My Skin Type Journey III: Oily Skin

My Skin Type Journey III: Oily Skin

Keina Yuan 
K-Beauty Editor

Powders, blotting sheets and aircon; your three best friends that seem to help reduce that glossy sheen. But have you ever wondered why your skin was producing so much oil?

Thankfully, oily skin is quite easy to identify. You might find that most days, your skin becomes ‘glossy’ or ‘shiny’ almost immediately after cleansing. It often feels greasy to touch and you might notice that your make-up just seems to ‘melt’ away as the day goes on…

A few more tell-tale signs are:

Enlarged pores

Prone to comedones (blackheads and white heads)

Prone to more frequent breakouts


Due to factors like the weather, genetics and hormones, your sebaceous glands (sebum glands) to become overactive, or in other words, produce too much oil. This leads to the blocked pores which in turn cause breakouts, blackheads, whiteheads and sometimes a pesky infection. 
The use of comedogenic products can also lead to clogged pores and breakouts. 
** comedogenic is a term that is used for products (and/or ingredients) which have a tendency to block pores and cause breakouts.
Oily skin can also be called Seborrheic Dermatitis, which just means overactive pores and sebum glands due to dehydration. 


By all means avoid astringents and comedogenic products! These include products with high alcohol contents, beeswax, algae, and COCONUT OIL. These often cause more harm than good. Astringents will dry out the skin and trigger the production of more oils, and comedogenic ingredients will clog the pores and trigger the production of more oils to ‘flush’ out the pores. 

Instead opt for chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid (BHA) which will help to break down excessive oils and glycolic acid (AHA) dead skin cells on the surface of the skin AND ultimately prevent blocked pores. AHAs also help the skin to retain a healthy barrier and ultimately promote moisture retention in the skin (just be careful not to use chemical exfoliants too much either)

Use a gentle cleanser which doesn’t dry out the skin too much. This will prevent stripping the skin hence preventing more production of oils and sebum. It would be a good idea to use a cleanser with a very low concentration of salicylic acid or centella (a healing agent) as these will promote soothing and healing without taking too much of the natural moisture away. Then, don't forget to follow up with lightweight skin care aimed at hydration and balancing oil production! 


You can also follow the exact same tips listed above. However, it is also crucial that you find and use products which have a lot of plant-based ingredients. This is because the structure of a plant cell is extremely similar to the structures of our own skin cells. This aids our skin's ability to absorb the products you just applied because it’s not exactly like an alien. Furthermore, look for ingredients like centella (or cica), green tea, allantoin and aloe vera extracts. These plant extracts all are known for their soothing and healing properties. Centella in particular is notably one of the most common ingredients used in skincare for sensitive skin. 

Hydrating and balancing oil production is important, finding soothing and healing agents is just as important for those with sensitised or acne prone skin!


AHAs and BHAs: chemical exfoliants to help unclog pores, regulate oil production and minimise pores. (Can help to balance the skin’s oil/moisture ratio.)

AHAs – chemical exfoliants for dead skin cells. 
Break down excess dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and the build up of dead skin cells in pores. 

BHAs – chemical exfoliants for oils. 
Break down excess oils in pores and the build up of excess oils on the surface of the skin as well

Tea tree (also suitable for combination skin): antibacterial and oil control. ‘Tea tree’ can be found in many different forms. It could be a direct extract, in an oil or you could find tea tree water. Tea tree is very well known for its soothing and oil controlling properties, but it also has antibacterial properties! This means it helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and minimises the possibility of an infection.
However, we recommend that you dilute your tea tree oil or extract so that it isn't as potent. When used at high concentrations, it could lead to adverse effects like drying out the skin, irritating the skin and in some cases, you might experience a slight burning sensation.

Centella (all skin types): soothing and healing (Basically it’s the hero of sensitive skin). Centella is a plant extract of the plant centella asiatica (or tiger grass) and in the past was used in herbal medicines for burns, scarring and rashes. 

Madecassic acid, madecassoside, asiatic acid and asiaticoside are the four main components of centella and are also often used in skin care for acne prone or sensitive skin types. Essentially, they have the same properties as centella itself has:

  • Speeded wound healing (by stimulating cell growth)
  • Reduction of inflammation and redness
  • Improving circulation

Aloe vera (all skin types - combination to oily in particular): anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, soothing and slightly moisturising. Aloe vera is another superhero for oilier skin types. It is suitable for all skin types, but its lightness makes it more suited for oilier skin types. Aloe vera is also known for its healing properties and is one of the more ideal moisturising ingredients for oiler and combination skin types.

Antioxidants (all skin types): the superhero/all-rounder of skin care. They neutralise free radicals, increase skin cell turnover rates and provide nutrients to the skin. 
Some good sources of antioxidants are:

  • Green tea
  • Vitamin C
  • Glutathione
  • Blueberries
  • Retinol

Link for more info on antioxidants in dry skin types article.

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