Written By: UMA Editorial Team |

Published on: November 3, 2023

Most of us grew up obeying the (now dated) wisdom that oils have no business going anywhere on, or near our faces. But, cultures all over the world have been using skincare oils for centuries – and the current face oil trend indicates that we’ve finally caught on! That said, the increasing popularity of skincare oils means a marketplace that’s saturated with options, all allegedly providing incredible benefits for skin and body. So, what’s the difference between carrier oils and essential oils, and how do you choose the one that’s right for you? With a little help from us, of course! The illuminating series The UMA Oil Files will detail several popular – as well as niche and undiscovered – oils that address your most pressing skincare questions on face oils and how to use them.

To begin with, a quick word of education: carrier oils are usually cold pressed from fruits and nuts, and have strong penetrative abilities that allow them to carry botanically derived essential oils into the skin. Essentials oils, on the other hand, are natural oils having the characteristic fragrance and properties of the plants from which they are extracted, typically via steam distillation, solvent extraction or expression. Highly fragrant and very concentrated, essential oils and essential oil blends have extremely targeted and highly potent effects on skincare and wellness, and have been used for centuries in natural therapy techniques. So think about carrier oils as the great “base” for carrying your “actives” (typically the essential oils) into your skin so they can have the results you intend them to. Confused about using essential oils while pregnant or nursing? Read our comprehensive guide on essential oil safety while pregnant.

We Start With Dry Skin

What’s going on?

Due to age or environmental causes, your skin’s lipid barrier is compromised. The outermost layer of our epidermis is mainly composed of lipids responsible for preventing dehydration, retaining moisture and keeping toxins out. Just as our bodies require essential fatty acids to stay healthy, skin needs a thick lipid barrier to look young and glowing. As we age, we produce less of the oils that compose that lipid layer, causing it to become thinner and lose its suppleness. Because oils, specifically essential oils, have a high concentration of oxygen and are of a lipophilic, or fat-loving, nature, they quickly pass through the skin’s lipid barrier, plumping it with active ingredients more effectively, while also preventing water loss.

What are the best essential oils for dry skin?

The best essential oil for dry skin is the gorgeous, precious Rose essential oil. Extremely active in promoting and retaining skin’s natural moisture, it is very effective in delivering moisture to dry skin (and without the pesky, pore-clogging was buildup that comes with synthetic crèmes).

Sandalwood essential oil deeply calms and supports the skin, creating that clean, flawless, luminous complexion that we all hanker after. It strongly assists skin health by slowing down cellular degradation – which in turn slows down the aging of the skin.

Geranium essential oil is a great addition to dry, sensitive skins – especially those that are prone to redness. Similar to rose essential oil – but more cost effective – geranium has natural astringent action which calms redness, and is also deeply soothing and toning in nature.

What are the best carrier oils for dry skin?

Pomegranate oil – so powerful as base, and so rich in Vitamins A, K, D, E AND antioxidants – that it might as well be an active – is an excellent choice for dry skin because of its rapid absorption quotient. The reason why we formulated nearly all of our face oils in super-potent Pomegranate oil was because we didn’t want to create the world’s greatest face oil that some hesitated to use because they feared the texture of “oils” on their skin. Pomegranate oil feels and absorbs like a serum but does everything wonderful (and more!) that a great moisturizing, nourishing oil would do. Pomegranate oil is non-comedogenic which makes it an excellent choice for dry skin that may also be prone to acne.

Another great carrier oil for dry skin – albeit more comedogenic than Pomegranate – is Avocado (high in sterolin: softens the skin and reduce the appearance of age spots. Rich in lecithin, a lipid that helps deliver nutrients directly to the bloodstream and deeper layers of the skin. Rich, and lighter in scent than coconut oil, avocado oil is rich in vitamin E and great for people with dry skin.)

A list of oils for carrier oils wouldn’t be complete without the oil on everyone’s mind – Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, which not only keep skin smooth, but also prevent it from losing moisture; it is rich in capric, caprylic, and lauric acids – three fatty acids that have natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Fatty acids make this oil great for helping dry, parched skin retain moisture, especially during harsh + dry winter months. At UMA, we don’t love the use of coconut oil for the face because it is so highly comedogenic – that it can cause breakouts for a large number of people. However, some are able to tolerate this oil well for facial skincare, and it does work quite well for most for the rest of the body. In fact, when used for body massages, it can be balancing of the pitta dosha.

Uma recommended oils for Dry Facial Skin: Absolute Anti Aging Face OilBeauty Boosting Day Face Oil

For body care, try our award-winning UMA Body Oils.