When it comes to hair and skin, we tend to think of oil as a bad thing: People with oily skin want to neutralize it. People with oily scalps and hair want to wash it all clean. Why, then, are there so many oil-based grooming products on the market? Because these natural oils are actually quite good for you.
When formulated well, oil products absorb quickly. They hydrate the skin much like a moisturizer, helping to trap moisture inside the inner layers of skin. In hair, they can seal off the cuticle to prevent moisture loss and frizzing, as well as heat damage. They can add healthy shine and fortifying nutrients. Some oil ingredients fight off toxins and infection, while others (like tea tree oil) neutralize bacteria and fungus. There are some extremely popular “carrier oils” (like argan oil) that power these products and offer a long list of nourishing benefits, thanks to a density of nutrients like Vitamin E and fatty acids.
Oils can be used from head to toe, beard and body, and many are engineered for a specific function or area. So we whipped up a list of our favorite types of oils for your various grooming needs, along with our favorite product in each category. It’s liquid gold.
1. Face Oil
Traditional face oils moisturize and nourish dry skin. They should be applied as the last step in your skincare regimen, since other products may not be able to penetrate through the oil layer. That’s by design: Face oils are occlusive, much like moisturizing creams, balms, and lotions.
2. Hair Oil
The best hair oils can change your day with a just a few drops: They’ll coat the strands, protect against moisture loss (from both the environment and heat from hair dryers and other hot tools) while also preventing damage from these same factors. They even “fill in” the hair structure to repair damaged hair, all while boosting shine and color vibrancy.
3. Body Oil
Body oils are like face oils, in that they often many of the same nourishing benefits as a moisturizing lotion or cream and can give skin a healthy radiance.
4. Blemish Oil
Fight fire with fire: Even though your pore is clogged (potentially with excess oil that it secreted) you can use a tea tree oil-powered spot treatment to neutralize the bacteria in the pore, mitigate oil production at that specific site, and reduce inflammation.
5. Beard Oil
Beard oil softens and conditions wiry facial hair while also hydrating the skin beneath the whiskers. It prevents everything beard itch and facial dandruff alike, while giving the mane a healthy shine. Lastly, it helps tame flyaways and even acts like a very lightweight styler.
6. Bath Oil
Bath oils nourish the skin while you soak. You’ll notice a softness to your dermis after emerging front he tub (even after rinsing and toweling off). You may need to wipe the tub down with a towel afterwards, too, but it’s well worth the skin-soothing benefits. Some even double as aromatherapy.
7. Shave/Pre-Shave Oil
By applying a pre-shave oil to skin prior to your razor cleanup, you cushion the skin, soften the stubble, and build a tiny protective layer over top the skin. This all prevents irritation and razor drag. (Use as directed: some are simply pre-shave treatments, others are a lubricating shave oil that completely replaces shaving cream.)
8. Foot Oil
While many types of oils are terrific for soothing feet and neutralizing bacteria and fungus, it’s important to use a careful formulation instead of a pure essential oil. Look for a product with tea tree oil foremost, though a splash of peppermint can give your toes a nice tickle, too.
9. SPF Face Oil
An SPF oil option is often a lighter alternative to facial sunscreens, while providing additional nourishing benefits alongside a summer-friendly radiance.
10. Scalp + Hair Treatment Oil
Not all hair oils are meant for prolonged wear. Some deliver hair-fortifying and scalp-balancing benefits but are meant for momentary mask-like wear. Let them set for a designated period of time (usually 5-15 minutes), then shampoo the oil away and follow with a conditioner. You should have healthier, shiner, more cooperative hair, as well as a calmed, balanced scalp for an optimal hair growth environment.