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 skin care tips and tricks to keep your oily skin under control and your complexion fresh all day. Here is our comprehensive guide to caring for an oily complexion, including a curated skin care routine for oily skin.
The Causes Of Oily Skin
From the climate to your genetics, there are a wide range of factors to blame if you’re wondering why you have oily skin.
Oily Skin Is Hereditary
Oily skin 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.
Another common trigger is the hot summer months, and heat and humidity may lead to an increase in oil production. You might overcorrect and try to stamp out oily skin by cleansing four times a day or exfoliating too frequently. But these methods strip your skin of its natural oils and interfere with its barrier function.
Hormonal Fluctuations: Excess Sebum Production
You’re not imagining it - even after puberty comes and goes, hormones can still mess with your skin. During pregnancy, menopause or during our period, hormonal fluctuations can encourage excess grease and breakouts. According to Foreo.com: “Androgens are the hormones mostly responsible for oil production, and sometimes they can fluctuate, stimulating an increase in sebum production. This often happens during puberty, just before menstruation, during pregnancy and during menopause.”
Harsh Skin Care Products
Sometimes oily skin can be triggered by using the wrong skin care products. When choosing products for oily skin, Dr Hooman Khorasani, Dermatologic and Cosmetic Surgeon suggests you look for ones that are in gel or lotion formulations. “Choosing moisturizers can be a challenge for oily skin, as well,” Dr Khorasani explains. “Choosing light moisturizers or matte moisturizers can be a solution. Oil-absorbing sheets are always good to have on hand throughout the day, as well.”
Benefits Of Oily Skin That Might Surprise You
While oily skin may seem hard to take care of at first, you may be surprised to learn there are benefits to having oily skin.
More Resistance To The Appearance Of Wrinkles
Thanks to antioxidants produced by over-enthusiastic sebaceous glands, oily skin types will suffer from less wrinkles and fine lines compared to dry skin types. You won't avoid dodging wrinkles all together but your lines and creases may not appear as early as they do for other skin types - talk about lucky.
A Stronger Skin Defense System
With oily skin, you produce more sebum, part of our skin’s defence system against threats like infection or the environment. Sebum consists of Vitamin E, an antioxidant which acts as a defense mechanism for the surface of your skin.
Makeup Sits Well On Oily Skin
When it comes to makeup, application on dry skin can be flaky and temperamental. Makeup on oily skin though, is much more agreeable. While you may have to use a lot of setting spray so your makeup doesn’t slide off, it's easier to reapply a layer on oily skin than struggle with patchy makeup on dry skin (although this depends on who you ask!).
Skin Type Test: How To Tell If You Have Oily Skin
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
- Skin is breakout-prone
- 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:
1. Cleanse & Wait
Wash your face with your favorite Eminence Organics cleanser and do not apply additional products for at least an hour.
Take a clean piece of tissue and gently dab your T-zone to check for residue oil.
3. Examine Your Skin
If your skin feels comfortable (not tight), but there is residue on the tissue, your skin is likely oily.
How To Treat 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.
1. Skip Harsh, Drying Skin 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.
2. 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 regulate the hormone that controls oil production and keep skin balanced.
3. 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.”
4. 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.
Do you struggle with oily skin? Check out this step-by-step skin care routine designed for your skin type. 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.
This post was originally published in June, 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.