open wounds, where it’s usually pounded to a pulp and applied as a paste onto the skin.
On the beauty front, Fresh says this seaberry salve boasts an astonishing amount of antioxidative action – everything from Omega-7 fatty acids and immunity-boosting flavonoids to phenols and a plethora of fat-soluble vitamins.
The fancy facial oil (digging the dropper dispenser!) is also designed to calm any number of cosmetic ailments – with the bonus of being malleable to all manner of mixing and matching. Be your own mixologist and concoct a custom cocktail by using your go-to moisturiser as a base for a stiff booster shot of this facial oil.
Or use it “neat” as a richly restorative replacement for your night serum; the top-notch texture of this feathery fluid means it’ll melt into your mien in a matter of minutes. A crackin’ good choice if you’re looking for the sort of “poreless porcelain princess” complexion (a friend's words, not mine!) that yours truly has been blessed with!
Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate, $80
First things first: This light-as-air agent comes complete with celebrity cachet in the form of newly minted Kiehl’s face Nicole Warne. The gorgeous girl of @garypeppergirl fame seems to have fully embraced the beauty world’s obsession with oils; scan her social media and you’ll see shot after shot of artfully arranged #flatlays of this amber ambrosia.
Billion-dollar beauty question: Is this wonder worth the hype? Pretty much. Pitched as an “energising” day oil, I love how this oil functions almost like a “top coat” to prevent my parched skin from drying out like a prune, especially when I’m ambling in and out of an air-conditioned room.
Here’s a hot hack: Try layering this under sunscreen for a double dose of free radical-fighting goodness; besides, by applying this oil after your star serums, fat-soluble ingredients like glycolic acid, retinol and vitamin E will dissolve in the oil, tricking your skin into driving the good stuff deeper into the dermis. Pretty neat, yes?
Beauty bonus: This sensationally silky oil has been designed to sink straight in, so you needn’t fret about leaving an embarrassing slick in your wake. Oh, and feel free to use it as and when you like a little extra luster, even on your hair. Before air-kissing your girlfriends at the latest java joint, for instance, rake in just the tiniest bit through the ends of your tresses for a photoshoot-ready (and dare I say Nicole Warne-worthy) patina.
Shiseido Future Solution LX Replenishing Treatment Oil, $232
Shiseido’s sterling new salve is just about the best buy for your beauty dollar. For one, it’s a thirst-quenching tincture that’s superb for soothing shrivelled skin, thanks to a swanky suite of six carefully curated botanical oils. Skip your usual unguents if you like, because this oil alone is hugely hydrating: Perfect for nights when you can’t be arsed with a seven-step regime.
Even better, the J-Beauty giant also bills this as a multitasking marvel that can be slapped onto just about anywhere – from your mien to your mane. Indeed, one of my bestie’s favourite ways to use this treatment is to rake it through her roots for a shampoo ad-ready sheen. It’s also perfect for taming pesky flyaways and lending a really reflective mirror-like mirage as well; I recommend rubbing just one drop between your palms and lightly skimming it across the surface for weightless high-wattage shine.
You may also want to consider spreading the wealth by rubbing it into nooks and crannies of your elbows and knees: Smooth skin from top to toe. To be clear, if I’m sorting oils into baskets of gotta-haves and want-to-haves, I’ll plonk this product firmly in the first category. So yes, will repurchase in a heartbeat! diedie
Bottom line: If the thought of slathering on an oil makes your skin crawl, it’s time to let the new facts (and face oils) sink in. Lube up, baby!