Just what do facial oils do? Well, it helps to think of skin as needing both food and water – like our bodies themselves. Moisturisers are the water element, while facial oils offer concentrated nourishment. They’re incredibly skin-compatible, having a structure that’s not dissimilar to skin’s own sebum – and in fact, can actually inhibit production of that almost by tricking the skin into thinking it’s produced enough oil of its own. Personally? We like to layer a drop or two of facial oil over our moisturisers at night – a complete ‘meal’ for skin. We almost need to apologise for the number of 2019 Award-winners here – do scroll down for EVEN more winners – but the scores were so fantastic, you absolutely need to know about ALL of these.
GOLD JOINT and BEST NATURAL AWARD Balance Me Radiance Facial Oil
From one of the best-loved ‘clean’ Brit beauty brands, this (as the name suggests) sets out to illuminate and boost radiance, as well as to hydrate and target signs of ageing. A rich blend of oils – Amazonian buruti nut, camellia, rosehip, jojoba, moringa, camellia seed and more – the drops dispensed from the dropper bottle are nevertheless swiftly absorbed. One of the key factors in the incredibly high score awarded to this product – it notched up 9.3/10 across 10 testers – is the scent, which bathes your senses in heavenly rose otto.
'10/10. This soft lovely oil has a calming relaxing fragrance that I really liked. My dry mature skin was softer and smoother the following day after I first applied it at night. I also felt it looked more radiant. It sinks in very quickly so I could use a couple of drops in the morning and apply make-up afterwards. At night I used a few more drops. After using it for a while, my skin definitely looks better and more radiant. I would certainly buy it’ • ‘I am very happy with this product. It promised to plump and soothe my skin, which it did within 24 hours. It also looked glowing. That all made it look more youthful. After a month of using this oil, my fine lines look less noticeable. I now have nourished, radiant, youthful looking skin. Also it is 100 per cent natural which is amazing’ • ‘My skin feels softer and in better condition, more moisturised and has a better texture with continued use of this oil. I like the fact that it is so light and sinks quickly and easily so I can use it in the daytime’ • ‘I am so impressed with this oil. After one use I noticed that my skin looked brighter, plumper and firmer, and felt soft. It is a pleasure to use, with the lovely fragrance. After I used for a few weeks, my skin looks great and feels so soft and nourished, so I would say it definitely has anti-ageing benefits. It more than lives up to its claims’ • ‘My skin definitely looks better after using this product. It is so hydrating and makes my formerly tired looking skin look radiant and dewy’ • ‘I absolutely love this product. I stopped using it for a week when I was on holiday and I did notice a difference in my skin, the wrong way. A little goes a long way! They recommend applying two drops for a reason… I recommend applying it as the final step in a skincare routine’ • ‘This has helped my skin texture a lot. I have definitely softer, smoother skin the next morning and a nice glow, which someone commented on the other day. It’s lovely to apply with a beautiful smell. Feels like a real treat to use as a new ritual at night – I really look forward to it. I love waking up with noticeably glowy, clearer skin in the morning.’
£24 for 30ml - click to buy
GOLD JOINT AWARD ESPA Regenerating Face Treatment Oil
Looking up the info on this, we discovered that on their own site, ESPA feature over 275 reviews with an average of 5/10 score. That’s mirrored by our own testers’ reports, which are equally consistent; our mature testers enjoyed almost everything about this potent age-defying blend, which sets out to enhance elasticity via avocado, evening primrose, wheatgerm, with vitamin E, soothing calendula and organic carrot oil, also blissfully-scented with a scent that is both grounding and beautiful, from frankincense and jasmine essential oils. It’s also good for ‘stressed’ skins, they tell us.
'This is a really wonderful product, which starts with the scent (a delicate aromatherapy type scent - nothing overwhelming). I've never used any ESPA products before and it has been really lovely to be introduced to something new and so good. My skin has loved using it and honestly, I think it will become a trusted part of my core skincare regime. I am so happy to have found it - my skin is renewed and calm, juicy and bouncy and clear - the clarity is quite astonishing. It's true skincare love - thank you!’ • ‘My old Sahara type skin drank this up like nobody’s business. It is now velveteen soft, better balanced and less prone to acting hysterically. It has made my skin smoother, super bouncy and nourished looking. I have had a few lovely comments asking what foundation I am wearing – when in fact it’s none, which is always cheering’ • ‘Wonderful! I love this oil and dreaded the day the bottle would be finished. My skin looks 100 per cent better, deeply nourished and well. I have had lots of compliments that my skin is looking younger. It lasts a long time - thank goodness. My only gripe is that it is difficult to squeeze out the last couple of weeks of the oil. I have had to pour it into my hand, as the pipette can't draw any oil up. This means that I have used more than I needed so it is running out even quicker!’ • ‘This lives up to its claims. Would I buy it? YES, YES, YES! You should too…’ • ‘This beautiful product is a-ma-zing… it has turned back the clock on my face by years, and is so lovely to use. I put a few drops into my palms and inhale the fragrance and the world just slows down. My skin drinks it in and it's even given me the confidence now to go make-up free every so often (unheard of!). Even under foundation the radiance and glow show through. Can't praise this oil enough and even though it's expensive it lasts for ages; I've been using it night and day and I'm barely a quarter through the bottle. I never want to be without it. Another bonus is that I've been rubbing any excess into the backs of my hands and the difference there is also amazing. If I could only chose one cosmetic/beauty item, this would be it... everyone should try it. You'll see and feel a difference in your skin immediately.’
£71 for 30ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD (JOINT) Slow Ageing Essential Facial Essence
This year we embarked on some ‘special trials’ to offer brands consumer insights into their products, and this did amazingly well across 30 testers. We like that Slow Ageing – founded by the former head of Decléor in the UK, and his therapist wife – offers a Skin’ergy how-to facial massage to enhance penetration and effectiveness of the range (and testers thoroughly enjoyed the de-stressing as well as the skin-boosting effects from this). Cornerstone of the capsule Slow Ageing collection, the key oil in this ‘hero’ product is sourced from hazelnuts, scented with skin-balancing ylang ylang, oxygen-boosting rosemary, anti-inflammatory and uplifting lemon verbena and soothing chamomile. A name to watch.
'This is a lovely facial oil, very rich but easily absorbed, particularly using the massage technique. Lovely fragrance as well! I have only recently started regular use of a facial oil but I will definitely continue with this and the massage. My skin looked plumper, brighter and smoother within 24 hours. The effects continued and after using it for a while fine lines are reduced, elasticity improved and my skin is hydrated and nourished. I've had favourable comments! I used the same amount day and night and had no issues with it at all even in the hot weather this summer. Make-up was easily applied afterwards’ • ‘My combination skin was immediately more hydrated and radiant, softer, smoother and brighter. I found it was best for me to use just at night and use the matching moisturiser in the morning. After using this for some weeks, my skin definitely looks a lot better. My family noticed a big difference in the texture and radiance. I have glowing skin for the first time in years, which is such a confidence booster for me’ • ‘I really like this product, it is very easy to use and I would buy it as a staple part of my routine. I enjoyed the massage element, and have decided to incorporate it into my daily routine. It’s a great benefit: I have never spent so much time on my skin. My face never became shiny at any point as the oils were absorbed into the skin. I do feel it did help to minimise fine lines around the eyes and nose. It promised to enhance elasticity and I do feel it lived up to this’ • ‘I love to wake up to a new day and now my skin also feels this way. This product can rewind time in a refined way. You slowly but surely see definable benefits including glowing, more even toned skin. It sings on your face like an opera – and I appreciate the finer things in life’ • ‘This feels like a real treat for the skin, it's really good that you can use it day and night if your skin needs it. Using the massage techniques as per the video greatly enhance its performance. The product feels luxurious and makes me feel that I am really taking care of my skin.’
£75 for 30ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD (JOINT) Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil
Most of us reserve facial oils for use at night, but Omorovicza – who tap into the longstanding traditions of Hungarian beauty therapy – maintain that because this is absorbed more like a serum, it can also be used in the a.m. Botanicals include sea buckthorn oil, rosehip and sweet almond oil to repair the lipid matrix and offer antioxidant defences, along an extract from bakuchi seed which they maintain is a natural alternative to retinol, helping to repair wrinkles and fine lines by boosting collagen formation. Further upping the antioxidant power is a winged kelp extract, for firmness and elasticity.
‘My fave of all the products I trialled. I became completed addicted to it, it was a pure delight to use and my combi skin – dry with an oily T-zone - loved it. I looked forward to using it. Skin felt plump and hydrated from the start and after some weeks, it looked much better overall. My hubby commented! Although it is higher than my normal price point I will consider buying other products from this range’ • ‘I loved this from day one –great for fading fine wrinkles and encouraging the production of collagen and elastin, making the skin look plumper and firmer. I like using it at night and I dab it on my forehead, neck and around my cheeks and eyelids. It is easily absorbed without leaving the skin greasy and can be used under make-up. The skin feels really nourished and hydrated. My skin feels and looks younger, not saggy at all. It feels really soft and looks stunning in the morning. It's the best product I have used. My friends all want to know my secret!’ • ‘Surprisingly, my combination skin isn’t shiny after using this oil although I thought it might be. It looks and feels nourished and there is an improvement in the smoothness. Despite the fact it feels alien to apply an oil to my skin type, I do like this product’ • ‘On massaging in a couple of drops in the morning I definitely look much more glowy. There's an immediate rosy bloom given to the skin and it looks quite dewy but not oily. I like that it facilitates facial massage, which I think is good for the skin. My skin is happy to go without moisturiser when using this, unless it's feeling extra dry. It would be nice if it helped with lines/firmness as well, it may be too early to tell about that yet, but for general texture and feel of the skin it is really good’ • ‘The product had great results on softness of the skin from the outset, which continued with long-term use. This gave my skin a very comfortable feel. With longer-term use I felt it had anti-ageing qualities. My skin definitely felt softer instantly and used over a few months it also looked and felt plumper and more nourished with fine lines appeared diminished. It product promised younger looking skin and reduced fine lines and I definitely got results along those lines …….if you pardon the pun!’
£80 for 30ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD (JOINT) Samaya Pitta Anti-Ageing Treatment Oil
Firmly rooted in the Ayurvedic tradition, all-natural Samaya target the three different Ayurvedic ‘doshas’ – vata, pitta and kapha. Pitta skins are prone to heat and sensitivity, combated here by an anti-ageing and calming, soothing blend that includes turmeric root and gotu kola oils and lotus seed extract (healing), cooling feverfew extract, neem oil (to reduce itching and roughness), Spilanthes acmella, or paracress (they describe it as ‘nature’s Botox), together with shatarvati extract, a tonic for female health whose Sanskrit name rather gloriously translates as ‘she who possesses one hundred husbands’ (!).
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I love, love, love this oil. It has left me with soft radiant skin that is calm and happy. I find that it is soothing when I put it on and I have added this into my routine of cleansing and moisturising. I don't need to put foundation on as my skin looks so much better, no longer dry and lifeless. I noticed a massive improvement after two weeks use. After using it for a while my fine lines have almost erased themselves and my skin is plumping up and getting more youthful. This is my go to product when I have a flare up of dry skin as it works so well and doesn’t cause any irritation’ • ‘This product is pleasurable to use and I feel it would suit most skin types. The Ayurvedic principles may be a very different way of choosing your skincare but if you go onto Samaya website you will see that they categorise skin differently to Western principles. The oil sank in well and left my skin looking and feeling soft and smooth in the morning. At night to rub a drop between your palms and put them over your nose gave a lovely calming inhalation, which I felt aided sleep. After using for a few weeks, my skin looks smoother and more plumped up. I think it helps the elasticity in the skin, which ultimately sorts out fine lines and wrinkles. Pricey but worth it’ • ‘The jasmine fragrance is calming and luxurious and does impart a sense of tranquility, making you really look forward to using it. It sank in really quickly and did seem to enhance radiance. There has been an improvement to my fine lines especially round the eye area and my skin just has more of a glow to it’ • ‘So light and sank in really quickly. It's a pleasure to use; my skin feels and looks smoother and slightly plumper and more radiant. • ‘Can I give this double top marks??? My dull weatherbeaten skin drank in this product and now looks amazing! Smooth, soft, healthier, younger and radiant. I have been told I look better. Loved, loved this product.’
£79 for 30ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD (JOINT) Jurlique Skin Balancing Facial Oil
This is (as you might have guessed) designed to balance skintypes, making it the most suitable of those featured here for oilier and troubled complexions. (Which, as we’ve said in our intro above, are also great candidates for facial oils.) They recommend dispensing two or three drops onto a cotton pad and applying to cleansed, damp skin, where the blend of safflower, avocado, macadamia, jojoba, evening primrose and a raft of botanical extracts should be absorbed quickly.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I loved this and so did my skin! It sinks into the skin beautifully and is not at all greasy. It balances my oily skin and leaves it really soft, hydrated, plumper and bright. I love the subtle gorgeous rose scent. I will order more when the bottle runs out’ • ‘I absolutely love this product. The product feels so nice on my skin and didn't leave it feeling tacky, it just kept disappearing in as I massaged my face. It promised to nurture my skin and make it smooth and supple and it definitely did’ • ‘My skin can vary. I have oily patches but also some dry ones and I am wary of adding extra oils to my skin. However, this didn't make it oily, just very healthy as my partner noticed. The oil leaves my face looking soft, smooth, clean and hydrated. The dry patches didn't need extra moisturising’ • ‘I liked this oil a lot. Even though it seemed quite a thick consistency, it sank into my dry skin straight away and made it feel comfortable and look nourished, soft and bright. I would buy it’ • ‘You get 50ml of product, which is a very generous amount for a facial oil, as you need so little, so I got Hubby using it too and he loves it. His skin was so dry but this oil has really helped put some much needed moisture back in. Shows that the fragrance isn't too feminine. This oil is a pleasure to use and feels like it is doing your skin some serious good. It has been used over the heat wave and hasn't made my skin overly oily or shiny, I'm looking forward to using it over the winter, too.’
£38 for 50ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD (JOINT) Guerlain Abeille Royale Youth Watery Oil
Now this really is something different. It feels much lighter than an oil – literally almost like a water – and is more akin to a serum, we’d say. Nevertheless, we trialled it as an oil – and the testers loved this fresh-feeling product, whose key ingredients include myrrh oil (used in Indian traditional medicine for 3,000 years, for its soothing and restorative powers), alongside Ouessant black bee honey and royal jelly, from the unspoiled island off the coast of Brittany where Guerlain sources its key ‘bee’ ingredients; famously, royal jelly and honey have not only antiseptic but healing properties.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I’m very pleased with the results of using this oil. It does what it says on the tin: replumps, smooths and illuminates. With 24 hours, I noticed a softness, my lines seemed less noticeable and my skin looked brighter and had a glow. It helps hydrate and plump out my skin so I think it will reduce the appearance of wrinkles. I would certainly buy this’ • ‘I love the charming old-fashioned glass jar, which is perfect for this classic product. As a watery oil, it spreads very easily. I loved the fragrance too’ • ‘Overall I was surprised I liked this, as I thought it was going to be too oily but it sank in well and once I figured out that it was best to use at night I started to like it a lot more. I didn't need to use a night cream too as my skin was very plump, moisturised and dewy looking by the morning. It did live up to the claims’ • ‘Within 24 hours of using this light fragrant oil blend, I noticed that my skin looked more hydrated - the fine lines on my forehead looked slightly softer and the overall brightness was better. As I went on using it, it definitely made my skin brighter and more radiant – it’s glowing and more plumped up, as if it has more bounce to it’ • ‘Top marks. This is fab for my dry skin, making it softer, more luminous, supple, and – especially - more radiant. And I am getting more for my birthday!’ • ‘It made my skin feel soft and hydrated and gave it a lovely natural healthy sheen. My skin definitely looks better after regularly using this product, more plumped up and less tired. It absolutely lived up to its claims. The packaging is beautiful, the oil is light and easily absorbed and feels luxurious. My skin now looks and feels amazing. This is a must-have.’
£92 for 50ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD (JOINT) Clinique Smart Treatment Oil
It took our high-tech friends at Clinique a while to join the facial oil party – but according to testers, this was worth the wait. A nourishing blend for dry and damaged sins of fatty acids and lipids (sunflower, safflower, sesame, cranberry seed, barley and rosemary leaf extracts, among others), it also offers antioxidant protection from vitamins C and E to defend against environmental damage. Unlike most oils featured here, which retain the tones of their natural ingredients, this is completely (and Clinique-ly) colourless.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I think I may just have found my Holy Grail! This oil is probably one of the best oils I've used with visible results. It sank in immediately, nourished my skin and left no greasiness or shine. I had no issues at all in regards to break outs as this can sometimes be a problem with new facial oils’ • ‘This lightweight product is very moisturising and comforting and not overly oily, just right I feel. I’ve really enjoyed using it and it has easily fitted into my skincare routine. My skin is prone to being very dry and can flare up and be irritated but it is instantly hydrated and visibly plumped up after applying this. I’ve noticed that it has balanced my skin tone out too. I didn’t feel I needed to apply another product afterwards in the evening. There has been no sensitivity with this product. I would seriously consider buying this great product’ • ‘All good! This sinks in easily, is not greasy and feels very light on the skin. It is plumping, soothing and hydrating, quite firming too. It’s a good oil if you don’t like oils generally although I love oils and enjoyed this one’ • ‘My dry, sometimes sensitive skin looked plumper and brighter than usual, and felt soft. It didn't make it shinier, only more moisturised and less dry. My skin definitely looks better, healthier and glowing with fine lines smoothed. I have had comments on my skin looking healthy. This was my first time using oil and I really like it’ • ‘I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised by this oil. I had not expected a "high-tech" company like Clinique to even do an oil and I'm glad I've discovered it. My skin is noticeably smooth, plump, soft and nourished. It maintained my skin very well and I think the tone and texture were improved. It feels firmer and velvety. It is quite heavy and as such, I don't think I'd wear it during the day but it's very effective and pleasant to use. I'd recommend it to friends and I probably will buy it myself in future.’
£37 for 30ml - click to buy