Why Your Oily Skin Is Getting Even Oilier
I’ve always had oily skin, but when I tried to control it with acids, retinoids and astringent toners, my oil production really went into overdrive. No powder, matte primer, foundation or shine-control skin-care product stood a chance against my slick complexion. So what was going on? After a few trips to the dermatologist, I learned that I had completely dehydrated my skin and caused my oily skin to become even oiler. To find out why this can happen, we consulted with board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Robert Finney. Ahead, he explains the difference between oily skin and the overproduction of oil and shares whether or not your sebum-fighting skin-care routine could be doing more harm than good.
Why Does Oil Overproduction Happen?
If your skin has been historically oily and acne-prone since puberty, you likely have an oily skin type. While certain products, like retinoids, astringents and acids, are great options for fighting acne and controlling shine, going overboard with them can actually cause your skin to produce more oil. “If a patient comes in and says, ‘I started using products for oil control and I feel like my oil has gotten worse’, that’s a dead giveaway that they are stripping too much oil from their skin,” says Dr. Finney. “A lot of people will be toning, using salicylic acid, glycolic acid and other exfoliators and you start to see a pattern.” He explains that overdoing it with these kinds of ingredients dehydrates the skin and strips it of its essential oils. “Your body’s natural response to dehydration is to repair the barrier, that’s where the extra oil production comes in.”
Finding a skin-care routine to help manage your oily skin type without sending oil production into overdrive can be tricky to navigate. While acids or retinoids can help control your oil, make sure you’re paying close attention to your skin’s response. “Before you start overproducing oil, you may notice your skin is more sensitive or before you put on a lotion or cream it may start to sting a bit,” says Dr. Finney. If you do notice your skin reacting to the products in your routine, it’s probably best to scale back, but we suggest talking to your dermatologist to come up with a game plan. Note: It’s normal to experience mild irritation when first incorporating a retinoid into your skin-care routine.
How to Deal With an Overproduction of Oil
If you think your current skin-care products may be stripping moisture from your skin’s surface, it’s best to take them out of your routine. “If you back off on all of the oil-control products, your inherent oil production will start to back down,” says Dr. Finney. He suggests replacing your oil-control products with gentle cleansers and moisturizers. “Just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean you don’t need a moisturizer — look for an oil free option.” We like the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser and the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion from the L’Oreal portfolio of brands. “Let your skin adjust back to the homeostasis and then you can start adding things in, one at a time, slowly.” This gradual reintroduction will not only give your skin time to reset, but also allow you to decide if the product is actually helping your skin.