From glass skin to mirror skin, a radiant glow is a complexion goal for lots of us. If you have oily skin though, you don't need to work too hard to achieve it. In fact, shine is pretty much a given, especially as the day goes on. But while oily skin has its merits, it also has some downsides, such as affecting makeup application, blackheads, breakouts, and as a result of clogged pores, hyperpigmentation.
You're over-stripping your skin
A gentle, oily skincare routine starts with a good cleanser, says Dr Craythorne. She suggests looking for something that clears away SPF and the overgrowth of bacteria that's on your skin, whether that's from the environment, pillows that we sleep on, a general buildup of heat and humidity under our duvets and any dead skin cells. Dr Craythorne mentioned that while most cleansers contain surfactants (what makes them lather up) they can often strip or damage skin. "People forget this and they think they have to put something fairly harsh on their skin to get rid of the oils," she said. "You want something that's going to help regulate sebum and get into the pores. That's why your cleanser is so important for oily and acne-prone skin."
Try a gentle foaming cleanser, such as Bioderma Sebium Purifying Face Wash, £10.70, in the morning and evening. The lather is kind to skin and it dislodges dirt, oil, makeup and SPF in one go. R29 also rates CeraVe Cream To Foam Cleanser, £12.50, and La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel, £12.50.
If your skin often feels tight or uncomfortable after cleansing, follow with a serum, moisturiser or toner which is packed with moisturising ingredients, known not to clog pores or fuel oily skin. The Sebium Lotion, £11 from Bioderma contains moisturising glycerin, a hydrating agent that is naturally present in the skin. Zinc and vitamin B6 also regulate sebum production, while exfoliating salicylic acid unclogs pores and prevents blackheads and spots. Also try Glossier Super Pure, £24, which boasts spot-reducing zinc and oil-controlling niacinamide, and makes skin feel plump and soft. If you're after a moisturiser which does the job of a toner and a serum, try the By Terry Hyaluronic Global Face Cream, £60. It's incredibly lightweight, so won't clog pores, and features moisturising squalane and niacinamide to reduce oil and minimise the appearance of pores.
You're switching between skincare routines too often
You've probably tried so many toners, serums and cleansers in order to keep oily skin under control, but Dr Craythorne says that switching things up regularly is a common mistake and could accelerate oil production. Dr Craythorne mentions that it takes a good few months (experts usually suggest 12 weeks) until your skin may get used to (and benefit from) a new skincare routine or product. "Only then will you know when it's effective enough," said Dr Craythorne. You might get bumps in the road with oily skin, though. "Your skin could be a little oilier when you're stressed or before your period," said Dr Craythorne, "and it's just about accepting that and working with those changes without jumping in and applying all kinds of products and ingredients, which may potentially cause damage." In other words, patience is key to noticing real results.
You're using the wrong kinds of ingredients
From witch hazel to alcohol-laden facial toners, there are so many ingredients out there that claim to mop up and prevent excess oil, but they are notoriously harsh on skin and have the potential to upset the skin's balance, causing it to feel tight and become dry. Dr Craythorne champions beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid, especially if your oily skin is partial to breakouts. As an exfoliator, salicylic acid prevents your skin's oil from trapping dead skin cells, which eventually clog pores and lead to spots. Dr Craythorne rates wash-off products containing the ingredient, like cleansers. R29 loves The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser, £10.99, and COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser, £16.
R29 also recommends leave-on toners with 2% salicylic acid, such as Farmacy Deep Sweep Pore Cleaning 2% BHA Toner, £27, and Revolution Skincare 2% Salicylic Acid Tonic, £10. Apply after cleansing and follow with moisturiser. If you're using skincare acids, be sure to apply SPF in the daytime, as acids make skin sensitive to sunlight.
You aren't appreciating your oily skin
While taking care of oily skin can feel like a chore, according to Dr Craythorne, it's actually something to be pretty pleased about, as those natural oils provide so much natural protection. "Our sebum is amazing for our skin," she said. "Firstly, it has its own natural antioxidants in it," namely vitamin E, which acts like a shield against environmental stressors, such as pollution. Combined with a high factor SPF daily, vitamin E even provides additional protection from the sun. It's also a brilliant natural moisturiser, as is squalane, which sebum is rich in, too. "Oil coats our skin and provides a great barrier," concludes Dr Craythorne. "It's just so good for our skin."
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.