Oily skin is one of the most common skin concerns. If you’re struggling with excess shine, take comfort: according to board certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), people with plentiful sebum age more gracefully than those with dry skin, because their skin remains more moisturised.
Here, we illuminate exactly what causes oily skin — and how you can best manage it.
What does oil do for your skin?
It all starts with your sebaceous glands — tiny glands within the pores of your skin that secrete sebum. This natural oil performs several key functions:
- Coats skin to protect it from bacteria
- Prevents moisture loss, keeping both skin and body hydrated
Why is my skin so oily?
While scientists aren’t certain about why some people’s sebaceous glands are more active than others, there may be multiple factors at play:
- Anatomy: larger sebaceous glands means more oil.
- Genetics: if your parents have oily skin, you’re more likely to.
- Hormones: higher testosterone levels (or lower estrogen or progesterone levels) can influence oil production.
- Lifestyle: stress, diet, and exercise habits all impact your sebum levels.
How to manage your oily skin
While you can’t change your skin type, you can manage your oily skin. Here are Dr. Lee’s top tips.
DON’T forget to wash your face
When you’re feeling extra oily, it’s fine to wash your face more than twice daily, says Dr. Lee. She advises washing more frequently if your skin is oily, especially after sweating or wearing your mask. Pay attention to your skin for signs of over washing (like tightness), so you don’t end up triggering your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil.
DO use the right face wash
Both morning and night, use a facial cleanser that’s got beta hydroxy acid — which is oil soluble — to help exfoliate and clear out pores. SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser is powerful, but won’t leave skin feeling dry or stripped. Even though you might feel like your skin is still clean from the night before, it’s been producing oils and shedding dead skin overnight, so it’s important to clear those away in the morning to prevent buildup in the pores.
DO add oil controlling products to your routine
Oil tends to develop in an area known as the T-zone: from your forehead down to your nose and chin. According to Dr. Lee, this is because this area has a high concentration of sebaceous glands. To control oil in your T-zone and beyond, try products with blemish fighting ingredients:
- Salicylic acid: exfoliates and clears sebum from pores. Find it in SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser.
- Sulfur: absorbs oil, kills blemish-causing bacteria and calms inflammation. Try SLMD Skincare Sulfur Lotion.
- Retinol: supports the skin cycle to reveal healthier cells. SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum works overnight to encourage an even skin tone.
Each of these products is part of the SLMD Skincare Blemish-Prone Skin System, a simple, 3-step programme that helps control oil and blemishes.
DO Use blotting papers
If you get stuck with oil overload mid-day, blotting papers can come in clutch. Stash a pack in your purse to absorb excess oil without messing up your makeup. We’ve got to admit, seeing how much oil they soak up is strangely satisfying.
DO use a translucent powder or a powdered sunscreen
Powdered mineral makeup is ideal for absorbing excess oil — and SPF versions keep UV damage at bay. Make sure you choose non comedogenic versions to avoid creating blackheads and whiteheads.
DON’T skip the moisturiser
One of the most pervasive skincare myths is the belief that oily skin doesn’t need moisturiser. This is NOT true — all skin types need moisturiser. If you have oily skin, look for lightweight, water-based options like SLMD Skincare Facial Moisturizer.
Dr. Lee’s last word
People who have oily skin tend to wish they didn’t — but in terms of overall skin health, it’s not necessarily a disadvantage. It can make you more blemish prone, but having plentiful sebum also means that your skin is going to be more moisturised compared to those of us with drier skin.
—Dr. Sandra Lee