For months I have been trying to write a post for my blog about skincare. And not just any type of skincare, but skincare for those of us with oily skin.
To be honest with you all, I have really been struggling with producing a good enough post to publish. I keep starting a post, taking a break from it, going back to it, erasing everything I’d previously written, and starting the process over again. And then again. And then once again. Why has it been so difficult for me to get this damn post going? If you have oily skin, you know firsthand how impossible it is to find products that work well. The last fifteen years of my life have been an ongoing search to find decent products for oily skin. Let me tell you, it’s been exhausting and expensive!
When you have oily skin, you can’t use any oil-based products [contrary to the popular belief that adding oil to your skin will reduce the need for your skin to product more oil – this is false! well, at least for me, personally]. You also can’t use any products with “dirty” ingredients [aka they should be paraben-free, sulfite-free, cruelty-free – basically anything that will clog your pores]. Oily skin is always a culprit of enlarged pores. Which also means lots of blackheads and clogging >>> acne [yuck!].
The last few years, I’ve become obsessed with my skin and finding products that work. After roughly 16 or 17 years of dealing with oily, acne-prone, and blackhead-ridden skin, I’m sick of it! I’m tired of having to reapply makeup midday, I’m tired of looking like I have giant black freckles all over my nose and chin, and I’m tired of having to wash my face with three different types of cleanser before finally ridding it of all dirt, grease and grime [and this only last for, like, maybe an hour until it all comes right back]. And after countless products and treatments and thousands of dollars spent, you know what I’ve discovered that works? Absolutely NOTHING. Well, nothing long-term, at least..
A couple of years ago, I had my first ever facial. It was wonderful! My skin felt so clean after, and my esthetician praised my skin. “Oily skin is the keeper of youth!” She exclaimed to me. Apparently the overproduction of oil keeps the wrinkles at bay. Something that, at nearly 31 with almost no wrinkles to speak of [save for a few laugh lines around my eyes], I guess I should be grateful for [especially after years of cooking myself in tanning beds – yikes! note to younger generation, DON’T GO TO THE TANNING BED! if you must be tan, get a spray tan or use at-home self-tanners! stay tuned for a blog post on the self-tanners I love]. I ended up purchasing five products she recommended to help to minimize the oil production [only two of which I’ve continued to use], and a year later invested in a Clarisonic, another product she recommended I purchase, which I now use religiously every morning.
SO, since I’ve deduced that this oily skincare thing is an ongoing experiment with no foreseeable end in sight, I’m listing below the products I am currently using for exfoliating, cleansing and moisturizing. Stay tuned for posts to come on face masks I use and love, as well as makeup products I can’t live without.
Circadia by Dr. Pugliese Micro-Exfoliating Honey Cleanser: This is one of the two products I continue to use from my esthetician that I absolutely LOVE. It’s a gentle exfoliant so it doesn’t scratch the skin or cause any irritation. It’s also not overly drying, which can be a huge side effect for many facial exfoliants. I use this first thing in the morning to start the cleansing process – it really helps to get some of the overnight grime off my face and loosens up some of the other, underlying stuff that it isn’t quite strong enough to remove on its own. If I’m running behind or only have time for a quick wash, this is my go-to. While it does exfoliate, it also cleanses, which is an absolute must for me.
Clarisonic Deep Pore Cleansing: The great thing about Clarisonic is that the products are completely customizable for your skin type. If you go to their website, you can locate the correct cleansers and brushes based on whether your skin is dry or oily, or if you are just simply looking for an anti-aging product. I use the deep pore cleansing brush and cleanser directly after the honey exfoliant to finish cleaning out my pores. Note that when you first start using these products you will likely experience some dry skin and peeling – just be sure to have good moisturizers on hand to help with re-moisturizing the skin properly afterward [<– I say “properly” because lots of moisturizers are cheap and won’t absorb into the skin – instead they just sit on the surface and cause buildup]!
Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser: I actually just started using this cleanser since I got a sample of it with a makeup purchase from Sephora and I love it! So far it’s been a great post exfoliating step in the cleansing process to really finishing wiping away all of the dirt and grime shaken out of my pores from the exfoliant and the Clarisonic. Another thing I love about this product is that a little bit goes a LONG way, which, when it comes to expensive skincare products, is ideal! I also like that it doesn’t overly dry out my skin, which is important for oily-prone skin types. Over drying of the skin can and will cause over oil production, which is what we are trying to avoid.
Thayers Witch Hazel Toner: This is the final step in my cleansing process. I’ve gone back-and-forth between whether or not toner is really a necessary step in the cleansing process – it’s supposed to help close your pores and balance the skin’s pH after cleansing. I can’t say for sure that it really does either of these things, not for me at least, but it does clean off any lingering oil, dirt and makeup which, for a large-pored, greasy skinned gal like me, is good enough! You’d be surprised how much dirt and grease can be leftover on the skin, even after three steps of cleansing! It’s actually pretty appalling. Another reason I love this toner is that’s alcohol free!
After my four-step cleansing process, I apply my moisturizer. During the winter, or if I’ve introduced a new cleanser into my routine and I’m experiencing more dryness than usual, I will sometimes apply several layers of moisturizer until my skin feels soft and hydrated again. As good as it feels to have dry skin when you’re accustomed to the opposite, this is the worst thing you can do when you have oily skin. Dry skin = oil production. When you’ve already got oil, the last thing you need is more. Also, I alternate between several different types of face moisturizers, depending on what I feel like my skin needs. They are all day and night friendly, so can be used either in the morning or at night before bed. I’ve listed them all below.
Youth to the People Eye Cream: I actually discovered this product while searching Sephora online for a vegan product. I’ve never used any thing fully vegan before, but I thought my eyes would be a great place to start a sort of testing process. So far, I love it! It definitely moisturizes without clogging my pores. One thing you need to remember is that regular face moisturizers won’t work for moisturizing around your eyes. Your pores are different sizes, and the face formulas will not soak into eye pores and therefore just end up resting on top of your skin and adding another layer of gunk – again, not oily skin friendly!
GlamGlow Volcasmic Matte Moisturizer: This product also came to me in a sample pack around Christmas time, and I love how moisturizing it is. During the winter, this product was a lifesaver for keeping my skin hydrated. As we move into warmer weather, I am starting the process of phasing this product out, as it has a little bit too much moisture for the summer months in Sacramento.
ModVellum Day & Night Moisturizer: This was the other product I purchased from my eshtetician that I’ve continued to use all this time. I absolutely LOVE this moisturizer – it’s just hydrating enough to make your skin feel moisturized, but not to the point where it starts to feel greasy. This is a great product for summer and for places that are a little more humid.
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream: I just got this in a sample pack so I haven’t used to too much yet, but I love it’s “just hydrated enough” feel. Similar to the ModVellum moisturizer, it’s not overly hydrating, so it’s perfect as the weather starts to warm up and the humidity amps up a little bit.
Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF50: Okay I lied, this is the third product I’ve kept from my esthetician. And this also is a “little goes a long way” product – all you need is two small dabs to mix in with your moisturizer! I use it in conjunction with all of my moisturizers, and I love it because it’s not greasy and doesn’t take ages to dry like regular sunscreens. It mixes easily with your moisturizer and soaks smoothly into the skin. Plus, I love that it’s SPF50 because as I’ve gotten older, my skin has gotten way more sensitive to the sun! While my cursed oily skin has been a blessing in the wrinkle department, I definitely do not want to fight the anti-aging qualities of oily skin by not using sunscreen.
Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes: I’ve tried several different types of makeup removing wipes, but I like these ones the best. I keep a pack of these in my gym bag, and a pack of them in my makeup drawer. I always wipe my face makeup off before working out so the makeup on my skin doesn’t clog my pores when my body is trying to sweat. I also use one before I wash my face. Although the oil on my face tends to act as a self cleaner and most days my makeup ends up just beading away, my large pores also suck makeup into them. Using a wipe before cleansing actually clears the surface of my face of any oils and whatever makeup is left, allowing the cleansers I use afterward to actually clean the underlying layers. In the past, I’ve tried to just wash the makeup off my face with a cleanser, and there’s so much makeup left behind that it caused my skin to overproduce oil and my pores ended up getting clogged.
Dove White Beauty Bar: Yup, this is just plain ol’ bar soap! I honestly can’t remember how I came to end up using this everyday drugstore soap, but I love it. It doesn’t over dry my skin, and due to the fact that it’s designed to clean dirt off your hands, legs, arms, etc., I kind of figure, why can’t it work for the face, too? And it does! I use this after the Neutrogena towlettes because it’s terrible at removing face makeup, but it’s great at cleansing off oils and eye makeup. This Dove soap really leaves my skin feeling clean and soft, which is ideal for oily skin.
Kate Somerville Detox Daily Cleanser: I use this product about once or twice a week when I’m feeling like my skin needs a little extra cleansing. Every once in a while, after so many days of running and working out after work, I’ll start to get little tiny bumps on my skin – they’re not whiteheads or blackheads, so I’m not exactly sure what they are. But it’s a clear sign that my skin needs a little more TLC. I’ll lather some of this on my face after the Dove soap and it just adds another round of gentle cleansing to my skin, and, like the other products I love, it doesn’t over dry.
After my nighttime cleansing routine, I’ll either throw on a face mask [stay tuned for a post on all the masks I’m loving], or I’ll follow with my same morning toner and moisturizing products. Sometimes I’ll just use toner and let my skin breathe and be product-free overnight. It never seems to change the outcome in the morning [as in, my face is still a freakin’ grease ball], but I like to think it’s good for it to have some time every so often without the constant layering of products.
I can’t promise that any of these products will help you or work for your skin. And I’m only sharing what’s working for me right now. As I mentioned before, this whole skincare process is ever-evolving for me and I’m constantly trying new products [one of the many reasons I love the free samples that get thrown in when you buy makeup!]. My one piece of advice for you is that you do your own research when it comes to what works for your skin. As much as I’d like to trust a professional with their products and opinions, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt, as they are often trying to just make money off of you. Truth be told, they don’t always know what’s best. Know your skin, know what you’re sensitive to, and don’t continue using a product if it irritates your skin. Save your receipts! Most places will allow you to return products if they aren’t working for you.
Stay tuned for posts to come on makeup products I use, face masks, and other skincare treatments like chemical peels, facials and dermaplaning!