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August 09, 2022
Over the last 3 years, it has become apparent to us that a lot of people do not actually know their real skin type, and that skin type can change. As a result, the wrong skincare methods and products are used, subsequently hurting skin health and exacerbating existing conditions.
Therefore, we have decided to go through each skin type——oily, dry, sensitive, combination, and normal, over the next 5 posts. Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion and empower you with knowledge to choose the right products and methods to care for your skin.
Since it’s the middle of summer right now, let’s start with oily skin.
Oily skin, as the name suggests, is the type of skin that produces excess sebum, and is prone to oiliness, stickiness, enlarged pores, acne, blackheads, and makeup sliding off. However, note that other skin types can also experience such issues. Therefore, it is important to understand the characteristics and causes of oily skin, and how to distinguish it from other skin types, so the right skincare and lifestyle changes can be made for improvement.
Oily skin refers to skin that produces excess sebum and water.
For some reason, congenitally oily skin has a deteriorated barrier function, leaving it in an unprotected state. In an attempt to repair the barrier that is primarily made of lipids, the skin secretes excess sebum. Whilst, over-cleansing and stripping the skin of its natural sebum, and improper skin care, both of which damages the barrier, and hormonal imbalance, diet, and stress, which stimulates oil production internally, may also turn the skin oily.
Therefore, while oily skin does need hydration, it is actually a misconception to say that giving the skin a lot of water can reduce oiliness.
One positive thing oily skin has over other skin types though, is that there are generally less fine lines and wrinkles thanks to the extra sebum.
Due to its high sebum and water content, oily skin is prone to large and clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. In addition, not only does make up slide off more easily, the skin will also feel tacky and rough, whilst excess sebum once oxidized can lead to dullness and uneven skin tone.
Combination skin is characterized by high oil and low water content, as well as lack of elasticity. Make up often melts off around the T-zone area, whilst the two sides of the face, from the eye area to the cheeks, can feel dry, tight, and with fine lines.
In other words, if your skin is oily, but some areas are tight and flaky with fine lines, you likely have combination rather than oily skin.
More often than not, the excessive oiliness you experience is likely a temporary condition due to dehydration, not because you have oily skin.
The root cause for dehydration is a damaged and fragile skin barrier. Just like a broken dam can't hold water in, a damaged skin barrier cannot retain water. In an attempt to repair the barrier, the skin then produces more and thicker oil, leading to dehydration and oiliness at the same time, and sometimes even clogged pores and acne.
There are many advices out there saying that giving the skin a lot of water and using mattifying products can reduce oiliness. The truth is, it can’t, and in fact, could make things worse. This is because if you overly hydrate the skin, the stratum corneum actually becomes brittle, and the lamellar structure that controls barrier function also becomes unstable, which in turn would cause even worse dehydration.
At the same time, keep using harsh cleansing products to remove the excess sebum and mattifying products to stop oil from coming through is like ignoring the need to repair the broken dam while taking away the cement needed to repair it. The result? Even worse oiliness and dehydration.
Besides treating the skin the wrong way, other causes for excessive oiliness include diet, sleep quality, stress, and hormonal imbalance, which must be addressed via lifestyle changes.
Sebum covers the surface of the skin and prevents the moisture from evaporating. It also has the functions of preventing allergens and bacteria from entering the skin, whilst keeping the skin slightly acidic, so as to prevent bacteria overgrowth.
Therefore, it is important to choose a cleanser that effectively cleanses yet gentle in nature. If the skin is overly stripped of its natural sebum, for example by using cleansing brushes, and harsh cleansers like foaming ones, not only will the barrier be damaged, leading to a stimulation of excess sebum, it will also severely weaken the skin's balance, resulting in inflammation and acne.
Another thing to note is that some people tend to use oil blotting paper during the day. While blotting off oiliness and shininess is okay, some oil blotting paper can remove too much sebum and make the skin dry, which then lead to even worse oiliness. Tissue-off is a better option.
Smooth Operator Purifying Cleansing Gel <- Click to shop
Charcoal Peace Calming Cleanser <- Click to shop
Many people turn to mattifying products to eliminate all traces of oil from the surface of the skin, believing that no oil automatically equals no acne. It is however quite the opposite. These products may make your skin less shiny and oily in the short-term, yet the truth is many of them are emulsified with pore-clogging waxes, which contrary to popular belief, actually lead to skin congestion and breakouts. In addition, prolonged usage of such products will strip your skin from its natural oils, which in turn will cause it to overcompensate and rebel by producing even more oil. This excess oil eventually sinks into pores, causing even more dreaded breakouts. And worse, completely drying out spots and their surrounding skin will leave scars that will take weeks if not months to fade!
Instead, try using retinol and acids. They help speed up skin turnover, exfoliate, improve acne and blackheads, as well as tighten pores, and thus, are deemed to be oily skin's best friend by dermatologists around the world.
Stellar Restoration Corrective Complex <- Click to shop
holi(bright) Resurface Glass Face Mask <- Click to shop
As mentioned above, the skin barrier of naturally oily skin is deteriorated, and can be further compromised if nutrients and lipids are not provided for it to repair itself. On the other hand, when the skin becomes oily due to other causes, the composition of the skin's natural sebum becomes unbalanced——the concentration of linoleic acid (omega-6) decreases whilst oleic acid (omega-9) content becomes too high. This would result in sebum that is thick and sticky, which in turn can exacerbate problems such as clogged pores and acne.
In other words, besides hydration from hydrating toner and serum, oily skin also needs the appropriate moisture and nourishment!
However, it does not mean you need to use a thick moisturizer that could potentially clog pores. Look for a light lotion or thick serum that contains barrier restoring ingredients instead, such as ceramides, squalane, CoQ10, oat, live probiotic cultures, glycerin, honey, and panthenol.
You may also want to add an oil to your routine. Contrary to popular belief, not only will the right combination of oils not make the skin oilier, it can actually help stabilize and regulate the skin's sebum production, as well as reset the sebum’s omega-6 & 9 balance, which in turn, will help curb excessive oiliness for oily skin. Some oils also have incredible soothing and anti-inflammation properties, making them great for acne.
All Day Radiance Light Concentration Cream <- Click to shop
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Skin Quencher <- Click to shop
Unseasonal Kind Lipid Replenishment Oil <- Click to shop
People with oily skin generally like to wash, scrub, and wipe their face frequently and vigorously, in the hopes of keeping the skin feeling fresh. However, when the skin is irritated by friction, keratinocytes become fragile and the barrier function declines. And what happens to the skin when the barrier is damaged? That's right, sebum production increases.
Therefore, in addition to using gentle cleansers, do use a soft towel or paper towel to pat the skin dry after cleansing, and remember to use gentle gestures. Do not rub!
Marie Reynolds London
Microfibre Mitt <- Click to shop
UV rays can damage the skin barrier, and when the skin is continuously exposed to UV rays, it will secrete more sebum to prevent it from drying out. Whilst, sebum production increase 10% per 1°C. Both of which will make the condition of oily skin even worse.
Therefore, besides protecting the skin from UV damage with sunscreen everyday, it is also important to keep the skin cool. For instance, try and stay indoor or under shades when the sun is out, and turn on a fan when you cook.
UV-R™ <- Click to shop
Kaolin clay absorbs extra oil from the skin’s surface, thereby keeping the pores unclogged. What’s exceptional about kaolin clay, say compared to bentonite clay, is that it does not strip the skin of its natural oils, the skin thus stays moisturized, and oil production is not stimulated. Over time, it also helps to balance the skin’s overall oil production.
Thanks to its high adsorption and absorption capacities, as well as extremely fine particle size, kaolin clay can cling to impurities, dirt, pollution, grime, and bacteria in the pores and remove them from the skin. The pores are thus unclogged without stripping or causing trauma to the skin.
Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask <- Click to shop
The London Mask <- Click to shop
Without a good night sleep, our hormones and autonomic nerves will be thrown out of balance, which then leads to increased sebum production. In fact, research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of many disorders and health issues. So if you need some external sleeping aids to help stop the bad sleep cycle, go for it. However, do choose natural ones, and do not rely on sleeping pills, which can induce dependency.
Marie Reynolds London
Zedz Night Time Blend <- Click to shop
Also, before sleep, try to meditate, stop looking at your phone, and listen to some soothing music or brown noise (compared to white and pink noise, brown noise uses mostly lower frequencies which can induce sleep and relaxation, and is considered the most soothing to listen to of the three).
Stress can cause excessive sebum secretion. Period. While having a stressless life is practically impossible, it is important to find a way that can lower your daily stress level. Exercising is obviously a good choice, but listening to music, singing, and even playing video games will help. Just don’t go use stress as an excuse to drink though.
There are a lot of foods that can increase sebum production. Greasy foods and processed sugars are just two of them. For instance, soy, which is found in soy sauce, tofu, miso, soy milk, and probably every single Chinese dish, is loaded with isoflavonoids and phytoestrogens that is similar to our own estrogen. Consuming soy can thus alter our hormonal balance by replacing our biologically-produced estrogen and up the androgen——and the overproduction of androgen, is one of the worst culprits when it comes to acne by causing our glands to produce more oil.
Dairy, coffee, alcohol, white bread, white pasta, dried fruit, cold cereal, red meat and salt are other examples.
It’s not easy to cut them all off, we know, but do try to limit your intake. Once you see results, trust us, you will have motivation to keep doing it.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) and Indole-3-carbinol (I3C, a precursor to DIM) are phytonutrients derived from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. It’s known to stimulate detoxifying enzymes in the gut and liver, and most importantly, it regulates estrogen and androgen, support healthy estrogen metabolism and balanced hormones. Because hormonal acne results from an imbalance of estrogens and testosterone, taking DIM or I3C may help to maintain this delicate balance, and block androgen pathways to decrease sebum production and acne. Do not take it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding though.
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