There’s a plague over my house. I’m ill while I look after an ill child, and the last thing on my mind is the prettification of anything, least of all my face. But I do mind that everything feels sore, dry, rough, my nose is flaky and red, my cheeks are tight and grey, my lips are chapped. And it’s during times of ill health that I invariably turn to facial oil.
When one has neither the energy nor the inclination to do much more than lie with a hot-water bottle wedged into the foetal bend while a poor-quality, made-for-TV biopic flickers in the background, a rich, soothing, calming oil, rubbed haphazardly into the face, is just what the doctor ordered. It’s extremely low maintenance and highly effective on most outward signs of common illness and fatigue.
I have several favourites in my bathroom cabinet, lined up like apothecary tinctures, and will thoughtlessly reach for any one of them in times of need. I adore any oil by Darphin, and its Chamomile Aromatic Care (£40) seems to suit everyone, even those with skin made very sensitive by extreme weather or ill health. It sinks in swiftly without rubbing, gives a healthier look and, most importantly, provides cushiony comfort to a sore, tight complexion. It also takes down angry blotches and other redness.
A newer favourite (and a bargain, too) is The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil (£9). It’s light and silky, rather than thick and lardy, and great for restoring glow to sickly, housebound skin. It softens beautifully and contains not a single extra ingredient, making it dependably kind to inflamed, sore areas (such as around the nose during flu or cold).
If you’re so miserable that only an extravagant self gift will ease the malaise (though that’s possibly just me), then look no further than Votary Super Seed Facial Oil (£70), a gorgeous-feeling concoction of grapeseed, pumpkin, carrot, borage and other skin-saving oils that immediately makes skin feel soothed, comfy and looking more alive. Greedy by nature, I lock it down with a cocooning layer of moisturising cream.Aside from a gentle cleanser, I dispense with pretty much all other skincare until the storm has passed. Active ingredients such as retinol or high-concentration vitamin Cs, and exfoliants such as AHAs and BHAs are too strong, and must wait until you’re feeling more robust.