The Spaniards have got it going on when it comes to uncomplicated skincare, so when I received a facial oil and balm by Spanish brand Alex Carro, I had high expectations. But, before I go into the deets of the products I’ve been trying out, let’s talk about facial oils, because everyone else (in the beauty world) is. The only facial oil I’m familiar with, is the one I blot with a tissue when I’m looking a little shiny, so why would I want to slather more oil on my face?!? Well apparently, pure facial oils are a great way to supplement your existing skincare routine, and can be used to treat a wide range of skin conditions such as acne (I know, oil on acne :-0), wrinkles, rosacea and dry skin.

So what is a facial oil?

As we age, our wrinkles start to look deeper because the skin’s natural oils decrease, the moisture barrier breaks down, and the skin dries out. Most creams/moisturisers contain a little oil, but not enough to make a big difference in moisture loss but, because oils are lipophilic, or fat loving, they pass though the lipid layer of the skin faster, preventing water loss and plumping skin with moisture more effectively. According to the experts, any good quality botanical (plant) oil may be used anywhere on the face or body—there are no oils that are better for any certain area over others. Facial oils that contain oils high in fatty acids, such as safflower or hemp are great for adding moisture to the skin and are a great overnight reparative treatment for plumping out those wrinkles. Look for an oil that contains multiple plant oils such as argan, passion fruit or African marula, as these will provide a broad range of antioxidants. Whilst it’s best to avoid essential/fragrant oils such as lavender, eucalyptus or citrus, as they do not have the same benefits as other oils and have the ability to cause irritation, some of these are great at treating acne and congested skin. Other oils can also prevent irritation that’s sometimes caused by anti-ageing ingredients such as retinol or glycolic acid – argan, yangu, and borage-seed oils all decrease inflammation. However, make sure you do your research prior to purchase as not oils are the same! A facial oil should be incorporated into your skincare routine in order to boost the efficacy of your existing products and not used to replace any one item such as your moisturiser.

When should I use my facial oil?

I use mine last thing at night after I’ve cleansed and toned and before I put on my retinol based serum, as the oil actually assists in carrying the active ingredients in your serum into the deeper layers of your skin and closer to the collagen-producing fibroblasts, all without irritating the skin’s surface layer. Nighttime is when your skin is most receptive to potent ingredients like these, but some people prefer to use their facial oils in the morning for added antioxidant protection, under their moisturiser/serum. Whichever your preference, incorporating a good facial massage technique is a great way not only to ensure good penetration of your oil, but also boosts circulation and relieves puffiness by shifting excess fluid (lymph). There are some great tutorials online on facial massage technique, if you don’t have the luxury of having it incorporated into a regular facial. Here’s one that’s quick and easy, so no excuses!

So what of the Spaniards and their skincare products then?…

So, back to ‘small batch’ skincare brand, Alex Carro. Alex has been studying and experimenting with essential oils and plant extracts for over ten years and has produced the beauty equivalent of a ‘capsule collection’ of five quintessential products for “exceptional, uncomplicated facial skincare”. “The products are blended using only premium natural ingredients, selected for individual and symbiotic performance. No chemicals or fillers are added, and the resulting five products compose a highly functional, portable range to suit any skin type.”

The ‘collection’ of products comprises of a balancing face oil, a facial cleanser, an exfoliating powder, a face cream and a multi-use balm which are all designed to be used either on their own or as multi-use products when mixed with one another.

What I’m currently using and what I thinks…

Alex Carro’s balancing facial oil is a super hydrating facial oil for all skin types, light and easily absorbed. A beautifully scented blend of rose, geranium, and patchouli (my fave – what a hippie!) oils “to enhance natural beauty” (that’s their marketing speak btw, not mine) and, Moroccan argan, evening primrose, and Japanese rice bran oils to smooth and regenerate. When used in conjunction with their exfoliating powder, it morphs into a hydrating exfoliator; with the face cream, it’s an extra rich face cream; and with the facial cleanser, it can be used as a hydrating face mask. I love this oil and it’s been a beautifully nourishing addition to my nighttime regime. The multi-use balm contains calendula, chamomile, neroli, shea, and cocoa butter. Created to condition, soothe, and protect dry lips or patches of dry skin on the face or body, the balm can be combined with their exfoliating powder and used as a smoothing lip treatment. I use this on my lips all the time, as it smells divine and is very hydrating but, it doesn’t quite beat the lip butter from the Naked Goods (now known as Akar Skin) that I’ve reviewed previously.

I love the simplicity of their packaging, which uses dark glassware to protect the precious oils and, the monochrome outer packaging is both stylish and discreet, echoing their ethos of uncomplicated skincare. The products carry a beautiful but not overpowering signature scent of frankincense, geranium, patchouli, rose, and a French high-altitude (that must make it pretty spesh I’m guessing?) lavender essential oil which, when you massage the facial oil in, really does create a sense of well-being. The unique mixability of all five products makes for a versatile skincare range that’s suitable for all skin types, including those soap dodging boys!

How much and where to buy…

The balancing facial oil is quite pricey at £57/$100AUD for 30ml, but the multi-use balm is better value at £18/$32AUD for 10ml. Alex Carro products are available at their online store.

Adiós las bellezas