Are expensive beauty oils worth it? (Spoiler: It depends)

Are expensive beauty oils worth it? Costa Brazil Kaya Anti-Aging Face Oil

If there’s one thing this year has proved, it’s the importance of the human touch. Not being able to hug, enjoy a massage or simply shake hands has been, for many, beyond brutal. And for good reason. Skin-on-skin contact is scientifically proven to boost our emotions, releasing powerful feel-good hormones. According to Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, so-called ‘skin hunger’ actually weakens our immune systems, effectively allowing the stress hormone cortisol to run riot.

The next best thing then, according to Field, might be self-administered touch. For me, that’s best accompanied by a face or body oil. I can 100% vouch for the therapeutic benefits of ‘moving skin’ by massaging beauty oils into my jaw, brow or calves. Even better if said oil is scented with something calming and transportive.

How much should you pay though? Is expensive better? Well, it’s all relative. Small batch production, ingredients or formulations that are newly discovered and/or in short supply and luxurious textures all come at a cost. As does upscale packaging and marketing. Sometimes artificial scent is added because the virgin alternative can be, frankly, foul. Glass bottles – for avid recyclers – also bump up the price. Then there’s the issue of brand positioning. If a brand wants to be seen as ‘aspirational ‘it has to price itself in line with competitors. Psychologically that’s just what customers expect. Yep, we’re our own worst enemies.

Me? I’m firmly in the sensorial camp. If I wanted just function I’d stick with drugstore stalwarts La Roche-Posay and Cerave, but I want the full unicorn and rainbow experience. To me, it’s worth it.

CLEANSING OIL. Oil cleansers are my preferred formula. Applied with dry palms to dry skin, it’s very satisfying to massage in and then flannel off with warm water (no scrubbing!). It’s a gentle way to remove make-up at night, the oils dissolving away foundation, eye make-up and SPF. Basic oils like Muji (£4.95 for 50ml) are fine and functional, but if you want a pampering nighttime cleanse, then I love Chanel L’Huile Anti-Pollution Cleansing Oil* (£32). It’s a lovely lightweight oil, delicately scented and contains ‘blue micro’ algae to protect skin cells from micro stress caused by pollution.

My current rave though is the new Clé de Peau Beauté Cleansing Cream Oil*, which like the Chanel, also counteracts the effects of air pollution. At £52, this is crazy indulgent but so good. Rather than a liquid oil, it’s a thick cream that comes in a 130ml tube and has the perfect texture to massage in for thirty seconds or so. When you add water, it transforms to a milky, silky rinse-off oil.

FACE OIL. I’m a certified face oil fanatic and Costa Brazil’s Kaya Anti-Aging Face Oil* (above) is one of the lightest, thinnest I’ve tried, without being runny. The high price (£115 for 30ml) comes from the cocktail of hero ingredients; omega-packed Amazonian Kaya oil, Brazil nut oil and vitamin-rich Baobab seed oil for firming and soothing. The packaging is beautiful. A very minimalist-chic dropper bottle as befits the former creative director of Calvin Klein, who founded this namesake beauty line.

Other high end face oils I recommend: La Mer’s The Renewal Oil* (£98 for 15ml) is an elegant citrus scented oil containing the signature sea kelp ‘miracle broth’ for revitalising skin. Nairian Rosehip Day Serum* (£69 for 30ml) is another super-cocktail containing a blend of vitamin-packed, cold-pressed plant oils to strengthen the skin barrier. I used this all spring and summer. Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil* (£34 for 15ml) is a good unscented option if you have sensitive skin. I’m also enjoying the Clé de Peau Beauté Multi-Repair Oil*, which has just relaunched. It’s £120 for 75ml, so you get twice as much as the Costa Brazil one, but you can also use this on your body. For the affordable option, Typology Organic Carrot Macerated Oil, (£11.80 for 100ml) is a no-frills facial oil high in linoleic acid to protect skin from dehydration. It has quite a thick consistency, so a couple of drops will suffice. Buy it here.

BODY OIL. Have you ever liked the idea of something more than the reality? Thankfully that didn’t happen with Liha Idan Oil*. This celebrated cold-pressed coconut oil is infused with tuberose (that’s a tuberose flower floating inside) resulting in a nostalgic smell that transports me to 1980s India holidaying with my grandparents. The oil is a multi-tasker; you warm it up (I put it in a bowl of hot water) and once it has liquefied, can use it for face, body, leg shaving, manicures, and even for hair as a pre-wash deep conditioner. It’s £39 for 100ml, £16 for 30ml or there’s a mini discovery set, which includes a 15ml bottle.

And here’s a new one I want to try. Glossier Dry Touch Oil Mist* is a recent addition to the Body Hero line. It’s a lightweight, fast absorbing blend of sunflower seed, grape seed and oat oils, scented with neroli (I’m imagining the semi-sweet, semi-floral smell of an APC store.) It’s £24 for 100ml, available at Glossier.


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Costa Brazil Kaya Anti-Aging Face Oil
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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