Oil production by the skin is part of having healthy skin. There are many skin disorders where oil is under-produced, leaving the skin dry and more susceptible to irritants and allergens causing inflamed and itchy skin. But when the skin produces too much oil, it can leave the skin shiny and even greasy feeling. On the bright side, people with more oily skin tend to have fewer fine lines and fine wrinkles, but this is little consolation to most women suffering from oily skin! In the meantime women with oily skin often feel it is unattractive and their make-up smears easily. So what to do?!!
There are the obvious blotting pads which often have a little bit of powder to help not only soak up the oil but also help minimize shininess of the skin. But besides these blotting pads, there are other products that you can use. You should consider, in this order, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and glycolic acid products. I specifically recommend pads or washes. Use these products only on the oily areas of your skin such as your forehead, nose and chin….or wherever those areas are for you.
If you like using a wash, use the medicated wash on the oily areas and a gentle wash (see socialderm.com Tip #17 under Past Advice) on the other areas of your skin. But if you prefer the pads (which is easier than using two different types of facial cleanser), make sure you also use a gentle cleanser so you don’t start to irritate your skin. Using your hands to wash your face instead of a wash cloth or buff puff also keeps your face from being irritated. I recommend starting with low % benzoyl peroxide (2-5%) pads and working up as tolerated if you’ve never tried anything.
If you have really oily skin, consider a sulfur mask. But use it slowly and cautiously. Start out only using it for a few minutes at night before bed and only 1-2 times a week in the beginning and slowly work up if needed and obviously, if you tolerate it. It’s better to be patient than to end up with peeling skin. But these masks definitely dry you out, so make sure to use a light oil-free moisturizer in anticipation of the coming dryness.
If you have tried these without benefit there are things your dermatologist can offer…
Topical retinoids such as adapalene, tretinoin and tazarotene (depending on your skin) are also very helpful and good for acne but require a prescription in the US. They should be used only in the areas of oily skin and use them every other night in the beginning. You will also need to use a gentle moisturizer and light oil-free moisturizer to avoid any added irritation to your skin.
But if you are fed up with topical treatments for one reason or another, there is an oral medication called aldactone, or Spironolactone, which actually slows down your oil production! It is also awesome for some types of adult female acne, especially those deeper underground, tender cysts along the jawline! It’s very safe if you are healthy but not an option for some people with certain disorders such as kidney disease, or for women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant. I will check my patient’s potassium levels to be safe. Spironolactone can occasionally cause temporary menstrual irregularities but if you are on oral contraceptive pills that won’t be a problem.