Moisturizer vs. Face Oils: What’s the Difference?

Moisturizer vs. Face Oils What's the Difference

Moisturizers and face oils are two different skincare products with diverse functions. Often it is believed that both of them are used to moisturize the skin and keep it supple. While it is true to some extent, their mode of action, purpose, absorption and usage are completely different. 

While moisturizers are used to keep the skin hydrated and nourished with enough moisture, face oils are composed in such a way that they help treat and prevent certain skin conditions naturally. 

If you are confused between the two, the comparison of moisturizer vs. face oil will tell what the difference is and what’s better for your skin type and concern. 

Keep reading for detailed insight on moisturizers and face oils! 



True to their name, moisturizers (1) are formulated to keep the skin moist and hydrated for long hours. They come in different forms- cream, gel, lotion, etc. and ensure that your skin doesn’t feel tight and dehydrated. 


  • Improves skin hydration 
  • Strengthens skin protective barrier 
  • Makes skin smooth, soft and supple

A moisturizer penetrates deep into the skin and offers all the benefits to it. Often, they come equipped with beneficial ingredients such as glycerine, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, lactic acid, etc. that address different skin concerns as well. 

Face Oil

Face Oil

Oils are thicker in consistency than moisturizers, and face oils (2) are no exception. However, they are still less sticky than most of the oils used for other purposes. They work best when you have excessively dry and flaky skin. The deeply moisturizing properties of face oil ensure intense nourishment. 


  • Restores the skin’s moisture barrier, 
  • Repairs and renews skin cells
  • Calms skin inflammation

Face oils can be derived from plants such as coconut oil, tea tree oil, etc. Such oils can address different skin concerns such as dryness, acne, skin aging, and many more. Likewise, they can be formulated artificially and infused with minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, etc for skin nourishment. 

Below is the table differentiating moisturizers and face oils under different heads for better understanding-

AspectMoisturizerFace Oil
PurposeHydrates and seals moisture into the skin.Provides hydration and nourishment to the skin.
TextureTypically creamy or gel-like texture.Usually in liquid form, can be lightweight or rich.
IngredientsContains water-based ingredients, emollients, humectants.Typically composed of plant oils, essential oils, extracts.
Skin TypeSuitable for most skin types, including oily and acne-prone.Often recommended for dry or mature skin, but can be tailored for all skin types.
AbsorptionAbsorbs quickly into the skin.Absorbs slowly, leaving a thin layer on the skin’s surface.
BenefitsProvides immediate hydration and softens the skin.Offers long-lasting hydration and enhances skin’s natural barrier.
UsageApplied as the last step in skincare routine, before sunscreen or makeup.Can be used alone or mixed with moisturizer, applied after serums or before moisturizer.
SealantForms a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss.Seals in moisture and helps balance oil production.
Target ConcernsTargets dryness, dullness, and dehydration.Addresses dryness, fine lines, and lack of radiance.
Shelf LifeTypically longer shelf life due to preservatives.Shelf life can vary depending on ingredients, usually shorter.
CompatibilityCompatible with various skincare products.May not layer well with certain products, especially those with silicone bases.
SuitabilitySuitable for daily use, morning and night.Can be used daily or as needed, may be too heavy for some during daytime.
CostGenerally, it is more affordable compared to face oils.Can be expensive due to high-quality oils and extracts.
PackagingOften comes in jars, tubes, or pump bottles.Usually packaged in dark glass bottles to preserve oils.

Using Face Oil Instead of Moisturizer 

Often people use face oil and moisturizer interchangeably, less knowing the fact that they both function differently and are suitable for different skin concerns. While the work of moisturizer is to add hydration to the skin, face oil helps to retain it by locking in. They can’t add more water to the skin, unlike moisturizer. 

Therefore, if you skip using moisturizer and instead apply face oil, do not forget that it will not add extra hydration to the skin and maintain a healthy moisture barrier. In such cases, especially if the skin is dry and dehydrated, it will look dull even after using face oil.

So, instead of using face oil in place of moisturizer, try to add both to your skincare routine for maximum benefits. 

Moisturizer Vs Face Oil- What Should You Use?

Before deciding between moisturizer and face oil, it is important to know your skin type and if you have any skin concerns. 

People with excessively dry, flaky and parched skin can use face oil as it fortifies the lipid barrier and prevents moisture loss from the skin. However, it is important to mention that you should apply face oil only after applying moisturizer. It will ensure that the added hydration will not transpire and the skin stays supple. Using both ingredients will give maximum benefits. 

You can also apply face oil to get an instant dewy look. A regular application of face oil ensures that your skin stays youthful with fewer visible fine lines and wrinkles. It can also treat inflammation and curb many other skin concerns. For instance, certain face oils can treat acne due to their antimicrobial properties. 


Comparing moisturizers vs face oils has given a complete insight into them; therefore, ditching one for the other is not a good idea. Both these ingredients have different formulations and different modes of action. 

While moisturizer alone can help prevent skin from getting dry, those with extremely dry and flaky skin should use a combination of both for improved results. Also, it will ensure getting faster results. 

Always start with a low quantity of face oil and see how it works. If it suits your skin type, increase the quantity and make the skin youthful, soft, and supple. In case of any adverse effect, stop its use immediately and visit a dermatologist. 

Image Source : canva

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