Here in Asian Skincare Land, we talk a lot about the amazing flexibility of the AB (Asian beauty) skincare routine. No matter what your skin needs at any given moment, there’s a good chance an Asian skincare product exists to provide it. But not everyone can (or should) own every single product their skin might need at any given moment. It’s not very economical, and products purchased for use on rare occasions tend to expire before they’re finished.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to increase the versatility of your existing skincare stash without having to acquire a ton of new products. When it comes to moisture, facial oils are key. You could keep multiple moisturizers on hand, or you could keep a single well chosen facial oil around. The facial oil alone can dramatically increase your options—let’s look at how!
As a mix-in for your serums and creams
If your skin fluctuates a lot in dryness levels depending on your health, your environment, the seasons, or for any other reason, remember this: it’s easier to add moisture to existing products than it is to make existing products lighter. That’s where facial oils come in. It’s delightfully easy to customize a lighter product into a richer one with a drop or two of facial oil mixed in.
When my skin is feeling extra parched, I like doing this closer to the beginning of my routine. Simple hydrating toners like Hada Labo’s classic Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion or the thicker and more serum-like Gokujyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion make excellent carriers for add-ins like a facial oil. This works especially well when the problem is my skin itself—if I’ve overexfoliated, for example, or used a cleanser that’s too harsh for my face.
On the other hand, when the problem is environmental, like dry weather or needing to run the heater overnight, I prefer to put the oil at the end of my routine, where it can help my moisturizer fully lock in my layers. A drop or two of oil will make pretty much any moisturizer instantly more moisturizing, but I find it works especially well with creams that have a good humectant component, like COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream. The addition of an oil helps tip the balance of the moisturizer from simply hydrating to hydrating and occlusive, better sealing in my skin’s own juices.
You can combine oil with a humectant like this COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream
Don’t mix the oil into the actual container of product. That will prevent you from being able to use the product in its normal state when your skin wants that. It will also increase the risk of contamination in your product. A cosmetic product’s preservative system is specifically formulated to prevent bacterial and fungal growth in that product. Adding extra ingredients introduces factors that the original preservatives aren’t made to handle. Instead, just mix products in your palm immediately before applying.
As an undereye savior
We’ve talked about patting on a thin layer of oil under your regular sheet mask for enhanced moisture and glow, so no need to rehash that here. But I don’t think we’ve talked about doing it specifically under the eyes!
Undereye fine lines are one of the most common early signs of skin aging, and one of the most panic-inducing. I’ve gotten requests for help with undereye lines from readers as young as twenty. And I get it. Finding those first fine lines under your eyes feels like a milestone you weren’t ready to hit. I found one under my right eye when I was fifteen and literally went to the school nurse in a panic about it.
The thing is, undereye fine lines are often not actually a sign of skin aging. (Obviously not for fifteen-year-old me, who was basically laughed right out of the nurse’s office.) Especially if you’re younger, they’re more often caused by allergies, fatigue, or simply dehydration and dry skin.
Oils can help.
A few years ago, I stumbled across an incredible way to completely iron out my undereye area. A light dab of facial oil under my eyes, followed by 20-30 minutes with an eye mask, visibly plumps up and smooths out the area, and does so more intensely than an eye mask on its own. The plumping effect lasts longer, too. It’s a very quick fix that always works for me.
As a body lotion enhancer
This discovery was a total accident. I was running low on my usual body lotion and didn’t want to finish it or go get more, since it isn’t exactly an Essential Item that warrants braving public spaces during coronavirus days. My eye fell on a bottle of ultra lightweight hyaluronic acid body gel and then on a bottle of facial oil. My brain wheezed to life. I mixed a healthy dropperful of oil into a generous dollop of body gel and applied that to my legs.
It. Was. Brilliant. The body gel quickly sank in and hydrated my skin; the oil sank in too, contributing just enough moisture to keep my skin soft and comfortable without feeling oily or heavy. No oil stains on my sofa, no need to wait for it to dry before getting dressed.
While that is a very specific combination, I’ve since experimented with various lotions and found that what works for my face also works beautifully for my body. An oil adds instant richness to any body moisturizer, which is especially useful when dealing with different areas of the body that need different levels of moisture. These days, I always mix a bit of oil into my lotion before applying it to my feet, for example. It also lends an extra muscle-defining sheen to my arms and legs when I’m showing those. My skin feels great, and I have no need for a wardrobe of different body moisturizers anymore.
Which oil should I use?
When you’re looking for an oil to customize the rest of your skincare, pay attention to the thickness and consistency of the oil. Oilier or normal skin does best with the addition of very thin and light oils, while dry skin appreciates thicker and heavier ones.
Naruko Supreme Rejuvenating Elixir Oil is one of the lightest oil blends I’ve tried as well as one of my favorites. The lightness of this product makes it especially handy for use under sheet masks and eye mask, and it feels lovely on its own, too.
Haruharu Wonder Black Rice Facial Oil is a little heavier than the Naruko elixir oil, but still light enough to benefit normal skin. Finally, Holy Snails Perseids Facial Oil provides rich nourishment to keep even super-dry skin supple and moisturized.
How do you customize your products for your skin’s needs? Let us know in the comments!