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What makes skin oily?
“Oily skin is characterized by larger sebaceous glands producing excess oil,” explains Dr. Kevin Sliwowicz of the Toronto Centre for Advanced Skin Repair. Excess oil—or sebum— production is often the cause of “plugged pores and comedones, like whiteheads and blackheads.” As a result, acne is typically associated with oily skin.
The oiliness of one’s skin fluctuates from season to season, as temperatures, hormone levels and stress, among other factors, ebb and flow. Overloaded with housework or stressed at the office? You might unwittingly kick your oil glands into high gear. While heat and humidity are most often associated with increased oiliness, skin is a well-oiled machine (pun intended!); for many Canadians, excess sebum production is the skin’s answer to winter dryness, says Dr. Sliwowicz.
Oily skin is difficult, but not impossible, to treat. Incorporate these simple steps into your skin-care and makeup routines and you may see improvement.
Say no to squeaky-clean skin
It might seem counter-intuitive, but extra cleansing is not the way to achieve a matte complexion. “It is important to remember that oil production is a natural function of healthy skin,” explains Dr. Sliwowicz. “Skin does not need to feel “squeaky-clean” to be clean,” he adds. In fact, over-washing might trigger a compensatory increase in sebum production, which doesn’t bode well for women who want shine-free skin.
Fight oil by washing skin daily with tepid water and a gentle cleanser, such as Spectro Cleanser for Blemish Free Skin ($16, well.ca) or La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cream ($23.50, laroche-posay.ca). Avoid harsh cleansers, soaps and exfoliants, as they tend to compound the problems associated with oily skin. Round out your skin-care routine with a light moisturizer, such as Jouviance Rejuvenating Anti-Aging Cream 3 in 1 ($93.50, jouviance.com).
Avoid oil-based products
When it comes to minimizing shine, Sy and Dr. Silowowicz agree: Makeup and skincare products should be oil-free and non-comedogenic. Although some dermatologists recommend the use of oil-based masks, makeup and moisturizers to reduce compensatory oil production in acne-prone skin, Dr. Sliwowicz notes, “I have never used oil to treat oily skin, and in general I avoid the use of oil-based products.”
Sy echoes this sentiment, and encourages clients with oily skin to “invest in makeup that is oil-free” and won’t clog pores. “Great-looking makeup always starts with a good skin-care routine,” says Sy. “Taking care of your skin will create a clear working canvas and a more beautiful finish for your makeup.”
Prime and set makeup for all-day wear
Manage oily skin by incorporating primers, setting sprays and mattifying powders into your daily makeup regimen. If you want long-lasting wear, explains makeup artist Irene Sy, “prepping skin prior to makeup application is key.”
First, apply a gel-to-powder primer, such as Perfekt Skin Perfection Gel ($48, sephora.ca), to freshly cleansed skin. Then, “use a makeup setting spray prior to applying makeup,” says Sy—but don’t put that bottle away just yet! Once you’ve finished applying your makeup, including a light dusting of translucent powder, a quick mist of setting spray will lock in your look. For an affordable option, reach for L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray and Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray ($17, lorealparis.ca).
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