Oily skin is a condition characterized by an overproduction of sebum which leads to a shiny appearance, clogged pores, blackheads, acne and large pores. For many people, oily skin begins during their teenagers years and then it goes away, but others struggle with it throughout their life.
What causes oily skin?
We all have sebaceous glands. Their job is to produce sebum, which is the skin’s natural moisturizer: it protects skin, keeps it smooth, hydrated and prevents it from becoming dry. The trouble starts when these glands produce too much sebum, leading to oily skin with all its problems mentioned above. But why does this happen only to some people, when everyone has the same number of sebaceous glands in their skin?
Genetics. Sebum production is stimulated by an hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When the body produces too much of it, or glands are overly sensitive to normal amounts of DHT, oil production increases. DHT, whose levels are genetic, appears in both girls and boys during puberty but its levels can rise also during the menstrual cycle.
The good thing about it though is that oily skin is well moisturized and because of that it tends to age better. This moisture, in fact, lubricates skin and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
How to treat oily skin
A good and balanced skincare routine with products designed for oily skin is very important to treat this condition. In fact, while you want to remove excess oil and shine, it is also important not to use products that are too harsh or your skin will become dry. Here are a few tips on how you can keep oily skin under control:
- Use a cleanser with Salicylic Acid twice a day. If your cleanser is too harsh or you use it too often, it will strip too much oil. This will just confuse your skin that, thinking it isn’t moisturized enough, will produce even more oil. Products with Salicylic Acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), are good because this ingredient reduces sebum production and treats the causes of blemishes due to its antimicrobial and exfoliating properties. Because it can penetrate inside the pores, Salicylic Acid exfoliates both the pore from within and the surface of the skin, reducing blemishes and blackheads.
- Use toners with Salicylic Acid or Silica. They help remove excess oil and are therefore a must for people with oily skin. Alcohol-based toners should be avoided as they dry out the skin which responds by producing more oil. The only exception is if you have super oily skin. In that case, alcohol-based toners may actually help.
- Use a light moisturizer. Oily skin already produces too much sebum so a moisturizer isn’t always needed. If you want to use one, choose a light and oil-free moisturizer that doesn’t contain comedogenic ingredients. But if you have seriously oily skin, don’t use a moisturizer at all or you could make things worse.
- Wear sunscreen. Those with oily skin can be tempted to skip using a sunscreen but that’s never a good thing to do. Your skin still needs protection from the sun’s rays and a sunscreen should always be applied daily. Just choose a light one that is both oil-free and non-comedogenic.
- Exfoliate regularly. This will help remove any clogged pores but don’t overdo it (3 times a week is enough) or you could irritate skin and aggravate the problem.
- Use oil blotters to wipe excess shine from your face throughout the day without ruining your makeup.
- Apply a primer or a mattifier on your face before putting on your makeup. They can absorb excess shine and help makeup last longer.
When to see a doctor
If your skin is seriously oily and the tips above don’t help much it’s time to consult a dermatologist. You doctor may prescribe you topical prescriptions containing retinoids, sulfur or azelaic acid that can help with oily skin.