Excess oil, clogged pores, acne… oily skin can be a nightmare to deal with! But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ingredients that can help alleviate its symptoms and keep excessive oil production, with all its nasty consequences, under control.
But what are they? How do they help exactly? And where can you find them? Read on to find out:
Salicylic acid, part of the beta hydroxy acid (BHA) family, is by far my favourite ingredient for oily skin. Derived from the bark of the willow tree, this ingredient is able to penetrate deep inside the pores, removing all the sebum, dead cell, and other gunk that’s clogging them.
It can also exfoliate the surface of the skin by dissolving the “glue” that holds skin cells together. This dual exfoliating action prevents and remove blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, while, at the same time, reducing signs of premature ageing, such as roughness, wrinkles, and dark spots. Like that weren’t enough, it also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat acne.
Now, for the bad part. Salicylic acid, like all exfoliants, increases skin sensitivity to the sun. So it should always be used with sunscreen. Even then, salicylic acid is not for everyone. If you have a zinc deficiency or are allergic to salicylates (including aspirin), you should stay away from salicylic acid. Pregnant or nursing women should instead consult their doctor before using any product with this ingredient.
Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin
In an effort to remove excess oil, we can often go too far and dry out our skin. When this happens, skin reacts by producing even more oil! That’s the last thing you need.
To help skin stay hydrated, you need to trap water into the skin. This is usually done by adding oils to moisturizers. Once on the skin, they create a protective barrier that prevents water from evaporating.
But oil-based moisturizers are often way too greasy for oily skin. Enter humectants. These ingredients are capable of attracting water from the environment into the skin, hydrating it without the need to use oils.
The most famous humectants are Glycerin and Hylauronic Acid and its close derivative Sodium Hyaluronate. Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate are particularly effective because they can bind 1000 times their weight in water and work well both in high and low humidity conditions.
Best picks: MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Hydrating Gel, Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50, and Paula’s Choice Skincare Hydralight Moisture-Infusing Lotion
Although I don’t believe that primers and maks are a must, when they contain oil-absorbing ingredients they can certainly be very useful for oily skinned girls. They help to keep sebum production and shine under control during the day, so you won’t have to blot excess oil away with absorbing sheets and retouch your makeup so often.
My favourite oil-absorbers are kaolin and bentonite, two types of clay commonly found in masks. Silica, magnesium aluminum silicate, and sulfur also help keep excess oil at bay. At first, you will probably need to use them daily but, as you start getting your oily skin under control, an oil-absorbing mask once or twice a week should be enough.
Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most powerful weapons in an oily skinned girl’s arsenal. As such, it must be used carefully, sparingly, and strategically.
Benzoyl Peroxide has a peeling action that can keep pores clean, and thus heal and prevent breakouts. It can also kill P. Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. And, best of all, bacteria don’t seem to develop a resistance to it.
Unfortunately, Benzoyl Peroxide is quite harsh and can cause dryness and irritations. It can also generate free radicals, which are one of the main causes of premature ageing. But at least this can be easily countered by applying a serum or moisturizer chockfull of antioxidants afterwards.
Even so, whenever possible, it is best to use Benzoyl Peroxide only as a spot treatment. Only when your acne isn’t responding to other treatments, you should consider using it all over the face.
Do you have oily skin? Which ingredients are you using to deal with it? What’s working well for you?