Of the four main skin types, Oily skin can be the hardest and most frustrating to treat. It is an on going battle of balance and you sometimes have to treat and care for more than one skin type depending on each zone of the face. First off it is important to properly identify oily skin. Oily skin has an excess production of sebum, a fatty substance that lubricates the skin. The surface of oily skin can appear thicker as dead skin cells are trapped and clogged in the follicle due to this sebum. It is characterized by larger pores and open comedones (blackheads).
There are several myths concerning oily skin, first being that large pores are solely caused by poor hygiene. Unfortunately this is untrue. Pore size is genetically determined. While poor hygiene can lead to more blackhead clogs that expand the follicle wall, making them larger, it is much more likely that you have your parents to blame for your initial large pore size. Another huge misconception concerning oily skin and black heads in particular, is that the dark color of the clog is from dirt. While the clog contains debris from dirt, it is also comprised of dead skin cells and sebum. It is the oxidation of this sebum that gives black heads their color. Lastly greasy foods do not cause oily skin. While a lack of nutrition can lead to poor skin health, having a slice of greasy pizza at noon will never be the cause of your T-zone oil slick by three o’clock. To the contrary, eating foods high in Omega- fatty acids such as wild caught fatty fish, avocados and tree nuts can improve the health of oily skin by balancing moisture levels and reducing inflammation.
So we have identified skin type and cleared up myths about oily skin, now what? A Proper skincare routine is crucial to the on going fight against oily skin. As mentioned earlier caring for oily skin involves maintaining balance. While it is important to remove excess oil from the skin’s surface, you still need to maintain the skin’s hydration level. It is an unfair truth but skin can be oily and yet still be dehydrated, as dehydration refers to a lack of water, not a lack of oil.
These are my healthy skin care tips for oily skin:
- I recommend using a salicylic acid or a beta-hydroxy acid facial cleanser at least twice a day. Before washing your face, wash your hands with soap and water to remove bacteria. Removing bacteria and germs will prevent them from being deposited onto the skin surface and into the follicle. If you are already dealing with oily skin, why deal with acne too?
- Exfoliation is also important, as a buildup of cells are trapped by the excess sebum and can perpetuate the cycle. But never over exfoliate or over strip your skin of this protective sebum, as your skin may fight back and produce even more oil to repair its barrier.
- Remember to moisturize with an oil free moisturizer containing a broad spectrum SPF. Oily skin needs the hydration and some skin care ingredients such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid can make the skin more sensitive to the already damaging effects of the sun’s radiation.
- Weekly or bi-weekly masks containing clay may also help draw extra oil away from the skin, but unless your entire face is oily keep this mask use to the t-zone only as to not disturb surrounding healthy skin.
- Leave the squeezing to a professional. We are trained to properly extract blackheads. Improper technique can lead to scaring, broken capillaries and breakouts. So please step away from the 10x magnification mirror.
- Oil blotting papers are a great way to rid the skin of shine and can be easily stored and used throughout the day. Has your makeup ever become a scary darker color as the day wears on? This is also caused by sebum oxidation, so a foundation a shade or two lighter than your skin may be helpful. Just use your correctly matched shade around the perimeter and contour of your face.