Believe it or not, the oil (sebum) that makes our skin look shiny in that non-flattering way has good, protective purposes—lubricating and waterproofing the skin. Problems only arise when the sebaceous glands overproduce it. This can lead not only to greasy-looking skin, but also clogged pores (gunked-up with sebum and dead skin cells) and consequently, to breakouts.
Cleansing your skin twice a day (morning and evening) can help to keep the skin less shiny and prevent those breakouts. It is crucial, however, that you use a cleanser that is non-drying and non-irritating. Most people with oily skin tend to reach out for foaming cleansers (that may contain harsh surfactants) promising the feeling of squeaky-clean skin, but this can give only a temporary sense of relief. The reason why it is temporary is the sebaceous glands tend to overproduce oil to compensate when the skin is left dry.Protect the Barrier
Additionally, a harsh cleanser can disrupt the acid mantle in such a way that the skin is left vulnerable to inflammation and infection. The acid mantle, also called skin barrier, is an acidic film that covers our skin that is made of natural secretions, including sebum. This mantle discourages the growth of pathogens like fungi and bacteria, and therefore helps to prevent breakouts and inflammation. The mantle also helps to break down excess sebum. It’s a like a beautiful orchestra that works to keep your skin healthy in such a way that all these secretions play an important role. When the barrier is compromised, oil production is triggered.Double Cleanse at Night
While cleansing once in the morning is sufficient, in the evening you should double cleanse—given that you are a diligent sunscreen user, and potentially makeup wearer as well. The first cleanse should be done with a product that can effectively, but gently, break down all sunscreen/makeup, such as an oil cleanser. The second cleanse should be performed with a non-stripping, emulsifying cleanser. The second cleanse ensures that all residue has been properly removed, so that no sunscreen, makeup, or oil cleanser traces are left on the skin—preventing the risk of clogging your pores.
When choosing an oil cleanser, it is best to avoid those that do not emulsify and do not rinse off easily. Here are a couple of oil cleansers that work best for a first cleanse.Oil Cleansers for Oily Skin: Maya Chia The Great Cleanse Nourishing Supercritical Cleansing Oil
This formula contains soothing botanicals, including two different types of chamomile, and other herbal ingredients that calm the skin and nourish it, while dissolving all makeup effortlessly. It rinses off clear leaving no film behind.One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil
In addition to breaking down makeup easily, this oil cleanser contains mild exfoliating ingredients that help to dissolve dead skin cells and reveal fresh skin. It is also delicately scented like a delicious tropical cocktail.Cleansers for Oily Skin: Odacité Black Mint Cleanser
This cleanser contains charcoal and clay to absorb excess oil, and it includes tea tree and peppermint oil for their astringent properties. With a mild, non-stripping lathering, it gives a satisfying cleanse without irritating the skin. It leaves the skin feeling refreshed and comfortable. It is best suited for a morning cleanse and a second cleanse after makeup removal.
The most important thing to do when choosing a toner for oily skin is to avoid irritating ingredients such as fragrance that can trigger excess oil production. It’s also important to opt instead for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and for mildly exfoliating ingredients, such a willow bark extract, which is a natural source of BHAs.Toners for Oily Skin: MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner
This toner hydrates the skin with rose water, aloe juice, and hyaluronic acid, and exfoliates it gently with willow bark extract. It really suits all skin types, but it’s especially beneficial to balance a ‘slightly oily-to-oily’ complexion.Odacité Mint+Green Tea Hydra-Purifying Treatment Mist
A simple formula that includes some essential, skin-loving ingredients: aloe to hydrate and soothe, peppermint to refresh, glycerin to keep the skin moisturized, willow bark to exfoliate, and green tea to protect and repair.
Face Masks & Exfoliators
There are two other types of products that you should make a part of your skincare regimen: clay masks and mild chemical exfoliators.
Clay-based masks can be quite useful for oily skin because they can effectively absorb excess oil and provide a deep cleanse, which helps to prevent oil-triggered breakouts. They are especially helpful if you wear face makeup like foundation.
Chemical exfoliators are exfoliating agents that do not contain any scrubbing particles (those are called physical exfoliators), but instead exfoliate by dissolving dead skin cells. These include papaya and pineapple enzymes, which are found in many exfoliating face masks. They gently remove the most superficial layer of dead skin cells and help to prevent the build up that can lead to breakouts.Face Masks for Oily Skin: MV Skincare Purifying & Balancing Mineral Face Mask
This is a simple and effective formula that includes superfine sun-dried green French clay and white French clay.Synergie Immediate Skin Perfecting Masque
This face mask contains both clay and exfoliating agents, such as papaya enzymes and fruit enzymes for a deep cleanse that does not irritate the skin.Face Oils for Oily Skin:
While you may not need to quit face oils, you want make sure to use one that is suitable for oily skin. Options like squalane, rosehip, and jojoba are considered more appropriate for oily skin due to their silky, non-greasy texture and a similar structure to the skin’s natural oil. Rather than using a serum with multiple oils in it, try:Indie Lee Squalane Oil Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil MV Skincare Jojoba Oil
The way you apply your face oil can also make a difference. Pat only a few drops on your skin while it is still damp—less is more! You may also add a couple of drops of one of the Odacité Serum Concentrates for oily skin, like the Grapeseed-Grapefruit to help prevent oil-triggered breakouts.
Some sunscreens contain highly moisturizing ingredients that may be too heavy for oily skin. My favorite face sunscreen for oily skin is the Hynt Beauty Sun Prep SPF 25, which has a very light, almost mousse-like texture that does not leave the skin feeling greasy at all.
MAKEUP Use a Primer
Excess oil on the skin tends to break up foundation and other face makeup products, making them last significantly less on your skin. You may notice that a couple of hours after you apply your foundation it may start to separate in the areas where you are typically the shiniest. You may also notice that your blush starts to fade, or that your concealer around the nose starts to move.
The first thing you can try to do to prevent that is to apply a primer that is specifically formulated for oily skin, like the Sappho New Paradigm Primer for oily skin. It provides the right amount of moisturizing ingredients to keep your skin soft, and smoothes the skin to create the perfect canvas, while helping the makeup to last longer and better throughout the day.Switch to a Mineral Powder Foundation
If your skin is very oily, powder foundation is going to be the best option to even out your complexion without adding extra oils and butters that may emphasize the shine.If you have very oily skin, and you prefer higher coverage, opt for the Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation. This simple, fragrance-free formula comes in a variety of shades and offers buildable coverage. If you have combination to oily skin, try the W3LL PEOPLE Altruist Mineral Foundation. This foundation contains hydrating ingredients, antioxidants, and helps to even out the skin tone without looking cakey.
Setting Powder is Your Best Friend
The quickest, most simple way to remove excess shine from the skin, besides blotting with a paper, is to use a setting powder with absorbing properties.
My favorite is the RMS Beauty “Un” Powder, which contains only spherical-cut silica and nothing else. It is very effective at absorbing oil and keeping the skin shine free for many hours while leaving a soft, matte, velvety-like finish on the skin. It is available in both a translucent version and tinted shades as well that help to even out the complexion.
Please keep in mind that besides a genetic predisposition there are several medical conditions and medications that can trigger sebum overproduction. If you notice skin changes that concern you, including sudden oil overproduction, consult your medical doctor or dermatologist.