5 Ways You're Sabotaging Oily Skin

by Emily Abbate

There's no two-ways around it: having oily skin can be the pits. You take photos, you look shiny. You cozy up next to your crush of what feels like forever, you're paranoid that he'll think you're a slimeball. Having said all of this, it's totally natural to try to do everything and anything to remediate your slick situation. Oil-blotting pads, a modified diet, moisturizers on moisturizers on moisturizers. The truth? Some of your habits may be sabotaging your oily skin for the worse.

First thing's first, let's break down what it really means to be an oily skin type, and some common misconceptions about the skin type (like there's nothing good about it — nonsense). "Skin with an abundance of oil glands and relatively higher androgen levels will produce more oil," says Dr. Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, Director of New York Laser & Skin Care and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at NYU School of Medicine. "Oily skin is usually thicker and has larger pores, but, on the flip side, tends to wrinkle less." While there are benefits of having oily skin, if you're trying to keep your skin in tip-top shape, Dr. Kauvar offered me her five biggest mistakes women with oily skin make.

1. Over Scrubbing

Dr. Kauvar explains that over scrubbing is hands-down the biggest mistake that people with oily skin make. "People with oily skin often believe they need to scrub their skin," she says. "Aggressive cleansing and scrubbing strips away the dead cell layer and creates inflammation which can make acne look worse. What's more is that skin becomes sensitized and is then unable to tolerate medications that are required to treat the acne."

Instead, go through the full routine of washing, lightly exfoliating, using a toner, and patting your face dry to receive the full spectrum of benefits from your cleansing routine. "Only doing part of the routine can do more harm than good," Kauvar says.

2. Using The Wrong Soap

If you have oily skin, stay far, far away from an oil-based or creamy cleanser, as thicker cleansers can clog your pores. "Use a foam-based cleanser instead of a bar soap," suggests Dr. Kauvar. Keep an eye out for products that have salicylic acid, which helps unclog pores and makes them appear smaller.

3. Hair Product Overload

Whether you're a fan of mousses or gels, hairspray or thickening cream, all of these products have one thing in common: they are meant for your hair and your hair alone. After doing your hair, make sure to take the time to wash your hands before touching your face. There are many things to be said for a good hair day, but it won't look nearly as good if you're skin is breakout central.

4. Overdrying Your Skin

"Drying the skin does not reduce oil production, but can produce irritation and inflammation, ultimately worsening acne," says Dr. Kauvar. Instead, pat your skin dry after your face-cleansing routine.

5. Picking

Plain and simple: picking at your skin isn't going to do you any favors. "Picking increases inflammation which increases pigment production, producing brownish- red blemishes that linger, and leads to collagen breakdown resulting in texture change and permanent scarring," says Dr. Kauvar. Instead, carry an easy blotting paper (Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets are cheap and get the job done) to get rid of any excess residue.

Having oily skin is never the end of the world — in fact, it can be pretty great. Take care of it, and you'll be surprised just how great your complexion will look and feel.