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By Courtney Yalen
Whether you’ve been dealing with oily or acne-prone skin for one week, one month, or one decade (like myself), we can all probably agree that at one point or another you’ve been less confident in your skin because of it. Maybe you’ve even tried some pretty radical treatments – which in the end, are bad not only for your skin, making it worse – but bad for your health, too.
For example, many acne and oily skin care products contain chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, such as Brevoxyl or Triaz, which has been related to skin cancer and cellular damage. Then there’s salicylic acid, found in Propa pH or Stridex, and this has been related to respiratory illnesses and more.Topical retinoid medicines, such as tretinoin (Retin-A), adapalene (Differin), and tazarotene (Tazorac) are all related to skin thinning and cannot be used if you are pregnant or planning to be. And girl, don’t even get me started on topical and oral antibiotics, such as clindamycin, doxycycline, erythromycin, and tetracycline – taking these not only dramatically lowers your immunity, it also makes bacteria more immune to antibiotics, paving the room for ‘superbugs’ and making your resistance to bacteria lower, too.
After a decade of trial and error, these are a few of my top tips and best natural products for oily skin that are bound to improve your complexion.
My 7 Best Oily Skincare Tips
- Use honey, honey! Raw honey is incredibly antimicrobial, antibacterial, moisturizing, and so much more. What’s best, too, is that you probably already have this in your pantry. You can use honey as a mask on its own after cleansing, as a spot treatment for pesky pimples, to honey cleanse, or even use it as the base of a clay mask (such as this one). It helps calm my oily skin during breakouts, and my roommate uses it on her eczema with fantastic results, too.
- Find your dosha. This is an Ayurvedic method of balancing your body, inside and out, via diet and wellness. Many dosha quizzes are similar, give or take a few specific questions, and you will likely find that most yield the same results. Learning how to balance your dosha can benefit your skin and general health.
- If you have an underground volcanic pimple or you couldn’t resist and popped one (BAD!), put ice on the area. So simple, so easy, so effective. Wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and press on the inflamed area until the swelling diminishes.
- For oily skin, DO NOT try to mattify skin by using harsh toners, stripping exfoliators or pure essential oils. You need to balance oil and keep your skin hydrated to reduce sebum production, even if this may seem counter-productive.
- Wash your pillowcases and face towels often! Both absorb an immense amount of dead skin cells and oils from your skin and hair. Sleeping on your stomach or side with your face on your pillow can and will trigger breakouts. I don’t recommend washing with normal detergent if you can avoid it, especially if you have sensitive skin. Try washing with soap nuts and dry everything in high heat at least once a week.
- Try before you buy! Many shops that carry natural and organic products will often offer samples if you simply ask. Do your research and only sample products you are serious about for your skin. The Detox Market and LoveLula have great sample offers, especially for finding the right foundation.
- Lastly, never compare yourself to others. Remember: models on Instagram have flawless skin because it’s their job, and many literally have a team of people to make sure they look absolutely flawless every second of the day. Normal people don’t have world-class nutritionists, estheticians and makeup artists as part of their entourage. It’s refreshing when celebrities like Lordes calls out image retouching, or when Miley Cyrus puts photos on Instagram in her zit cream because it is a reminder that even beautiful celebrities have imperfections!
This foamy wash leaves my face feeling tight, toned and clean without drying it out. The combination of natural exfoliating acids and potent antioxidants work together to dissolve any impurities left in pores, brighten dull skin and even out skin tone and texture. Coffea Arabica, Guarana, green tea and other potent ingredients leave my skin fresh for the day ahead, while rosemary extract calms inflammation. This is the only morning cleanser I’ve found that I can use to effectively diminish oil production on my face, and it has gained my loyalty. The Replere line went through clinical trials and has been clinically proven to improve skin firmness, clarity, hyper pigmentation, blotchy redness, overall brightness and more!
This ultra-light day lotion has an incredible amount of antioxidants and powerful extracts in just one pump, and the small dollop will easily spread over your entire face and absorb quickly. Acai, goji, raspberry, pomegranate and many more antioxidant-packed berries and their seeds are some of the best ingredients you can put on your skin, no matter what type of skin you have. Licorice is also high in antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties are great to balance skin tone, along with soothing and smoothing ingredients such as aloe, cucumber and rice bran oil. Since this goes on thin and absorbs quickly, applying foundation is no problem, although you may not want or need to after using this line.
Highly recommended for oily skin and shiny t-zones, this pressed primer gives your makeup incredible staying power -something those of us with oily skins crave, as makeup never seems to last. PHB Mineral Primer also blurs pores, absorbs excess oil, prevents shine and fills in fine lines & wrinkles to create the perfect base.
While it does make sense to not put foundation on your face during a breakout (you wouldn’t put anything on a fresh wound, right?), there are times you don’t want pimples stealing the spotlight. When applied with a foundation brush, Sappho goes on smoothly and provides thin yet even coverage. It smells incredible and is one of the cleanest foundations on the market! The only problem I have is that it’s quite water soluble. As long as you don’t splash water on your face at work or expect to look flawless while sobbing during a movie, this foundation is delightful.
Known for being the first line of face makeup products that actually benefits the skin, Jane Iredale Amazing Base is the most effective powder I have found in terms of multifunctionality while not making my skin oily or, more importantly, over drying it. It really does feel like silk and offers broad spectrum SPF 20.
For lighter acne scars or to even out skin tone, here’s a little trick: mix one or two drops of Odacite Face Serum (Papaya Geranium for hyperpigmentation, or Black Cumin Cajeput) to your face powder to create a light liquid foundation and control breakout-causing bacteria. These serums are fabulously versatile – you can add a drop to your day or night cream for an added boost, use as a spot treatment, use alone over entire face, or mix with powder makeup to make a silky liquid foundation.
I had no idea what plump skin was (and that I did not have it) until the morning after I used this product to oil cleanse. Packed with seabuckthorn, tamanu, palmarosa, and jojoba oils among others, this skin-saving elixir will actually give you your best skin ever and can be used as a cleanser, exfoliator, and moisturizer. I find that after oil cleansing with this, I no longer have to use a night cream, and sometimes I add a small pump back onto my skin. There’s a reason this miracle worker has over 400 reviews on the website! It got rid of the little skin-colored bumps on my forehead within the week and has completely balanced my skin. This is another product I use on my roommate’s eczema and it has saved her skin!
The Living Libations website also has a plethora of information about each ingredient used in the product, how-to’s, audio interviews with information on sun protection and other topics, and a wonderful ingredient glossary.
Rough exfoliators irritate acne and are too harsh for oily skin. There’s no doubt that exfoliating is necessary to get rid of dead skin and feel fresh, but there is no need for abrasive ingredients stripping your skin during a breakout. Empty a small amount of the flour and salt mixture into your palm, add water to form a paste, and pat onto clean, damp skin. The flours absorb dead and dry skin so your skin is left clean, moisturized, but also exfoliated!
I have always been hesitant to try toners because they are commonly alcohol-based astringents that are too drying for oily skin and tend to increase sebum production. This alcohol-free and antioxidant-rich tonic contains the same naturally derived antioxidants as the face wash to reduce the size of pores, along with white willow bark, grape seed and green tea extract to calm acne. I use reusable cotton rounds to apply this to my face and neck each evening. The scent is invigorating and my skin feels tight and toned after using it without being shiny. The sebum production on my face, especially my forehead, has greatly diminished since using Replere (and yes, I AM a bit obsessed with this brand!).
Everything you’ve ever wanted for clearing your skin, in one mask. Turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory ingredients out there, but dyes anything it touches orange. Not in this mask, though! Detoxifying ingredients such as raw cacao, clays, and bamboo charcoal are combined with soothing and anti-inflammatory roots to provide a potent yet calming mask. I use this during my worst breakouts or the night before an important event. It smells incredible and will last forever when used weekly or bi-weekly.
Carry-With You Products
I keep this product in my bag and on my desk at work as a midday pick-me-up if I’m feeling oily or drained. Willow Bark and Aloe Vera calm and treat acne, while peppermint and green tea extracts refresh. It can also be used as a makeup setting spray or applied on a cotton pad and used as a toner during your morning wash routine.
Another LL product I never want to live without. Not only does this potent spot treatment have antiseptic and antibacterial ingredients such as Niaouli (a milder alternative to Tea Tree!) and Thyme Linalool to clear pesky pimples once and for all, but it also offers healing and protecting ingredients, wild Carrot Seed essence and Immortelle. Use it at night, during the day or even add it to a serum as a booster. Great news: Living Libations even offers a Blemish Bundle so you can purchase my two absolute favorite products with an awesome cleansing cloth!
Face, hands, lips, under eyes, everywhere. You won’t be able to keep your hands out of this potent paradise in a bottle. The aroma is unlike any natural product I have ever smelled, thanks to blue tansy and Neroli. I use this at any point I feel dry (usually around my lips and nose or under my eyes) and this keeps me covered. I often bring this on hikes and camping since I live in Colorado and everyone is thankful!