Expert Tips for Controlling Oily Skin

Struggling to keep your skin free from shine and acne? Oily skin can present a daily challenge. While advertisements and products might claim to be the cure-all miracle treatment, don’t be quick to judge — such things don’t exist. However, the good news is that there are certain strategies and things you can keep in mind to help control the oil production on your skin. Read on to find out how you can face the world fresh and discomfort-free.

Key takeaways:

What is oil/sebum?

Oil, also known as sebum, is composed of lipids (fats), such as triglycerides and free fatty acids. It is produced in the oil glands (sebaceous glands) located in the dermis or middle layer of skin. During the oil production process, the sebum is secreted through the pores and onto the surface of the skin.

Why is oil produced?

Oil production is necessary for the proper functioning of the skin, as oil lubricates, moisturizes, and protects it. Additionally, oil helps maintain the barrier function of the skin to prevent dehydration and block the entry of pathogens, like bacteria and viruses. It also prevents irritation and damage from chemicals that can lead to inflammation.

Causes of excess oil production

Everyone's skin produces oil, though some more so than others, which leads to clogged pores and acne breakouts.

Here are several reasons why your skin might produce excess oil:

Genetics. Some people are genetically prone to producing too much oil. There is nothing you can do to stop this, but you can manage it.

Hormones. When hormone fluctuations occur, such as during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, more androgens are produced. These androgens stimulate oil glands and cause excess production of oil.

Stress. Stress causes the production of the hormone cortisol, which can stimulate excess oil production.

Diet. A diet consisting of foods with a high glycemic index, sugars, and carbohydrates can contribute to excess oil production. It is best to stick to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Incorrect skin care. It is vital to practice good hygiene by washing your face twice a day and applying moisturizer. Also, daily sunscreen use is a must. Be sure to check all product labels and only use products that are oil-free or non-comedogenic; otherwise, you will be adding oil to oily skin.

Climate. Hot and humid climates cause increased production of oil.

Treatment to control oily skin

Even though we cannot control some causes of excess oil production, such as genetics and hormones, we can lessen the appearance of oily skin. It is important to use the right products designed specifically for oily skin to prevent worsening. Proper hygiene and care of your skin are essential to prevent excess oil production.

  • Wash your face with gentle products. It is vital to wash your face twice daily to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria from your skin. If you exercise, wash after exercising. Only use gentle products, because harsh chemicals can irritate the skin and cause excess oil production. Also, avoid scrubbing your face because that can irritate it and cause excess oil production.
  • Use moisturizer. Many incorrectly assume that if you have oily skin you should not use a moisturizer. That is wrong. If you do not moisturize your skin, your skin will think it needs to produce more oil. So, you can trick your skin into not producing oil by using a moisturizer. Select a moisturizer that is light, greaseless, and non-comedogenic. Lightweight lotions or gels are an excellent choice for oily skin.
  • Try a toner or mask. The right toner or mask can help remove excess oil and mattify (reduce shine) your skin. Look for ones that control oil.
  • Exfoliate twice a week. Exfoliating can remove excess oil and dead skin cells to improve the look and feel of your skin. Do not over-exfoliate because that can irritate your skin and cause more oil production.
  • Blotting papers. Blotting papers are a great way to quickly and easily remove excess oils throughout the day. All you have to do is dab them on the oily areas when you notice oil or shine.
  • Mattifying makeup. There are makeup products available that contain ingredients to absorb the oils and reduce the appearance of oily skin.

Products to control oil

Several ingredients in skin care products can help reduce excess oil production. The can be used alone or in combination. Your dermatologist can help you select the right ingredients for your skin.

These ingredients include:

RetinoidsHelp to shrink the oil glands leading to less oil production.
Hydroxy acids Include alpha-hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, and beta-hydroxy acids, like salicylic acid. Hydroxy acids gently exfoliate to remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells.
NiacinamideCan help reduce oil production.
Bentonite and kaolinThese clays help absorb oil from the skin.
Aloe vera A natural astringent that can help reduce oil production.
Green teaContains compounds that are anti-androgenic and reduce oil production.
LicoriceContains compounds that help control oil production.

Professional treatments for oily skin

There are certain professional treatments that your dermatologist can recommend to help control oily skin. Botox, lasers, and light treatments can help reduce excess oil production by decreasing sebaceous gland activity. Maintenance treatments will be required to keep excess oil production under control long-term.

How to prevent oily skin

While some causes of oily skin cannot be prevented, such as genetics and hormones, there are some you can control. If you live in a humid, warm climate, you may want to consider moving. If it is not feasible to move, try to stay indoors.

Here are some other tips for preventing oily skin:

  1. Use only non-comedogenic products. If you have oily skin, only use oil-free, non-comedogenic products, including cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, concealers, and makeup. You do not want to use the wrong products and add oil to your oily skin. Avoid products containing petrolatum, silicone, mineral oil, and coconut oil.
  2. Sunscreen. Sun can dehydrate the skin and cause more oil production. Sun also causes skin cancers and wrinkles. Daily sunscreen use is critical. Just be sure to select one that is oil-free and non-comedogenic.
  3. Never sleep with makeup. You must wash your face and remove your makeup before going to bed. Otherwise, makeup will clog your pores and lead to acne.
  4. Do not touch your face. You must keep your hands off your face. You do not want to transfer the dirt and oil from your hands onto your face and cause oily skin and acne.
  5. Change your mask daily. Dirt, bacteria, and oil build up on our non-medical masks throughout the day. You need to use a new one or clean one daily to prevent the old dirt and bacteria from being implanted into your skin and causing acne. You do not want to go through the effort of cleansing your face and then putting a dirty mask over it.
  6. Stress. Yoga, exercise, or meditation can help lower your stress levels throughout the day.
  7. Diet. Stick to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains because they have a low glycemic index. Sugars and carbohydrates can lead to oil production and acne breakouts. Cow's milk can also cause acne breakouts. Also, stay well hydrated.
  8. Avoid alcohol. Products containing isopropyl alcohol can over-dry the skin and cause more oil production.

People with oily skin struggle daily to keep their skin shine-free and acne-free. It is a challenging problem to treat. While there is no cure for oily skin, there are ways to help keep it under control. If you need help treating your oily skin or selecting the right products, talk to your dermatologist.

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