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How to Make Your Skin Less Oily, According to a Dermatologist

Overexfoliating your skin is not the solution.
How to Make Your Skin Less Oily, According to a Dermatologist
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Overexfoliating your skin is not the solution.

Having oily skin can both feel like a blessing and a curse. For one, you'd have to deal with blotting your face repeatedly to avoid looking like a greaseball. You'd have to live with makeup easily melting off your skin until you find the best long-lasting products that'll help you prevent it. But if there is one advantage to it, it's that oily skin tends to age slower compared to other skin types because all that oil maintains that extra bounce.

How to make skin less oily

But first: What causes oily skin in the first place? "Having oily skin is due to overactivity of the sebaceous glands or oil glands. This can be due to any or a combination of the following: genetics, age/hormones, stress, lifestyle, environment and products you are using," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas of BeautiqueMD tells Preview. While there's no proven way to get rid of oily skin for good, there are definitely ways to reduce the excess oils that you produce. 


Below, the dermatologist lists down her best tips:

1. Wash your face regularly—but not too much.

"People with oily skin tend to wash their skin repeatedly throughout the day, thinking that this may reduce the oil," Dr. Gaile says. This is untrue, because the more you forcibly dry out your skin, the more it will compensate by producing more oil. Hence, try to limit cleansing to twice a day—once in the morning, and once more at night.

Also, instead of washing your face when it's too oily, the derm recommends blotting with oil absorbent sheets. This will knock the excess shine on the surface while you wait for your scheduled cleanse.

2. Use gentle, soap-free cleansers.

Face washes that leave you with that tight feeling after cleansing might be too harsh and counterproductive to your goal of balancing your skin, so gentle formulas are the way to go (check out our picks here!). "Harsh cleansers can irritate your skin and trigger increased oil production," the derm explains. 

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A common way to pinpoint mild cleansers is looking for the "sulfate-free" label, though Dr. Gaile notes that sulfates aren't necessarily bad for the skin. "There is no research or study that shows that sulfates are dangerous other than causing varying levels of skin irritation, which is also true for many other products and ingredients out there," she clarifies.

That said, cleansers with sulfates are effective in removing dirt and oil, but those without sulfates can be as well. In the end, using or avoiding sulfates is entirely up to you, as long as what you're using isn't overdrying your skin.


4. Don't overexfoliate your skin.

Face scrubs, for example, should only be used once or twice a week. Exfoliating more often than that could irritate your skin and lead it to produce more oil in reaction. The same goes for exfoliating acids. Build your tolerance to the acid slowly and do not overuse.

5. Use water-based, oil-free, and non-comedogenic products.

Dr. Gaile says to watch out for all three of these labels when shopping for skincare products because they potentially work well for oily skin. "These products won’t clog your pores and won’t lead to comedone formation and acne," she says.

6. Wear a light moisturizer and sunscreen daily.

Try not to skip moisturizer, especially if you won't be applying anything else on your skin (sunsreen, makeup) for a hint of hydration. "Even if you have oily skin, it is still important to keep your skin hydrated. Choose a moisturizer that is light, such as water-based ones, not oil-based or heavy like balms," notes the doctor.


To apply less product on your skin, you can opt for moisturizers with SPF to cover hydration and sun protection in one step!

7. Avoid products with alcohol.

What the temporary matte look alcohol-laden products give your skin is exactly that—a temporary effect. "Alcohols are drying, irritating, and they disrupt our skin’s natural barrier protection, which leaves our skin exposed and vulnerable to dirt, allergens, and pathogenic organisms," the dermatologist says. A damaged skin barrier also means your skin will be oilier and more prone to breakouts.


"But not all alcohols are bad, there are those referred to as 'fatty alcohols' that act as emollients and do not dry or irritate your skin," she continues. Common fatty alcohols found in skincare include cetearyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, and behenyl alcohol."

Got any more tips for dealing with oily skin? Let us know in the comments below!

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