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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.”
Oily skin is a common concern that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Understanding what oily skin is and how to effectively manage it is crucial for maintaining healthy and radiant skin.
In this guide, we will dive into the science behind oily skin, how to identify it, its impact on skin health, and the best skin care practices and products to keep your skin looking its best.
What is Oily Skin?
Oily skin refers to a skin type characterized by an excess production of sebum, a natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Overproduction of this oil can lead to the following:
• Looks shiny or greasy everywhere
• Appears thick and coarse
• Has enlarged pores
• Occasional breakouts
It can be influenced by factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, environmental conditions, as well as skin care choices. Managing oily skin typically involves a skin care routine that includes products designed to help balance the skin’s natural oils to prevent overproduction, as well as tame the visual effect of excess shine.
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 then you have combination skin.
What is the Cause of Oily Skin?
Oily skin is primarily caused by the overproduction of sebum, a natural oil produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Several factors can contribute to this excess sebum production:
- Genetics: Your genetics plays a significant role in determining your skin type, including whether you have oily skin. If oily skin runs in your family, you are more likely to have it as well.
- Hormonal fluctuations, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation, can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Hormonal imbalances can also contribute to ongoing issues with oily skin.
- Environmental conditions, such as humidity and heat, can lead to increased oil production. High humidity levels can make oily skin appear even oilier.
- Diet: While the relationship between diet and oily skin isn’t entirely clear, some studies suggest that a diet high in sugary and processed foods may exacerbate oiliness.
- Skin care products: Using the wrong skin care products or harsh cleansers can strip the skin of its natural oils. In response, the skin may produce even more oil to compensate, leading to increased oiliness.
- Stress: High-stress levels can trigger hormonal changes that may lead to an uptick in oil production, exacerbating oily skin.
- Certain medications, often those that disrupt the body’s hormones can also impact oil production in the skin.
Understanding the specific causes of your oily skin can help you tailor your skin care routine and lifestyle choices to better manage it.
What are the Problems Associated With Oily Skin?
Oily skin can be associated with several skin problems and challenges, including:
One of the most common issues with oily skin is the increased likelihood of developing acne. Excess sebum can clog pores, leading to the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cysts.
Oily skin often features visibly enlarged pores, which can make the skin’s texture appear rough and uneven.
Too much oil and dirt, when left unaddressed, can clog pores and trap impurities in the skin. You can check out our face mapping skin analysis to find out what your skin is trying to tell you.
Blackheads and Whiteheads
Oily skin is susceptible to the accumulation of blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones) due to sebum and buildup in the pores.
Shine and Greasiness
Oily skin can tend to appear shiny and greasy, especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), which may be undesired.
Oily skin can sometimes also be sensitive, making it challenging to find suitable skin care products that do not further cause irritation.
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!”
The excess oil on the skin’s surface, when left unaddressed, can create an environment where harmful bacteria thrive, potentially leading to skin infections or inflammation.
It’s important to note that while oily skin can present these challenges, it also has its advantages. Oily skin tends to age more slowly than dry skin, and the natural oils can provide some level of moisturization and protection.
Many of the common hardships that come with unaddressed oily skin may come from simply not knowing how to approach one’s skin. Alongside looking over your health, diet, lifestyle, and environment, becoming more familiar with your skin and understanding what it needs can help your skin tremendously—simply by working with it instead of against it, like using gentle skin care products that don’t strip the skin and aggravate the skin’s natural oil production process.
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 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 at the same time. Try our Citrus Mint Facial Cleanser, which is formulated specifically for oiliness. It 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. Try our Rosemary Toning Mist, which helps clean and give the skin a balanced appearance, plus it is a leave-on toner, which provides lasting benefits.
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. Use the Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin, made especially for oily skin types. Apply it every day after cleansing and you’ll notice a more balanced look.
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. Try our Purifying Mud Mask, which uses mineral-rich clays to give a toner and tighter appearance to the skin.
2. Exfoliate 2-3 Times a Week
Try the Kaolin Micro Exfoliant, which leaves your skin looking smooth and clean. 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 overtime 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, like our Sun Love Natural Sunscreen.
Do you have oily skin? How do you cope? Share your wisdom in the comments below.
You can also check out our skin care line formulated especially for oily skin. If you’re looking to try a smaller size or simply looking for travel-friendly products, check out our trial size collection.