Oil is probably the last thing you would think of slathering on your face in the hopes of getting a younger, more radiant complexion. But as it turns out, new breakthrough oil formulas are boosting moisture, fighting wrinkles, and reducing inflammation with the help of sophisticated additives like peptides, retinol, and vitamin C, without any harsh (or greasy) side effects. "Oils are naturally more gentle than most antiaging products because they deliver the active ingredients deep into the skin without irritating the surface," says New York dermatologist David Colbert. "And they create a dewy glow that lasts all day."
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One of the pioneers to see potential in the face-oil category was fashion stylist Linda Rodin. Frustrated with skin care that "wasn't working," she took matters into her own hands-literally-and in 2007, Rodin Olio Lusso was born. "I combined the oils I loved in a coffee cup over my bathroom sink and came up with this concoction to hydrate my skin," Rodin explains. Five years and 50,000 bottles later, the original blend of 11 ingredients, including sweet almond, argan, sunflower, and apricot-seed oils, is one of the most sought-after facial moisturizers among makeup artists (Fulvia Farolfi), models (Adriana Lima), and stylists (Tiina Laakkonen). Beauty companies are now following suit, launching their own recipes for almost every skin type and issue. This year alone, Fresh, Själ Skincare, Nude, Sulwhasoo, AmorePacific, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, and Colbert M.D. have all added face oils to their product lineups.
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The trend has gained major traction in the fashion world, where face oils have become a must-have behind the scenes. Makeup pro Tom Pecheux preps each model's face with oil before applying foundation. His latest go-to, Sunday Riley Juno Transformative Lipid Serum ($125), is a backstage staple at Derek Lam and Stella McCartney. Pati Dubroff, a celebrity makeup artist, won't use anything but oils on her skin. Her kit isn't complete without By Terry Huile de Rose Firming-Lift Oil ($106). And it's not just the cosmetics crowd. "Diane Kendal introduced me to Rodin Olio Lusso during a Jason Wu hair and makeup test," says stylist Kate Young. "I've been obsessed ever since. My dry patches have lessened, and my skin glows."
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It's not difficult to find the right one for you. Dry skin? Seek out hydrators like sesame oil found in Bobbi Brown Extra Face Oil ($62) and Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil ($200). For combination skin, Sonya Dakar Omega-3 Repair Complex for Maintenance ($42) balances sebum with geranium extract and Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil ($50) tightens pores. To anti-age, sea buckthorn oil keeps skin firm. Try Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil ($50), Sevani Serum Vitale Essential Nutrient Oil ($65), or Nude ProGenius Treatment Oil ($78). African marula oil-a key ingredient in Colbert M.D. Illumino Face Oil ($125) and Marula Pure Marula Oil ($78)-combats inflammation in every skin type. How to: Apply three drops at night after your serum or cream, since oils can block the absorption of other products. But "if you're acne-prone, oil-free moisturizers are still the safest bet," says New York dermatologist Dennis Gross, whose Vitamin D Serum-Oil ($65) provides skin with a topical dose of active vitamin D (which many of us don't get enough of). Regardless of which one you choose, "within a day you're going to see a difference," says Colbert, "because that's how oils work."
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