If you have oily skin, you may feel as though you're forever fighting a losing battle to remove the shine from your chin and forehead. You can probably thank your genes for the sheen: Overly oily skin is a problem that is often handed down through generations within a family.
Changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur during the teen years and early 20s, can cause skin to become oily and trigger outbreaks of acne. But it's not just a problem for teenagers and young adults. Many women notice oily skin problems around the time of their menstrual periods, during pregnancy, or at menopause. Some types of birth control pills can also increase skin oiliness.
There's one more player in the blame game. Blame oily skin on men, or more specifically, the male hormone androgen that controls oil production in the skin. While it sounds odd, even women's bodies (the ovaries and the adrenal glands) produce male hormones. Many women notice that their skin feels oilier around their menstrual cycle and during menopause. This is due to the fluctuating levels of androgen.
The good news about oily skin is that it keeps the skin looking younger. Over time, people with oily skin tend to wrinkle less than people with dry or normal skin.
How can a person manage oily skin so that it looks great? Go to the next page to learn valuable home remedies for moderating oily skin.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Wash Your Face
In most cases, oily skin can be treated at home. However, you'll want to call a doctor if you develop acne that doesn't respond to home remedies or notice any sudden and/or unusual change in your skin (if it goes from dry to oily seemingly overnight but it isn't time for your period, for example). Otherwise, first try keeping skin squeaky clean.
As anyone with oily skin knows, the oilier the skin, the dirtier the skin looks and feels. To help combat this feeling, it's important to keep the skin clean by washing it at least twice a day. Some doctors recommend detergent-type soap. You might even try adding a drop or two of dishwashing detergent to your regular soap; the extra kick will act as a solvent for the oil. However, other dermatologists say detergent soaps are just too harsh even for oily facial skin, recommending instead twice-daily cleansing with a glycerin soap. If you try a detergent soap and find it too irritating for your skin, try the glycerin variety, generally available over the counter in the skin-care aisle of most drugstores.
Absorb Extra Oil
Try aloe vera. Apply aloe vera gel (available in many drugstores as well as health-food stores) to your face to absorb oil and clear out pores. Dab the gel onto your face two to three times a day (especially after washing), then let it dry. The gel will feel more refreshing if it's cool, so keep it in the refrigerator.
Wipe with astringents. Wiping the oily parts of the face with rubbing alcohol or a combination of alcohol and acetone (a mixture found in products such as Seba-Nil Liquid Cleanser) can help degrease your skin just as well as more expensive, perfumey astringents. Many drugstores even sell premoistened, individually wrapped alcohol wipes that you can keep in your purse for quick touchups throughout the day.
Carry tissues. Even if you don't have an astringent with you, paper facial tissues can help soak up excess oils in a pinch. You can also purchase special oil-absorbing tissues at the cosmetics counter that are very effective in removing excess oil between cleansings.
Chill out with cold water rinses. If you don't want to apply chemicals to your skin, simply splashing your face with cold water and blotting it dry a couple of times a day can help remove some excess oil.
While advertisements are forever urging women to apply facial moisturizers, oily-skinned folks shouldn't use them -- their skin is already doing a more than adequate job of keeping itself supple and warding off dryness. Applying a sunscreen to the face before going outdoors in daylight is still a very good idea, however; check labels for products that are designed for oily skin or that are noncomedogenic (meaning they'll be less likely to plug up pores, which is especially important for oily skin that is already more susceptible to acne blemishes).
Pull your hair back. It's best to keep hair away from the face if you are having issues with your skin. Often oily hair and oily skin go together.
Don't touch. Keep your hands off your face during the day. Hands deliver excess oil and dirt.
Use water-based cosmetics. Better yet, learn to live without makeup -- or at least without foundation -- since it will simply add to and trap the oil against your skin and set the stage for blemishes. If you feel you must use makeup, choose water-based products over oil-based types, and opt for spot concealers rather than coating your entire face. In general, stick with powder or gel blushers, and avoid cream foundations.
Still, sometimes a person needs a little extra help. Go to the next page to learn natural home remedies that you can find in your very own kitchen.
Make a Scrub or Masque
Giving your face a very light scrub can remove excess surface oil. Try this almond honey scrub: Mix a small amount of almond meal (ground almonds) with honey. Then gently massage (don't scrub) the paste onto your skin with a hot washcloth. Rinse thoroughly. You can also make a scrub from oatmeal mixed with aloe vera. Rub gently onto the skin, leave on for 15 minutes, then wash off thoroughly. If you suffer from acne on your face, however, you should probably skip the scrub, since it can aggravate your already-irritated skin.
Masques applied to the face can also reduce oiliness. Clay masques are available, or you can mix Fuller's Earth (available at pharmacies) with a little water to make a paste. Apply to the face and leave on for about 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing off.
Be abrasive, but in a mild way. Liquid soap users can add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into the mixture. Rub gently onto oily areas such as the nose and chin. This gentle abrasive works well in getting rid of blackheads as well as oil. Rinse with cool water. Another good way to exfoliate the skin is with white or apple cider vinegar. Apply using a cotton ball before bedtime. Leave it on for five to ten minutes and then rinse with cool water. You'll need to use this remedy for three weeks to see improvements. If your skin is super-sensitive, dilute the vinegar with four parts water. For a summertime treat, chill the vinegar or freeze it into ice cubes and apply as a cooling facial.
Use Cornstarch and Salt
Cornstarch. Cornstarch dries up oily patches. Mix 1 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch with enough warm water to make a paste. Rub on your face, let dry, and then shower or rinse off with lukewarm water in the sink. Try this once a day for best results.
Salt. This gift from the sea is nature's best desiccant. Place tepid water into a small spray bottle and add 1 teaspoon salt. Close your eyes, and pretend you're at the seashore. Then squirt some of this salt spray on your face once during the day. Blot dry.
Make an Apple Facial
If you're willing to do some creative cooking, your effort will be rewarded with this homemade, oil-ridding facial. Mix 1/2 cup mashed apple, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 slightly beaten egg white, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a smooth paste. Apply to your face for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water.
Try Egg Yok
A fast fix for removing oil shine requires one of the simplest foods: the egg. An egg yolk mask dries out the skin. Apply the egg yolk with a cotton ball to oily spots. Leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water.
Refresh Skin With Fruit
Citrus fruits and some vegetables not only refresh the skin but also help reduce oils. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water, pat on face, and let dry. Rinse first with warm water followed by cool water for a refreshing treat. You can also try mixing 1/2 teaspoon lime juice with an equal amount of cucumber juice. Apply to skin a few minutes before showering.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.
Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.
Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.
Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.
ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:
Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer GuideBostonGlobe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. (McGraw-Hill, 2004), and has written for publications including the
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at PennsylvaniaState University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.