Monday, October 5, 2009

Oil and Oily Skin

Having oily skin can sometimes seem like a never-ending battle against shine, grime, and that "dirty" feeling. The quest for that "squeaky clean" feel will lead to a barrage of anti-shine, oil absorbing, mattifying cleansers, toners, and treatments. But what's the best way to really control oil so that you don't end up with that slick forehead by lunch? To start, it's important to understand what and where that oil is coming from:

Oil is sebum, secreted by the sebaceous glands found in the dermis (or second layer) of the skin. From here, oil makes its way to the surface of the skin through follicular pores, where it helps condition and soften hair, and keep skin supple. For som
e, oil is overproduced, leading to that shiny and greasy look and feel. Overproduction of oil can be due to heredity, diet, hormones/stress, and can be in response to topical treatments as well.

For many people with oily skin, the tendency is to cleanse with harsh detergent soaps and hot water, followed by "oil controlling" "antibacterial" astringents, promising to banish dirt and oil from the skin. Then, most forgo moisturizer and sunscreen, and many women go straight for mattifying makeup and heavy powders to keep the skin shine free all day long... or at least for a couple of hours until the shine shows back up and the cycle starts all over again.

This is actually the worst thing you can do for your skin! This all ends up over-drying and irritating the skin, which results in more oil production as the skin tries to balance itself back out. Instead of going the above route, try some of these tried and true methods for controlling oil:

- Cleanse with a gentle, pH balanced cleanser. You don't want that "squeaky-clean feeling" - that just means that the skin has been stripped of its natural fatty barrier, which does more harm than good. I think it's always good to have 2 cleansers on hand to go between. Try the oil-based cleansers mentioned in a previous post (like dissolves like), and try a cleanser with salicylic or glycolic acids. These serve to gently exfoliate the skin and unclog pores without being too harsh (try to find one with no fragrance and no alcohol). DO NOT wash with hot water, as that just strips and irritates the skin. Instead, use cool to lukewarm water; it feels much more refreshing and is gentler on the skin.

- Tone with an alcohol-free toner. Find one with witch hazel or salicylic acid to keep the pores clean without stripping the skin.

- Moisturize with an oil-free lotion with an SPF of at least 15. It is very important to use a moisturizer to help balance and protect the skin from UV damage. This will also help control oil, since your skin will not feel the need to produce more oil to moisturize itself.

One of the best things I ever did for my oily skin was to actually put oil on it. I know that sounds crazy, but it was amazing! After just a few nights of using oil as a night moisturizer, my skin stopped getting that slick look, my pores looked smaller, and overall my skin looked a lot healthier. Some people use plain old olive oil, but I like to use oils blended specifically for the face. There are a lot out there now, including Josie Maran's Argan Oil, and Bobbi Brown's Extra Face Oil.

Last, but not least, if you do feel a little shiny during the day, don't pack on the powder. Instead, use oil blotting sheets: they absorb excess oil without disturbing makeup, and leave your skin looking clean and matte.
(photo from

No comments:

Post a Comment