Should Face Oils be Applied Before or After Moisturiser?
Zoë Foster Blake
What it depends on...
Where your products sit in your routine depends entirely on the products you use, the ingredients they are made with, and your skin type and concerns.
All oils are different. They each have different chemical structures, different molecular weights, and enormously different taste in music. This is why there is no one-size-fits-oil answer, and also why there is so, much, debate around the topic.
The thing that everyone can agree on?
You should end your routine with your thickest, heaviest, most occlusive product.
This locks the rest of your skincare in and creates a barrier for your skin to stop moisture loss. Finishing with the “heaviest” layer also ensures you’re not blocking any other products you use from absorbing into the skin. (Some people use Vaseline as their final layer/occlusive, which offers a helpful visualisation. Cos nothin’ is getting through Vaseline.)
How to know if your face oil is light or heavy…
A quick squiz at the ingredient list will tell you what you need to know.
Light oils (jojoba, squalane, avocado, almond, apricot, argan) mimic the texture of sebum, help rebuild the lipid layer, and absorb into skin fast. These are fine to be applied before moisturiser so long as you’re not using a super light moisturiser (more on how to spot those in a bit).
Heavy oils (coconut, olive, or mineral oils) on the other hand, work best if they sit on top of the skin, thanks to their larger molecular weight. They are occlusive and best applied last.
Why Go-To recommends oil before moisturiser…
Because it makes sense for our products, and the routine we suggest applying them in.
Our face oil Face Hero is gloriously lightweight; it’s full of light oils that have a similar composition to sebum (like jojoba and almond). And our moisturisers are full of lush, non-comedogenic butters (like shea butter) which makes them deeply nourishing, occlusive, and the ideal final step.
And so, as you can see, oil before moisturiser makes sense for those using both Face Hero and Very Useful Face Cream.
When you may like to use oil last…
If you are using a gel, lotion or lightweight moisturiser as your face cream. (You can spot these by looking for terms like: oil-free, gel moisturiser, or water cream. Products in this category include Tatcha’s The Water Cream, Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturiser, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost, and Go-To's own Very Lightweight Moisturiser). Then it makes sense to finish off with an oil, because the oil is heavier than your light moisturiser, and therefore, should be applied last as the lock-in layer.
One last thing…
Your skin is made up of both oil and moisture and it needs BOTH to function optimally. So whatever products you choose, and whichever order you go with, for the love of soft skin, do use both an oil and a moisturiser.