We’ve cottoned onto the idea that oils are fab for cleansing (thanks Mr Shu Uemura!) but the fact that they’re just as great for hydration and nourishment hasn’t gone nearly quite as viral. Whether it’s the seemingly heavy texture or just the thought of adding oil to an already shiny complexion, we associate oils to descriptors such as slick, unpleasant or pore-clogging, which has us gravitating away from the stuff when it comes to skincare.
And while it seems counter-intuitive to apply oil to your complexion, especially if you’re prone to blemishes, face oils are actually your ticket to healthy, hydrated skin as they help to regulate the production of sebum and act as a protective barrier that keeps the moisture in. The right oil can do wonders, such as clearing breakouts while nourishing and balancing your skin. Crowd favourites include argan, camellia, rosehip, calendula, and almond oils as they’re non-pore clogging, on top of having a thin consistency that sinks easily into the skin.
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Needless to say, the Koreans took it up a notch by way of turning out innovative, barely-there textures or by incorporating heritage ingredients unique to their culture. From cult to classic brands, we give you our top K-beauty face oil picks.
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil
Key ingredient: Ginseng seed oil
Renowned for taking ginseng mainstream, Sulwhasoo’s proprietary ingredient has been transformed into a luxurious herbal oil with the same enriching and anti-ageing benefits fans have come to expect from their stable of ginseng-based skincare range. On top of providing radiance and fortifying the skin against ageing factors such as dryness, dullness, and fine lines, it goes on with a light scent reminiscent of candied ginseng for a sensorial application.
Huxley Secret of Sahara Oil
Key ingredient: Prickly pear seed oil
Derived from a plant that can survive the extreme hot and cold of the Sahara Desert, one drop of this lightweight oil contains a potent dose of precious prickly pear seed oil. A signature ingredient of the brand, its high linoleic acid is incredibly moisturising, plus the addition of jojoba seed oil and squalene protects and fortifies the skin’s natural barrier to keep dehydration and dullness at bay.
Lyanature Oil Plus
Key ingredient: Camellia oil
Possibly one of the most low-key K-beauty exports out there, Lyanature is actress Lee Young Ae’s brainchild that specialises in botanical skincare. As a huge proponent of clean beauty herself, Lee uses only pure plant ingredients in all her products, and her brand has been a huge hit with expecting women. To emulate her ridiculously flawless complexion, she recommends warming the oil with your hands before pressing it directly into the skin.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Oil
Key ingredient: Green tea seed oil
Formulated with Jeju island’s most famous export, the goodness of Korean green tea can now be had in the form of this lightweight face oil chock-full of anti-oxidants. Additionally blended with extracts of green tea to provide deep hydration, two to three drops of this is perfect for whenever your complexion needs a replenishing shot of moisture. Just tap the oil directly into the skin with your fingertips, and say voila to that healthy, dewy look!
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Beigic Regenerating Oil
Key ingredient: Green coffee bean essential oil
Can’t live without your cup of joe in the morning? You’re about to love coffee for a lot more than its caffeine. The green version of the bean used in this oil (extracted from Fairtrade certified Peru coffee beans) packs antioxidants, vitamin E, and amino acids to help smooth fine lines, tighten pores, and upkeep the skin’s natural collagen and elastin production process. Bonus: it tackles hyperpigmentation issues and brightens the overall skin tone.
Olivarrier Fluid Oil
Key ingredient: Plant squalene oils
For the clean beauty proponents on the hunt for a solid face oil, this one checks all the boxes with its vegan formula that’s cruelty-free and cosmos-certified. Made using 100 per cent plant-based squalene oil extracted from olives, the label on the tin says the texture so closely emulates human sebum, it’s able to help keep the skin fresh and hydrated without any greasy residue. Besides preventing moisture loss, it also protects the skin from UV rays and environmental pollutants.
I Woke Up Like This Hydra Luxurious Rose Oil
Key ingredient: Olive and almond oils
Beloved by K-beauty junkies, every drop blends the nourishing combination of olive and almond oils with extracts of rose de mai and pure rose water—which are harvested exclusively from France’s Grasse region—for a boost of intense moisture. And it doesn’t just smell amazing going on, it sinks deep into the skin and works to create a barrier that keeps the active ingredients in so that the skin is constantly moisturised and soft.
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