I get asked this question ALL the time, what’s the difference between water-based and oil-based products and what should we use? When you are looking for a good moisturizer, serum…etc. you get overwhelmed by all the options available and all the different choices you must make. So, let me demystify the options and explain to you all the differences between the two and how to choose what’s best for your skin.
What is a Water-Based product?
As you can tell from the name, the main ingredient in a water-based product is water. Water is easy absorbed, will feel much lighter on your skin and is less likely to clog pores. However, water is easily evaporated, and once you apply your water-based products, the water will easily evaporate and escapes the skin. To avoid this evaporation, many water-based products will have some oils and other occlusive emollients in them to seal the water inside the pores. If you are trying to avoid all oils in your products, look for “oil-free” water-based products. Water-based products are very hydrating and light on the skin, they can be used as a base primer to your skincare routine before applying other products and oils on top to seal in the moisture, they are also a perfect option for the summer since the texture and feel is so light and more comfortable.
What is an Oil-Based product?
All the ingredients in an oil-based product are dissolved in an oil base. According to Byrdie, Gloria Noto, makeup artist and founder of Noto Botanics says, "Oils sink right into the skin," and continues to say, "It's like food for your body".
The reason oil-based products are so good is because they mimic the natural oils found in your skin, therefore, help replenish and regulate the skin’s barrier function which is responsible for oil production. Actually, contrary to popular belief, oil-based products do not cause breakouts, quite the opposite, the oils will dial down your skin’s sebum production since it no longer has to compensate.
Many oils also include fatty acids and vitamins that have amazing anti-aging benefits. Over time, oils will help even out the texture of your skin and add a “glow” to the skin.
So Which one is better for your skin?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no answer. It highly depends on your skin type, and if you are treating a specific condition.
If your skin is DRY, that means your skin is not producing enough sebum, which is the natural oils produced by your skins glands to keep the skin lubricated and moisturized. Dry skin will visibly look dry, flaky, cracked and even itchy.
If your skin is DEYDRATED, that means your skin is lacking water not sebum. Dehydration can be caused due to age, poor diet, sun exposure, sanitizing ingredients and products that are alcohol-based.
So, depends on your skins needs you should choose your products. But in my opinion, it wouldn’t hurt to keep both options on hand. I personally use both water and oil-based products. Oil will work better when your skin is hydrated, so use your oil-based products on wet skin (after you shower) or prep your skin with water-based products then add your oil-based products, this will lock in the maximum amount of hydration possible.
These products are the perfect options to choose from: