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During a recent facial at Laya Spa in Toronto, my aesthetician recommended that I apply oil to my face every evening to help the dwindling amount that my skin was producing on its own. I winced.

If, like me, you’ve ever experienced a bout of acne or even just a shiny T-zone, adding oil to your face can seem completely counterintuitive. The practice has recently enchanted the beauty market and is available in a variety of formulations that can be applied all over the body, including your hair.

Using oil to beautify is nothing new, says Dr. Diane Wong, founder and medical director of Glow Medi Spa, which has three locations in the Greater Toronto Area. “Particularly with face skin oils, it has been around for a long time – there are some of our medical grade companies that do embrace oils and were built a lot on the benefits of the oils,” she says. According to Wong, the main attraction of oils is how diverse their applications are. They have the potential to address multiple concerns, including being used as cleansers. “Some of the oils are helpful with hydrating, with anti-aging or have anti-inflammatory properties, and some of them actually help with acne,” she says. “It sounds a bit crazy when you think of oils on your face and acne, but some of it does make sense because we’re trying to restore the natural balance of the skin.”

Rahua Legendary Amazon Oil contains nut oil sourced by the Quechua-Shuar tribe of Brazil.Craig Curtis

Jennifer Brodeur is a Montreal-based skin strategist who counts Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey as regulars. Her skin-care line Peoni brings her holistic lifestyle approach to skin care and includes L’extrait, an anti-inflammatory, hydrating and soothing oil that contains sunflower seed oil, peony root extract and licorice root. And L’extrait is a key component of her collection for a reason. “Oil sits on water. If you don’t have enough lipids, as we age, skin gets dehydrated, it starts to flake and that’s when you start to see a lot of the lipid barrier starts to become ineffective,” she says. “Having a really good face oil, whether you have dry skin, oily skin or any kind of skin is actually a must, especially this time of year.”

Oil can also be of benefit to skin below the jawline. In North America, body oils are more commonly associated with slicked-up bodybuilders than with daily skin care, but applying oil post-shower is a practice that’s long been common in Europe. In her 2010 book Parisian Chic, French style authority Ines de la Fressange includes Neutrogena’s body oil amongst her beauty essentials. “[It] penetrates the skin by magic, leaving no oily traces. Of course, it leaves your skin silky soft, as he will no doubt tell you.”

When the Detox Market, a clean-beauty retail emporium with locations in Los Angeles, Toronto and New York, made its first foray into product development, it began by asking its social media followers to share their “dirty secrets,” or which conventional beauty products they continued to use. “A lot of people were actually using superorganic products for their face, but when it came to their body they were like, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t care. I go to the drugstore and get whatever,’” Detox Market’s chief executive Romain Gaillard says. To that end, the debut product from their Detox Mode line is the Altogether Oil, a dry oil (which means it’s lightweight and quickly absorbed), that can be used on body, face and hair that contains jojoba and macadamia oils for hydration and grape seed oil to tighten and brighten skin. “It’s for everyone who likes the idea of body oil but don’t use body oils because they’re oily. I’m part of this category,” Gaillard says.

That fear of feeling oily extends to hair care, where adding too much oil to strands can result in flat, greasy and lifeless hair. When used properly, however, oils can care for hair damaged by heat styling, colouring and other stressors, and they can also condition facial hair and the skin beneath. “The treatment goes deep into the hair,” explains Rahua founder Fabian Lliguin of the benefits of his new Legendary Amazon Oil. As with the other products in his line, it contains rahua nut oil sourced by the Quechua-Shuar tribe of Brazil.

Indeed, with this influx of oil options on the market, Wong cautions that not all oils are created equal. Your oil products should always be stored in a dark bottle to prevent heat and light from damaging them and the ingredient list should never begin with water. Wong also recommends sourcing your oil from a reputable brand and looking for an oil that’s known to benefit your skin type such as macadamia nut oil (which has a similar chemical profile to skin and contains essential fatty acids), almond oil (which contains anti-oxidant vitamin E), or rose oil (which is anti-inflammatory). “I think the reason why they’re popular is because they do provide a lot of benefits in multiple areas.”


Rahua Legendary Amazon Oil (seen above), $60 at Hudson’s Bay and The Detox Market.

Pantene Pro-V Nourishing Oil, $10.99 at mass market retailers in February.

TO112 Serum, $21 through


Peoni L’extrait, $225 through

Crambé Face Forward Rejuvenating Facial Oil, $59 through

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, $240 through


Detox Mode Altogether Oil, $42 at The Detox Market.

Detox Mode Altogether Oil, $42 at the Detox Market.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Riche, $49 at drugstores and Hudson’s Bay.

Fotografie: Challenge GmbH

Dr. Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Oil, $31 through

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