Oily skin characteristics
Oily skin suffers from an overproduction of sebum, the oil that the skin of all mammals produces. While this oil is necessary to keep skin and hair lubricated, too much will cause your skin to look shiny, and even leave greasy splotches on your pillowcase. You’ll know you have oily skin if your fingertips feel like they’re covered in a film of oil after touching your face, or if your skin gets oily against very quickly after cleansing. Due to the hormonal roller coaster that is puberty, teenagers frequently have oily skin, although people of any age can have it too. Other times of hormonal imbalance, like pregnancy, menopause or stress, can also trigger extra oil production. The oil is usually most noticeable in hot and humid weather.
Enlarged pores, sebaceous filaments, and blackheads are common in oily skinned people, especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin area). Oily skin is also more prone to red, bumpy acne and breakouts. There’s good news though! Oily skin will dry out as you get older, and it’s less prone to wrinkles
Oily skin considerations
Keeping your pores clean is an important consideration for oily skin. Scrubs don’t necessarily help acne, as the scrubbing particles are usually too big to clean pores. Salicylic acid is a good chemical exfoliant for oily skin, as it can get through oil and exfoliate inside pores, leading to fewer blackheads and sebaceous filaments. Benzoyl peroxide is another ingredient to look out for – it kills acne-causing bacteria without contributing to the problem of bacterial resistance. Occasional clay or mud masks can also be used to suck oil and dirt out of your pores.
Oily skin doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need a moisturizer. Dry patches can show up on oily skin, especially in winter. You may need to change to a heavier moisturizer, or spot treat the drier patches with thicker oil-based creams. Lighter gels and liquids can be used year-round to add moisture during the day with minimal oiliness. You can use mattifying powders and gels to reduce shine during the day, and blotting papers can be used to soak up oil. Some medications, such as isotretinoin and oral contraceptives can decrease sebum production. For more information on these, consult your doctor.
Oily skin contraindications
While it may seem logical to get rid of the oil with harsh cleansers, this often only works for about an hour before you’re an oil slick again. Constant stripping of the oil can actually make the problem worse. The skin becomes increasingly damaged, meaning water evaporates easily and the oil-water balance in your skin is off-balance, leading to a downward spiral of oiliness. Cleansing twice a day is suitable for most people.
Opt for a gentle cleanser that washes away excess oils, but leaves enough to prevent your face from feeling tight. Don’t be afraid to use oils in your skincare, as oils are good at dissolving the oil on oily skin – many people have had success with the oil cleansing method. To control greasiness, use products free of heavy, occlusive oils during the day. Importantly, don’t avoid sunscreen! Sun damage can make your skin dehydrated and age faster, not to mention give you life-threatening cancer. Look for a light, non-greasy sunscreen.