At Go-To, we’re all about making skin care simple. From start to finish and throughout the endless scrolling in between, we want you to feel confident finding what’s right for you; which is why today we’re helping you decipher a common phrase you’ve probably noticed swishing around in the skin care formulations fountain: oil or water-based.
“The key differences between these types of products are the texture and sensory, intended function of the product, and also the delivery of particular active ingredients,” explains Go-To formulation chemist, Ingrid. Both versions boast many benefits, and neither is inherently ‘better’, it’s all about finding what’s best for you and your skin’s needs.
With that in mind, let’s break down what do they mean (besides, well, the obvious), what the real-life result is, and which is going to be best for you.
The water-based formulas among us contain active ingredients that are water-soluble and are best known for their featherlight, barely-there texture. They’re a great option for anyone who likes a soft, airy feeling in their products.
As you might expect from a lightweight formula, the finish of water-based formulas tends to do a disappearing act on your face. Which is to say that, once applied you’ll be left with a shine-free, not-even-nearly-greasy finish. They deliver serious hydration but also absorb quickly, with no residue.
When it comes to skin types, water-based formulas will often be ideal for oily, combination or teen skin types (due to their shine-free finish). Dehydrated skin types may also enjoy water-based face cream formulas because they offer hydration (which is exactly what dehydrated skin lacks: water!)
As the name suggests, oil-based face cream formulas contain active ingredients that are oil-soluble. And while your water-based products are lovely and light, the oil-based formulas are nice and rich, with a texture that will feel heavier on the skin.
The finish of an oil-based formula also tends to be on the glowy, dewy sign. Making them an ideal option for anyone who wants their skin care to give them a big old boost of radiance or brightness.
Given oils heavier texture, oil-based formulas can also be very helpful for locking in the rest of your skin care products, which helps to prevent water-loss from leaving your skin tight or uncomfortable.
When it comes to skin types, oil-based formulas will often be ideal drier skin types (to make up for what dry skin lacks: oil!), ageing skin, or anyone who enjoys the feeling of a richer moisturiser (due to their lovely replenishing nature).