Great oils for dry skin or hair that won’t break the bank

Laura Kennedy: The right oils can work for a variety of purposes – whether you’re using them on face, body or hair

Oils can be a love or hate product. Some of us fear them and their potential to generate the cling-filmy, occlusive sensation of wearing a raincoat over bare arms on a hot day. We’ve all experienced heavy, slimy oil textures that sit atop even the driest skin, adding nothing to the equation but the capacity to generate unnatural speed if you’re suddenly tempted to take a detour home via the playground and have a go on the slide. These are not the sort of oils I’m after, especially as someone prone to acne and breakout shine around the nose and forehead. I don’t want to feel like buttered toast. However, the right oils can work for a variety of purposes – whether you’re using them on face, body or hair. Here are a few of the best.

Celebrity hairstylist Adam Reed launched his brand Arkive into Ireland last year. The Good Habit Hybrid Oil (€17 at is a great multitasker, especially for people who don’t love traditional oils. It has a more viscous silicone texture which coats hairs to tame any unwanted areas that might look dry or be prone to absorbing moisture from the air and kinking off in strange directions, ruining a ponytail or carefully curated curl.

It’s lightweight enough for my oily-prone hair and smells exquisite (Reed is a scent enthusiast who keeps a vast collection of vintage perfume at his London salon). The oil also acts as a heat protectant and it’s small, making it both portable and more likely that you’ll actually finish the bottle.

Aveeno Skin Relief Body Oil Spray (€10 at pharmacies) is a product I’ve written about here before, but it deserves another mention because everyone should have one in the bathroom. You can apply it to wet skin either in or just out of the shower.


It has no offensive smell or cloying texture, but it will carry you through both summer and winter with comfortable skin on your body while banishing tight, itchy shins, greyish elbows or powdery looking bums (because you deserve better). It’s incredibly good and very good value.

I love an oil cleanser, but travel is an issue. I don’t want to be horsing around big tubs or bottles, and besides, the fear of an in-bag oil explosion is enough to stress you into staying at home. These travel capsules of the famous Eve Lom Cleansing Oil (€30 at have saved my skin from many a make-up wipe on trips.

They come with the refillable travel case and each single dose is housed in a biodegradable capsule. There are certainly cheaper ways to ensure a good cleanse while travelling, but if you can stand the price, these are incredibly convenient and take up virtually no space in your bag.

Finally, it’s always good to have a multipurpose facial oil to hand. I use oil for all kinds of jobs. Oiling cuticles (your gel manicure will last significantly longer and look far better) twice daily. I do it once at my desk and again before bed. Oiling any dry patches I find – knees, elbows, heels, knuckles, healed-over scratches. And of course, on a dull, dry, ghoulish skin day, I’ll pat some oil on to my face and neck after applying night-time skincare. And I may chuck a bit in the ends of my hair while I’m at it. I know that if I buy an incredibly expensive notions oil, the idea of using it in this very practical (but admittedly flaithúlach) way will probably make me feel a bit sick, and I’ll just end up hoarding it. So as a rule, I’ll never spend more than €25 on the right oil for this job.

I love Trilogy Organic Rosehip Oil (€23 at pharmacies). I use it for all this and more, and my current bottle is still half-full after about four months.

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy is a contributor to The Irish Times