Oily skin can be a struggle. There is no greater (beauty) letdown than starting the day with a fresh complexion that veers into oil slick territory midday. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks to keep your oily skin under control and your complexion fresh and clean all day. Here is our guide to caring for an oily complexion, including a curated skin care routine for oily skin.
What Makes Skin Oily?
Like dry or combination skin, oily skin is a genetic skin type. It is linked to a hereditary disposition to overproduce the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which triggers an excess of sebum production in the skin. We need sebum - the oily, waxy substance that lubricates the skin - to keep our moisture barrier intact, but overproduction can become problematic. Excess oil causes pores to enlarge (as they stretch to contain the amount of oil generated) and when trapped, oil can combine with dead skin cells and bacteria on the skin’s surface to cause breakouts.
Skin Type Test
There are a few giveaways that you have oily skin. It often displays the following characteristics:
- Shiny looking
- Greasy to the touch
- Orange peel-like texture with visible, enlarged pores
- Makeup feels like it slides off as soon as it is applied
Still unsure if you have an oily complexion? Try this 3-step test to reveal your skin type:
Cleanse & Wait
Wash your face with your favorite Eminence Organics cleanser and do not apply additional product for at least an hour.
Take a clean piece of tissue and gently dab your T-Zone.
Examine Your Skin
If your skin feels comfortable (not tight), but there is residue on the tissue, your skin is likely oily.
How To Fix Oily Skin
Oily skin may be genetic, but oil production can also be influenced by hormones, stress, the environment and seasonal changes. Here are a few tips to keep oily skin in check.
- Skip Harsh, Drying Ingredients
Many of the products that claim to fix oily skin can actually make it worse. Most contain harsh ingredients that strip the skin’s moisture barrier. While they may make your skin feel less oily, they often trigger even more oil production to compensate for a dried out complexion. When choosing a cleanser, Real Simple advises following this rule of thumb: “You should avoid cleansers that contain harsh surfactants, which rid skin of too much oil and leave it so dry that it feels taut—and might just squeak if you dragged a finger across it. Some common surfactants include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS).” Instead, choose natural and organic products that are formulated without harmful additives that strip your skin of necessary moisture.
- Adjust Your Diet
Avoid alcohol and spicy foods which raise your heat index. These dilate blood vessels and cause you to perspire, adding sweat to your already slick complexion. Instead, stock up on foods like carrots, grapefruit and kale which are high in Vitamin A and slow oil production. And, don’t be afraid of oily food. In fact, foods like salmon, tuna, walnuts and pumpkin seeds which are rich in omega-3 fats help regulate the hormone that controls oil production and keep skin balanced.
- Keep Your Skin Care Cool
Eminence Organics President Boldijarre Koronczay recommends keeping masks and moisturizers in the fridge to keep your complexion cool and oil-free. He says: “Applying products directly from the refrigerator will keep your skin temperature lower, thereby reducing excess oil production.”
- Embrace Minimalism
If you have oily skin, it may be time to rethink your makeup routine. Primers and liquid foundations often contain silicones which clog and enlarge pores, exacerbating oily skin woes. We suggest swapping your silicone primer for a natural alternative like Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate which uses lactic acid and natural extracts of red clover flower and ribose to create primer-like results. Instead of your favorite liquid foundation, Allure recommends using a mineral powder like Sun Defense Minerals that “sucks up excess oil like a sponge.” If forgoing your favorite liquid formula is a no-go, opt for a lightweight formula like Caramel Latte Tinted Moisturizer (also available in Vanilla Latte) which provides coverage as well as hydration.
Oily Skin Care Routine
One of the best ways to tackle oily skin is through your skin care routine. Here are the skin care steps we prescribe to keep your oily skin looking fresh and matte.
One skin care myth we have to bust: Oil cleansers make skin more oily. In fact, they can actually improve the look of oily skin by absorbing excess sebum from its surface. Heidi Waldorf, MD tells Cosmopolitan: “It might sound counterintuitive, but oil cleansers were made for greasy skin types. The oil in the face wash attracts your skin's sebum, so you can rinse both away without stripping your face.” One of the best ways to give oily skin a thorough - but gentle - clean is by adding a double-cleanse to your skin care routine. Start by removing excess oil and makeup with Stone Crop Cleansing Oil or Wildflower Cleansing Balm, then cleanse on a deeper scale with your favorite Eminence Organics cleanser. For oily skin, Allure recommends using a face wash formulated for problem skin - like Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser - that will help mattify the skin’s appearance.
- Exfoliate (Gently)
Exfoliation is one of the most important steps for oily skin - but don’t go overboard. Gentle exfoliation helps remove build up on the skin’s surface, as well as unclog and minimize pores. For gentle but effective exfoliation, Eminence Organics Product Support Representative and licensed esthetician Josie Barton recommends Almond & Mineral Treatment. The finely crushed almonds in this treatment softly exfoliate the skin, while ground ivy tones and tightens for a poreless-looking complexion.
- Use A Clay Or Charcoal-Based Face Mask
Beauty editors everywhere swear by clay and charcoal-based face masks to combat oily skin. Joshua Zeichner, MD tells Shape: “Both ingredients help to pull out and absorb excess oil in minutes, leaving skin more matte.” We advise masking with the Charcoal T-Zone Purifier side of Balancing Masque Duo. This deep-cleansing face mask is formulated with kaolin clay and charcoal to draw out the dirt, oil and bacteria caused by excess oil. A botanical active extracted from buchu leaves reduces oil and minimizes pores for a smooth, matte appearance.
- Moisturize (Yes, Really)
Adding moisture to already slick skin may be counterintuitive, but it is an important step in caring for oily skin. In fact, lack of hydration can cause skin to produce even more sebum in an effort to maintain moisture. Stanley Kovak, MD tells SELF: “Believe it or not, a moisturizer will add moisture to the skin, minimizing the skin's perception that it is too dry. Adding moisture to the skin actually helps reduce the oiliness because it helps slow down sebum production.”
We recommend keeping oily skin hydrated and healthy by using a lightweight moisturizer that pulls double-duty to minimize pores and control oil. A few of our go-to moisturizers for oily skin:
- Green Tea T-Zone Mattifier (part of Balancing Moisturizer Duo) includes buchu leaf extract to tighten pores and remove excess oil.
- Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer, formulated with natural astringents like cucumber juice and willow bark extract.
- Stone Crop Hydrating Gel provides oil-free hydration via stone crop and green tea.
- Ultra-light Red Currant Protective Moisturizer SPF 30, infused with red currant, elderflower and tea tree oil to minimize the look of problem skin and tighten pores.
Use A Toner
Still feeling oily? Keep skin looking matte all day with Red Currant Mattifying Mist. This refreshing mist is infused with natural astringents red currant and elderflower to tighten pores, as well as a Youth Shield Antioxidant Complex that hydrates and protects skin against abuse of the elements.
Shannon says in her 5-star review: “I adore this toner! One spritz combats any shininess I might have and makes my moisturizer last twice as long. I use it in conjunction with the Red Currant Protective Moisturizer, and this really ups its game. My skin has never looked better! My skin is soothed, soft, matte, toned, and protected from the damaging city pollutants.”
Do you struggle with oily skin? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for keeping it under control. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media.