Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer? Make the Trade or Not

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Face oil and moisturizer work hand in hand like your toothbrush and toothpaste. Using both is a double whammy for replenishing and retaining skin moisture. So, there you have it. Your face oil cannot replace your moisturizer and vice-versa.

It’s okay to want to relieve your skin of products and use just one at a time. You can do that, but you shouldn’t expect one to play the part of the other.

While both products can be moisturizing your skin, face oil and moisturizer do not do the same thing for your skin. Do you still have doubts? Read on to see what each product does for your skin and how this differentiates them.

What Is Face Oil?

Face oil is an occlusive and emollient skincare product that provides your skin with optimum nourishment. This skincare product is an oil-based, liquid formula that may be rubbed in or massaged into the skin.

Facial oils usually contain a mixture of different oils-essential oils, carrier oils, and synthetic oils. These oils are non-comedogenic and contain vitamins and essential fatty acids that play antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory roles.

You may find plant extracts in some formulas. Face oils differ in the formula to suit different skin types. Overall, they moisturize, soften and give your glowing skin.

What Does Face Oil Do for Your Skin?

Face oils do a lot for your skin, regardless of your skin type. Kristina Holey, founder of MMSkincare says that using face oil helps to replenish the epidermal lipids, compensate for any natural oil deficiencies, and balance your moisture levels.

These occlusive skincare products act as a sealant over your skin; they keep the ingredients in other skincare products and existing moisture locked in.

Moreover, face oils are very nourishing. The component oils contain vitamins and essential fatty acids that your skin needs to strengthen your lipid barrier and make your skin resilient against environmental aggressors.

In addition, face oils mimic sebum and help to regulate oil production, control acne breakouts, and give you even-toned skin. Their emollient property softens your skin and prevents transepidermal water loss.

Therefore, it makes them great options for treating fine lines, facial wrinkles, and even wound healing.

Facial oil makes a good addition to your anti-aging routine because it contains antioxidants that protect your skin from the formation of free radicals due to prolonged exposure to UV rays.

What Is Moisturizer?

A moisturizer is a mixture of oil, water, and other active ingredients that work in tandem to primarily moisturize your skin. Board-certified dermatologist, Dendy Engelman, says, “moisturizing protects your natural barrier.”

With your natural barrier protected, your skin is protected from outbreaks, free radical damage, dehydration, and premature aging.

The right moisturizer for your skin is your gateway to healthy, glowing, hydrated, and supple skin. Some of the active ingredients in moisturizers include hyaluronic acid, retinol, glycerin, and some alpha hydroxy acids.

Other ingredients include carrier oils like jojoba oil and argan oil, synthetic oils like lanolin oil, mineral oil, and petrolatum. These ingredients are responsible for trapping moisture in the layers of your skin.

What Does Moisturizer Do for Your Skin?

Moisturizing your skin keeps dryness and excessive oiliness at bay. It lessens your chances of having flaking or greasy skin. This is because its occlusive and humectant abilities help to regulate moisture balance.

As a humectant, your moisturizer contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid that can bind to water molecules in the atmosphere and trap them in your skin.

More so, during harsh weather conditions, when there is little or no moisture in the air, it keeps your skin hydrated.

The molecules go down the layers of your skin and draw up moisture. Also, a moisturizer plumps aging skin back to its youth. Ingredients like retinol help to increase cell turnover and reveal a better and more vibrant complexion.

In addition, maintaining a balance helps to protect your skin from the damage of environmental aggressors.

Moisturizing your skin enhances your natural barrier’s ability to guard you against irritants that can cause acne breakouts, pigmentation, and even premature aging.

And moisturizers are very soothing to the skin. Some formulas are tailored to suit sensitive skin and calm it, protecting it from inflammations.

Can Face Oil Replace Moisturizer?

Face oil is an excellent skincare product but it is not sufficient to replace a moisturizer. To begin with, face oils do not contain water and water molecules are essential for hydration and enhancing moisture retention.

Yes, they are nourishing but they do not contain the wide range and high concentrations of active ingredients that your moisturizers contain. These ingredients are necessary for “skin refurbishing.”

Face oil and moisturizer are occlusives, but moisturizers penetrate better and provide your skin with moisture. On the other hand, face oil sits over your skin and plays the role of a sealant.

Moreover, they come in at different junctions of your skincare routine. Moisturizers lock in the ingredients of a serum.

Moisturizers tend to evaporate because they contain water. So, you need face oil to seal in the moisture and retain a good deal of the ingredients.

If you replace your moisturizer with a face oil, this may put your skin in a cycle of excessive dryness and oiliness. Using oil alone will stimulate your skin to produce little or no oil.

Consequently, your skin gets very dry and tries to make up for this by producing oil which is eventually overproduced.

So, face oils are supporting products in your routine, just like every other product. Face oils are not as emollient as moisturizers and although they can moisturize your skin, they cannot draw water from the atmosphere or the deep layers of your skin.

Is Face Oil Better Than Moisturizer?

In comparison, every skincare product in your routine is just as important as the other. Face oil and moisturizer play different roles in your skincare routine. Both products seal in moisture but at different times in your routine.

A face oil comes in at the last step of your routine to keep every ingredient locked in and prevent a loss of hydration in your environment. Beneath the oil, a moisturizer attracts water molecules, locks in moisture, and softens your skin.

For their unique functions face oils and moisturizers are wonderful ingredients that help you to achieve a flawless complexion with a natural glow.

Should You Use Face Oil With Moisturizer?

Yes, you should. In tandem, you are looking at better skin days. You need a moisturizer to moisturize your skin. You also need face oil to lock in the moisture.

Besides, while keeping moisture locked in, face oils supply your skin with ample nourishment. Your skin needs the active ingredients that moisturizers contain. And it needs the essential fatty acids and botanical extracts that the oils contain.

Using face oil with moisturizer is an excellent way to shower your skin with a good deal of TLC.

How to Use Face Oil and Moisturizer

1. Layering face oil and moisturizer


Cleansing your face is more important than the product and ingredients you are about to apply to your skin. Skincare experts say the best time to cleanse your face is post-bathe.

Use a mild, foaming cleanser to dissolve and lift off residues of oil, dirt, makeup, and grime. Dampen a clean cotton pad with the cleanser and wipe across your face to do the cleansing. If you need to double cleanse, you can use some more cleanser on your face.

If you’ll like to exfoliate, you can exfoliate your face with a gentle chemical exfoliator. However, you should not exfoliate more than 2-3 times a week.


Use a face serum that is best suited for your skin type and address its concerns. You should apply serum to your face while your skin is still damp.

Pump out some of the serum and release a few drops on your palm. You can either release serum directly on your face or your palm and use a finger to apply it to your face.

Apply serum all over your face and neck, and gently tap it into your skin using your fingers. Do not rinse off the serum; allow it to absorb into your skin for a few seconds to a minute.


Just like you used a face serum that works for your skin type and concerns, you should use a moisturizer that pairs well with your skin. You do not want to over-moisturize your face, so, you should take a pea-sized dollop of moisturizer.

Gently rub the moisturizer into your skin-forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck. Rub it in with upward and outward motion until it has fully absorbed into your skin.

Face oil

Apply face oil over the moisturizer. Take some drops of oil and press the oil onto your skin avoiding the skin around your eyes. Massage the oil into your skin gently; make sure you reach your neck, chin, and jawline.

The face oil lays over your skin as a protective seal, keeping moisture and every other ingredient locked in. Then, layer sunscreen before you go out in the morning. If it’s your evening routine, this is the last step in your routine.

2. Mixing face oil with moisturizer

Another way to use face oil with moisturizer is to merge the two steps. Mix your face oil with moisturizer and apply it in one step. This will boost the moisturizing ability of your moisturizer.

If you will rather mix both products, you should apply this mix in the moisturizer step of your skincare routine.


Is a face moisturizer necessary?

Yes, it is. A face moisturizer is necessary. Moisturizers keep your skin hydrated with steady moisture levels. If you do not moisturize your skin, you’ll not only be depriving your skin of moisture, but you’ll be also altering and disrupting your natural barrier.

Consequently, your skin is dehydrated, and fine lines and wrinkles set in. Moreover, if your skin tries to overcompensate, you may get acne breakouts.

Is face oil or moisturizer better for acne?

Face oil and moisturizer help to control and treat acne. However, this depends on the formula and the ingredients in the formula you use.

What is most important for acne treatment is that you get products that do not contain comedogenic ingredients.

Should you apply face oil before or after moisturizer?

Face oil should be applied after moisturizer. The rule of thumb of skincare application says you should apply from the thinnest to the thickest. Oils are occlusive and will seal in the moisturizing ingredients in your moisturizer.

Moreover, a moisturizer cannot penetrate the seal facial oils create on your skin but oils can penetrate moisturizers.


So many questions about skincare products. Questions on what to use, what to forego, and the necessity of some products. These questions are necessary especially when you understand that two products in your routine seem to carry out the same functions.

For instance, you may have wondered whether you can replace your moisturizer with face oil. And you have probably argued that the creams should go while the oils stay.

Although it sounds like a great idea, you still need a moisturizer. For reasons like the dose of the active ingredients in a moisturizer and its water-attraction ability.

Looking to give your skin the best? Give it both. Add moisture. Lock in the moisture with a thicker occlusive and you’ll be loving your skin days from now.

Thanks for reading.

If you’re looking for answers to your many questions about skincare products, Serum101 is the right place to look.