Is oil better than a moisturizing lotion?

oil vs moisturizer

Awhile ago, a reader left a comment in one of my earlier entries asking why is it necessary to moisturize after applying oil to her face since oil can act as a moisturizer on our skin. And her question led me to wonder if applying oil directly on our skin is better than using a moisturizing lotion that already contains oil. The thing is, I was using oil with some levels of success but recently, I’ve gone back to using a moisturizing lotion instead.

Difference between oil and a moisturizing lotion
First off, based on my understanding, one of the main differences between oil and a moisturizing lotion containing oil is water and maybe heat. For a moisturizing lotion to emulsify, you need to add water to the formulation and heat it up to a high temperature. In doing so, the nutrients that are available in the oil within that formulation maybe destroyed. However, if you’re using a carrier oil neat on your skin, you do not need to add any water. So on a simple level, it looks like oil is more superior than a moisturizing lotion.  However, I’ll like to add that the oil used should be cold pressed, which means it has been extracted using heat of low temperature and does not contain chemical solvents.

High grade moisturizing lotion are well formulated
However, it depends on the formulation of the moisturizing lotion and a high grade formula may actually be beneficial because it usually has a combination of other oils as well as antioxidant ingredients. Furthermore, technology can make it possible for the moisturizing lotion to be formulated without its ingredients losing their nutrients and yet, be able to penetrate deeply into our skin.

Mixing different oils to get total benefits
My experience with using carrier oils like grapeseed, seabuckthorn, emu and jojoba is that whilst they’re wonderful ingredients and do moisturize our skin well, they only do as much as what each can deliver when used individually. A high grade moisturizing lotion on the other hand, can contain multiple active ingredients including various oil extracts beneficial to our skin. So unless you’re mixing various oils to enjoy the numerous antioxidant effects, a well formulated moisturizing lotion is a good option to consider.

Moisturizer should be able to penetrate and deliver benefits
Of course the next question is, what is considered to be a well formulated moisturizer.  To me, such a product should contain some good antioxidants and the formulation should be made such that it can deliver those benefits to our skin – preferably without being greasy.  It is plain useless to me if the moisturizer merely sits on top of my skin or moisturize the upper layers.  In that case, I’ll rather use oil because based on past usage, most of them can penetrate and deliver goodies to my skin.  The only gripe is some of them are too oily for my liking and I don’t like to use them daily.

Well, these are my views on the topic and I’ll be happy to hear what others have to say.  Some of you have also been formulating moisturizers on your own so you might also have a different perspective to share too.

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  1. Angel says:

    I currently use a combo of Grapeseed oil and Joboba oil.
    It seems to work pretty well for my skin. I leave it on at night and my skin is always very soft when I wake up!
    I have had little experience with most moisturizers though…
    I tried Ponds, but it made my skin red for days I think it might have been the mineral oil so I avoid it.( And that Mineral oil is a cheap ingredient anyway. )

  2. flym says:

    I’m currently using a Japanese range for dry/atopic skin. Their products work this way: softening lotion (toner), then moisturizer, then oil (in gel form). The first 2 products penetrate and moisturize, the oil is to seal in the moisture.

    I’ve tried using oil on its own and applying it on damp skin, but it doesn’t seem to heal the atopic parts of the skin as well as prepping with some good moistuizer first.

    When I was using Decleor oils (French brand) some years back, it was oil first, followed by moisturizer. That worked pretty well too.

  3. Blovet Beauty says:

    I’m still a moisturiser type of girl.Having oil on top of my skin just feels weird. But there is one oil I am very fond of- jojoba oil. This oil does not break me out at all and in terms of moisturising it does a pretty decent job.Also I think it depends on the climate. In drier climates, i took to jojoba oil really well but in more humid climates, it would be moisturisers

  4. Amanda says:

    I personally use Jojoba oil as a night moisturizer, and it works fantastic for my skin. It leaves it hydrated, soft and glowing.

    I am currently trying out a new moisturizer for the day time though.

  5. sesame says:

    I find Jojoba very oily for my face. I only use it as a carrier oil used with essential oil for times when I need some specific skin treatments.

    Okay, moisturizers can be tricky. Cheap ones are functional and don’t do much except to moisturize the top layer. The expensive ones may deliver, but it depends on the extent.

  6. sesame says:

    The product you describe sounds interesting! I’ve never come across oil in gel form. So it’s not too oily I gather?

    I always use oil first, then moisturizer…never tried doing otherwise.

  7. sesame says:

    I used to be like you too until I tried oil. It was great for my fine lines and they penetrate a lot better.

    I don’t like jojoba oil though…find it too oily.

  8. sesame says:

    I don’t have that sort of luck with jojoba. Find it too oily for my likely. My fave was grapeseed oil. For emu, I only use it for massages and spot treatment now.

  9. zhenling says:

    in my experience, its alot easier to find a oil that does not clog pores than to find a moisturizer that does not.

    also, i believe that our skin requires a good balance of oil and water. so if you are using an oil, you need another product to provide the ‘water’ be it a toner or moisturizer

  10. grace says:

    I was the one who asked you why use moisturiser after applying oil.

    Just curious.FOr those readers who commented had success with jojoba oil/oil, what kinda skin type or age group do you belongs?

    Because my skin type is conbination, oily t zone, in my mid 20s, but using oil do not give me the kinda of softness or suppleness that you girls mentioned, just oily and clog pores. Yes, it clog my pores. I was using grapeseed oil. Also it started developing white heads.

    I feel the oil could not penetrate or absorb into the skin. It just sits on top. I also think the molecule of the oil is bigger hence harder to penetrate the skin.

  11. Leon says:

    I am a huge fan of Oil:) I love to mix essential oils with my carrier oil. No moisturizer could ever give me the Glow that these Pure Oils can give.

  12. raelynn says:

    i feel that it is actually better to be able to find a serum that is hydrating (which may be a really really light moisturizer) and then use an oil on top. the rationale is that the oil doesnt hydrate, because its molecules are bigger and it is actually to act as a barrier against moisture lost rather than replenishing moisture, unless it contains skincare actives. but essential oils may act as a actives though… cause it serves as a mechanism for the skin cells to regenerate eg palmarosa e.o .

  13. raelynn says:

    and to grace, i dont use oils on a daily basis, but when i use them, they dont really give me problems =)

    i’m acne prone combi sensitive.

  14. sesame says:

    Jojoba oil doesn’t seem to work for combination skin so well…but grapeseed was good for me. The oil do get absorbed but you still feel the residue. In fact, with moisturizers, there are so many stuff in there, some of them merely sits on top of your skin or coat it but it seems like they’ve been absorbed because there are no residue.

  15. sesame says:

    That’s good to know. It depends on personal preference and formulation. The range I’m currently using is great so I’m skipping oil for the moment except during massages.

  16. sesame says:

    I don’t think I’ve tried using serum and oil together…it’s either oil first, then moisturizer. But what you say makes sense and serum is not so heavy so using oil on top should be comfortable.

  17. grace says:

    I have to agree with raelynn. What you said makes sense to me. Because I also think the molecules of the oil is bigger, hence I’m wondering how do they get penetrate inside your epidermis, without any help of other ingredients. So I also share the same opinion that oil will act as a barrier against the loss of moisture. Hence I think hydrating factor is important, as I dont think oil alone will able to hydrate the skin.

  18. Rennie says:

    I’ve been seeing good results with oils. I also find jojoba oil too rich/oily for my combination skin. I tend to mix emu oil with a little bit of tea tree oil. This mixture surprisingly does not clog my pores and has improved the overall complexion of my skin. love it~ ?

  19. chenyze says:

    hmm which moisturizer are you using now then?

  20. sesame says:

    I’m not familiar with the molecule of the oil – never did chemistry…LOL. But some oils are able to penetrate deeply eg. emu oil. I’ve also personally experienced how grapeseed oil easily got rid of some fine lines around my eyes which was impossible with the normal eye cream I was using back then.

    But you’re right about hydrating. That is probably the answer why a moisturizer is still needed. The problem however, is that some feels that oil is so greasy, it’s impossible to slather anymore cream on top.

    If you don’t like oil, then stick to using a moisturizing lotion or cream. I’ve stopped using oil except for spot treatments and massages – not being they’re no good for me but cos I’m happy with what my current range provides.

  21. sesame says:

    You use the mixture of emu oil and tea tree oil for your entire face? I currently use that as a spot treatment for my acne.

  22. sesame says:

    I’m using the range from True Beauty – True Bio Skin Care. Started with the balancing range which gave me normal results but now, with the hydrating range, my skin is looking better and more hydrated. But I have an issue with dry skin cos of hormone imbalance – it’s dry on the outside but very oily inside.

  23. Dia says:

    I interchange rose hip oil and avocado oil. I find both very good on my skin. Then I put on light moisturizer on top… But I find absorption is better by putting serum/lotion first before the oil…
    I have combi skin n don’t have issues w d oils.

  24. sesame says:

    Hmm…interesting about the serum/lotion first. I’ve never tried that sequence. Maybe I’ll try it when I get the chance.

  25. pf1123 says:

    I have good experience with grapeseed oil! However, I used that when I was under acne treatment. So, my face was really really dry.

    Now my face is oily. But then I didn’t keep up with using oil. Coz with my SLOW speed of using anything on my face, I’m afraid the oil will go rancid before I finish using.

  26. stiffedneck says:

    Ever since I started having adult acne breakout, I mix emu oil and tea tree oil all over my face. It’s a bit oily, so I didn’t think of putting another moisturizer on top of it. My acne clears up, however, there’s always pimple on my face. Some day it’s on forehead, someday it’s on my cheek, someday it’s on my chin…like a never ending competition!!!

    On a different note, I just switched to a Balancing Foaming cleanser (not much foaming with a pleasant smell) from Jurlique. So I figured since this doesn’t dry out my skin, I might be able to skip the lotion for a while till my face’s back to its pretty self haha.

    I also recently bought Evening Primrose oil, Camelia oil, and Grapeseed Oil…however, I’m not sure what and how to mix them. I’m so tempted to mix them into my shampoos and conditioner. I also bought the rose and cucumber hydrosol, which I sprit on my face once or twice a day for a quick pick me up. It’s great.

    And sorry for the long rambling :-).

  27. sesame says:

    It can go rancid pretty quicky. Use it on your body. I use it as a carrier oil when I use essential oil on my boy.

  28. sesame says:

    No worries…ramble on!

    I had good experience using evening primrose oil (capsule sort for ingesting) on my acne. It didn’t clear up but it definitely helped calm the red angry acne a lot!

    I’m not too sure about mixing oils myself but typically, if you want to benefit from the properties of certain oils and you want faster results, the advice is to mix with some emu oil. But looks like you are having some problems with the oil. I suspect it might have to do with the quality of the oil cos when I was using one I was given, it was very good but with the one I bought, I had some similar problems like yours – not pimples but blackheads. One reader also mentioned the same…

    You can also mix oils with essential oils. Not sure about using with shampoos and conditioners. I guess it might be good if your hair is very dry?

  29. Leon says:

    Oh! Sustainable Youth definitely gave that glow but I would not be using it long term.

  30. sesame says:

    Because of the alcohol I suppose?

  31. Leon says:

    Yes,I am planning to avoid alcohol in my skin care products, thanks to you:)And the second reason is I am quite happy with my latest experiments with essential and carrier oils, will reveal it soon:)

  32. sesame says:

    Oh great! Look forward to reading it! ?

  33. debbie says:

    I have very, very dry skin and my skin responds very, very well to coconut oil in particular. I’ve noticed that I do need to mix it with a pinch of an Aubrey’s moisturizer for my skin to really absorb it. I’ve been drinking lots of water so my skin is ready to absorb anything and oils seem to be the best for it. But if my skin is completely dry, I do have to use a moisturizer, the oil does not penetrate unless I mix it with very hot water.

  34. sesame says:

    Mixing with hot water? Hmm…that’s interesting cos I’ve never come across this approach.

  35. DanThomason says:

    Lotion and sunscreen are both toxic. A good rule of thumb is to NEVER put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth! Olive oil and safflower oil are great for the skin. Lotion is full of synthetic chemicals that can barely be spelled by anyone other than a chemist. Err on the side of safety and never use lotions or suntan/sunscreen. A good expeller pressed oil is all you need to keep your skin moist and supple.

  36. Zara says:

    Can you elaborate more why we must use oil first rather than moisturizer? Is there any complication if I use moisturizer first?

  37. sesame says:

    Usually, you apply the thinner consistency first and since moisturizer is thicker. Also, it makes it easier for the oil to be absorbed into the skin, But there shouldn’t be any complications if you do it the other way round…just that the oil may not penetrate into the skin as easily with an additional barrier. However, if your moisturizer is very watery, then best to apply moisturizer first, then oil.

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