Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 10th Oct 2020
Dealing with Oily Skin? These Tips Can Keep Your Shine in Control
Oily skin can be problematic at times! Due to oily skin, skin pores can clog easily. There's an added hassle of breakouts, as oily skin is acne-prone (blackheads, whiteheads, aaargh!). Frankly, the greasy look on the face is just unappealing.
BUT! Not to worry! Because we are here to happily help you tackle those problems and help you achieve a dewy or matte look as per your liking. If dewy skin look is your thing, then your oily skin has the edge over other skin types.
How to determine your oily skin type?
When we say oily skin, it is not limited to just one skin type. There are quite a few variants, and not all oily skin types are the same. For instance, there is normal skin that tends to get oily at the end of the day.
Then there is a combination of skin that is part oily and part normal and dry.
And lastly, there is stock, oily skin, sensitive and oily skin. Therefore before jumping to choosing products specifically meant for oily skin, it is essential to determine what category of oily skin you have.
Beneath the skin surface, we have sebaceous glands (oil glands) that produce oil, which is essential for keeping the skin lubricated. These additionally protect the skin from environmental damage.
The sebum comes out through the pores and does its work. But in some skin types, there is an imbalance where excess oil production leads to oily skin, and less oil production causes dry skin.
This skin type has a well-balanced sebum (natural oil) production. Your skin can take the application of most products, has a non-greasy appearance under moderate temperature, and the pores are less visible. Your skin gets oily only at the end of the day without touch-ups. If this is what your skin is like, you should stay from using products meant to target oily skin.
Regular Oily Skin
If your skin looks greasy at all times, it means it produces an excess of sebum. A quick way to determine this skin type is to wash your face with a cleanser and wait for 15 minutes without putting on any moisturizer. If your face looks dewy after this, it is clear that you have oily skin.
On this skin type, pores are more visible than a standard skin type, and it tends to get zits quickly.
This skin type tends to get oily, specifically in the T zone (forehead, nose, and chin area), while the cheeks can be normal or dry.
Oil production is peaked after waking up in the morning, and acne is predominantly present on the nose and around the nose. This kind of skin is tricky to take care of because products used for the cheeks and T zone have to be different to address the specific concerns.
Sensitive Oily Skin
This type of skin is just like regular oily skin but also sensitive. Due to this, the skin gets irritated quickly and reacts to most products, unless specially formulated for such skin type.
This type of skin is perhaps a little more tricky to take care of than combination skin. So, you need to select products that are also free of fragrance and other skin irritants commonly found in the skincare products available in the market.
Tips and tricks for oily skin
1. Regular Oily Skin:
The main concerns for this type of skin are breakouts, blackheads, whiteheads, large pores, and a greasy appearance.
- Breakouts: Breakouts or active inflammations are common when you have oily skin. Skin gets eruptions when oil, dirt, and dead skin cells get clogged in the pores. Then comes bacteria that feed off the sebum and cause an infection resulting in the eruptions commonly known as 'pimples.' Therefore, washing the face to get rid of the bacteria is the first step to prevent breakouts.
Use a salicylic acid-based cleanser to help dissolve debris from pores and kill bacteria. Azelaic acid-based cleaners are also an option to kill these harmful bacteria.
- Blackheads & Whiteheads: Dirt, oil, and debris and dead skin cells get clogged in pores. Over time, the oil gets oxidized, and the pores are filled with gooey material, which we call blackheads and whiteheads (comedones).
- Blackheads are open comedones, while whiteheads have closed comedones. Oily skin people have high chances to get comedones because of more sebum production and large pores.
Salicylic Acid based Cleansers will help in unclogging the pores. A leave-on salicylic acid product (like Minimalist Salicylic Acid 2% ) can also be used after consulting a dermatologist.
Another effective treatment to treat comedones is a topical retinoid like tretinoin (but only a prescription retinoid). Over-the-counter (OTC) grade retinoids like adapalene are, therefore, a mild option. But use leave-on salicylic acid and topical retinoids as a spot treatment only in the blackhead prone areas. Make sure they are not around the eyes and mouth.
- Large Pores: Pores in oily skin are prominent, and the truth is they cannot shrink. Pores cannot open or close, contrary to popular myth. But what makes pores look bigger is when filled with debris. Clean pores, therefore, will give an appearance of being smaller. But do not risk stretching out your pores via physical extraction and pore strips as they don't help in deep cleaning the pores.
Chemical exfoliation is the gentle yet most effective way to clean pores than physical exfoliation (like walnut scrubs).
A chemical exfoliant like AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids like glycolic acid) or BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids like salicylic acid) helps shed the dead skin cells and penetrates deep into the skin to break down the bonds holding the dead cells.
2. Combination Oily Skin:
The main area of concern for people with this skin type is the T-zone. The rest of the skin, therefore, does not need products meant to strip excess oil.
1. Use salicylic acid-based cleanser for the T-zone only, lather up and leave it for a few minutes on the T-zone to allow the salicylic acid to work.
2. Cleanse the rest of the face with a cleanser meant for normal skin.
3. Use an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer for the entire face.
But in case the cheeks are on the drier side, use an oil-based moisturizer avoiding the T-zone.
3. Sensitive Oily Skin:
Sensitive Oily skin gets irritated quickly and therefore needs mild yet effective products. Go for fragrance-free products to avoid irritation.
Azelaic acid is another mild option for sensitive, oily skin as it has antimicrobial, comedolytic (prevents comedones), and anti-inflammatory properties.
Tricks to keep oil levels in check
Yes, you need to moisturize your skin thoroughly, even if it is oily. Providing external moisturization will ensure your sebaceous glands don't go on an overdrive in an attempt to provide moisturization to the skin.
If you have oily skin, your best friends are water/gel-based moisturizers and serums. Try to go for fragrance-free options as acne-prone skin can easily get irritated due to fragrance.
Dr. Vanita Rattan, a dermatologist from The Hyperpigmentation Clinic, London, says
Don't forget that when you have acne-prone skin, there's constant inflammation taking place. Those free fatty acids which release irritate your skin, and that's what triggers PIE (Post Inflammatory Erythema) and PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation )
Whatever is the type of your skin, never skip a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Especially with oily skin, which is prone to acne, you do not want to inflame it further from sun damage.
Trust us when we say this - the best investment for your skin is sunscreen. However, it would help if you chose a lightweight and non-comedogenic sunscreen.
Primers are designed to control oil and fill-up your pores giving a smooth texture. While from a cosmetic point of view, primers are saviors but make sure you religiously wipe them off so your skin can breathe.
4. Setting Powder:
Cosmetics powders have always been in vogue and rightly so. This is a product you'd find in every woman's vanity. After applying your skincare/makeup, set everything in place with some loose powder to absorb any oil. Retouch as often as required.
5. Blotting Papers:
These little strips of papers are no less than a blessing. They absorb all the oil from the face without disturbing the rest of the makeup.
6. Double Cleanse:
A quick chemistry lesson: oil attracts oil. This is why cleaning the face with an oil-based cleanser first to break down stubborn makeup and water-resistant sunscreen, followed by another round of foaming cleanser to wash off the oil cleanser, is the way to go. Because the foam, in turn, pulls out the oil particulars trapped with dirt.
7. Mud Mask:
Once/twice a week, treat yourself and use a mud mask to pull out excess oil & debris from the pores. But bear in mind that mud masks are temporary and not as effective in cleaning your pores as AHAs and BHAs or retinoids.