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Can You Use Facial Oil If You Have Oily Skin?

By Kiehl’s Education Team

Facial oils deserve a spot in your skincare routine, even if you have oily skin. Here, discover our best facial oils for oily skin and learn how to use them.

At Kiehl’s, we’re often asked about how to use different types of skincare formulas, and facial oils are among the most misunderstood products. A lot of people seem to think that oils are off-limits for those with oily, blemish-prone skin. It is a common misconception — after all, we know that oily skin tends to be more prone to breakouts, so it seems logical to conclude that facial oils for oily skin would worsen those concerns. However, oils can be a terrific addition to your skincare routine, even if you have a shinier skin type. The key is using the right ones — and using them properly.

What Are Facial Oils — and How Do They Differ from Serums?

Before we discuss the benefits of facial oils, it is important to differentiate oils from other targeted skincare treatments. Like serums, facial oils are concentrated liquids formulated to help address one or more skin concerns, such as dryness or irritation.

However, while serums are often water-based, facial oils are made with plant oils and emollients, like Olive-Derived Squalane (a Kiehl's signature ingredient). Some formulations may also contain other skin-friendly ingredients, like plant extracts.

What Are Facial Oils Used For?

While facial oils have many applications, they are typically used to help moisturize, condition, and soften the skin to promote a smoother, more even skin texture. You may not think this is necessary if you have oily skin, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Different oil formulations address different unique issues, and as such, facial oils can be a worthy addition to any skincare routine. The key is to choose a formula suited for your specific needs.

Midnight Recovery Concentrate 
Facial Oil

At night, reach for an oil that helps hydrate and repair your skin. We recommend Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which contains Squalane, Evening Primrose Oil, and aromatic Lavender Essential Oil. This Kiehl's customer favorite absorbs quickly and helps replenish the skin at night when it is most receptive to repairing itself from daily stressors. It also helps boost essential moisture, leaving skin looking firmer and smoother over time. We recommend applying several drops to clean, dry skin as part of your nighttime skincare routine. Let your nighttime moisturizer absorb fully, and follow with the facial oil for added moisture.

Kiehl's Tip: For added hydration, pair your facial oil with an overnight face mask, like our Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask. It helps replenish skin's water reserves while you sleep for refreshed, healthy-looking skin by morning.


If you have oily skin, adding facial oil to your skincare routine can be intimidating (even more so if you have blemish-prone skin). The thought that applying oil could somehow help reduce oil can seem counterintuitive at first. Additionally, up until fairly recently, it was common practice in skincare to avoid oil-based products if you have oily skin.

But recent studies have shown that the right oils — specifically, non-comedogenic varieties, like cannabidiol-rich Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil — can help balance the skin. This is because dehydrated skin tends to over-produce sebum to compensate for the lack of moisture. This excessive oiliness leads to clogged pores, more frequent breakouts, and shiny-looking skin. In other words, oily skin benefits from using facial oils — so long as they are the right kind of oils. When looking for the right facial oil for you, make sure to look for non-comedogenic formulations and for dry oil formulations.

Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal 
Extract Facial Oil

If you have oily skin or are prone to blemishes, the best way to avoid potential issues is by sticking to facial oils labeled "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic," which means they will not clog your pores. Additionally, we recommend seeking out facial oils made specifically for problem skin, like our Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate.

This unique formula is made with 100% naturally derived ingredients, including hemp-derived Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil and Green Oregano Oil.* It helps calm the feeling of stressed skin and strengthens the skin's natural moisture barrier to enable it to better protect itself from stressors. Over time, this gentle facial oil for acne-prone skin also helps relieve discomfort and visibly reduces redness to reveal a more balanced appearance.

*We consider ingredients to be naturally derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.

3 Tips for How To Use Facial Oils for Oily Skin

Understanding which facial oil is best for your specific skin concerns and needs is the first step. Below, you can learn our top tips for incorporating facial oils into your skincare routine.

Tip #1: Always Cleanse First

Before applying your facial oil, it is imperative that you wash your face thoroughly. A good cleanser helps remove impurities, like dirt and pollutants, that could otherwise accumulate and clog your pores or irritate your skin. Applying your facial oil after washing your face also helps trap moisture, leaving your skin feeling softer and more hydrated.

If you wear makeup, we recommend first washing with an oil-based cleanser, like Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. This lightweight cleansing oil emulsifies with water to create a light, milky lather that washes away impurities without over-drying the skin. It is non-comedogenic, suitable for all skin types, and rinses off easily, leaving your skin feeling soft and replenished.

For an even more thorough clean, try double cleansing. This method involves first washing your face with an oil cleanser, like the one mentioned above, then washing your face again with a foaming face wash. If you are interested in trying this technique, you can find a few of our best cleansers here.

Tip #2: Apply Your Water-Based Treatments First

After washing and drying your face, you can go ahead and apply your chosen skin treatments — essences, serums, and the like. We recommend applying these products according to weight. Fast-absorbing, water-based products should be applied first, while heavier oils should be layered at the end of your routine. Keep in mind that with most oils, less is more: a few drops are usually more than enough for your entire face. If you need help picking a moisturizer that suits your skin's needs, check out our article The Best Moisturizer for Every Skin Type.

Tip #3: Go At Your Own Pace

Besides adding a facial oil to your routine, you can try easing yourself into things with oil-infused products, like Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask. This creamy face mask, which contains Avocado Oil and extract, helps seal in moisture to prevent water loss. In just one application, skin feels softer and more hydrated, while consistent use leaves skin feeling replenished.* This Kiehl's favorite is suitable for all skin types and can be used up to three times per week for supple, nourished skin.

*Consumer perception study, US: 55 subjects, all skin types, immediate time point.


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