The Expert’s Guide to Managing Oily Skin

With the COVID 19 pandemic spreading across the globe, practicing social distancing daily and working in isolation from our home has become a way of life. While we patiently wait for things to change, let's remember to devote this time to self-care and nourishment. Perhaps, nothing deserves some extra attention like the largest organ in our body –the skin. Just because we are not stepping out does not mean our skincare should be compromised. This is the time we show some love to our skin. This holds good for people with all skin types and more so the ones who have oily skin.

Though oil does well to your skin, an excess of it can make a person look dull. According to Yoram Harth, a dermatologist, "When the oil on the skin is at the right amount, it protects our skin from external toxic elements. That said, having too much of it makes our skin shiny, can clog our skin pores and causes acne breakouts."

The point to be noted here is that one cannot get rid of oily skin (neither should one aim to do so). While a perfect non-glossy complexion is not the agenda, how do you keep your face on the acceptable side of shiny? Well, the key is to understand your oily skin and manage it accordingly. Here are some reasons as to what causes oily skin and expert tips to achieve it.

Understanding Oily Skin

The oil produced by our skin is called sebum, and it is secreted by the sebaceous gland that lies in the hair follicle. According to Andrea Pfeffer, director Pfeffer Sal, a London-based skin clinic, "Our skin on the face has hair follicles' per cm2', and that is the reason we tend to experience more oiliness on the face". Research has also shown that the highest density of hair follicles on the human body lies on the forehead.[1]

Pfeffer adds that the primary function of the sebum is to lubricate the skin, arrest the excess growth of bacteria and also prevent dryness and help in hydrating it. Hence, normal levels of sebum are, in fact, good for the skin. The amount of sebum produced in each person depends on various intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

For instance, oily skin (skin producing too much sebum) can be passed on through one's genes, because the large sebaceous glands that produce surplus oils can be handed over through generations in the family. Apart from genetics, another factor that can make the skin oily is the environment (humidity and hot climate that can enhance the sebum secretion leading to more oil on the face). Certain medications (for example certain steroids or hormonal medications), scrubbing the face too hard, hormonal changes, poor diet (too much of sugary or fatty foods), as well as certain cosmetics can also cause this condition.

Expert Tips For Oily Skin

Oil is a natural secretion and helps to protect our skin. So we need loads of it. However, oily skin can be high maintenance and may require numerous skincare products to tackle it. With the right approach, one can minimize the shine with much less work. The goal is to manage oil production by following a proper skincare routine suitable for this condition. So here are some expert do's and don'ts that one can follow to get started.

DOs For Oily Skin

Cleanse More than Once in a Day

An excellent foam wash is ideal to start your day. Choose cleansers with acids suitable for oily skin like salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps to prevent excess oil. Choose a gentle foam wash specially formulated for oily skin. Another option is to cleanse twice a day with a bar of mild soap and pat dry the skin thoroughly. However, make it a point not to cleanse beyond two times a day, as frequent cleansing may irritate the skin and can cause it to produce more oil.

Use a Retinol based Night Cream.

Use a night cream that contains retinol/ Vitamin A. When used over some time, Retinol helps to control oil levels in the skin. Retinoids also have an anti-aging effect as a bonus. However, it is essential to consult a dermatologist before purchasing one as specific heavy concentrations of Retinol can have side effects. Hence it is better to buy retinol-based creams based on proper advice as to what strength is best suited for one's skin type.

Choose your Cleanser / Face wash Properly.

Pay attention while choosing your face wash/cleanser. Avoid harsh cleansers that can over-dry the skin, causing excess oil production. It can be too confusing to choose between milk, gels, water, and foam cleansers for oily skin. Milk or cream cleansers can dissolve the debris without affecting the moisture levels and the pH balance of the skin. Cleansers that contain BHA's are a good option as they help to dissolve the excess oil. Use a mild cleanser twice a day.

Opt for Moisturizing Gels

Gel-based moisturizers may not be as hydrating as creams, but they are suitable for oily skin as they do not contain ingredients that clog the pores. They help to absorb excess oil and minimize the pores, plus they are also able to resist humidity and sweat. Opt for moisturizers that have lasting hydration and a matte (non-shiny) finish.

DON'Ts for Oily Skin

Avoid Products that Can Irritate the Skin

Products that make your skin tingle (such as menthol, mint, and eucalyptus) can upset it. Tingling is just one way your skin is telling you it is hurting, and that cumulative damage will end up causing more problems. Also, avoid alcohol-based products and products that contain too many fragrances and oils. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it is good to opt for products labeled as 'non-comedogenic' or 'oil-free.' Such products will not clog the pores or cause acne.

Do Not Touch Your Face Often

People with oily skin must avoid the temptation to touch the face often. Doing so can cause bacteria and dirt to spread from the hands to the face quickly. Make it a point to touch the face only when needed, like when cleansing, applying sunscreen, or when moisturizing. Even then make it a point to clean your hands first before touching the face. While these rules are standard for people with any skin type, those with oily skin must follow them. This is because oily skin tends to attract more dirt and grime compared to other skin types.

Avoid Scrubbing or Too Much Exfoliation

Many skincare remedies suggest scrubbing. However, for those with oily skin, scrubbing and excessive exfoliation will only increase the production of oil. Hence, those with oily skin should resist from over-exfoliation. Also, one should stay clear of steaming and hot water as these may strip the skin of their fatty acids. A good option would be to choose a clay mask to remove excess oil.

Do Not Indulge in Oily Foods

Oily and fried foods are a strict NO for those with oily skin. It increases sebum production and worsens the skin condition. Try healthy eating for oil-free skin.

While there is no 'one size fits all' formula for oily skin, those who belong to the oily skin family can benefit by following the above do's and don'ts.

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