Oily Skin: Characteristics and Care

Oily skin is determined by factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, and skin care. In this article, we'll show you its characteristics, as well as how to treat and prevent it.
Oily Skin: Characteristics and Care

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 25 March, 2021

One of the peculiarities of sebum is that it’s oily and made up of fat. Despite its bad reputation, it’s important in order to hydrate, protect and keep both skin and hair healthy. Whenever our bodies overproduce sebum, it gives rise to oily skin.

Hormonal changes, genetics, and stress can all be the reason behind having this type of skin. Acne is often difficult to control, however with proper care it’s still possible to have a good skin condition. In this article, we’ll be discovering all about the characteristics and care of oily skin.

The characteristics of oily skin

To find out if you have an oily skin type, you need to see if your skin is showing these signs:

  • If it’s shiny and usually greasy before the end of the day.
  • Blackheads, pimples and other blemishes tend to appear in oilier areas.
  • The pores are large and visible.
  • Acne can also occur on other areas of the body apart from your face, such as the back, arms, and chest.

One of the drawbacks that people with oily skin type have is to be able to find makeup that suits their skin. The reason this can be a problem is that the makeup can mix with the sebum produced by the skin and clog up their pores.

The symptoms of oily skin can vary from one person to another. They can be influenced by genetics, hormonal changes, or even a high level of stress.

There are tests that you can perform at home that could help you verify if you have oily skin or not, however, a dermatology expert can verify for certain what type of skin you actually have.

Oily skin can promote the appearance of acne and its consequences.
People with oily skin are more likely to suffer from severe forms of acne, which are characterized by leaving physical and psychological consequences.

6 treatments for looking after oily skin

Oily skin tends to suffer from clogged pores, due to pimples, dust, and dead skin that can clog the dermis. Each type of skin requires special care. We’ll now discover how to treat oily skin.

1. Wash regularly

The purpose of washing your face regularly is to decrease the amount of oil on your skin. In order to do this, you should take into account the following tips:

  • Always use mild soap and warm or lukewarm water to wash yourself.
  • Don’t use rough sponges or towels, as rough handling increases oil production.
  • It’s important to avoid soaps, moisturizers and products with fragrance or that contain harsh chemicals, unless they’re prescribed by your dermatologist. These types of products tend to irritate the skin and increase the production of sebum.

To combat acne, experts often recommend products that contain salicylic acid, glycolic acid, beta-hydroxy acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Without medical supervision, these products, for some skin types, tend to irritate a lot, so it is necessary to apply them to a small area of your dermis and observe how they react.

Make sure you choose a cleanser that is suitable for your skin type. Research published in Skin Research and Technology showed that alkyl carboxylate and sodium lauryl ether carboxylate cleansers could be effective in treating moderate facial acne.

However, they still need to carry out further research, as it also showed that its use increased the production of sebum in other areas of the face.

If you have oily skin and low acne production, then unscented glycerin soap and warm water may help keep your skin healthy. However, before applying any product, you should consult your dermatologist.

2. Use a natural astringent

Avoid using astringent toners that contain alcohol, as these tend to dry out the skin. You should use natural astringents, such as witch hazel, as some of its ingredients could have soothing effects on the skin, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.

Some people find witch hazel to be an effective toner for their oily skin. This could be because it contains tannins, which makes it a natural anti-inflammatory and astringent.

Certain products don’t work for everyone, even if the packaging says that they’re made for oily skin types. If you feel tingling or itching when using an astringent toner, then you may be experiencing irritation. If this is the case, you should discontinue its use immediately, as this could actually be increasing sebum production instead of helping your skin to decrease it.

3. Pat yourself dry so you don’t worsen oily skin

It’s important for you to use a clean towel that only you use in order to dry your face. After washing your face and removing the residue, pat your face dry. However, you shouldn’t make sudden movements, as this could irritate your skin. Remember that having irritated skin makes you more prone to acne.

Avoid using rough towels or paper to dry the skin; a soft cotton towel is excellent for this.

4. Use medicated pads and absorbent paper

On the market, there are blotting papers or absorbent papers that are specially designed to moderately remove oil from the skin. Although these may not prevent the production of sebum, what they can do is reduce the excess oil that your skin produces during the day. In addition to this, it helps to makes the dermis look less shiny.

Another option is medicated cloth pads, which are available over the counter. These have salicylic acid or glycolic acid as their main active ingredient. Like absorbent papers, they remove excess oil, but, in addition to that, they also clean the pores of the skin.

Oily skin can be treated with basic measures.
Cleaning the skin every day is essential to avoid the appearance of spots and blemishes.

5. Use face masks

Using a face mask could be beneficial in order to look after your oily skin. When doing so, make sure they contain some of these ingredients:

  • Honey: According to research conducted by the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, natural raw honey contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties, so 10 minutes with a honey mask could help reduce acne and oil on the skin, in addition to giving it a smooth texture.
  • Oatmeal: This contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and mild cleansing saponins that may soothe possible skin irritations. A 2014 review revealed that masks made with colloidal oatmeal could help cleanse the skin.
  • Clay: Minerals like smectite and bentonite could reduce the shine, sebum levels, and oils of the skin without irritating it. However, it is recommended to use a mild moisturizer after use and do so occasionally.

6. Use moisturizers

You could understand the fear of using moisturizer with oily skin, as this could increase the production of sebum. However, there are special moisturizers available for this skin type; you just have to make sure that they don’t contain oil.

The use of moisturizer is essential for any type of skin, as it helps to keep it protected and moist without feeling greasy. According to research published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, aloe vera moisturizers may be effective for treating acne and oily skin.

For this reason, check that your moisturizer contains at least 10% aloe vera, as experts believe that this could have a calming effect on the dermis. Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to use pure aloe vera gel, as some of them contain denatured alcohol and promote dryness and irritation on the skin.

How to prevent oily skin

Oily skin that is linked to genetics or hormonal changes is often difficult to control. However, maintaining a skincare routine can help to ensure healthy, vibrant skin.

Not all makeup works for oily skin. In fact, most of them tend to worsen or clog pores, hiding pimples with makeup could be a mistake. Make sure you buy a makeup that is water-based and doesn’t contain oil.

The food you eat is also related to the state of your skin, and following a healthy diet will help you counteract excess fat in the body. Therefore, our recommendation is that you always stay hydrated and avoid foods that contain trans fats.

General tips for oily skin

Be careful to use home remedies. Before doing so, consult your dermatologist as some of them can worsen and increase the production of sebum. Despite having oily skin, the same products and methods don’t work for all people, and so you may take a while to find the ones that best suit your skin.

The secret is, when you find the perfect routine for your skin, not to abandon it and to be consistent. On the other hand, before using a product, you should perform a patch test. This consists of applying a small amount to an area and observing how it reacts.

If you suffer from severe acne, then it’s best to see a specialist. Severe acne can make you more prone to complications and scars. Regardless of your skin type, remember that you should always stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet.

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  • Isoda, K., Takagi, Y., Endo, K., Miyaki, M., Matsuo, K., Umeda, K., Umeda-Togami, K., & Mizutani, H. (2015). Effects of washing of the face with a mild facial cleanser formulated with sodium laureth carboxylate and alkyl carboxylates on acne in Japanese adult males. Skin research and technology : official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin (ISBS) [and] International Society for Digital Imaging of Skin (ISDIS) [and] International Society for Skin Imaging (ISSI), 21(2), 247–253. https://doi.org/10.1111/srt.12183
  • Chularojanamontri, L., Tuchinda, P., Kulthanan, K., & Pongparit, K. (2014). Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents?. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 7(5), 36–44.
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  • Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. G. (2008). Aloe vera: a short review. Indian journal of dermatology, 53(4), 163–166. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5154.44785

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