Painful pimples are always hormonal and are related to an overabundance of the male hormone. The consistent build-up of oil underneath the skin can often cause congestion as well, particularly on the forehead, cheeks and down around the lower jawline and chin area.
An oily skin will have noticeably larger pores and is often shiny throughout the day, with a more slippery surface caused by excess sebum.
What sub-conditions affect oily skin?
Surface dryness, large pores, congestion, scarring and pitting, sebaceous hyperplasia, milia, excess facial hair, and inflammation and sensitivity caused by acne. Also ruddiness and heat, which can include rosacea. You may also find that the skin doesn’t heal quickly and needs to be extracted regularly and fed nutrients topically.
Is there an advantage to having an oily skin?
Yes – oily skin doesn’t age as quickly as a dry skin because the excessive oil keeps the skin lubricated and supple. For this reason, you only need to use a light moisturizer or lotion to keep the skin balanced.
Is there anything I should avoid?
Foods that can cause additional congestion if you have an oily skin include egg yolks, dairy products such milk, cheese and ice cream, peanuts, oily fish such as salmon and anything fatty, like fried foods. Processed white sugar is also not great for oily skins and citrus can be an issue for teenagers as well, especially orange and other fruit juice.
You should also avoid using comedogenic products – these are more occlusive, with a heavier texture that will suffocate the skin, clogging the pores. But it’s important to remember how comedogenic testing works: each individual ingredient is tested at a 100% concentration, but the combination of every ingredient in the complete product is not generally taken into account. Formulas are key – the magic of chemistry can change the properties of even some naturally comedogenic ingredients like pure coconut or mineral oil so that the finished product won’t necessarily clog your pores. The best thing is to make sure you’re using products that are emollient and lighter in texture as these will help heal and repair the skin’s barrier without forming a congestion-causing occlusive film.
What are the essential products I should use?
A good non-foaming cleanser that will keep your skin thoroughly cleansed without causing surface dryness, an exfoliant that has a buffing effect on the epidermis and will absorb dead skin cells, and an active product with an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA) or a retinoid to refine your pores and keep oil activity under control.
What’s the best cleanser for my skin type?
A non-foaming gel or gelée cleanser, because it will attach to the grime that builds up on your skin and then completely lift it off. One of the problems with foaming cleansers is that the foam often just grabs air and not the grime itself. You want a cleanser that’s both lipophilic and hydrophilic, which means that it mixes both with water and oil to attract grime, sebum and dead skin cells and remove them correctly.
Choosing a good cleanser that will keep the skin soft and supple is important, but being thorough with your cleansing is really key. Make sure to massage your cleanser into your face for a good 30 seconds, particularly in the evenings when it’s good to double-cleanse, and then remove it with a clean, warm, wet washcloth.
What’s the best exfoliant?
An exfoliating product is a must-have for oily skin because you have to keep your pores clean so they’ll be smaller in size. To lift blackheads out of the pores, you need an exfoliant that has a buffing effect on the epidermis. AHAs are great for that, as is papaya enzyme because it’s a gentle exfoliant that won’t irritate your skin.
Another fantastic ingredient for cleaning out the pores and reducing congestion is carya ovata bark extract. Also known as shagbark hickory, it’s included in the Step 1 Facial Cleanser because it’s gentle on even the most sensitive skins.
Rounded granular exfoliants can also be used on an oily skin if you live in a humid climate and do not have surface dryness.
What are the best serums?
Serums are a great delivery method for your active ingredients, which means either a retinoid such as a gentle non-prescription retinol, or an AHA. The AHA family is made up of glycolic, lactic, malic, tartaric, mandelic or citric acids. Look for an AHA serum that contains at least two varieties because combining acids of different molecular weights and sizes means the serum will work across the different levels of your skin.
Because an oily skin often has pimples and will mark easily, it’s good to also incorporate a serum that’s very healing. Choose one that contains hyaluronic acid, which keeps oily skin hydrated without over-nourishing it; peptides, because they are great body-builders; or rosa damascena flower oil, because of its powerful hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties. You can also look out for palmarosa oil, which helps to balance sebum production and keep the skin soft and supple, or camphor oil, as it helps to soothe even a sensitive skin and prevents irritation.
What’s the best moisturizer?
As with your serums, you want a moisturizer that is going to heal and support your skin. You should never apply an active serum and an active treatment moisturizer together at the same time, as that could be too strong for the skin and create other issues, but you can apply a good retinoid or AHA moisturizer over your healing serum to help control sebum production, heal post-acne scarring and keep your pore size small.
AHAs and the BHA salicylic acid are both good for oily skin, particularly lighter skin tones. For types one and two on the Fitzpatrick scale, AHAs and BHAs are often a better choice than retinoids – especially when you’re younger. Types three and four respond well to both AHAs and retinoids, while types five and six do better sticking just to retinoids as AHAs can burn darker skin tones.
And again, look for a lighter, more emollient moisturizer with healing and soothing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or palmarosa, camphor or rosa damascena flower oils.
And what’s best for my eye area?
You always want a separate eye product because the skin in this area is more delicate. Eye creams and gels both work well and should be used every morning and evening.
What are the most beneficial movements to support my skin?
Because a lot of oily skins tend to have more fine facial hair, working your cleanser in with circular motions is really important. Not only will getting underneath that facial hair keep your skin really clean, circular movements also help with lymphatic drainage, which helps detox your body’s lymphatic system. So make sure to massage the lymph nodes around your ears and then move on to the sides of the neck and keep working down to the large lymph nodes under your armpits.
What are the best tools to use?
Most oily skin types have inflammation that can be soothed and calmed by icing the skin. Cryo sticks are good for that, or you can use glass globes or an ice pack from the freezer. Ice each area for three sets of 10 seconds then move on until you’ve covered your whole face.
What are the three key things that will keep my skin looking healthy?
It’s so important to keep the skin soft, supple and clean. Remember that cleansing is 50% of your regimen – choose the right cleanser so your skin won’t be surface dry and oily underneath, and be thorough and consistent in your cleansing. Cleanse every single day, double cleansing in the evenings, and massage the cleaner into your skin for at least 30 seconds each time.
Next, make sure you’re using actives to keep your pores clean, smaller in size and clear of blackheads. And finally, an oily skin needs to be fed healing nutrients. It doesn’t need thick, overly nourishing products but rather hydrating serums and moisturizers that keep the oil under control so the skin can recover quickly if there’s scarring.
How often should I get a facial?
Regular extractions are very important for oily skins. When you’re starting your skincare journey, you may need a facial with extractions every two to four weeks to clean out your pores and get congestion and pimples under control. Once your skin is clearer and the pore size is more refined, you can bump that back to every four to eight weeks. However, you may find you need more frequent extractions in the summer months when your oil glands will be more active due to the heat.
And what treatments would be good for me?
Chemical peels are very beneficial for an oily skin because they help with post-acne scarring and pitting, and with keeping pore size small. It’s generally best to have one done once or twice a year. The skin tends to respond better to a peel in the summer months, when the sebaceous glands are more active and the skin is oilier – as long as you are mindful of how important it is to protect your skin from the sun after the procedure.