The Power of Oil Serums: More Than Just a Simple Face Oil

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You might’ve heard the terms “oil serum” and “face oil” thrown around a lot. Sure, they both contain the word “oil,” but they’re not interchangeable. Let’s break down what makes an oil serum a game-changer in your skincare regimen and how it differs from your regular face oil.

Why Use Face Oils

If you’re on the fence about adding a face oil to your skincare routine, you may be surprised by the multitude of benefits these natural elixirs bring to the table. We asked Dr. Heather Smith, founder of bareLUXE Skincare (a brand that specializes in face oils and serums), about the main benefits and here’s what we learned:

  • Deep Hydration: Face oils offer intense moisturization, sealing in water and other ingredients, leaving your skin soft and plump.
  • Enhanced Absorption: Oils help the skin better absorb active ingredients, delivering them deep for maximum benefit.
  • Natural Goodness: Most face oils are free from preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, and stabilizers, making them more natural and often better for sensitive skin.
  • Rich in Nutrients: Face oils are packed with essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that nourish and protect your skin.
  • Soothing Barrier Support: Oils like jojoba and squalane mimic your skin’s natural oils, helping reinforce your skin’s barrier function and encourage healing.
  • Anti-Aging Benefits: Some oils like rosehip and argan are rich in antioxidants that can help fight off signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Balancing Oil Production: Contrary to popular belief, the right face oil can actually regulate sebum production in oily skin types.

Remember, oils are not one-size-fits-all; they can be tailored to your particular skincare needs. 

What is an Oil Serum?

An oil serum is typically a blend of carrier oils like jojoba, grapeseed, or almond oil, combined with power-packed, oil-soluble active ingredients. These active ingredients are what can transform your skin from “meh” to “magnificent.”

Simple carrier oils are essential but not the star of the show. Carrier oils like rosehip or argan oil are excellent for moisturizing and providing a base, but they don’t offer the targeted benefits of active ingredients. So, if a face oil is 100% rosehip oil, it’s excellent for moisturization, but visible results for specific concerns, like dark spots, are going to be minimal.

What Makes Oil Serums More Powerful?

Here’s where the story gets juicy. The active ingredients in an oil serum are carefully chosen for their specific skin benefits.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

Ever heard of this tongue-twister? It’s a stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C that penetrates the skin to boost collagen and brighten your complexion. 


Call this one the “gentle giant.” Bakuchiol offers retinol-like benefits, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but without the harsh side effects. It’s a plant-based alternative that is ideal for sensitive skin.


Extracted from chamomile, bisabolol is known for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. If you have sensitive or red-prone skin, this one’s your BFF.

Coenzyme Q10

This antioxidant helps fight the signs of aging and protects your skin from environmental damage. It can easily blend into oil-based formulas, making it a staple in many high-quality oil serums.

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Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

This is a well-known antioxidant that’s been a favorite in skincare for years. It’s celebrated for its ability to protect the skin from damage by free radicals and UV rays.

Retinyl Palmitate

This is an ester of retinol (Vitamin A) combined with palmitic acid. It’s a gentler alternative to pure retinol and, when applied to the skin, is converted into retinol. It helps to boost collagen production, improve skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

How to Shop for an Oil Serum?

  1. Check the Ingredients: Always read the label! Look for oil serums that contain a blend of carrier oils and active ingredients.
  2. Know Your Skin Needs: Not all actives are suited for every skin type. For instance, if you have sensitive skin, you might opt for an oil serum with bisabolol.
  3. Don’t Skimp: High-quality actives often come with a higher price tag. Consider it an investment in your skin. 
  4. Patch Test: Always perform a patch test first to ensure that the serum is compatible with your skin.

So, the next time you’re faced with the choice between a simple face oil and an oil serum, think about your skin goals. Do you just want to moisturize, or are you looking for something more, like anti-aging or brightening benefits? If it’s the latter, then an oil serum loaded with potent, oil-soluble actives is your go-to. 

Happy shopping, and may you achieve the glowing skin of your dreams!

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