Wake up with a great skin day with the best night oils from Look Fantastic, Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay, Space NK and more
The change in season can play havoc with our complexions, as our skin reacts to not only the colder climate but the environment around us (think central heating and hot showers). You may notice your skin feeling dry, uncomfortable or tight, or you may be suffering from inflammation.
Just as we switch up our wardrobe at this time of year, applying an extra layer to your skincare routine in the form of a night oil will comfort the skin.
“Oils don’t actually hydrate the skin,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong. “They are occlusives, meaning they act as sealants on the skin’s surface.” So they play a vital role in strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier and locking in your serum and moisturiser which makes them work harder.
Advances in cosmetic science mean next-generation formulas work that bit harder too with added skincare benefits. You’ll find skin rejuvenating formulas with retinol (or plant-derived alternatives) for softening lines, wrinkles and pores.
And there are skin-soothing blends that will transform irritation or inflammation, as well as mind-calming oils that will help lull you to sleep. With so many to choose from, there’s a perfect night oil for you, so let us help you find it.
How we tested
To find the slickest operators on the beauty shelves, whether in the spa, shops or online, we put the latest night oils on trial. To make our winning selection, the bottle had to boost hydration levels quickly, making skin feel soft, supple and smooth but also had to go the extra beauty mile by offering something more for our skin.
The best night oils for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Scientia dusk elixir active oil blend: £32, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for a youthful glow – Votary intense night oil: £135, Spacenk.com
- Best alternative to retinol – REN bio retinoid youth concentrate oil: £52, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for stressed-out skin– Paula’s Choice CBD oil + retinol: £41.58, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for uneven skin tone and fine lines – PSA Skin midnight courage rosehip and bakuchiol retinol night oil: £37, Beautybay.com
- Best for all-round skin rejuvenation – Sunday Riley luna sleeping night oil: £45, Spacenk.com
- Best for sensitive skin – Gallinee prebiotic face oil: £35, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for mature skin – Irene Forte orange blossom face oil: £99, Flannels.com
- Best for wellness – Tea and Tonic saving grace rich face oil: £45, Teaandtonic.co.uk
- Best value – Biossance limited edition 100% squalane oil jumbo size: £37, Cultbeauty.co.uk
Scientia dusk elixir active oil blend, 50ml
For a skin-renewing oil that also helps you unwind at bedtime, look to this impressive formula packed with no less than 23 oils. Before applying, we found inhaling the blend from the palm of our hands instantly promotes calmness thanks to the lavender, ylang-ylang and frankincense – this quickly became a PM ritual.
It also gives skin a helping hand in repair mode as we sleep. Stand-out actives include bakuchiol – a natural alternative to retinol – as well as nourishing avocado and rosehip oils. This literally lulled our tester to sleep at night and helped restore her dehydrated skin back to health leaving it brighter and radiant with ongoing use. And all with such a reasonable price tag.
Votary intense night oil, 50ml
Best: For a youthful glow
The brand behind a collection of beautiful face oils has this stellar bottle in its line-up. If you’re looking for the skin-rejuvenating results of adding a retinoid to your routine, this uses hydroxypinacolone retinoate, which is known to be more effective than retinol with less irritation.
Vitamin C-packed rosehip and avocado oil are just some of the other ingredients that make up this youth-boosting blend that’s also a delight to smell with its delicate scent of rose. We found a softening to dark spots, fine lines and a definite glow using this consistently for a month. Well worth a skincare splurge.
REN bio retinoid youth concentrate oil, 30ml
Best: Alternative to retinol
Look no further than this slick formula if you can’t use retinol formulations. This oil uses bidens pilosa also known as blackjack – a plant-based alternative to retinol to treat signs of ageing. Other sustainably sourced ingredients include glow-boosting organic rosehip oil and skin-nourishing sea buckthorn oil that combine to produce a natural night oil that we found turned around a dry complexion with just one week of use. After three weeks we noticed even better results, with improvements to firmness too.
Paula’s Choice CBD oil and retinol, 30ml
Best: For stressed-out skin
While the therapeutic benefits of CBD are now well known for medical purposes, there’s also a beauty buzz around its benefits in skincare – thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It cleverly soothes and calms when combined with skin-rejuvenating retinol (although this can cause irritation and sensitivity to the skin for some). Our tester felt zero irritation and after one month’s use, skin felt smoother, pores looked smaller, and pigmentation wasn’t so prominent looking either, we thought.
PSA Skin midnight courage rosehip and bakuchiol retinol night oil, 15ml
Best: For uneven skin tone and fine lines
PSA is the more affordable sister brand to beauty editor favourite Allies of Skin, but this night oil proves it’s just as powerful and effective. It contains a superior retinoid, which is purer than retinol and also less irritating to the skin. It’s paired with plant-based alternative bakuchiol that we found made a notable combination, as there was no sensitivity whatsoever when used night after night. Skin looked plumper when layered with a good night cream after just a few days, but give it a month and you’ll notice a softening of dark spots and fine lines, as well as brighter skin tone with pore size reduced too.
Sunday Riley luna sleeping night oil, 15ml
Best: For all-round skin rejuvenation
Reach for this cult classic if you’re looking for an effective night oil that’s going to soften fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and reduce pore size – all the signs of premature skin-ageing. Don’t let the bright blue formula put you off though; it gets its pigment from the blue tansy oil in the blend which is a calming anti-inflammatory, and it vanishes as soon as you massage in the oil anyway.
This is a blend with another next-generation retinoid that when used regularly you will see rejuvenating results over time. Expect to see more youthful skin, as our tester found out, after around four weeks. But the skin-softening and plumping takes effect within days – so much so that we noticed when we skipped using it.
Gallinee prebiotic face oil, 30ml
Best: For sensitive skin
From the French skincare brand that prioritises looking after the skin’s microbiome, comes this new skin-repairing oil that’s going to support and protect the skin barrier. It contains top-rated skin-soothers, oat oil and alpha-bisabolol, as well as jojoba oil, vitamin E and natural squalane – plus, rather excitingly, volcanic bacteria.
We found this blend promotes a calmer, more balanced complexion – perfect for skin on the delicate side or if you’ve overdone it using too many active ingredients. Suitable for day and night, our tester loved using it as part of her PM routine to let its restorative magic work overnight.
Irene Forte orange blossom face oil, 30ml
Best: For mature skin
For next-level hydration, turn to this luxe serum-oil formulation with 30 per cent stabilised vitamin E which gets to work softening and smoothing dry skin instantly. Packed with omega-rich oils, this replenishing formula has stand-out ingredients like jojoba oil – which is known to balance natural oil production and hydrate skin on the dry side – as well as soothing calendula flower that keeps skin calm. The results speak for themselves as our tester’s parched skin would drink up the blend every evening. After using it for two weeks solid, the result was a soft and supple complexion.
Tea and Tonic saving grace rich face oil, 30ml
Best: For wellness
Press a few drops of this oil onto your face, lie back and close your eyes and you’ll transport yourself into a luxurious spa. Created and developed in the Surrey Hills of England, Tea and Tonic pack their skincare with British-grown actives. Our tester found the Cotswold lavender really stood out and calmed a racing mind before bed. Not only is it comforting, but restoring too as it quickly transformed a dehydrated and tired complexion.
Biossance limited edition 100% squalane oil jumbo size, 200ml
This multi-tasking oil is suitable for not only your face but the rest of your body and hair too. That’s because it contains nothing but one of the most talked-about skincare ingredients right now: squalane. And Biossance uses vegan, sustainably sourced squalane derived from sugarcane to fill the bottle with.
We naturally produce less and less of the body’s version (squalene) as we get older, so applying this powerhouse hydrator to your skin will give you instant hydrating results. Plus, give it a week and you’ll notice soft and smoother skin. This limited edition offer is a steal, as it’s a huge 200ml bottle, so there’s plenty to use all over the body. Our tester tried and loved it as a hair mask too, and as a styling product to tame frizz.
The verdict: Night oils
When taking into account price and performance, our best buy goes to the Scientia dusk elixir active oil blend. It was fast and effective helping a dry complexion bounce back to health, as well as having sleep-inducing magical powers. If you’re after a retinoid formulation, you can’t go wrong with the Sunday Riley luna sleeping night oil.
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