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BEAUTY CLINIC: Is it oils first or creams?

BEAUTY CLINIC: Is it oils first or creams?

Jo and Sarah answer real questions from readers: to put your query, go to 

Q. I am so confused about the order of applying skincare, particularly oil and creams. Is it oils first or creams? I keep hearing different views.

A. The received wisdom when cosmetic companies first started launching facial oils some two decades back was that you applied the oil last to seal in the cream. It’s worth noting that oils were invariably applied at night then, after night cream.

At that point, the blended products tended to be richer and heavier as were the neat oils, such as avocado or sweet almond, which had been used by consumers for many years. Working on the skincare principle of applying the lightest product first and ending with the heaviest, it made sense to apply oils last.

Since then, however, facial oil blends have become much lighter and more easily absorbed, while creams have become richer and often themselves contain oils so that rule book has been thrown off the bathroom shelf. ‘These days whether there is a right or wrong way is probably debatable,’ says aromatherapist and facialist Lucy Stevens (

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should not apply facial oil last. In her Somerset clinics (details on the website), Lucy finds that for clients have extremely dehydrated or sensitive skin it generally works best to apply moisturiser then an appropriate richly nourishing facial oil. If skin is not hugely dehydrated, she suggests a light facial oil then moisturiser. (Of course, you can always change as your skin does, often with the seasons.)

Facial oils are wonderfully adaptable. Lucy has clients who use her handmade products such as VITAL Triple Rose Botanical Facial Oil, (one of Sarah’s all time favourites) in different ways, according to their individual complexions. ‘Some use morning and night, others just at night. Some use them alone, some over their moisturisers and others under. Some blend a couple of drops of oil with hydrosol [floral water] in their palms.’

To keep it really simple, Lucy suggests adding a few drops to your moisturiser or night cream. That also has the merit of meaning you are not tempted to use too much, which is often a problem. As Lucy says, if you use facial oil in the morning that risks leaving your skin a bit too slippy to make a good base for make up. Or, if you use it in the evening, you may leave most of it on the pillow – ‘which is a terrible waste!’


At Beauty Bible we have always been crap – truly crap – at liquid eyeliners. (So much so that we appointed our own ‘Liquid Eyeliner Correspondent’, one Carson Parkin-Fairley, to research these for us.)

Well, blow me down. We’re not crap at ALL liners – as we discovered when we tried this. (Well, we were sitting around having our brows tinted, and needed to pass the time.) We didn’t have great hopes, but even we can create a great liquid eye-line with this.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised – after all, Benefit have nailed it with their mascara collection. Roller Liner’s felt tip is incredibly easy to control for a line that’s as thin, thick or tapered as you’d like, and there’s absolutely no dragging. What’s more, once there, the matte-finish line is seriously budge-proof – waterproof, too, Benefit promise (though we haven’t put that to the test yet.)

Delighted to be up-skilled, Benefit.