How to Control Oily Skin

How to Control Oily Skin: 5 Fool-Proof Steps

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Imagine going out in a sunny day and not having to worry about your makeup melting off or your face greasing up like there’s no tomorrow.

If you’ve had oily skin all your life, it’s hard to imagine looking at the mirror in the middle of the day not seeing a shiny face.

You’ve probably tried different skincare and makeup throughout the years that aims to control oily skin, but none of them have worked perfectly so it just seems like an impossible task.

It’s actually not impossible–you just haven’t discovered the right products that work for your skin condition, sensitivity, and age; as well as the proper skincare routine that they will work well with.

Oily skin is difficult to control because its something you were born with. It’s not impossible to rein in, but you’ll need to learn about your condition and expend effort in maintaining it.

Oily skin can also be triggered by a host of other things so it’s important to identify what these are in order to address it.

This detailed guide can help you find the right regimen and combination of products that will work to help you regulate excessive oily skin

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Oily skin is the overproduction of sebum, especially in the T-zone area. It may be more prevalent in teenagers because of hormones, but it can affect people of all ages.

The prevalent features of those with oily skin are large pores and acne breakouts. Poor skin elasticity and aging are linked to enlarged pores as well.

Excessive production of sebum causes a lot of dermatological skin issues related to acne and seborrheic dermatitis, so controlling oil should be a very important part of your daily skin regimen.

The cycle of oily and acne prone skin are:

  1. Greasy skin throughout the day
  2. Enlarged pores because it’s holding oil beyond its capacity
  3. Build up of dead skin, oil, and dirt that are likely to clog pores
  4. Acne, blackheads and whiteheads as a result of clogged pores
  5. Acne scarring or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

This cycle will never end until you do something about one of the main causes–oily facial skin. With our without acne, having oily skin can have adverse social and psychological effects. It makes you self-conscious, makes you feel embarrassed and makes you high maintenance throughout the day in an effort to keep it bay.

The Oily Skin Solution

by Patricia Everson

This acclaimed skincare program aims to condition the skin to generate less oil, providing a permanent solution to excessive oily skin. Highly recommended.

Finding Out What Triggers Excessive Oily Skin

Oily skin can have a lot of underlying causes. In order to find a solution, you’ll need to find out what these causes are so you’ll know how to correct it

Improper daily skin routine and regimen

Improper daily skin routine and regimen

One of the first steps is assessing your current skincare routine. If your face is starting to oil before you even put your makeup on, something is off with your skincare. If you put on makeup and have a shiny face before you’re even out the door, it’s likely your makeup or both. Either of this means your skin reacts negatively to some of your products.

One of the keys to solving this is to observe a daily routine that specifically addresses oily skin, and combine it with products that react positively to your skin type.

The guide below covers the proper daily routine that should be observed if you have oily skin. Finding the right product is incredibly crucial, so there will be tips and techniques enclosed with each step as well.

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal Imbalance

You can always have this tested but outside of that, one major indication is that it’s bundled up with other hormonal symptoms like PMS, irregular monthly cycles, acne around the jawline, etc.

If the cause is hormonal imbalance, there are oral and topical prescription medication in the market like Differin, Accutane, Retin A, Isotretinoin, and Tarozac that addresses these concerns.

These can be very effective but come with a host of side effects including extremely dry skin, severe depression, mood swings, etc. so this should really be your last resort.

Unhealthy Skin and Body

Unhealthy Skin and Body

Another way to control excess oil naturally is by undergoing a complete skin program. These kinds of regimens are holistic, meaning they aim not just to band-aid one aspect or underlying cause, but to change your skincare, diet, and lifestyle to produce healthier skin from the inside.

This is the best and sure-fire way to control oily skin with minimal risk of mistakes (e.g. wrong product choice) and side effects (depression, etc. from medication). It is also the first step in preventing premature skin aging and most importantly, release you from cosmetic dependency in the long run.

If you are interested in undergoing these kinds of programs, Patricia Everson‘s highly acclaimed Oily Skin Solution go through these steps in detail.

Expected Results from Controlling Oily Skin

How to Control Oily Skin

Use the guide below to build and optimize your current skincare regimen. Remember to be consistent in your routine to achieve optimum results.

Use a gentle and non-irritating cleanser

1. Use a gentle and non-irritating cleanser

Proper cleansing is crucial to prepping your skin for your skincare and cosmetics. Here are the key points to remember when choosing the right facial cleanser for you.

Irritation will basically guarantee overproduction of oil for oily skin, and acne for acne-prone skin. Make sure to avoid products that are too harsh on your skin.

The perfect cleanser will remove sebum and dirt without leaving you with a feeling of tightness or dryness. This means the skin’s natural barrier (natural fatty oils) is left intact, thus your skin will no longer need to overcompensate with excess oil.

Avoid bar soaps as much as possible. Some of the ingredients that makes it solid can strip the skin of its natural oils and can cause irritations.

You will also need two different cleansers for different times of the year. The levels of oiliness have many biases, including seasonal variations.

During cold seasons, the skin is naturally drier so a gentle cleanser would be ideal. During warm months, sweat and dirt can accumulate faster and are harder to clean so a deep cleanser can help you better.

Anti-acne cleansers have ingredients that can address oily skin as well. I’m general, those with oily skin are more resistant than dry or sensitive, so these formulations can be stronger than normal cleansers. if you have oily AND sensitive skin though, please make sure to choose mild ones or those aimed for your skin type.

Additional options for deep cleansing:

  • For oily skin with blackheads & whiteheads – If you have congested skin, you can opt to use facial cleansing brushes. This is recommended for oily, resistant (i.e. not sensitive), and comedone-prone skin. AVOID if you have sensitive skin and infected acne lesions.
  • For oily and sensitive skin with with blackheads & whiteheads Ultrasonic blades use sound waves to cause ripples in the skin cells to loosen comedones and dislodge dead skin cells. The edge of the dull place is simply passed over the skin at a 45 degree angle. Because it doesn’t cause any outright skin abrasion, this is the perfect deep cleansing tool for those with sensitive skin.
Exfoliate to avoid clogged pores and buildup of dead skin

2. Exfoliate to avoid clogged pores and buildup of dead skin

Exfoliation is one of the most important and most overlooked aspect of skincare, especially if you have oily skin. There tends to be a thicker amount of build up on the surface of oily skin so you must find a way to gently remove this without irritating your skin. (I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but I cannot stress the importance of not irritating your skin at any point in your regimen.)

There are two types of exfoliation–chemical and mechanical:

2. 1 Mechanical Exfoliation

Uses tools like beads, scrubs, or microdermabasion devices to manually remove dead skin cells on the surface. If you find that this works for you, make sure that you only do this two to three times a week so you won’t stress the skin too much. If you find this method too abrasive however, chemical exfoliation may be a better alternative for you.

2.2 Chemical Exfoliation

Uses Hydroxy acids (AHA, BHA) to gently dissolve the build-up of sebum and dead skin. This reduces the chances of clogged pores and eventually acne, as well as keeping your skin fresh and younger looking.

You can choose a product that combines the two kinds if you have other skin issues beyond oily skin, e.g. rough skin, sun damage, etc.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Image courtesy of the Cinta Aveda Institute.

AHA’s (Glycolic, Lactic, Citric, Malic, and Tartaric Acids) dissolve dead skin cells on the upper layer of the skin. This accelerates the rate of skin turnover and prods the skin to produce collagen and hyaluronic acid.

These two elements are the keys to retaining moisture on the skin and keeps it supple and young. (That’s why they’re staples in anti-aging products.)

AHA’s are water soluble so it works only at the top layer of the skin. Incorporate if you have problems with sun damage and have resistant skin i.e. not sensitive.

Beta Hydroxy Acids
Beta Hydroxy Acids

BHA’s (Salicylic Acid) does the same as above but is oil-soluble. This means it has the ability to seep into the pores and decongest deep seated oil and dirt. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. BHA’s works amazingly for oily and acne-prone skin. This works well with sensitive skin and people of color.

You can include hydroxy acids in your daily regimen by incorporating BHA toners or serums.

You can also opt to do do chemical peels once every two to three weeks.

Use a light, non-comedogenic moisturizer to hydrate your skin

3. Use a light, non-comedogenic moisturizer to hydrate your skin

You may feel like you might not need to moisturize if you have oily skin, or be afraid that it’s going to exacerbate the issue.

Moisture has to do with keeping the skin hydrated however, and oil and water are not the same.

The oil on your skin can help seal the moisture in, but won’t replace it. And when the skin is dry, it will start producing more oil to compensate.

It’s completely possible for excess oily skin be caused by dehydration.

Moisturizing is especially important as you grow older because the skin gradually loses its ability to naturally retain moisture.

The key is not to avoid moisturizing, but to find the right moisturizer for your skin type.

Avoid heavy creams and moisturizers with thick consistencies. Stick with lightweight, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic moisturizers.

You will need also to use different types of moisturizers for day and night. Day moisturizers have built in sunscreen protection, and night moisturizers are loaded with hydrating and repairing ingredients to maximize skin healing while you sleep.

Day Moisturizer

Day Moisturizer

Prolonged sun exposure without proper protection is the no. 1 accelerant in skin aging. Sun protection is the single most important thing you can do to ensure great skin in the long run. 

Using sunscreen is a MUST in not just preventing skin damage and all that comes with it, but skin cancer as well.

Use a light, non-comedogenic sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 to avoid breakouts and excess oily skin. This will ensure absorption without weighing down the skin.

Follow with a non comedogenic moisturizer and primer to refine your skin.

Night Moisturizer

Night Moisturizer

Use a hydrating cream rich in vitamin and minerals to replenish your skin while it repairs during your sleep.

The right moisturizer will have you waking up with your skin feeling plump and supple, without the excess oil.

For an extra push, you can pair this with devices that facilitates skin absorption:

  1. Ultrasonic Technology – helps ingredients penetrate the skin through a process called “sonophoresis”. These are microvibrations on the skin that create microscopic gaps in the skin to allow ingredients to penetrate deep. Tissues are also heated in the process. (e.g. Facial Skin Ultrasonic Scrubber)
  2. Iontophoresis – are performed using microcurrent machines that penetrates water-based products into the skin. This is an excellent method of driving serums or moisturizers to specifically target areas with hyperpigmentation. (e.g. Project E Beauty Galvanic Skin Tightening Spa Device)
  3. LED Phototherapy – not only improves product absorption but also promote skin regeneration and stimulates collagen formation in the skin. These are also used for skin rejuvenation. (e.g. LED Photon Therapy Seven color Light Treatment)
Incorporate Retinols in your nighttime routine

4. Incorporate Retinols in your nighttime routine

Retinols are a staple in acne management. The main reason for this is its ability to change the way your glands produce oil, and the way that the pore gets blocked. This results in oil reduction and pore clarity.

Retinol is a well-established anti-aging ingredient as well known to tighten pores, reduce sun damage, expedite cell turnover, boost collagen production, and more. By incorporating this in your routine, you are not only treating your oily skin but you’re now also in the best anti-aging regime without even trying.

Using this as early as in your 20’s is recommended in order to establish a preventive skincare routine before any onset signs of skin aging occurs.

Another benefit is that it can also address pigmentation, whether it be melasma or hyperpigmentation from acne scarring.

You can incorporate retinols as a serum or a night moisturizer.

Weekly Face Masks

5. Weekly Face Masks

Facial Masks have an array of properties that can hydrate the skin, eliminate bacteria, and absorb excess oils.

Look for charcoal or clay based masks with bentonite, zinc, salicylic acid, niacinamide, and licorice. These can pull out deep seated oils in minutes, leaving a matte finish.

Use when you’re prepping for a big day or a night out.


6. Prescription Isotretinoin

If all else fails, you can try prescription isotretinoin. Some brand names you might be familiar with, like Accutane.

It WILL dry up your skin, excessively so in my experience that caught me quite unexpectedly. It’s mainly used to address acne, as oily skin is one of the heaviest trigger for it. As it’s classified as a drug, it also comes with a whole host of side-effects. Personally, I’ve found these outweigh the benefits as I’ve managed to control my oily skin through the methods above.

The closest OTC alternative for isotretinoin you can find is Acnetame, which has worked for some folks in controlling oily skin.

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Michelle Evans
Michelle Evans
Michelle Evans is passionate about everything beauty and skincare. She is excited to continue her education and go on that journey with the readers of HealthyBeautiful. “Knowledge is a gift and you have the opportunity to educate and empower with it.” She believes that everyone should be able to look and feel their best.