Everyone has oil in their skin, some just have more than others. Not only does this oil, called sebum, help to keep skin hydrated and protected, it also aids in skin suppleness. If you notice a concentrated shine on your nose, forehead, and chin, your skin may be producing an excess of sebum. Depending on just how much sebum your skin produces, you may be considered an oily skin type. While this can present some management challenges, with the right approach, oily skin can be kept blemish- and shine-free. Read on for some of our favorite tips for oily skin.
What causes oily skin?
Genetics are typically to blame for oily skin but a spike in hormone levels during adolescence, a woman’s menstrual cycle, or pregnancy can also trigger your sebaceous glands to create more sebum during those time periods.
Those who have oily skin tend to have a thicker skin texture, enlarged pores, and can suffer from acne when excess oil combines with dead skin cells to clog pores.
What is an appropriate skin care routine if you have oily skin?
While it isn’t possible to change your skin type, you can develop a skin care routine for oily skin that successfully normalizes the skin’s rate of sebum production.
Your morning and evening routine should always start with cleansing. Oily skin requires the use of a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils. When an aggressive cleanser is used and the skin’s acid mantle is stripped, your skin responds by producing even more oil in an effort to protect the skin from dehydration.
Product Suggestion: Cleansing Lotion, $22.99
While a toner is typically considered an optional addition to a skin care routine, those with oily skin will find that the addition of a gentle toner can not only remove excess sebum after you cleanse but also minimize the potential for breakouts.
Product Suggestion: Tone & Balance, $17.99
Since those with oily skin tend to have enlarged pores that can become clogged, exfoliating is a key step in removing dead cells from the surface of your skin that could otherwise mix with sebum to block pores and trigger breakouts. For at home use, exfoliation can occur via chemical or mechanical means. Mechanical exfoliation uses an abrasive agent to remove the dead keratin layer of skin while the chemical approach uses ingredients like glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, to effectively dissolve keratin. While both have their place in a skin care routine, chemical is preferred for the efficiency with which it can reduce dead skin buildup.
Product suggestion: AloeGlyC, $78.99
There’s a common misconception that people who have oily skin don’t need a moisturizer. The truth is, even if you have oily skin, you still need to hydrate. Oil is oil, not a moisturizer, and skipping this step could potentially cause your skin to overproduce oil to compensate for its lack of hydration.
For oily skin, you’ll want to use a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, oil-free and has a lightweight formulation, such as a gel. Heavier formulations do not absorb as easily into the skin and can contribute to the appearance of oiliness on the skin.
Product Suggestion: Daily Moisturizer for Oily Skin, $37.99
No skin care routine – no matter your skin type – is complete without SPF during the daytime. Similar to choosing your moisturizer, it’s best to opt for a sunscreen that is oil-free and non-comedogenic to prevent pores from potentially becoming clogged with oil, sweat, and impurities.
Product Suggestion: Sunscreen Spray, $31.99
What skin care ingredients should you look for?
When you’re shopping for products for your skin care routine for oily skin, there are some key ingredients to be on the lookout for, given their ability to help manage skin sebum levels.
Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, not only can calm inflammation, but studies have shown that integrating this ingredient into your routine consistently over the course of a month can help lower sebum excretion rates.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid, which tells you that it is oil-soluble, making it great for oily skin. Salicylic acid can dissolve dead skin cells and is beneficial in clearing out impurities in the pores. (Read more about the difference between alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids.)
Retinol is an excellent ingredient for those with oily skin who are also prone to breakouts. A vitamin A derivative, retinol encourages cellular turnover, ensuring that dead skin cells are removed from the skin’s surface and replaced with healthy, new cells. With consistent use, retinol helps to regulate sebum levels and minimize breakouts.
Additional tips for oily skin
Beyond ensuring a solid skin care routine, two of our favorite tips for oily skin include:
1. Carry blotting papers in your handbag
Blotting papers allow you to quickly and easily minimize oiliness and shine from your face without ruining your makeup. In a pinch you can just use a brown recycled napkin, like those found at coffee shops.
2. Use a makeup setting spray
After applying makeup, mist a light setting spray on top. This will help to lock in your look and minimize the potential of it running as the day goes on. (Tip: Lexli Tone & Balance can double as a setting spray.)