I want to take a minute to talk about the care and feeding of oily/acneic skin. In general terms, oily skin needs three things from products: exfoliation to remove dead skin cells that may block pores and cause blemishes; antibacterial activity to reduce bacteria on the skin; and anti-inflammatory activity to reduce redness and edema. One of the problems with using commercial anti-acne products is that often, they are WAY too harsh, and end up stripping the skin of moisturizing factors it needs in addition to removing sebum buildup. Many of you are using an anti-acne face wash, an astringent toner, and an anti-acne moisturizer. You’re using this combo every day, and yet, your skin is still problematic. This is because your skin is in a cycle where you are stripping it with product, causing your skin to overproduce oil to replace what was stripped. If you notice that your skin is dry right after you wash, but gets progressively more oily throughout the day, this is most likely the reason.

When you write me asking for help with this situation, I generally suggest an anti-inflammatory regimen with no exfoliation in order to return your skin to a non-inflamed state. (Skin Zen face wash, toner, Barrier Repair serum) After ~1 week of this, your skin should be much happier. However, you may notice that your breakouts come back during this time. That is because you are not exfoliating and not using anything with antibacterial activity. Once your skin is no longer dry and inflamed, you can begin a new regimen that won’t strip your skin.

Here is my suggested regimen. I will try to speak in general terms in addition to discussing my products, so that those of you who are not using my line can still benefit. Before I start, I need to emphasize that this regimen is for actual acne, NOT for those of you who only get a few pimples here and there. Too many of you claim to have oily skin, when you only get sporadic breakouts.

WASH: If your skin is oily, it is good to wash your face twice a day. BUT, you should not be washing twice a day with anti-acne cleansers. In fact, you shouldn’t be using anti-acne cleansers every single day, period. The most often you should use an anti-acne face wash is every other day, once a day for stubborn acne. You should supplement your acne wash with a mild, gentle, anti-inflammatory face wash. I have my clients use my Calming or Skin Zen face washes for that purpose. If you are buying commercial products, look for ones for sensitive skin, and with anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe, cucumber, oatmeal, allantoin, bisabolol, all tea extracts except black tea, and/or panthenol (not an exhaustive list, there are many different anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients).

To exfoliate your skin, you have many different options. You can use physical means to remove dead skin. This involves the mechanical action of rubbing an exfoliant on your face. I usually suggest my clients use my Five Fruit exfoliating face wash for physical exfoliation. IMPORTANT: do NOT EVER use anything other than uniformly round beads as physical exfoliants. That means no sugar, salt, coffee grounds, ground up walnut/etc shells, nothing that is not uniformly round. The jagged edges on non-round exfoliants create tiny rips in your skin, which can create bigger problems for you. You can also exfoliate using chemicals. Chemical exfoliants include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are water-soluble and really good at removing blackheads; beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), which are oil-soluble and can dissolve the goo in your pores; and benzoyl peroxide, which is antibacterial as well as exfoliating.

You may find that your skin responds better to one method of exfoliating over another. That is fine. There is no one ‘right’ way to exfoliate. As long as dead skin cells are removed, it is irrelevant whether you did it with scrubbing or with chemical means. It’s more important that you not exfoliate too often, tbh.

TONE: Everyone hates on toner. I myself have residual trauma from using Sea Breeze toner on my very dry skin as a teenager, so I understand. Personally, I dislike astringent toners like witch hazel. This is because if people have oily skin and are using an astringent toner, there’s a good chance that their regimen contains other oil control products. An astringent toner applied after using an anti-acne face wash and followed with an oil control moisturizer will put your skin right into that stripping/overproducing oil cycle. I make my toners to be anti-inflammatory instead of astringent for that reason. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a commercial toner that isn’t super shitty. You can make your own using aloe juice and rose water, just keep it in the fridge and toss it as soon as it gets cloudy or changes smell.

MOISTURIZE: Soooo many people who write me for help with their oily skin are not moisturizing at all. This is not good skincare. Even with oily skin, you need to be moisturizing. Look for products with fast-absorbing oils in them, like jojoba, grapeseed, and evening primrose oils (not an exhaustive list). Products with these oils in them will provide your skin with much-needed moisture without overloading your pores and causing breakouts. Another great ingredient for oily skin moisturizers is hyaluronic acid, a compound that is part of your skin’s natural moisturizing factors. HA is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from the environment. It is a fantastic way to keep your skin happy without breaking it out. For my clients with oily skin, I point them towards my Mattifying serum, City Skin night cream, and Skin Zen serum for their moisturizer. Mattifying serum and City Skin night cream contain an extract that acts to reduce sebum production in the skin; Skin Zen is just anti-inflammatory, so I like to have people alternate it with oil control moisturizers, so their skin doesn’t get too dry.

Finally, I have seen many of you ordering an oil control product from me along with heavier face washes and creams for dry skin. When I ask about your skin type, the answer is usually that your skin feels dry, so you are using a deeply moisturizing product. The problem with that is that treating your oily skin like dry skin will create problems. The oils used in anti-aging/dry skin products are heavy, rich oils that are not at all appropriate for oily skin, and may lead to breakouts. Your skin type is oily; therefore, your products need to be made for that skin type. If your oily skin is feeling dry, try exfoliating less often and add in a moisturizer made for your skin type, not one made for dry skin.

NOTE: if you have cystic acne, your regimen will be slightly different from what I have described here. Cystic acne is inflammation deep in the skin, so surface exfoliation will only help so much. A highly penetrating anti-inflammatory moisturizer along with a sulphur-based face wash will help immensely.

I hope this long-ass novel of a post helps. #themoreyouknow

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