Got oily skin? Congratulations. Years from now, you'll have fewer wrinkles on your face than your friends who have dry or average skin. But that's probably not what you want to hear. You need answers that help you now, not decades down the road. Rest easy; they do exist.
Oily skin can be traced to heredity and hormones. If your face has an unmistakable sheen, your predecessors likely did it, too. Androgen -- the male hormone -- is the driver of oil production on your skin. But women's bodies also produce it. Production levels rise and fall in conjunction with teen and early adult years, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause and more.
Here are some time-tested ways to help keep the oil at bay:
- Use fists, not fingers: If your body is already producing more oiliness than you'd like, don't exacerbate the problem by touching your face. Your fingers and palms transmit oil and dirt. If you need to scratch an itch or brush something out of your eye, use your knuckles or any outer part of your hand. Think "fists not fingers."
- Cutting through the problem: Regular body and face soaps are made to be gentle, but gentleness doesn't do the job with stubborn oils. Mix in a touch of detergent soap with glycerin to cut through the oil. Use the tough concoction twice a day.
- Avoid moisturizers: Moisturizers are not only gentle, they can exacerbate the problem. If you're going into the sun and need to use sunscreen, look for products that are noncomedogenic. That means they're less likely to clog pores, which is especially important since oiliness already makes you susceptible to acne.
- Salt spray: Salt promotes dryness, but not everyone has the luxury of strolling down to the beach to feel the spray of the ocean. Instead, add a teaspoon of salt to a spray bottle of water then mist your face once a day. Make sure to close your eyes. Gently blot dry.
- Almonds and honey: This remedy isn't harsh -- in fact, you may want to eat it. Mix ground almonds with honey into a paste. Using a hot washcloth, scour your face with the sweet solution. It'll get rid of dead skin and oil. Rinse with cool water.
Oily skin can be persistent, so you'll need to be persistent, too. Take a disciplined, daily approach and if you find yourself getting frustrated, remember your skin will look younger than your dry-skinned cohorts in the years ahead.
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.
- 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.