Think you can't use oils on your skin? Think again

They aren’t something to fear and are useful to everyone, especially those with dry skin

Oil is still often a tragically maligned ingredient and texture in skincare. I’ve never sympathised with that perspective. Certainly, essential oils can incite reactions in some skin types, and not all oils are created equal.

However, with technological advances in skincare, we really can have our cake and eat it when it comes to oils. The cocooning, restorative, soothing and moisturising properties can be enjoyed without the heavy, cloying texture that lingers on skin, tendency to congest pores and chip-fryer finish that many fear from oils. They aren’t something to fear and are useful to everyone – even if you would prefer not to use oil on your face.

An oil is not always entirely liquid. Balm cleansers – my favourite – are oil-based, transforming from a viscous, gooey dollop to a makeup-melting oil texture when massaged into the skin with warm hands. Trinny London Be Your Best Enzyme Balm Cleanser (€39 at is a new offering of this ilk, and it emulsifies milkily on contact with water to leave skin soft, clean and completely free of slickness.

While the benefit (and joy) of a good cleansing oil for the face is well established, we are still fierce slow on the uptake (as my granny used to say) when it comes to using cleansing oils for the body. Let me try to convince you. They are perfection itself for skin prone to even extreme dryness, fortifying the skin’s natural barrier and never stripping it the way harsh soaps can.


If you are prone to dry skin, you'll be shocked by the profound difference made in its appearance and feel merely as a result of swapping your shower gel for an oil like Cerave Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser (€14 at boots from March 28th). It can be used on babies too, and ingredients include nourishing ceramides, plant-derived squalane (which moisturises without congesting) and glycerin, which helps draw moisture into thirsty skin.

Even a little oil can make a profound difference. I adore the almond-scented indulgence of CND Solar Oil (€16 at, and it's transformative for dry, ragged cuticles, nails and fingers. If, like me, you have a tendency to pick at dry cuticles – when they're dry, they fray and tear, leading to those tempting little bits you'll pick and pull at – then a cuticle oil in your bag or pocket will help. Nourished, softened cuticles mean healthy, intact skin around the nail. It makes hands more visually appealing and comfortable, certainly, but it also lessens the temptation to pick and do harm.

If you are looking for a nice new facial oil, Charlotte Tilbury Superfusion Facial Oil (from €30 at is lovely. Primarily composed of avocado oil, it contains a blend of other oils like olive, evening primrose, raspberry and eucalyptus. If your skin is reactive, I would opt for something with a simpler formula, but otherwise this is dreamy by itself, or added to moisturiser or even foundation for extra glow.

Product of the Week

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Resurfacing Body Scrub (€58 at Space NK)