Oily Skin 101: Hydrating (Part 4 of 4)


This post concludes my series on caring for oily skin. If you haven’t already, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Although this is the final post, I may link future posts to this series if I discover new products/techniques that work exceptionally well for oily skin.

Something I’ve noticed about my skin is that even though it’s exceptionally oily, it still occasionally exhibits symptoms of dryness. It’s not uncommon, especially in the cold winter months, to get dry patches around my mouth and nose. How can skin be oily and dry at the same time? Well, it turns out, oily skin can still appear dry and flaky if it’s dehydrated. Dry skin lacks oil; dehydrated skin lacks water. Anyone’s skin can become dehydrated from time to time. For a really good breakdown and explanation of different skin types, check out Sali Hughes’ book Pretty Honest. Her chapter on skin types is one of the better and more informative ones I’ve come across.


So, what this means is that oily skin still needs some form of moisture, and this, my friends, is where things get tricky. Speaking from experience, a lot of moisturizers (even ones labelled for oily skin) are simply too rich and emollient, and they clog my pores. What I look for instead are lightweight products that hydrate without feeling heavy or greasy. I go by feel more than what the packaging says. I often test products on the back of my hand. If they feel rich and creamy or greasy, I steer clear. If they have that light, slippery silicone feel to them, I find they’re less likely to clog pores.

I also check ingredient lists, because I know there are certain things that cause me to break out. Mineral oil breaks me out like crazy. Jojoba oil is also suspect. This is the frustrating part, because an ingredient that makes one person break out, might be perfectly fine for the next person. Each individual has to go through his or her own process of trial and error. Furthermore, cosmetic companies throw around phrases like “oil free,” “non-comedogenic,” and “non-acnegenic.” These can lull a person into thinking that the product is safe for clog-prone skin, but in reality, these terms are meaningless. These terms aren’t regulated, which means there are no standards a product has meet to bear them on the label. Mineral oil and jojoba oil are both supposedly non-comedogenic, and they both break me out!

So what do I use? The apha-beta hydroxy acid treatments I wrote about in my last post actually double as moisturizers and provide my skin with quite a bit of hydration. Both contain effective humectants, like glycerine, that help the skin hold water. For an extra hydration boost, I use a light serum. My current favourite is the Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum (Fragrance Free).


I use this serum morning and night, concentrating on areas where my skin needs extra hydration: mostly around my eyes, mouth and nose. I’ve had far less trouble with flakiness since I added this product into my routine. It also really plumps the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Bonus! I’ve been using this product for six months and feel confident that the benefits it offers are worth the expense, and it delivers the hydration I need without clogging my pores.

In a nutshell, my complete skin care routine looks something like this:

AM – Cleanse with gentle, water-soluble cleanser
– Apply hydrating serum to dehydrated areas
– Apply 2% salicylic acid treatment

PM – Cleanse with gentle, water-soluble cleanser
– Apply hydrating serum to dehydrated areas
– Apply 10% glycolic acid treatment

Weekly – Apply exfoliating mask and gently buff with a warm washcloth

It has taken me several years, a lot of trial and error, and much research to end up with this relatively simple but effective routine. If you’ve followed me through this entire series of posts, I hope you found something useful in them. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that my routine will work for you, because everyone is different. Darn genetics!

If nothing else, perhaps the comment sections on these posts will become a place for people to convene and share useful information.

Oily skinned people unite!

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