Photo: Kenneth Willardt/Trunk Archive
The only upside to having oily skin is that one derm after another will tell you, “But you’ll have less wrinkles when you’re older!” OK great, but what about now?
“Some people just product more oil than others,” says board-certified dermatologist David Colbert, MD, founder and head physician for the New York Dermatology Group. “Sometimes it has to do with fatty diet, sometimes it’s just oil around the nose where there are larger glands, and sometimes people are fine when they wake up, but as soon as they get moving during the day, their body heats up and they produce that oil.”
So what can you do about it? Start from the base and move on up.
Do not, repeat, do not try to eliminate all of oil from your face. Stripping your skin of oil and foregoing moisturizer will make the problem worse. “Many people think they need to dry out their skin, so they use oil-free everything,” says facialist and skincare expert Ole Henriksen. “But that’s misunderstood. Your skin is producing extra oil because you are not applying moisture to it. When the skin is dry, it over-produces oil to compensate. The key is to balance your skin.”
Makeup artist Kirin Bhattny says those with oily skin often skip steps like toning and moisturizing, or use skin-stripping cleansers that are too harsh or drying. “Even though the dryness of these products may feel like they are doing the job, you’re actually helping your skin overproduce oil,” she says. “The trifecta of cleansing, toning and moisturizing is a necessity.” Try a gentle cleanser like Henriksen’s African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser to reduce oil without totally stripping skin, followed by a toner with soothing elements like Colbert M.D. Tone Control Facial Discs, while finishing with a glycolic acid-based serum at night and oil-free moisturizer for day. Shiseido Pureness Matifying Moisturizer is an ultra-light formula that Bhatty calls “an absolute must.”
Related: How to Handle Chicken Skin
Mattify Your Makeup
Shine-free make-up is as much about what to avoid as what to use. “You’d be surprised how many products have illuminating, shimmery or pearly properties,” says celeb make-up artist Tina Turnbow. “Those products will catch the light, and make oil and shine even more noticeable.
It turns out primers are a great weapon for anyone battling oily skin. Bhatty uses two: “Smashbox Primer Light all over the skin and Smashbox Pore-Refining Primer in the T-zone, and anywhere else that needs some extra shine-blocking help.” In addition to primer, use a lightweight oil-free foundation or tinted moisturizer, and oil-absorbing powder and blush to set, all of which will produce a lasting, matte effect. Sheer Matte Foundation from NARS offers stellar coverage without added weight, and MAC’s Powder Blush and Tarte’s Mineral Powder are both quite matte. “The Amazonian Clay in Tarte is oil-absorbing,” says Turnbow.
Embrace Blotting Tools
Since the skin’s oil production is based on multiple factors (and likely genetics), you probably won’t completely eradicate shine, says derm Heidi Waldorf, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “That said, the skin feels oilier when the oil pools,” says Waldorf. “Using blotting paper or powders is helpful, as some products that ‘bind’ the oil can reduce facial oiliness for up to eight hours.”
Bhatty swears by Tarte’s blotting papers while Turbow’s go-to is Jane Iredale, followed by a blotting powder. Cover FX has a gem of a product that instantly absorbs leftover oil for shine-free coverage. Not so into blotting papers? Try Kiehl’s genius Oil-Eliminating Spray. It’s refreshing—and soaks up extra sebum.