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That's Oil, Folks: Ditch Your Fears about Hair and Skin Oils

Remember high school, when you wouldn’t even stand in the same aisle as something that had the word 'oil' on it? Most of us do, far more vividly that we'd like. The thing is, you’re not 15 anymore … and oil doesn’t equal zits and greasy hair now. There’s a slew of new oil-based hair and skin products that soothe, soften and add shine, not grease.

To get the scoop on facial and hair oils, we went to women who know all about such stuff. Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC, says "Not all oil is bad for skin and not all oil-free products are good for skin."

"We use oil-based products on everyone, even acne clients, in the salon," confirms Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare. "If you have acne, though, I'd just advise consulting a professional before using oil-based products." 

Vargas was once asked why she didn't name her Rejuvenating Serum, Rejuvenating Oil, being it's oil-based. "It's because oils have a bad rep. But once you start using them, you can't live without them!"

"I am a huge fan of oils from head to toe," shares Lisa Price, Carol's Daughter founder. "They seal in moisture, especially if applied to damp skin or hair. They protect your skin and—depending on the blend—can soothe sensitive skin." (Price cautions those with sensitive skin to check with a dermatologist before using any particular product.)

Some of Price's favorite oils include kukui, coconut, macadamia, Argan, and soy. "These all have a fine molecular structure, and so can be readily absorbed."

Never used an oil and still a little unsure? Try Price's advice for beginners: "An easy, inexpensive way to play around with oil is to go to a local Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, purchase extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil and slather on damp skin after a shower or bath. If your skin is very dry, you can follow up with your favorite moisturizer. You'll be amazed at how great your skin will feel." 

With cool, drier days approaching, these finds could be worth a look.

Skin Oils

1. Dead Sea Essentials Aloe Vera Oil Daytime Moisturize ($15.50) is especially good for soothing slightly-irritated skin.

2. SkinnyGirl Body Solutions Firming Night Cream ($15) "Sweet almond oil is highly moisturizing, so it's great in a body cream," notes Tanzi.

3. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil ($26) is laced with olive oil, which is "very nourishing," Tanzi says. And generally "oil-based cleansers are less harsh than foam. They won't throw the skin's pH off as much, especially around the eyes," Vargas adds.

4. Bio Oil ($20) has been around forever for a reason. It works triple time as an eye makeup remover, face treat, and body oil. 

5. Suki Delicate Hydrating Oil ($27) is high in grapeseed oil, an antioxidant. Smooth it on after your shower; we promise it's not greasy.

6. Julep Bare Face Cleansing Oil ($28) is a gentle cleanser for all skin types, a key ingredient is green coffee bean oil, which soothes skin damage from UV radiation and hastens cell turnover.

Hair Oils

7. Organix Hydrating Macadamia Oil Shampoo ($8) is sulfate-free, so it's perfect for colored or straightened locks. 

8. Garnier Fructis Style Triple Nutrition Bi-Phase Treatment Spray ($4.70) adds shine with a trifecta of olive, avocado, and shea oil.

9. Unilever Clear Scalp and Hair Therapy Ultra Shea Nourishing Scalp and Hair Oil ($5) uses coconut oil to strengthen hair from the scalp out.

Hair & Skin Oils

10. Dove Hair Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Argan Oil Blend ($6) "Argan oil is light, good for the entire body including hair," says Tanzi.

11. The Body Shop Brazil Nut Beautifying Oil ($9) is a dry oil that can be used on your face, hair, or body. And it smells incredible.

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