If it's hard to see yourself as the kind of guy who invests precious minutes twice a day on skin care, consider it insurance. Healthy skin looks younger longer. When you factor in shaving and all those sun worshipping activities you fill your weekends with, doesn't your skin deserve a little pampering? Don't wait until you're 40 to decide you should have done something about getting your skin into better shape. You probably already know acne isn't remotely sexy. Acne scars won't do much for you, either, and they can be permanent.
There are products on the market today that approach the problem of oily skin in different ways. Some require a prescription while others are over-the-counter easy:
- Avoid harsh soap - If you think that a bar of soap is your best daily grooming friend, guess again. Most soaps strip your skin of natural fatty oils, and although this may sound good, over time, it causes skin damage and more problems than it solves. If you have to use soap on your face, opt for a mild, glycerin-based variety.
- Try oil absorbing preparations -Mud and clay masks can be very effective in reducing oil deep inside pores without causing the drying damage of regular soap use. You can also buy topical preparations designed to soak up excess oil, like spot treatments containing salicylic acid or benzyol peroxide. Spot treatments work best if you have just one or two problem areas, like around your nose or on your forehead. For more generalized treatment, look for products that contain alcohol, but use them in moderation. Skin astringents can help, too.
- Increase cell turnover - Topical retinoids (Trans-retinoic acid), are derived from vitamin A and stimulate the growth of skin cells. High oil production causes skin problems when oil, dead cells and dirt block up pores. Faster cell turnover keeps dead skin from contributing to blockages, keeping pores clear and reducing the number of clogs. The most well-known product sold in this category is Retin-A, but similar preparations are prescribed under the names Avita, Renova, Differin and Tazorac. One non-prescription option is Afirm. Skin care experts recommend using topical retinoids only in moderation. Major side effects to this treatment are increased sun sensitivity, dryness, irritation and flaky skin.
- Exfoliate your skin - Because a major complication of oily skin is clogged pores, anything that helps keep them open limits the opportunity for blemishes like whiteheads, blackheads and acne to develop. You can use an oatmeal scrub to maintain cleaner pores, but if you have major oily skin problems, using an exfoliating cream or chemical peel may be the answer. Creams that use glycolic acid or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), loosen dead skin cells and make it easier to wash them away with regular cleaning. Because glycolic acid can be hard on your skin, though, it's usually sold as part of a skin care regimen that includes a heavy-duty moisturizer to protect and condition your skin after treatment.
- Use a moisturizer - People make the mistake of thinking that oily skin is naturally moist, but it isn't. Your skin needs more than just oil to stay supple and healthy looking. Although the oil on your skin helps trap moisture inside, if your skin is naturally dry, you could be producing too much oil and still be aging prematurely. Using moisturizer will help you balance any overly drying treatments you may be using, too.
Oily skin isn't fatal, but it can be embarrassing and set you up for repeated bouts of acne -- or worse. Most over-the-counter preparations are less concentrated than their prescription counterparts, and you may be on the right track with one of the methods above but just need something stronger. But, if you've tried one without success, consider visiting a day spa for a professional skin evaluation or consult a dermatologist.