Oily Skin: What It Is, How to Cope, and the Best Facial Products for You

Seems we always want what we don’t have. If we have straight hair, we wish it was more wavy or curly. If we have curly hair, we spend all kinds of time straightening it.

The same seems to apply to skin—those of us with dry skin wish only for more hydration, while those of us with oily skin get so fed up with the endless shininess!

“I have super oily skin with large pores,” says one of our blog readers, “we are talking shiny after an hour of my morning cleanse.”

This sums up the problem with oily skin very nicely—shininess and large pores. Is there anything you can do that will help? We have some solutions for you to try.

What is oily skin?

Some people think they have oily skin, when in truth, they have combination skin—oily only in the T-zone, or the forehead, nose, and chin areas. Truly oily skin typically has the following characteristics:

• looks shiny or greasy everywhere • appears thick and coarse • has enlarged pores • occasional breakouts

One way to test your skin to see if it is truly oily is to wash it in the morning with a gentle cleanser, pat it dry, avoid applying any make-up or lotion and wait an hour or two. When you look in the mirror, if your face is shiny and covered in oil, you have oily skin.

If your cheeks are dry but your forehead and nose are shiny, you have combination skin, which we will cover in a different blog.

What causes it?

Oily skin is caused by over-active sebaceous glands that produce excessive amounts of the skin oil, called “sebum.” Typically it is hereditary, meaning that if one or both of your parents had oily skin, you may have it, too. In addition, exposing the skin to too many products that upset its own natural balance can also trigger the over-production of oil.

What are the problems associated with oily skin?

If you have oily skin, you may also suffer from the following problems:

Clogged pores

Too much oil dirt and clogs pores resulting in blemishes and breakouts.


Oily skin looks shiny and greasy.

Runny cosmetics

You have a hard time keeping makeup in place, and often have to blot and reapply.

The good news is that oily skin ages more slowly than dry skin, so when you move into your 40s and beyond, you may actually be thankful for your oiliness!

“I’ve learned to love and embrace my oily skin,” says another one of our readers. “Look at all those poor women out there with dry skin who constantly have to replace what we already have in abundance!”

Daily routine for combatting excess oil

Even though your skin may age more slowly than other types, that’s little consolation when you’re looking at large pores and shine. When looking for ways to help control your oil production, start with some basic steps.

1. Wash only twice a day

Even though the oil crops back up within a couple of hours, resist the urge to wash again. If you strip the oils too much, your skin will react by producing even more, which is definitely what you don’t want. If you wash off that excess oil more than that, use water alone.

2. Use a dissolving cleanser

You want your cleanser to gently dissolve the oils and deeply clean them at the same time. One that will remove dirt, excess oil, and impurities without harsh chemicals, and will help unclog pores. Use warm water, and massage the cleanser into your skin for at least one minute before rinsing off.

3. Tone carefully

Again, the danger here is over-stripping your natural oils and causing a backfire in oil production. You want a toner that is gentle but effective.

4. Balance the oils in your skin

This is critical in oily skin types, and the step that most people struggle with. You know the problem is too much oil, so you try to get rid of that oil, but oftentimes that means harsh products that just strip the skin, damage the outer layer, and lead to increased oil production in the long run, as well as accelerated aging.

Natural oils have an amazing ability to work with the body to balance the way your skin looks, which is why we're so sold on them and know you can find the best oil for your skin, too. You may think, “Apply oils to oily skin?” But just try it—you’ll be amazed at the results, we're sure.

Eight tips for oily types

Once you’ve got your daily routine down, it’s time to add in a few extra steps that will improve the appearance and behavior of your skin.

1. Use a mask 2-3 times a week.

Masks help reduce the oily appearance on the face for days at a time. Plus they can help pores appear smaller.

2. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week.

Just be careful not to over-exfoliate, because that can cause skin damage and may encourage your skin you produce more oil.

3. Consider your diet.

Foods high in fats, sugars, and unhealthy oils can cause a negative reaction in your skin. Choose healthy fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, and cut down on sugar-sweetened beverages.

4. Try witch hazel before applying makeup.

It’s a natural salicylic acid toner. Wiping your face before applying makeup will help soak up excess oil without stripping your skin.

5. Use a light moisturizer.

It can be a little counter-intuitive, but using a light moisturizer with infused ingredients that cleanse can help your skin balance out its own oils over time so that you don't stay so oily.

6. Use oil-free cosmetics.

When choosing makeup products, always find oil-free or “non-comedogenic” products that won’t clog pores.

7. Don’t overdo powder.

You may think that more powder would help soak up excess oil, but it can actually get cakey and may encourage your skin to pump out more oil. Apply powder sparingly only on shiny areas, and use a matte translucent formula.

8. Remember sun protection.

No matter what kind of skin you have, you need to protect it from the sun, which is enemy #1 when it comes to aging! Look for zinc oxide formulas.

Do you have oily skin? How do you cope? Share your wisdom in the comments below.



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