Understanding how to take care of your skin depends first and foremost on knowing which skin type you have. If you have found out that you have oily skin, it’s important to clean your skin properly without stripping its moisture (yes, even oily skin needs moisture). You can also take steps to help control breakouts if you are acne-prone. If you are not sure which skin type you have, we will cover that first, then you can keep on reading if you have oily skin, so you know exactly how to take care of it.
What’s Your Skin Type?
Knowing which type of skin you have can save you time and aggravation as you look at different skincare products and build them into your routine. The easiest way to find out if you have oily skin is to wash your face with a gentle cleanser and then find something to do for a half-hour. Do not apply moisturizer or do anything that will work up a sweat. After 30 minutes, look in the mirror and see how your skin looks. Is it shiny all over?
If so, you have oily skin. Is it shiny only on your nose and forehead? That means that you have combination skin (which is oily skin only in the T-zone). If it looks flaky or feels tight, you probably have dry skin. And if it is comfortable and not too shiny, then congratulations, you have normal skin. Be aware that your skin type can change as you age; in general, skin gets drier as the decades pass, though there are some 20-somethings with dry skin and some 40-somethings with oily skin.
Also, be aware that the season can impact your skin type. Many people tend to be oilier during the summer when the air is warm and humid and drier in the winter when the air is cool and dry. So, if your skin routine stops working well when the seasons change, repeat the test as needed; you might need to treat your skin differently depending on the time of year.
If you have oily skin, you will want to be washing your face with a gentle cleanser twice per day. Wash once in the morning and once before bed. Think about what your skin needs before you buy a cleanser, though. If you are prone to acne, salicylic acid cleansers can help you control breakouts.
Simultaneously, they can be a bit drying, so you might consider using this type of cleanser only once each day. If they irritate your skin, then use them only occasionally or avoid them altogether. Cleansers that contain clay can help soak up excess oil. There are also gentle cleansers that are appropriate for people with sensitive skin. Do you tend to have itchiness or redness after using certain products? Do you have eczema or rosacea?
These are signs of sensitive skin, and you should use a product marketed specifically for sensitive skin. The important thing is to wet your face, massage it gently with the cleanser using your fingers, then thoroughly rinse it off using cold water. Do not use a rough washcloth; you could use a soft one but be gentle. Being too rough on your oily skin can lead to increased breakouts. And if you have an active breakout, be careful not to tear open the lesions, making the problem worse.
Once per week or so, consider exfoliating your skin. This can be done in a variety of ways. Using a chemical exfoliant with glycolic acid is a quick and easy way to remove dead skin cells and unclog your pores. You could also use an exfoliating mask or scrub using ingredients you probably already have in your house.
Whichever type of exfoliant you use, watch for signs of sensitivity, and do not apply it too often. Using it more than once or twice per week can lead to redness, irritation, and, you guessed it, increased acne breakouts. Remember that your skin will produce more oil if it senses that it is getting too dry, so do not overdo it!
Your oily skin is overactive because it thinks it needs to be oilier than it already is. Therefore, you might experience oil overload on days when you forget to apply moisturizer or use a drying product. Look for an oil-free, water-based, sebo-regulating moisturizer.
These will soak into your skin without adding extra oiliness. Be sure that the moisturizer you choose is non-comedogenic; this means that it will not clog your pores. Also, look for a fragrance-free one to reduce the risk that it will irritate your skin and lead to more breakouts. Put on your moisturizer after exfoliating and using serums and before putting on makeup.
The last required step is to use an oil-free sunscreen. Do this daily, so you do not forget. It is easiest if your sunscreen is included in your moisturizer, but it is no problem simply adding another layer to your skincare regimen. Look for a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and that is non-comedogenic. Apply it from your hairline down to your jawline, on your neck, and down to the neckline of your shirt. This will prevent sunburn, wrinkles, and other potentially dangerous side effects from the sun.
Oily Skin-Friendly Makeup
Remember that if you choose to wear makeup, it should be non-comedogenic and, in the case of concealer and foundation, preferably designed for oily skin. Carrying a compact with loose or pressed powder with you will also allow you to apply it to help soak up excess oil periodically.
The Bottom Line
Talk to your clinician or dermatologist for more tips on caring for your oily skin, particularly if frequent breakouts plague you or if you have sensitive skin.