Dry Oil – What Is It, How To Use, And Benefits

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
Written by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

The word ’dry oil’ sounds like an oxymoron and might confuse you. Right? Well, it is named dry oil as it leaves a dry finish on the skin. It sinks in and removes all the oily residue if applied to the skin. Dry oil is different from wet oils. It is heavier than wet oils and has a very different chemical composition. In this article, we explain all about dry oil, how it is different from wet oils, and how you can use it most effectively. Keep scrolling!

What Is Dry Oil? Why Use Dry Oils?


We have learned that liquid is wet and moisturizing. Then, how can oil be dry? The name “dry oil” is a misnomer. This is because the “dryness” is not a characteristic of the oil, but the finish the oil leaves on your skin. Dry oil sinks instantly in your skin and doesn’t leave any oily residue on it. You will not get the sticky and heavy feeling that you usually get with other oils. The term” dry oil” is relatively new but this concept is not – as it has been around since ages.

Aromatherapists and herbalists have been using dry oils for skin care and hair care purposes. According to beauty experts, dry oils contain high amounts of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid – and that’s why these oils are incredibly lightweight and get absorbed quickly. These oils get absorbed so quickly that after a few minutes of application, you won’t even feel that you have applied any oil to your skin!

How exactly is dry oil different from wet oil? Keep scrolling to find out.

Dry Oil Vs. Wet Oil: What’s The Difference?


Dry oil is:

  • Less greasy
  • Lightweight
  • Less wet (doesn’t leave a wet feeling on your skin like regular oils)

Since dry oil is lighter, it is absorbed by your skin instantly. This type of oil is best suited for those with oily or acne prone skin. Dry oils come with all the benefits of oils minus the sticky feeling. They have amazing skin softening effects, and that’s why dry oils are mostly used in creams and body lotions. Dry oils are perfect for those who want to lock in moisture without that greasy afterglow. If you have oily skin and dread regular oils, you are going to love dry oils!

Compared to dry oils, wet oils are heavy. Wet oils are absorbed into your skin at a slower rate and feel heavy. After you apply wet oil to your skin, you can feel the oil lingering on your skin surface for long. Wet oils are excellent for moisturizing your skin. These oils prevent transepidermal water loss (water loss through the epidermis). That’s the reason wet oils are perfect for dehydrated and extremely dry skin. Since wet oils are heavier than dry oils, they are mainly used as a base for commercially available body oils and water-based skin products.

If you have skin issues, such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis, wet oils are perfect for you. Some of the common wet oils include: castor oil, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, neem oil, hemp seed oil, tamanu oil, and baobab oil.

Like wet oils, dry oils also contain moisturizing properties that keep your skin hydrated. But then, which oils are considered dry oils? Find out in the next section.

Which Oils Are Considered Dry Oils?


The most common and widely used dry oils include:

  • Rosehip seed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Camelina oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Borage oil

All these dry oils are also used as carrier oils and can be used for facial skin care, moisturizing your body, and improving the health of your hair, nails, and cuticles.

Interested to know how you can add dry oils to your skin care routine? Scroll down.

How To Use Dry Oils Effectively


You can use dry oils for your nails, body, and hair.

  • For Your Skin

To ensure your skin gets the maximum benefits, you can apply dry oil right after you take a shower. When these oils are applied to clean skin, they help lock in the moisture and give a smooth finish to your skin without making it look or feel oily.

  • For Your Hair

If you have frizzy hair, dry oils help to tame your frizz and make your hair shine without weighing it down. If you want to control your frizzy hair, apply the oil on damp hair. And if you want to add shine to it, use it as a finisher on your hair (just the way you apply a hair serum). You can even apply it to your scalp as part of an overnight treatment and wash your hair the next day.

  • For The Nails and Cuticles

Use it just the way you use a cuticle cream. Take a few drops and massage on your nails and cuticles. Let your cuticles soak all the goodness of the oil. This helps to condition your cuticles and strengthen the nails. You may wash your nails after about 20 to 30 minutes.

Dry oils are extremely soothing and usually do not cause any breakouts or skin irritation. Hence, they can be used throughout the summer months. If you think you can ditch the heavy body creams and wet oils, here are a few commercially available dry oils you can try.

Note: Most of the commercially available dry oils with the label of “dry oil” actually combine both dry and wet oils. This is done to maximize the therapeutic benefits of the oil.

Dry oils are lightweight, fast-absorbing, and are an excellent alternative to the heavy moisturizers and creams you use. You may buy commercially available dry oils from the market or get pure dry oil and use it at your convenience. They smell amazing, feel excellent on the skin, and do not cause greasiness. Moreover, they are multipurpose, and you can apply dry oils to your hair and nail cuticles. So, if you are tired of the sticky creams and moisturizers and want something hydrating and lightweight, try dry oils. We are sure your skin will love them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is castor oil a dry oil?

No, castor oil is not a dry oil. It is a wet oil.

Can you massage with dry oil?

Yes, dry oil can be used as a body oil. You can apply a few drops of oil after taking a shower and massage it into the skin.

Does dry oil protect from the sun?

Yes, dry oil can protect the skin from the sun. Dry oil like rosehip oil helps fight against photoaging and prevents sun damage (1).

Key Takeaways

  • Dry oils get absorbed fast and don’t leave an oily residue on your skin.
  • These also are less greasy and lightweight.
  • Common dry oils include sesame, sunflower, safflower, avocado, and grapeseed oils.
  • You can use dry oils to moisturize your skin, boost hair shine, and strengthen your nails.

1 Sources

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  1. Therapeutic Applications of Rose Hips from Different Rosa Species
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Dr. Vindhya L Veerula

Dr. Veerula (Dr. V) is a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology, a Fellow of the American Academy of... more