When to use essential oils

Three products to hydrate skin, minimize signs of aging, and more

Essential oils, highly concentrated substances extracted from aromatic herbsand plants (like evening primrose, neroli, and lavender), are flooding the beauty market, showing up in everything from shampooto mascara. But perhaps most prominently, essential oil-based serums are being touted for their ability to treat skin issues from dryness to fine lines and even wrinkles.

When it comes to sensitive facial skin, though, experts urge us to be a bit precautious. Just because the label says a product is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. For those that are acne-prone, essential oils could trigger excessive oil production and breakouts, warns Dendy Engelman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologic surgeon. Another concern is for people using skin medications with tretinoin (Retin-A), salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. “Essential oils could inhibit the active ingredients from doing their job,” says Engelman.(If you fall into either or both of these camps, a non-oil based brand like Drunk Elephant skincare, which relies on ingredients such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and antioxidants, might be a better fit.) If you want to experiment with essential oils, try one of these three blends recommended by experts. “They don’t clog the pores and can be very powerful for treating many skin concerns,” says facialist Georgia Vassanelli of Georgia Louise Atelierin New York City.