The Importance of Oils for Our Skin

Oils can be good for your skin

Credits: Pixabay
Amy Branum
Edited By:
Dermveda Content Team ,

Have you tried products to help minimize oil on your skin, only to need expensive chemical moisturizers to help rehydrate? These moisturizers may make your skin feel nice temporarily, but often they create a need for more products later.

The sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) in our skin naturally produce oils for many beneficial reasons. This oil moisturizes our skin, keeps it from drying out and aging too fast, and lubricates the skin. It is very important that our skin is properly moisturized in order for the skin to function properly.

Your skin actually loves oil! With a little education, you can find the best oil for your skin and begin experiencing its benefits.

Read on for tips on how to use oils on your skin?

  • Oil cleanses the skin. In the same way that your skin secretes oil in order to cleanse itself, you can also use oil to remove dirt and makeup from the skin.
  • Oil nourishes the skin. High quality oils are full of nutrients and fatty acids to feed and protect the skin.
  • Oils can improve dry or sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, it may be that it does not have the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Oils help the skin to hold in moisture.


Almond Oil

Almond oil is made from the almond nut, and has the scent of almonds. It is nutritive to the skin and has a light to medium body. Almond oil is anti-inflammatory[1] and rich in proteins, minerals, omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamin E. It is healing to the skin and wonderful for use on dry skin and can help with scarring.[1] This oil should be avoided by those with nut allergies.


Borage Oil

Borage oil is made from the seeds of the borage plant (Borago officinalis). It is high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid.  GLA helps to reduce inflammation. Borage oil has been found useful with skin disorders such as seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis (eczema).[2]


Castor Oil

Castor oil is made from the pressed seeds of the Castor plant (Ricinus communis).  It is a thick, rich oil that is also rich in fatty acids, primarily ricinoleic acid.  This fatty acid has antifungal properties.[3] Castor oil moisturizes and is great for very dry and even cracked skin. It can be used as a daily moisturizer. Castor oil is believed to enhance hair growth[4] but there are no studies that have evaluated this yet.


Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of the coconut, it is semisolid at room temperature and has the sweet scent of coconut.  It has cooling properties and is rich in fatty acids which make it very nourishing to the skin and hair.  Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for dry, cracked skin.[5,6] It can be used on any dry skin issues or red, inflamed skin. Coconut oil is also believed to stimulate hair growth although there are no studies that support this.


Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is a light-bodied, odorless oil that is similar to the oil naturally produced by the skin. In fact, it is used in recipes to mimic the oils naturally found on the skin.[7] It comes from the jojoba plant Simmondsia chinesis, which is native to Southwestern North America. Use it for all skin types, especially sensitive skin, on the face, or to reduce the heaviness of thicker oils.


Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is made from sesame seeds. It is a warming oil that has the strong scent of sesame. It is used commonly in Ayurveda and beneficial for those who have a vata constitution, and will benefit those who tend to get cold easily.  Sesame oil is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.[10] For dry skin, it can be used in combination with other oils such as almond or jojoba.


Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is made from the pressed seeds of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus). Sunflower oil is considered more neutral in temperature - neither heating nor cooling to the skin. It is a great choice for those who like more of a protective barrier, as it tends to sit on the skin longer than most other oils. It is rich in linoleic acid,[11,12] an essential oil that has antiinflammatory properties.[13] Studies have shown that applying it to the skin regularly can replenish the necessary oils for the skin[11] and it may be superior to olive oil.[14] It helps hydrate the skin in babies[12] and may improve the health of preterm babies.[15,16] It delays the development of the normal skin barrier in preterm babies if it is stopped after it has been used[17] and needs to be used consistently.

Oils can be good for your skin if you choose wisely and select them to fit your skin. A word of caution to those with acne is to choose oils more carefully for the face, chest, or back since heavier oils can clog the pores and cause a flare. Otherwise, have fun with oils on your skin. 


Olive Oil


Olive oil is made from the pressed olive fruit. It is a heavier oil containing omega-9, 6, and 3 fatty acids. Many of it’s health benefits are often attributed to the high amounts of polyphenols (antioxidants) which help to protect the body against the damage of free radicals. It also contains vitamins A, E, & K, and oleocanthal, which provides anti-inflammatory actions.[8] Olive oil has been known for its skin healing benefits[6,9] and has been a skin care necessity for 100s of years. 

While olive oil is popular, studies show that it is not good on dry skin or skin prone to ecezema. 


What's Your Skin Type

Each article on Dermveda is unique, just like you. Find your skin type and save your results to get articles that are compatible with you.


  1. Ahmad Z. The uses and properties of almond oil. Complement Ther Clin Pract.2010;16(1):10-12; PMID: 20129403.
  2. Foster RH, Hardy G, Alany RG. Borage oil in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Nutrition.2010;26(7-8):708-718; PMID: 20579590.
  3. Reddy KK, Ravinder T, Kanjilal S. Synthesis and evaluation of antioxidant and antifungal activities of novel ricinoleate-based lipoconjugates of phenolic acids. Food Chem.2012;134(4):2201-2207; PMID: 23442675.
  4. Gibson WT, Inventor. Cosmetic composition 1987.
  5. Nevin KG, Rajamohan T. Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2010;23(6):290-297; PMID: 20523108.
  6. Verallo-Rowell VM, Dillague KM, Syah-Tjundawan BS. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis.2008;19(6):308-315; PMID: 19134433.
  7. Wertz PW. Human synthetic sebum formulation and stability under conditions of use and storage. Int J Cosmet Sci.2009;31(1):21-25; PMID: 19134124.
  8. Parkinson L, Keast R. Oleocanthal, a phenolic derived from virgin olive oil: a review of the beneficial effects on inflammatory disease. Int J Mol Sci.2014;15(7):12323-12334; PMID: 25019344.
  9. Panahi Y, Izadi M, Sayyadi N, et al. Comparative trial of Aloe vera/olive oil combination cream versus phenytoin cream in the treatment of chronic wounds. J Wound Care.2015;24(10):459-460, 462-455; PMID: 26488737.
  10. Abdel-Daim MM, Taha R, Ghazy EW, et al. Synergistic ameliorative effects of sesame oil and alpha-lipoic acid against subacute diazinon toxicity in rats: hematological, biochemical, and antioxidant studies. Can J Physiol Pharmacol.2015;10.1139/cjpp-2015-0131:1-8; PMID: 26550680.
  11. Press M, Hartop PJ, Prottey C. Correction of essential fatty-acid deficiency in man by the cutaneous application of sunflower-seed oil. Lancet.1974;1(7858):597-598; PMID: 4132262.
  12. Cooke A, Cork MJ, Victor S, et al. Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil or no Oil for Baby Dry Skin or Massage: A Pilot, Assessor-blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial (the Oil in Baby SkincaRE [OBSeRvE] Study). Acta Derm Venereol.2015;10.2340/00015555-2279PMID: 26551528.
  13. Ziboh VA, Miller CC, Cho Y. Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites. Am J Clin Nutr.2000;71(1 Suppl):361S-366S; PMID: 10617998.
  14. Danby SG, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, et al. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatr Dermatol.2013;30(1):42-50; PMID: 22995032.
  15. Darmstadt GL, Saha SK, Ahmed AS, et al. Effect of skin barrier therapy on neonatal mortality rates in preterm infants in Bangladesh: a randomized, controlled, clinical trial. Pediatrics.2008;121(3):522-529; PMID: 18310201.
  16. Fallah R, Akhavan Karbasi S, Golestan M, et al. Sunflower oil versus no oil moderate pressure massage leads to greater increases in weight in preterm neonates who are low birth weight. Early Hum Dev.2013;89(9):769-772; PMID: 23830725.
  17. Kanti V, Grande C, Stroux A, et al. Influence of sunflower seed oil on the skin barrier function of preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial. Dermatology.2014;229(3):230-239; PMID: 25323538.