Making smart consumer decisions is one way to delay skin's aging process—and we're determined to make the right ones, especially when there are only a few natural options for wrinkle prevention.
Oftentimes the best beauty solutions for our skin come from mother nature herself, as natural oils contain fatty acids and antioxidants that help to combat inflammation and free radical damage — partially responsible for wrinkles. This has made anti-aging oils one of the fastest growing skincare products on the market. From jojoba to rosehip, these oils are rich in earth’s powerful ingredients that contribute to healthy-looking skin and even cancer prevention. Not to mention, their hydrating properties and earthy auras are consumer favorites.
But not all oils are created equally. Outside of their natural base, many come with additional ingredients and vitamin properties, and the range spans a variety of skin types and price points. To help you narrow the best options, we consulted with our community dermatologists to find out what they would actually on their own skin. Oh, and their number one piece of advice? When applying an oil, a little goes a long way. See below for a roundup of the 15 best anti-aging oils out there.
When it comes to the effectiveness of an anti-aging oil, the magic ingredient is retinoid, says Beverly Hills dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, MD, at MFC Dermatology. Retinoids “help turn over aging skin cells quickly and stimulate collagen synthesis,” she says. In other words, retinoids promote collagen production, which contributes to the skin's elasticity and prevents wrinkles and dark spots.
However, Hermann cautions that retinoids can cause irritation and redness—not ideal for mature, dry skin. This is why she recommends REN Clean Skincare Bio Retinoid as “a rich oil packed with natural vitamin A, provitamin A and retinoid analogue that all work to give an anti-aging retinoid effect,” she says. Plus, it has a moisturizing oil base rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids.
Another key ingredient in oils? “Antioxidants,” says Hermann. “As these molecules also neutralize damaging free radicals that contribute to the aging process.” She highly recommends Drunk Elephant’s Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil because it’s swimming with antioxidants. The treatment also contains 100% unrefined marula oil, which includes omega-6 and omega-9—fatty acids that work as anti-inflammatories.
If you need something versatile and good for all skin types, Hermann suggests Mara Universal Face Oil. This oil is made special with algae, plankton, and superfood plant oils proven to replenish and hydrate tired skin. “The algae-plankton blend plumps the skin while fighting free radicals and improving the skin's tone, texture, and firmness,” she says. The plant oils like moringa, bilberry, baobab, and kalahari melon soak your complexion with phytonutrients (plant substance that helps thwart disease), vitamins, and minerals, giving you glow and visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
If your skin is acne-prone, Hermann cautions against consistently using different oils. Instead she recommends Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, which is full of earthy ingredients that help with troublesome skin. “Its salicylic acid helps exfoliate clogged pores gently while its tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory,” she says. “Licorice and hexylresorcinol also target discolorations left by prior acne bumps, and its milk thistle and cucumber seed oil help soothe irritated skin without leaving a greasy shine.”
From the brand that brought you the famous ceramide capsules, Elizabeth Arden recently launched a new retinol version. “I love the new Ceramide Retinol Capsules from Elizabeth Arden,” says dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, MD. Its capsule form makes it easy to use as you get exactly one perfectly measured dose. And for another convenience factor, their individual package helps the product retain its potency making it ideal for travel.
Because oils dissolve oils (they’re able to bind to each other’s receptors), they help clear congestion much more effectively than other exfoliation methods. “So it is much more effective than taking an abrasive scrub to your face,” says Engelman. That’s why she suggests Marie Veronique Treatment Oil. This anti-aging treatment oil contains an additional tea tree oil to add to its pulling strength. Also, tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, which help ward off infection.
Moringa seed and argan oils provide anti-inflammatory properties and support production of healthy collagen. Containing these ingredients, Jack Black Nourishing Oil offers great antioxidant benefits, suggests Josh Zeichner, MD, director of dermatology research at Mount Sinai in New York City. “This product contains a variety of these natural oils that help hydrate, brighten, and soothe the skin," he says. Plus, the anti-aging treatment is multipurpose. “The product gives versatile hydrating benefits and can be used as a general moisturizer, after shaving, or even in the hair.”
“One of the biggest problems patients experience when using retinol is skin dryness and irritation,” says Zeichner. He recommends Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Anti-Wrinkle Oil, which balances the formulation of retinol and oil. “Formulating retinol in an oil base helps enhance penetration of the retinol itself while the hydrating benefits of the oil minimize the risk of skin dryness.”
For David Lortscher, MD, dermatologist and founder of Curology, scientific-backed simple ingredients are key when shopping for the best anti-aging oil. He recommends both Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil from Biossance and also Sunday Riley as previously mentioned. “I like these products because they are non-comedogenic and contain ingredients proven by research to reduce signs of aging—in particular vitamin C and retinol,” he says. Particularly, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C (an ascorbic acid) make its role in collagen synthesis vital for skin health.
Jojoba (anti-inflammatory) and rosehip (antioxidant) are known to translate to a reduction in signs of aging. In Phoenix Cell Regenerating Facial Oil, they work together to moisturize dry and sensitive skin and help protect your face from environmental stressors. “Using products with topical antioxidants works to reduce the harmful effects of UV light on skin, which are visible signs of aging,” says Lortscher. For an additional environmental benefit, it’s also gluten- and cruelty-free.
Mario Badescu Rose Hips Nourishing Oil is a favorite of Kristina Goldenberg, MD, of Goldenberg Dermatology based in NYC. According to Goldenberg she loves it because “rosehip oil contains many essential fatty acids and has antioxidant properties,” which helps skin regenerate and decreases wrinkles and the risk of skin cancer.
Goldenberg also recommends SK-II Facial Treatment Oil, which contains jojoba oil, “an excellent anti-aging ingredient,” and avocado oil, which can act as a natural sunblock. “It also keeps the skin well hydrated and prevents premature formation of wrinkles and fine lines,” she says. Its milky emulsion makes it quickly absorbed by the skin.
This nourishing oil is full of rich fruit and flower oils, including pomegranate, sunflower, olive, and evening primrose. “Punicic acid is also present in this oil and is rich in omega-5 fatty acids, which help to nourish and moisturize the skin,” says Goldenberg.
When dullness and uneven texture are your main facial concerns, stick to this option from Keihl’s, says Goldberg. Keihl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate “is a combination of lavender essential oil, evening primrose oil, and squalane, which moisturize, even, soothe, and repair skin so that it appears healthier and more radiant.”
The lightweight multipurpose RMS Beauty Oil contains buriti, tamanu, and rosehip seed oils, which moisturize, soften, and reduce redness. Buriti oil, in particular, is extremely rich in essential fatty acids and carotenoids (organic pigments produced by plants and algae) and has been found to filter and absorb cancer-causing UV rays. A great option for sunny vacations.