How to Solve Oily Skin Problems
Oily skin and hair are a source of great anxiety for many. It's easy to feel you're in a "no-win" situation, because the more you clear the oil, the worse it seems to get! In fact there's some truth in that statement, and in it lies the secret to keeping oily skin under control.
The human body always tries to keep everything in balance. Strip your skin of all oil and your body will over-react by producing even more!
Your skin needs some oil in it to stay healthy, to prevent wrinkles and keep it soft. If you use harsh products to remove every trace of oil, your system will panic and do its best to restore the balance by producing oil at an even faster rate. So the secret is to creep up on the problem instead of hitting it head-on, so you don't trigger that over-reaction from your body.
If harsh products are so bad, why do skincare manufacturers make them?
Because they sell!
You'll often hear companies say, to make money you have to give the customers what they want. These skincare manufacturers are doing that - they're responding to what people instinctively want, products that will blitz the oil from their face. And, of course, if the products create more oil, why should the manufacturers worry? That means you have to buy more of their product!
My regime comes from a dermatologist who treated one of my friends for oily skin and severe pimples many years ago. The dermatologist's view was that the more we touch and tamper with the skin, the more oil it will produce - so his approach is to cut skincare back to the minimum needed for hygiene.
Judging by my friend's skin, it really worked. I was so impressed, I've used the same routine myself ever since.
A Dermatologist's Prescription for Oily Skin Care
First of all, buy a pH balanced, water soluble cleanser. Neutrogena makes a good one. Or you could use a cleansing bar. Don't use a toner or astringent as they stimulate the production of oil.
- Apply your cleanser, massaging it over the face.
- Rinse the cleanser off thoroughly with cool or lukewarm water - 20 splashes at least (you can wipe most of it off with a clean washcloth first, if you prefer).
- Use an eye make-up remover on your eyes if necessary.
- Apply a light moisturiser, and dab some cream (e.g. Clearasil) on any spots.
In the morning:
DO NOT CLEANSE. Your face hasn't got dirty overnight, so there's no need, and using cleanser or soap stimulates oil production. Warm water is enough to wash away sweat. Splash your face with water or wipe with a clean washcloth.
Before you leave the house, apply a sunscreen. Look for one that is non-comedogenic.
Do not use alcohol-based wipes (like Wet Ones) on your face. The alcohol feels refreshing, but it stimulates oil. If you need to blot your face during the day, use a dry tissue or an alcohol-free baby wipe.
There's only one situation where anti-bacterial wipes should go anywhere near your face, and that's if you wear a hat. A hatband is a breeding ground for bacteria, so whenever you take your hat off, it's important to clean your forehead - so if soap and water is not available, use a wipe.
For make-up, it's fine to use products that claim to control oily shine. These don't remove the oil, only soak it up, so they won't cause an over-reaction.
Oil control powders and mineral foundations are usually more effective than liquid foundations. If you don't like the powdery look, apply the powder then take a slightly damp washcloth or cotton wool and work across your face, pressing the cloth firmly against your skin (make sure you press, don't rub, or you'll just wipe it off).
Your oily skin may seem to get worse for the first few days, but it will settle down with this gentle treatment. And by the way, there are some skin conditions (like rosacea) which look like acne but are actually the result of very sensitive skin. Harsh treatment can make those conditions dramatically worse, so this regime will help them, too.
Pimples and Acne
If your oily skin comes with pimples (acne), there is one very gentle but very effective treatment that's worth trying - blue light phototherapy. Until recently you had to get this done at a salon, at around $100 a session. Now there are hand-held, at-home devices available.
This home version of blue light therapy isn't quite as powerful as the big salon machine - but on the other hand, you're able to give yourself treatments more often, so it can still be effective if you are disciplined about using it
The blue light therapy is effective for simple pimples and for skin conditions like rosacea. In fact, it's very healing on the skin generally.
There is one important thing to bear in mind when the grease on your face is driving you to despair: because your skin is so well lubricated, you will still be gloriously wrinkle-free when your dry-skinned friends are starting to crinkle around the eyes and grow furrows between their brows. So you DO have something positive to look forward to!