Thursday, May 2, 2013

Q&A: Which Comes First - Oil or Moisturizer?

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A lovely reader, who we'll call Meghan (because that's her name), asked an interesting question recently - do you apply oil before moisturizer or visa versa? I have heard mixed thoughts on this topic so being the resourceful person that I am, I turned to an expert - the beautiful and knowledgeable Victoria of La Bella Figura. And as always with these types of things, the answer is "it depends." More specifically, it depends on the purpose for which you are using the oil and/or moisturizer because -
"It is more beneficial to have your more active and targeted product on first and then layer with another product."
For example:
"If you were to use a very active moisturizer that had a skin activating purpose, [you] would use that first and then apply your face oil right over."
In other words, if you are using a fancy-pants night cream with pricey anti-aging actives then you definitely want to apply that first. The same holds true if you are using a very active face oil, like for example the La Bella Figura Daily Elements Defense Face Oil. You want to apply the DED oil before sunscreen so that the concentrated antioxidants in the oil can penetrate skin to protect it from wayward free radicals that manage to bypass your sunscreen.

In my case, I apply my oils before my moisturizers (both morning sunscreen and evening night cream) because I want the nutrients and actives in the oils to penetrate my skin and the moisturizers to simply lock in those nutrients. The anti-aging benefits are in the oils I purchase, not the moisturizers so I apply oils first in order to get the most out of them.

Thank you Victoria for your insight and thank you Meghan for the thought-provoking question!


  1. That was such a quick response! Thanks :) So I guess the molecular size of the product and/or water/oil interactions aren't the top considerations then?

    On the one hand, it makes sense to me that you'd want your most active product on first...but on the other hand, if that product makes it so any other products don't penetrate through to the skin....why even put anything on top? I.e., if say you're putting on an active cream whose molecules are larger and/or repellant to other products you want to put on top, it seems like those top products wouldn't work as well....? I barely passed organic chemistry though so what do I know... :)

    As always, loving your blog posts!

  2. I understand your point, but I think that some of whatever you put on top will be absorbed by the skin, just to a lesser extent. For instance, dermatologists often tell patients to put an oil or moisturizer on before applying a retinol cream/gel to minimize irritation. The oil or moisturizer simply acts as a buffer. So yes, like you said, technically the retinol wouldn't be working as well as it could. For me, moisturizer just seals in all the good stuff in the oils. Moisturizer acts as a barrier and prevents water evaporation and the like. Or something like that. I took organic chemistry too, but that was so long ago...haha