How not to treat your oily skin is as important as the right way to care for it.
If your skin is oily, you may be bothered by the shine, greasy texture, and breakouts. But don't blame the foods you're eating. "There is no data to show that you will produce more oil if you consume things that are more oil-based," says Rebecca Kazin, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University and medical director of the Johns Hopkins Cosmetic Center in Baltimore. "The fact is that people who have oily skin were probably born that way. There is not much they did to get it and there is not much they can do to prevent it."
Oily Skin Care Dos
The good news is there are several ways to manage oily skin, experts say:
Wash with salicylic acid. "Cleansers that contain salicylic acidpenetrate into the pores and help remove fats that clog the pores and lead to blackheads," says Leslie Baumann, MD, director of the University of Miami's Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute.
Use a retinoid at night. Whether over-the-counter or prescription, retinoid products decrease oil production in the skin. "This helps reduce blackheads and may lower sebum production," says Dr. Baumann.
Use oil-free foundations. To avoid creating more of a shine and potentially clogging pores, make sure your foundation is oil-free. Use a powder blush instead of a cream formula for the same reasons.
Use blotting paper. Washing your face during the day can be difficult, especially for women who wear makeup. Instead, dermatologists recommend blotting paper. "You can absorb the extra oil without washing your face, and they are not irritating to the skin," says Dr. Kazin. Paper towels can be substituted in a pinch, but blotting paper is better because it contains a small amount of powder, which evens out skin color.
Oily Skin Care Don'ts
Knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing how to properly care for your oily skin. Experts weigh in on what to avoid:
Don't use creamy or milk cleansers. "These types of cleansers deposit unnecessary lipids — oils — on the skin, which can make you feel even oilier," says Baumann. Better to stick with salicylic acid or glycolic cleansers, or gentle liquid cleansers such as Cetaphil.
Don't moisturize. Even better than searching for the perfect oil-free moisturizer is ditching this step altogether. Instead, use a gel or serum with anti-aging ingredients. Baumann recommends Skinceutical CE Ferulic or Replenix CF serum.
Don't rely on SPF powders. Most sunscreens are formulated in oil preparations that feel and look greasy, so for people with oily skin, SPF (skin protection factor) powders are tempting. But Baumann warns: "They do not have enough SPF, even if it says so on the label. To get the SPF stated on the label, you'd need to use 15 times the amount of powder you would normally use."
Don't overwash. Oily skin isn't a hygiene problem, so extra cleansing isn't the answer. "If you wash too much, you can strip your face of the essential oils that serve as a barrier to a lot of irritants," Kazin says. "This can cause your face to become red and raw. It's better to wash twice a day and use blotting paper when you feel shiny throughout the day."
Knowing how to care for oily skin is important. Follow these tips to keep your skin in the best health possible: Healthy skin equals beautiful skin.