The Lowdown on Skincare Oils: Kinds, Uses, and Benefits

IMAGE Louie Aguinaldo

An oil-free formulation in a cream or serum used to be a source of pride for many beauty brands. Now it’s time we put to rest the notions that oils aggravate breakouts or make the skin greasy. In fact, its popularity has led to brands adding a variety of potent oils to everything, from skincare to hair treatments.

Manila has joined the rest of the world’s obsession with beauty oils, from face to body and hair oils. The most popular ones are discoveries from plants and trees in Africa (argan, moringa, katafray, and marula, among others), where many brands have turned to for botanical formulations. Oils, which are usually extracted from plants, fruits, or nuts, are recognized for their high antioxidant content and anti-aging benefits. Many oils used by beauty brands today, whether in pure or mixed formulas, are noncomedogenic—they do not clog pores or make oily skin oilier, which means they do not cause acne or blackheads. Still, not all oils are created equal, and formulations, kinds, and brands matter in how they’ll work for your skin type.

Clockwise from left: L’Occitane Soothing Scalp Oil, Rustan’s Makati, 813.3739; Marula by John Paul Selects Pure Marula Facial Oil, SM Beauty Store Makati; Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil, Power Plant Mall, 897.8575; L’Occitane Tonic Body Oil, Rustan’s Makati, 813.3739; Clarins Contour Body Treatment Oil, Rustan’s Makati, 813.3739; L’Occitane Face Comforting Oil, Rustan’s Makati, 813.3739


The lowdown: For years, coconut oil had been listed as comedogenic based on tests done on rabbits’ ears in the 1960s. But recent trials on humans prove that virgin coconut oil is non-comedogenic. The benefits of using virgin coconut oil-based products include treating acne bacteria, helping the skin retain moisture better than other botanical oils, and increasing skin elasticity. It is also rich in antioxidants that protect the skin and help heal wounds and soothe inflammation.
Works on:  Flaky, very dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin; stretch marks.
Our pick: CBeauty offers various cold-pressed virgin coconut oil products that are all-natural and effective, such as Universal Beauty Oils (coconut mixed with ylang-ylang, citronella, lavender, or chamomile) for face and body; the Glow Facial Moisturizer for a deep oil treatment that mixes coconut with rosehip, avocado, and evening primrose; and the Take It Off Pre-Cleanse Balm, which works as a great makeup remover.

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The lowdown: Marula oil, extracted from the nuts of the African marula tree, made it big in skincare last year when studies proved that it contains more antioxidants than argan oil. It has higher concentrations of fatty acids, flavonoids, and vitamins C and E, making its purest form a great treatment for breakouts and both dryness and oiliness without clogging the pores and while fighting bacteria.
Works on: Combination skin; the T-zone; acne; hands and body.
Our picks: Marula by John Paul Selects Pure Marula Facial Oil is a pure and potent elixir cold-pressed from the highest quality marula plants. It works as a perfect day serum, makeup base, or evening oil. The best thing about it? It’s fast absorbing and non-greasy. L’Occitane’s Face Comforting Oil, on the other hand, mixes marula oil with shea, sunflower, and castor oils for added moisturizing benefits.

The lowdown: After the buzz two years ago, argan oil found its way to practically every beauty product—from anti-agers and cuticle softeners to lip balms and hair treatment products, thanks to its high vitamin E, antioxidant, and fatty acid levels. It’s also non-comedogenic and non-irritating.
Works on: Hair and scalp; oily skin; chapping lips; whole body as a moisturizer.
Our picks: Moroccanoil is now in Manila at leading salons. Its Dry Body Oil is a great day moisturizer.


The lowdown: It has the most similar composition to our body’s own moisturizing oils, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin. It regulates the oil production of those with oily skin and functions as a moisturizer for those with dry skin. This vitamin- and mineral-rich oil doesn’t cause allergic reactions, making it a staple not only in facial oils, but in lip balms and scrubs, lotions, and cleansers. Its antioxidant content fights skin damage caused by UV rays.
Works on: All skin types; hair; lips.
Our picks: Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil, which features eight botanical oils that include jojoba, safflower, olive, and shea butter; L’Occitane Soothing Scalp Oil for healthier, smoother, and softer tresses and scalp; and Human Nature Pure Jojoba Oil, which works great and instantly on flaky skin and scalp. 

The lowdown: Quickly absorbed and highly moisturizing, almond oil is lightweight but packed with vitamin E. Usually almond oil works as a great “carrier oil” for other essential oils like lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus, which need to be diluted before their nutrients can be absorbed by the skin.
Works on: Dark spots; wrinkles; discoloration; scars.
Our picks: L’Occitane’s Tonic Body Oil features almond oil with a super cocktail of pink pepper oil, immortelle extract, palm, mint, carrot, and cypress oils.


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About The Author
Nicole Limos Morales
Nicole is the former managing editor of Town & Country Philippines. After working as features editor and beauty editor of the title’s print edition for 6 years, she helped launch in 2016, creating new concepts and story formats, analyzing data, and mastering digital audiences—establishing the title to become the Philippines’ leading luxury lifestyle website. She left her full-time position in 2019 to focus on family life, while carrying on writing beauty content for T&C as a contributing editor. “I think what’s amazing about beauty is that in its arena, you can really only be a skeptic for so long,” she says. “There will always be a product that will make you believe.”
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