The Ultimate Guide to Beauty Oils

They're the current beauty craze, and for good reason -- oils offer a plethora of benefits for your face, hair, nails, and everything in between. But if you're confused by the many options, or just aren't sure how (or why) to use one, we've got answers. Read on to learn all about eight slick superstars, and how you can work them into your regimen.

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  • Coconut Oil

    This rich hydrator, made up mostly of saturated fats, is an excellent emollient. Translation: It seals in moisture and is ideal for quenching parched skin or strands of hair. Since the consistency is too thick for your face, consider using it on particularly dry areas like elbows, knees, and heels, or even in lieu of shaving cream, suggests Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. It also makes an ideal mask for your mane. “The molecules can penetrate through the cuticle -- the outer layer of the hair -- and directly into the cortex to strengthen and hydrate strands,” explains cosmetic chemist and cofounder of the beautybrains.com, Randy Schueller. Pre-bedtime, work a quarter-size amount through hair, then cover with a shower cap. Shampoo as usual in the morning to reveal silky-soft tresses.

  • Argan Oil

    Also known as Moroccan oil, this is commonly found in hair care products, where it delivers multiple strand-saving benefits. “Its Omega 3 fatty acids help fight frizz, add moisture, and enhance shine,” explains Gohara. It also works equally well to hydrate dry nails and cuticles, though it’s too heavy to use on your face.

  • Marula Oil

    Expect to see this latest "it" oil popping up in all kinds of beauty products. It comes from the fruit of an African tree, and contains multiple vitamins and antioxidants -- including vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids -- that safeguard skin from environmental stressors, says Gohara. Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids deliver deep hydration and help reduce redness. It's worth noting that if the oil goes bad in the bottle, it won't be good for you skin (it can oxidize and actually promote aging).  Store in a cool, dark place to preserve the efficacy and keep it from turning rancid.

  • Evening Primrose Oil

    The sensitive set should reach for this oil, derived from the seeds of the eponymous plant, a wildflower commonly found in North America. High in Omega-6 fatty acids and gamma linolenic acid, it touts both anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effects. The oil also improves cellular health and stimulates skin renewal, improving circulation for a youthful glow.

  • Grapeseed Oil

    Full of skin-nourishing Vitamin E, this is a great moisturizer for both face and body, but consider using it as a shield for your strands: “Because it has a relatively high smoke point, it protects hair from heat,” Schueller points out. Simply apply a few drops from mid-shaft to ends prior to any kind of heat styling. An added boon: Clear and odorless, it won’t leave behind a scent or colored residue.

  • Jojoba Oil

    It may seem counterintuitive, but this oil can actually make your complexion less greasy. Similar to natural sebum, it tricks the skin into thinking it’s making enough oil, helping to balance and regulate overall oil production. Keep in mind that less is more: A dime-size amount for your entire face will do the trick. Additional antioxidant properties fight free radical damage that leads to signs of aging, adds Gohara.

  • Rosehip Oil

    Rich in antioxidants, including skin-brightening vitamin C, this youth-boosting oil is choice for mottled complexions. But you can’t get it from just any garden-variety rose: It’s extracted only from the seeds of two types of rose bushes that grow in South Africa, Europe, and the southern Andes mountains. Lighter than many other oils, “It won’t feel heavy on your face, and can easily be layered with other lotions or creams,” Gohara says. Loaded with essential fatty acids, this oil also helps expedite wound healing and reduce scarring -- even the Egyptians used it for this purpose.

  • Sunflower

    "Anti-inflammatory properties make this is a good option for anyone prone to conditions like eczema or psoriasis," Gohara says. With a thinner consistency than many other oils, it also absorbs quickly into both hair and skin, without feeling greasy or slippery afterward.

  • Next Slideshow DIY: Homemade Skin Care Recipes

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