The 6 Best Oil-Based Moisturizers for All Skin Types

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The 6 Best Oil-Based Moisturizers for All Skin Types

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR OILY AND ACNE-PRONE SKIN

ZELEN Life Moisturizer

Oil-based moisturizers are a boon for those battling dry skin.

Even for oilier skin types, oil-based moisturizers help the skin retain moisture and are a smart choice for dry weather.

We’ve rounded up the best oil-based moisturizers on the market.

Keep reading to find 6 excellent options for your next oil-based moisturizer, along with a detailed review for each.

We’ve ensured there is something for everyone. Let’s jump in.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Moisturizer
  • Organic, non-comedogenic formula
  • Packed with vitamins, hydrating and anti-inflammatory
  • Lightweight and non-greasy, absorbs fast
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bb2-table__imageL'Occitane Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-in-Serum
  • Boosts skin renewal overnight
  • Anti-aging compounds, helps fine lines and wrinkles
  • Illuminates skin
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bb2-table__imageMalin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer
  • Highly nourishing and hydrating
  • Calms inflamed skin
  • Does not leave excess residue
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bb2-table__imageELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice
  • Gel-based prebiotic formula
  • "Moisture-quenching"
  • Contains Biotransformed Cica, antioxidant-rich
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bb2-table__imagePriori Barrier Restore Complex fx140
  • Silky soft, emulsifying formula
  • Contains ceramides, boosts hydration
  • Skin smoothing effect
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bb2-table__imageWhish Restoring Face Oil - Oil Serum, Skin Moisturizer
  • Contains bakuchiol, natural alternative to retinol
  • Helps against UV damage
  • Anti-aging properties
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Before you buy: 5 Things to consider when purchasing an oil-based moisturizer

There are a few things you should consider when it comes to the best oil-based moisturizer. You cannot simply start one without being sure this is the right product for your skin.

1. Skin type

You have to know your skin type. Since oil-based moisturizers are deeply hydrating, you must understand that this greatly benefits those with dry skin and skin conditions that involve peeling and dryness.

Oily and combination skin types may not require a very heavy oil-based moisturizer but rather an oil derivative moisturizer. So knowing your skin type is crucial as to which percentage of oil would be suitable for your skin type.

2. Experience with essential oils

Have you used essential oils before? Essential oils do not agree with some. They do have different properties. Tea tree oil has astringent properties, while lavender has natural healing properties.

Every essential oil has different effects and, in higher concentrations, can be intense for certain skin types. Know that if you pick up an oil-based moisturizer, you must patch test first.

3. Application

Oil-based moisturizers are not all lightweight and quick to absorb, so their application differs. Especially if you’re someone that wears makeup or has an entire routine. You may want to find out how to apply the best oil-based moisturizer to your skin and wait until it absorbs entirely before you proceed with the other steps.

4. Problem areas

The primary role of any oil-based moisturizer is hydration. Not all of them have dual functions. However, many natural oil-based moisturizers contain organic ingredients that naturally have multiple properties.

And so, some play an active role in lessening fine lines while others even out skin tone. If you have eczema or sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, or wrinkles, it’s best to pick an oil-based moisturizer that also targets these problem areas.

5. Budget

Since many oil-based moisturizers are organic products, they can range from affordable to slightly expensive. Especially the dual-acting ones. Oil-based moisturizers are typically applied only once a day.

In some cases, just a few drops are potent enough to keep you hydrated all day long. So don’t just consider the price but the product’s longevity and how it can help your skin.

We’ve covered the whole range and even listed out how much you will need in a single application. In most cases, you won’t need more than a pea-size amount.

The 6 best oil-based moisturizers

The 6 best oil-based moisturizers are listed below.

This is an extensive list full of hydrating products suitable for a variety of skin types and problem areas.

1. ZELEN Life Moisturizer

ZELEN Life Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Alcohol-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free, and cruelty-free
  • Lightweight and non-greasy, absorbs fast

The best oil-based moisturizer for:

Oily skin where you’re looking to absorb excess oil.

Overview:

The ZELEN Life Moisturizer is a natural matte, oil-based moisturizer that illuminates the skin. It’s handmade and formulated with organic premium ingredients such as jojoba, calendula, and clary sage oils. These ingredients are packed with vitamins C & E, and antioxidants.

The light, non-greasy texture glides on effortlessly. It absorbs quickly and provides superior moisturization which lasts all day leaving the skin soft and smooth. This makes it an excellent choice for winter.

This natural formula is chemical-free making it suitable for sensitive skin types. It doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, or synthetic colors and fragrances. It is cruelty-free as well and has never been tested on animals.

As for its botanical ingredients, jojoba, calendula, and clary sage have many benefits:

Jojoba has anti-wrinkle and anti-aging properties, as well as the ability to speed up the healing process of the skin while controlling sebum production (the body’s natural oil).

Jojoba, here is the carrier oil. Carrier oils form the base of the moisturizer and carry the other essential oil ingredients to your skin. Essential oils applied directly to the skin can sting and burn. However, diluted in a carrier oil, essential oils and their absolutes are milder and have no side effects.

Calendula is a natural oil derived from the marigold flower. It hydrates and nourishes the skin on a daily basis. It’s also a natural antiseptic that aids in skin healing and reduces redness.

Furthermore, Calendula oil significantly decreases the malonyldialdehyde level. UVB radiation produces free radicals, and they can cause oxidative decomposition, which leads to toxic components like malonyldialdehyde and lipid peroxidation.

It also increased the level of catalase, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, ascorbic acid, and the total protein level was significantly increased after one month of daily treatment despite irradiation.[1]

Lastly, Clary sage is a Mediterranean flower and has many skin benefits. It tightens and brightens up the skin while preventing irritations due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

All and all, it acts as a protective barrier and is hypoallergenic.

The good:

  • Tightens the skin
  • Curbs bacterial growth
  • Moisturizes and hydrates the skin without clogging pores

Things to think about:

  •  Some may not appreciate the matte finish

Bottom line:

This is a fantastic oil-based moisturizer that absorbs excess oil and controls sebum production giving you a glowing matte finish.

2. L’Occitane Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-in-Serum

L’Occitane Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-in-Serum

Best features:

  • Reduces fine lines
  • Brightens aging skin

The best oil-based moisturizer for:

Those with fine lines and wrinkles.

Overview:

Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-in-Serum assists in the overnight recovery of the skin from the stresses of daily life. With continuous use, you will notice that the appearance of fine lines will be less visible.

If your skin is continuously exposed to harsh elements or you spend a lot of time outdoors, then you will notice that it appears more dull, dry, and lackluster.

Immortelle Overnight Reset Oil-in-Serum main ingredient is meadowfoam seed oil.

Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba) has glucosinolate derivatives, 3-methoxybenzyl isothiocyanate (MBITC), and 3-methoxyphenyl acetonitrile (MPACN). They’re well-known for their UV-protective properties.

MBITC and MPACN have been shown in studies to have anti-photocarcinogenic and anti-photoaging properties in the skin microenvironment.[2]

How to use it?

Apply a pea-sized amount on your skin, starting with upward movements along the jawline. Gently massage the cream with circular motions into the middle of your face, from your nose to your forehead until it’s completely absorbed.

The good:

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Makes the skin glow

Things to think about:

  • Has a fragrance
  • Makes some breakout

Bottom line:

This is an excellent choice for aging skin with fine lines and wrinkles.

3. Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Soothes inflammation in the skin
  • Natural fragrance and color

The best oil-based moisturizer for:

Those with eczema and sensitive skin.

Overview:

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer is an everyday essential. Its formula contains chamomile, and it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins E and B5, making it suitable for all skin types.

Vitamin E, chamomile, and fatty acids help nourish, stabilize, and calm the skin while providing hydration. The inclusion of Hyaluronate also assists in retaining hydration to the skin.

A study showed that chamomile and essential oils penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin under its surface. This can carry their anti-inflammatory abilities much deeper than the stratum corneum layer.[3]

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that occurs naturally. It protects the skin from the negative effects of oxidative stress, such as photoaging and lipid peroxidation damage.

Many studies have indicated its great antioxidative and anti-inflammatory ability when it comes to its photoprotective and antiphotoaging properties.[4]

This oil-based moisturizer has a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly. It is non-greasy and can be used as a base for makeup application. Only a dime-size amount is needed to clean, dry skin.

It can be used by various skin types (including sensitive skin) without irritating due to its ingredients and gentle action.

The good:

  • Leaves no residue
  • Soothes the skin post-shave
  • Serves as a good makeup base or primer

Things to think about:

  • Might feel sticky

Bottom line:

This is an excellent oil-based moisturizer for those with eczema and sensitive skin.

4. ELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice

ELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice

Best features:

  • Silicone-free formula
  • Intensely hydrating

The best oil-based moisturizer for:

Those with age spots.

Overview:

ELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration gel moisturizer has as main ingredients for its formulation Cica, Aloe vera, Cucumber, Kiwi, and Bergamot. The result is a blend that provides rich hydration and leaves the skin refreshed and smooth.

Cica is antioxidant-rich, providing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Aloe Vera soothes the skin with its calming properties. It’s also proven to help with moisturization.

Cucumber also assists in providing hydration while tightening and giving a refreshing and cooling feel to the skin.

Kiwi is rich in vitamin C, making it great for minimizing the effects of aging and hyper-pigmentation while smoothing out the skin. Its fiber also has a very high water retention rate.[6]

Bergamot oil and polyphenols provide multiple benefits. This includes the reduction of inflammation, mood alteration, anxiety, pain, and skin diseases. This is why it is such a great choice in aromatherapy. The flavonoids reduce cytokine production, which is involved in inflammation.[5]

All of the above botanical oils blend together to create a vegan-friendly gel that has a lightweight texture, making it perfect for your daily routine.

The good:

  • Makes skin feel soft
  • Has a cooling effect on the skin
  • Layers well under makeup

Things to think about:

  • Can tingle the skin on first use

Bottom line:

This is a great oil-based moisturizer that works well for those with oily skin and hyperpigmentation.

5. Priori Barrier Restore Complex fx140

 Priori Barrier Restore Complex fx140

Best features:

  • Reduces acne breakouts
  • Smoothens sun-damaged skin

The best oil-based moisturizer for:

Those with acne-prone skin.

Overview:

Priori’s Barrier Restore Complex fx140 is formulated with essential skin nutrients such as ceramides, and an anti-irritant complex whose main purpose is to help combat acne.

Ceramides (CERs) are epidermal lipids necessary for skin barrier function [7]. They lock in moisture while repairing and smoothing the skin’s layer.

Ceramides play a crucial role in skin water barrier homeostasis and water-holding capacity control. People with skin diseases like atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and other genetic disorders have diminished skin barrier function.

Most of these people have decreased levels of ceramide and altered ceramide profiles. A formula rich in ceramides can restore the integrity of the skin barrier.[8]

The intense hydration by the ceramides calms irritated flaky skin and promotes a smoother complexion.

Its advanced anti-irritant complex contains lactic acid and vitamins A, C, and E which, provide great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that assist in reducing acne breakouts and strengthen the skin barrier.

Furthermore, the inclusion of chamomile, allantoin, and coconut oil extracts increase its effectiveness against acne.

The Priori LCA fx140 Barrier Restore Complex is cruelty-free which, means it hasn’t been tested on animals, and it’s paraben-free.

The good:

  • Feels hugely moisturizing due to the ceramides
  • No fragrance, no parabens

Things to think about:

  • More aqueous than oil-based

Bottom line:

This is a very good oil-based moisturizer for acne-prone skin.

6. Whish Restoring Face Oil – Oil Serum, Skin Moisturizer

. Whish Restoring Face Oil – Oil Serum, Skin Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Natural anti-aging properties through bakuchiol
  • Glowing skin
  • Just a few drops are enough

The best oil-based moisturizer for:

Those with mature skin looking for an anti-aging solution.

Overview:

Whish’s Restoring Face Oil is an oil specifically formulated to fight the signs of aging without using conventional retinol. Whish is replacing retinol with Bakuchiol which, is 100% its natural substitute.

The reasoning behind this is the fact that retinol while reversing aging signs it can create various side effects such as dehydration and irritation of the skin.

Both bakuchiol and retinol enhance the natural look of the skin, reversing aging effects such as fine lines and wrinkles, and also reducing acne breakouts. Conventional Retinol, however, is a Vitamin A derivative that promotes skin cell shedding and boosts collagen production.

Although retinol can give you a more youthful appearance, the exposure of fresh skin to sunlight cause UV sensitivity, irritations, and dryness.

Bakuchiol gives you the same results but without the negative side effects as they are not similar in their structure. It can be used at any time of day or night because it protects your skin from UV damage.

What is it?

Bakuchiol is a phytochemical that provides great anti-aging action when applied to the skin. It is an alternative to conventional retinoids as they both induce similar gene expression in the skin and improve cutaneous photodamage.[9]

It is also better tolerated than retinol. Retinol causes more scaling and skin peeling.

Adding to its anti-aging properties, Whish’s Restoring Face Oil provides great skin hydration which, comes from macadamia ternifolia seed oil, olive fruit oil, and organic starflower oil.

Palmitoleic acid is an abundant fatty acid found in plant oils from macadamia nuts. It is also found in human skin, especially in young skin, and decreases with age.

Studies have shown that palmitoleic acid accelerates wound healing due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It hastens wound closure.[10]

The black currant seed oil, apricot kernel oil, and organic evening primrose oil soothe the skin.

It is free of harmful chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, phthalates, etc. and it is cruelty-free which, adds more value to this product.

The good:

  • Protects against UV damage
  • Slows aging
  • Improves acne

Things to think about:

  • Test for oily skin or might clog pores

Bottom line:

This is an excellent oil-based moisturizer that prevents aging and can be used pre-emptively.


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How we chose these products

As we looked for oil-based moisturizers, we looked for products that had a range of oil. Some had a minuscule percentage of oil with oil-derived products like the humectants, and others were composed of oil.

This is because we wanted to identify which skin types can use them. People with oily skin can certainly use a smaller percentage of oil. In contrast, those with dry skin could go crazy with the oil moisturizers.

We also covered moisturizers for those who wish to pair with makeup. Plenty of formulas cannot be applied with makeup. Some on our list can serve as primers before you apply your foundation and so you can cut out extra products altogether.

Then we covered problem areas. Along with deeply hydrating formulas, we look at products that would treat fine lines, even skin tone, and protect against UV radiation.

There were some other interesting things we also considered, like aromatherapy and retinol alternatives. As you can see, we were creative with this list. We wanted to give you natural options that wouldn’t dry out the skin. So we sought products that could give the synthetic chemicals a run for their money.

Many of the formulas on our list are also made from organic ingredients. They are cruelty-free and sulfate, paraben-free.

Lastly, we tried to look for something that suited every budget.

Some of these are so economical that you just need a few drops to make a difference. And so as you consider purchasing, you will realize that there some affordable options here.

Frequently asked questions

What are oil-based moisturizers?

Oil-based moisturizers contain oil. The main active ingredients in most moisturizers are emollients, humectants, preservatives, and fragrances. We focus on emollients and humectants. Emollients smoothen the skin as they fill in the spaces between dermatocytes. Examples include mineral oil and petroleum jelly.

Humectants draw moisture out of the air. However, even they use oil to trap it. Most moisturizers contain oil derivatives or that mimic its effects by sealing in moisture.

Can I use an oil-based moisturizer if I have oily skin?

Irrespective of skin type, you will need a moisturizer. As mentioned earlier, even water-based moisturizers do contain some minuscule amount of oil. People with oily skin types tend to use lots of cleansers. That action does strip the skin of moisture.

How can you tell a moisturizer is an oil or water-based formula?

That’s the first question you should ask. The answer is by reading the ingredient list. All water-based formulas list water or aqua as their first ingredient.

Oil-based formulas will list oil as the first ingredient and or essential oils.

Can I skip sunscreen since oil-based moisturizers are so thick?

No. You cannot skip moisturizer even if an oil-based moisturizer protects from UV radiation. The minimum SPF requirement is 30, so you must use sunscreen if you’re out in the sun.

Will oil-based moisturizers clog my pores?

No. They should not. Pores get clogged by dirt and debris. However, if you do not exfoliate your skin or are allergic to certain essential oils, it can cause an acne breakout.

Do I have to use a carrier oil for my moisturizer?

No. Most oil-based moisturizers are already diluted in carrier oils. That’s what makes them available to the deeper layers of skin. You can use a few drops of these oil-based moisturizers to your other night creams or formulas if you want added hydration.

What are some examples of carrier oils?

Examples of carrier oils include vegetable oils like jojoba oil, olive oil, almond oil, and rosehip oil. Most oil-based moisturizers have a carrier oil as base oil. And it will be listed at the top of the ingredient list. Read the ingredient list carefully. Oils are usually listed in decreasing order or percentage.

What to do if I react?

Essential oils can sting the skin, especially in higher concentrations. For this reason, we always recommend a patch test first before commencing the product. Mild stinging is expected on first-time use.

However, if you develop redness and burn, wipe with a mild cleansing wipe and cleanse the skin. Patch test another area in a week, and if you still develop the stinging, it might be too strong for you. You can further dilute the product with olive oil and repeat.

How should I start an oil-based moisturizer?

If you have problem areas like acne and redness, apply in small quantities and less frequently, only after you have completed a patch test. Cleanse, tone, and then apply after serum if you are using one.

Alternatively, you can also add this to a regular moisturizer for added hydration. Oil-based moisturizers can feel thick and have an emollient feel, which is excellent for the winter. You won’t need for than a few drops or a pea-sized amount.

Apply only once a day to start with, and every other day. Work your way up from there. Because everyone’s skin is different, you may want to go up or down on the amount and frequency. You’re the best judge of your skin. Take one week to simply trial the product.

Conclusion

An oil-based moisturizer can make a massive difference to people who have dry skin.

For those with eczema, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis, these formulas can be intensely hydrating as they penetrate deeper layers of the skin barrier.

Do you have a favorite oil-based moisturizer?

Let us know your recommendations, and we’ll add them to our list.

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References

  1. Mishra AK, Mishra A, Verma A, Chattopadhyay P. Effects of Calendula Essential Oil-Based Cream on Biochemical Parameters of Skin of Albino Rats against Ultraviolet B Radiation. Sci Pharm. 2012;80(3):669-683. doi:10.3797/scipharm.1112-18
  2. Carpenter EL, Le MN, Miranda CL, et al. Photoprotective Properties of Isothiocyanate and Nitrile Glucosinolate Derivatives From Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba) Against UVB Irradiation in Human Skin Equivalent. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:477. Published 2018 May 15. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00477
  3. Merfort I, Heilmann J, Hagedorn-Leweke U, Lippold BC. In vivo skin penetration studies of camomile flavones. Pharmazie. 1994;49:509–511.
  4. Nachbar F, Korting HC. The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin. J Mol Med (Berl). 1995;73(1):7-17. doi:10.1007/BF00203614
  5. Perna S, Spadaccini D, Botteri L, et al. Efficacy of bergamot: From anti-inflammatory and antioxidative mechanisms to clinical applications as preventive agent for cardiovascular morbidity, skin diseases, and mood alterations. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(2):369-384. Published 2019 Jan 25. doi:10.1002/fsn3.903
  6. Richardson DP, Ansell J, Drummond LN. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. Eur J Nutr. 2018;57(8):2659-2676. doi:10.1007/s00394-018-1627-z
  7. Meckfessel MH, Brandt S. The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71(1):177-184. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2014.01.891
  8. Choi MJ, Maibach HI. Role of ceramides in barrier function of healthy and diseased skin. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(4):215-223. doi:10.2165/00128071-200506040-00002
  9. Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis SR, et al. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. Br J Dermatol. 2019;180(2):289-296. doi:10.1111/bjd.16918
  10. Weimann E, Silva MBB, Murata GM, et al. Topical anti-inflammatory activity of palmitoleic acid improves wound healing. PLoS One. 2018;13(10):e0205338. Published 2018 Oct 11. doi:10.1371/journal.po

About The Author

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Doctor and Seasoned Medical Writer

Doctor of Medicine MD (Angeles University College of Medicine)

United States

Pamela Q. Fernandes is a doctor and medical writer. Born and raised in Kuwait, she graduated from Angeles University College of Medicine, Philippines in 2007. Soon after that, she started her career as a medical writer and physician. Pamela is an advocate of preventive health, rural medicine, women’s health and tele-medicine having been active in these roles for the majority of her decade long career in medicine. As a seasoned medical writer, she has worked with many medical publishing houses and doctors, as well as pharmaceuticals, hospitals and practices. She specializes in training material for doctors and patient education material. As an academic writer, she is a qualified writer of articles for medical journals, case reports and medical presentations.

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