5-Step Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

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Oily skin is a common skin problem that can give you that glow without The top.” But the right skincare routine can help keep the fat at bay and prevent pimples and blackheads.

We spoke to social media superstar and dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah, DO (aka @dermdoctor on TikTok or @doctorly on Instagram) to bring you a skincare routine that will show oily skin who’s boss.

According to Shah, “having oily skin can be healthy!” The secret is to work with your skin type.

1. Clean

Rule #1: Wash your face in the morning and the night. Cleanse before bed to get rid of the gunk your skin builds up during the day. And even if your skin is still fresh, you should still wash your face in the morning.

When you sleep, your skin sheds skin cells and produces oils. This can trigger a rash and make your skin look brighter.

Use a cleanser designed for oily skin. Shah likes a gentle salicylic acid cleanser like CeraVe SA cleanser to help remove sebum (i.e. oil) from pores.

Pro tip: Wash your pillowcase on the reg to remove sweat, oils and debris.

Psst. Here are our picks for the best face wash for acne and the best face wash for men.

2. Exfoliate

Exfoliation is a great way to remove oil, debris, and dead skin cells that clog pores. Shah recommends chemical exfoliator as fan favorite Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Scrub.

Chemical exfoliators slough off dead skin cells with active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA). AHAs that are more suitable for oily skin include glycolic acid. And oil-friendly BHAs include that must-have salicylic acid.

Just make sure not to overdo it and stick to exfoliating twice a week. at most. Exfoliation can lead to dry, red or irritated skin. And since some ingredients make you more prone to sunburn, plan to exfoliate in the evening.

Psst. Here are our picks for the best facial scrubs and chemical peels.

3. Apply the treatment

Shah recommends using a retinol product like Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol.

Retinol is great for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and can also smooth your skin’s texture through its cell renewal effect. As a bonus, retinol can help treat acne and make your pores look smaller.

Generally, products with active ingredients (like acids or retinol) can cause irritation if you use them too much. So use once a day max (and sometimes less). Nighttime is generally preferable because these active ingredients often make your skin sensitive to the sun.

Since pimples are also a common problem for people with oily skin, you can use an acne treatment instead. Products containing sulphur, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help clear pimples.

Talk to your dermatologist about what’s best for your #SkinGoals. You may also consider other over-the-counter treatments or a stronger prescription treatment depending on your unique skin.

Psst. Here are our picks for the best serums for oily skin, acne treatments, and toners.

4. Hydrate

You might think that adding more moisture to oily skin is counterproductive. But IRL, it’s a super important step for your oily skin care routine.

Shah’s choices include the Cetaphil Acne Mattifying Moisturizer and CeraVe PM Moisturizer.

“Moisturizing gels are often preferred by people with oily skin,” Shah says. He also notes that a niacinamide-based moisturizer can help regulate oil production.

Generally, moisturizers intended for acne-prone skin are safe to use on oily skin. Just make sure your lotion, gel or cream is:

  • oil free
  • lightweight
  • water-based
  • free of harsh chemicals or fragrances
  • non-comedogenic

Psst. Here are our picks for the best moisturizers for oily skin.

5. Apply SPF

No matter what type of skin you are killing, you should always wear sunscreen.

“I like EltaMD UV Clear product,” notes Shah. “Use it daily. Every day. Always.”

Even on a rainy or overcast day, you should still apply SPF 30 or higher in the morning. Just make sure there are no pore-clogging culprits on the ingredient list, like:

  • avobenzones
  • oxyphenones
  • benzophenones
  • methoxycinnamate
  • para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

Psst. Here are our picks for the best face sunscreen.

According to Shah, here are your star ingredients for oily skin:

  • Salicylic acid. This beta hydroxy acid reduces swelling and unclogs pores. A 2% salicylic solution is generally best for regular use. You should only get a stronger focus if your dermis says everything is fine. It’s found in many cleansers, but it’s also found in topical spot treatments, serums, and gels.
  • Retinol. Retinol is a type of retinoid derived from vitamin A. It is a very popular way to treat skin issues such as fine lines, uneven texture, hyperpigmentation, and photoaging. But studies show it’s also a great way to reduce oil.
  • Niacinamide. A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide can help regulate the amount of oil produced by your sebaceous glands. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and may help treat acne, according to a 2017 study.

“Oily skin is caused by an increased production of sebum by our sebaceous glands in our pores,” explains Shah. “This oil production is regulated by hormones like testosterone and stress hormones.”

Here are some other factors that could trigger oily skin:

  • Age. Oily skin is more common in young people. As you age, your skin loses collagen and other proteins. This can prevent your skin from producing as much oil as before.
  • Weather. Humid climates can cause your skin to produce more oil. But even if you live in a dry region, you may notice more oil during the hot summer months.
  • Genetic. Blame your parents. Genetics play a big role in the type of skin you end up with. So if your immediate family members have oily skin, you are more likely to have it too.
  • Pore ​​size. People with larger pores can produce more oil than those with small or medium pores.
  • Your current skin care routine. It’s possible that your oily skin is coming from the wrong products. Overwashing or exfoliating too often strips your skin of its natural oils. This can send your skin into oil production overdrive.

A gentle skincare routine is a great start. But to really rid your skin of excess oil, you may need to take a few extra steps.

Blotting papers

Blotting paper is a great way to reduce shine and control oil throughout the day. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Simply press the paper onto your skin for a few seconds. Do this on your face, especially the T-zone. You’ll see the paper start to absorb the oil, which is super satisfying.

make-up remover

If you use makeup, cleansers may not cut it. So, before washing your face, use an oil-free makeup remover.

Professional treatments

“Professional treatments are usually not necessary,” says Shah. “However, blue light can be helpful for oily skin.”

Some studies have shown that blue light therapy can also help treat acne. But we need more research to show it’s 10/10 legit.

Shah also says that Accutane (isotretinoin) is very effective in shrinking sebaceous glands and decreasing oil production. Remember that it is usually only prescribed for severe acne.

Clean up after sweating

The AAD recommends washing your face after each sweat session. This is very important if you don’t have time to take a shower. This will help you get rid of the oil, dirt and sweat you’ve produced during a workout or outside in the heat.

Oily skin is generally very manageable. A great skincare routine can help you minimize shine, unclog pores, and reduce oil production. Just be sure to stick to products designed for oily skin (pst: salicylic acid, niacinamide, and retinol are your friends). And avoid comedogenic products as they can clog your pores.

Plus, you probably won’t get OMG YAS results overnight. It can take weeks or even months to see a major difference. Talk to your dermatologist if you don’t see any improvement after a few weeks. They can suggest specific treatments and products for your unique skin.

About Sally Dominguez

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