*These tips are not applicable to those with medical skin conditions. In these cases, medical advice from a qualified dermatologist or doctor should be acquired before changing skincare routine.
Let’s get one thing straight – skin is meant to have oil. TV and magazine ads for skincare products promise the Earth when it comes to banishing oil from your pores forever, but when peeling back the hyperbole and fake terminology, the truth of the matter is that we naturally produce oil for a reason and no safe products will stop this from occurring.
When it comes to fighting the oil, I’ve been there and done it all: the safe, the unsafe and the downright stupid. I’ve made a paste out of baking soda and water and applied it to my T-zone which dried my skin so badly that I looked sunburnt for a week. I’ve drizzled honey on my skin which took hours to scrub off. I’ve spent an eye-watering amount of money on the black gooey face masks which supposedly drag out the white heads from your nose and, dangerously, I’ve ditched sunscreen when I really should have been lathering it on because I didn’t want it to oil up my face.
I have finally formulated a reliable, consistent and easily achievable skincare routine which helps me to manage the oil levels in my facial skin and therefore thought I would share a pearl or two of the wisdom I’ve accrued through the years of dermatological struggle…
1. Firstly accept that you’re working with your oil, not against it. As previously explained, you will never stop your face from producing oil because, ultimately, it has to! However, for those of us with a bit more oil than we would like, your skincare choices should be about managing the oil and not fighting it. Once this penny drops, everything else starts to make a bit more sense…
2. Ditch the products which promise to banish your oil. I’d even go so far as to say forget about the products which are specifically for oily skin. These tend to be harsh and strip your skin of the natural oil, which then causes your body to produce even more to replace it and you fall into a viscous circle of using harsh products to remove the oil which was produced because of your use of harsh products. Start by using mild products. If after a week you do not feel satisfied, progress onto products for combination skin.
3. Start with the three pillars of your skincare routine: face wash, toner and moisturiser. Here are the three which I’m currently using:
I use these morning and evening every day. At the moment they are working really well to keep my skin tone even and my facial oil at a healthy level whilst not dulling down my skin’s natural radiance. I have noticed a definite difference to the pores on my nose in that they don’t appear as dark as they once did and, inevitably, my T-zone is no longer the oil slick it was once, so I’ll definitely be sticking to these staples for the foreseeable future. However, I do have some special mentions of products which I have tried and tested over the years which I found to work well in my effort to keep the oil at bay. They include:
4. It can be tempting to slap on a good dollop of foundation to mask your face’s oily areas, however too much makeup can be one of the problem’s main culprits. With a good brush or blender, apply the minimum amount of foundation needed to give you sufficient coverage but be sure not to cake the area in makeup. If you find you’re needing to use quite a bit of foundation to achieve the coverage you want, the answer is probably that you need a better foundation. Remember, better doesn’t always mean more expensive so be sure to shop around for a product that works well for you. Testers are given in lots of shops so you can try before you buy.
5. A good primer is key for keeping makeup on oily skin. Worn on top of your moisturiser, it smooths the surface of the skin allowing for products to be applied evenly. I’m currently using Mac Skin Base Visage for the whole of my face and Mac Prep + Prime Pore Refiner Stick for my particularly oily areas as it adds an even smoother matte finish.
6. Be sure to bake in your foundation. A soft brushing of powder over your foundation not only looks fresher, it helps to set it in place and guards against any unbidden oil causing the T-zone to gleam in ways we’d rather avoid.
7. Remove your makeup with oil based products. This application of oil will nourish the skin whilst removing the makeup instead of stripping it completely, thus alleviating the need for your body to produce excess oil to replace what was lost. I’m currently using Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm which, as well as hydrating the skin, is hands down the best remover of waterproof mascara I have ever used! Panda eyes and mascara towel stains have been left in the past where they belong. I have also used Mac Cleanse Off Oil which I found to work remarkably well.
8. With your new oil based makeup remover installed firmly in your toiletries cupboard, there’s a key move which feels daunting but must be done…ditch those makeup wipes forever! Wipes have no place in your skincare routine, especially if you want to control your facial oil. Regardless of the promises made on the packaging, make up wipes do not cleanse your skin or remove impurities – they remove the surface level makeup enough to enable you to sleep without leaving orange smears of foundation on your pillowcase, but do not cleanse the products from your pores. Your makeup does not sit on the surface of your skin, it is absorbed and therefore needs to be thoroughly cleansed out, which wipes simply cannot achieve – no matter how expensive they are. Wipes may be appealing when you’re rolling in at 3am, a bit worse for wear and ready to face plant into bed, but try – as hard as it may be – to stick to your routine. It only takes a couple of minutes and you’ll be grateful for your discipline in the morning.
9. Speaking of nights out, it’s no coincidence that break outs are more common in the days after you’ve hit the G&Ts. What you put into your body directly affects your complexion, so it is integral that you make wise diet choices for your skin. Alcohol is not your friend when it comes to dermatological health. Neither are processed or greasy foods. While it is wholly important for the sake of balance that you have a treat now and again, keep one eye on your skin’s needs when eating and drinking. Foods which help to balance your skin’s oil levels include avocado (as if you needed a reason to have more avo toast), fatty fish (salmon and mackerel are a good place to start), bell peppers (basically an excuse for fajitas), walnuts (walnut cake doesn’t count unfortunately), and sunflower seeds (sprinkle them in salads or on your morning porridge). The most important drink for your skin is …*drum roll*…water! Simple h2o. Your skin needs as much water as you can drink! Aim for no less than 2 litres of pure unadulterated water per day – your coffee / tea doesn’t count!
10. I’m a big believer that a good skincare routine which is diligently followed produces far better results than any sporadically used face mask. I’ve fallen into the trap of buying £50+ face masks chasing that elastic, fresh, oil-free complexion I was so keen to achieve, but after a couple of washes my skin was back to normal with little to no evidence of the mask having made any long-term difference. I do however rate overnight masks which are worn while you sleep then rinsed off in the morning. I find that by allowing the product to stay on the skin for 8+ hours, they absorb far better and make a penetrative difference to the skin as opposed to simply tighten the very top layer. At the moment I use an overnight mask two nights per week which I find gives the extra boost of moisture I need to keep my oil levels in balance. My current pick is Dr Botanicals Pomegranate Superfood Regenerating Sleeping Mask. It isn’t sticky so you don’t have to stand around like a lemon for ages waiting for your face to feel dry before going to bed. Texturally it is more clayey than creamy, thus it rebalances any excess of oil on my t-zone whilst also moisturizing so as not to leave it dry and at risk of overly reproducing replacement oil. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
11. Stick to the routine! If you are not consistent, your results will not be consistent. Even when you are tired, drunk, in a rush or just plain frustrated with your skin, you need to wash, tone and moisturise morning and evening. Be strict with yourself and the transformation will follow!