Applying oil on your face was once a beauty taboo. But today, ancient oil-based cognoscenti. Nicole Sibonney, director of the Ayurvedic Academy of Canada ( in Toronto, credits the popularity of herbal oils — a mainstay in traditional Indian skin care philosophy — to our need to simplify our lives.” This interest in simple, natural solutions applies to beauty regimens as well,” says Sibonney.

Essential oils get their healing properties from the plants from which they are extracted. These plant extract are missed with a carrier oil (sesame, coconut, almond, jojoba) that is then applied to the skin. Dr. Beatrice Wang, dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at McGill University in Montréal, agrees that facial oils are becoming more popular.”Patients with drier skin use oils as a way of making skin more nourished and supple, especially in the winter.” Wang notes that a lot of people who use essential oils aren’t just seeking the physical benefits.”Essential oils have an element of aromatherapy. Not only do they sooth the skin, but the mind too. It’s a more holistic approach.”

According to Fabienne Lindholm, Decléor national director of education, essential oils have a high compatibility with our skin’s physical composition. Unlike other topical treatments, they have a unique capability of being fully absorbed.”Think of the skin’s structure as having a foundation and a roof,” says Lindholm.”Essential oils can penetrate the foundation (the dermis) of the skin, boosting radiance and softness, while a moisturizing cream only nourishes the roof (epidermis).”

Wang recommends using oils sparingly at first.”Simply because something is natural doesn’t mean that it will be compatible with everyone.” She suggests testing a little on less sensitive areas of the skin, such as the forearm, as some people can develop contact allergies. Wang also cautions that people with skin problems like acne, rosacea and eczema should avoid using oils on their face as they may aggravate their condition. After cleansing and toning, place a small amount of oil (about the size of a nickel) in your palms and massage it onto the whole face-avoiding the eye area-in a circular motion. After the oil has been absorbed, Wang recommends removing any excess with a tissue or with a soapless cleanser such as Cetaphil. The most effective time to apply oil is before you go to bed, leaving it on overnight.

For dry skin, Lindholm suggesting using oils that stimulate sebum secretion. Look for ingredients such as orange or geranium. Try Biotherm Oléo Source Anti-dryness Radiance Elixir. For normal skin, maintain balance with ingredients like Neroli. Even people with oily skin can use oils to purify and rebalance skin. Look for ingredients such as rosemary. Try Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil.