Everyone’s skin naturally contains oil (sebum). This ultra thin veil of sebum is essential in hydrating the skin and acting as a barrier against external elements. Oily skin occurs when the sebaceous glands become overactive and produce too much sebum, characterised by a shiny or greasy appearance and often coupled with blackheads and break-outs. Excessive sebum production can be exacerbated by things like hormonal changes, diet, stress levels, the use of certain skincare products and even the weather. I know oily skin can be one of the most frustrating skin types to have, with stubborn and hard to treat conditions like acne and congestion however all is not lost, with consistency and the right products you’ll be able to find balance and embrace oily skin.
These are my simple tips on how to best tend to oily skin.
Follow a basic skincare routine
It can be tempting when we’re experiencing a condition such as oily skin to overload our routine with products and active ingredients, but a less-is-more approach applies here. Adhere to a simple skincare routine – cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise, SPF – to rebalance oily skin.
Be wary of products marketed for oily skin
Skincare products that proclaim they’re formulated for oily skin commonly contain harsh ingredients like sulfates (sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate). While these ingredients provide a high lather, they can strip the skin of so much oil that the sebaceous glands go into panic mode and actually produce more oil to overcompensate. Instead, look for non-comedogenic products that won’t clog the pores.
Be careful not to strip the skin
I often see people trying to combat the oil with a lot of actives, drying out the skin and then afraid of adding in moisture. Drying out the skin will only lead to other issues. Treating oily skin is all about finding balance, we want to manage the oil production not remove it completely. I recommend keeping things simple and not being afraid of hydrating and oil-rich formulations.
Avoid drying alcohols
Not all alcohols are created equal when it comes to skincare. As a rule of thumb, I always avoid benzyl alcohol, SD alcohol, denatured alcohol (alcohol denat), and isopropyl alcohol. These volatile alcohols are often included in products marketed towards oily skin because they allow for quick absorption, a lightweight finish and instant degreasing, but much like sulfates they can cause more harm than good. These are not to be confused with cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol – ‘good’ alcohols that are used as emulsifiers and derived from coconut or vegetable oils.
Don’t skip moisturiser
People with oily skin sometimes skip moisturiser based on the mistaken belief it will cause the skin to become greasier. Oil and moisture are two different things; oily skin still needs hydration and by skipping this step, the sebaceous glands will again try to overcompensate by producing excess oil. Hyaluronic acid is a wonderfully light and super hydrating ingredient that those with oily skin will benefit from incorporating via a serum or moisturiser.
It may sound counterintuitive, but oil dissolves in oil. Oil-based cleansers can gently remove impurities from oily skin while protecting the natural sebum layer. Applying a few drops of pure jojoba, squalane or rosehip oil after your moisturiser (or straight into it) can actually help with regulating your skin’s oil production.