Why an Oil-Serum Is a Game-Changer for Dry Skin

The Dualist, a new hybrid face elixir, is bridging the gap.

<p>The Dualist</p>

The Dualist

While I love face oil, I’ve only ever used one at night as I find that it leaves my face too oily for the daytime. I prefer a more matte look, and especially when you’re layering skin care, SPF, and makeup, an oil can thwart that soft-focus effect. But loving how an oil makes my skin feel—more hydrated and supple—I’ve been increasingly drawn to the burgeoning category of oil-serums. Could this be the thing that bridges the gap?

It can, I’ve discovered over the last few months thanks to The Dualist, a new skin-care brand debuting with an innovative oil-serum that I’ve been using day and night for both instant benefits and long-term results. Founded by Mariah Summers, a former business writer for the Financial Times and BuzzFeed News and skin-care obsessive, her mission as a person with naturally dry skin, chronic cystic acne, and rosacea was to create a hyper-moisturizing product that could supply the instant glow of an oil with the long-term barrier-strengthening benefits of a serum. The other vital component? Ensure it’s decidedly non-greasy compared to what was out there.

“Every oil I tried was too heavy and didn’t deliver the long-lasting hydration that a water-loving ingredient like a hyaluronic acid could,” she explains. “I thought, ‘What if we could combine the antioxidant-rich moisturizing power of botanical oils with the deep hydration of hyaluronic acid?’ To most in the skin-care world, this would sound like mixing oil and water.”

But that didn’t stop Summers from trying. After hunting diligently for the right cosmetic chemist, she got to work and spent four years on countless formulations before landing on her pitch-perfect elixir that would, above all else, create the opportunity for “traditionally oil-free people to try a skin-care product that includes oil and unlock the benefits they’ve been missing out on.”

<p>The Dualist</p>

The Dualist

As one of them, I can say she made good on her mission. It all comes down to The Dualist’s unique formulation, which can be distilled into three components. The first is its trio of free radical-fighting ingredients: Pataua oil, prickly pear seed oil, and jojoba oil, which are rich in oleic acid (omega-9) and antioxidants that form a protective barrier around the skin. “The combination of these powerful protective ingredients working together means your skin literally has an armor against free radicals, which can lead to issues like uneven skin tone, dark spots, age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and sagging skin. It protects you all day long and leaves your skin feeling both nourished and strengthened.”

"Every ingredient should be pulling at least double duty, hence our name."

Next is the low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, the secret sauce for “bounce,” as it “acts as a humectant, which means it draws water into the skin that the more occlusive oils in the formula then help to lock in.” Lastly, there is the emollient avocado oil, which is key for softness. “Avocado also acts as an occlusive, trapping all of the hydration that the hyaluronic delivers while not clogging your pores—like a moisture seal for your skin that also lets it breathe, which is so hard to find!” she says. If you’re noticing a theme of hardworking, multi-tasking ingredients, that’s precisely the point. As Summers puts it, “Every ingredient should be pulling at least double duty, hence our name.”

Having tested The Dualist over the past few months, I’ve been thrilled with the results. While keeping my rosacea soothed and skin consistently softer, smoother (including the dry, patchy areas around my nose and chin), and more glowing, I know that I can layer it underneath anything without the pesky sheen showing through. This is a huge development for me, and I know it holds much appeal for those with oilier skin types as well. Moreover, it’s streamlining my routine in that I know I have a hybrid product—and a gorgeous-looking one at that—I can rely on for all of my targeted serum needs. It speaks to the less-is-more skin-care ethos that Summers and I share.



“I think skincare, in general, is extremely over-complicated, and the vast majority of us are doing too much,” explains Summers. “I’m a big believer in the skinimalism movement—picking something that has multiple benefits all in one package. You can do two things at once, and your products should be able to as well.” To which I say, preach!

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