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Oily skin can be both a blessing and a curse. Let's talk more about oil in our skin, teenage skincare routines, and how to manage this common concern.
Click here to watch Dr. Angela's video All About Oils.
As teens and tweens, our skin goes through many changes, one of which is a shift in oil production. This article will cover some key topics in managing oily skin:
  • Why do some of us have more oil in our skin?
  • Why does our skin produce more oil in our tween/teen years?
  • How does oil contribute to acne?
  • How does oil affect our skin?
  • What is the best way to address oily skin?
  • What skincare ingredients help oily skin? 
Why do some of us have more oil in our skin?
  • Oil production in our skin is determined, in large part, by our genetics. If you have family members with oily skin, you are more likely to have this characteristic too.
Why does our skin produce more oil in our tween/teen years? 
  • During our tween and teen years, our bodies go through significant changes in hormone production. Increased androgens in both boys and girls lead to more sebum, or oil, production in the skin. Sebum production usually reaches a peak during puberty/teenage years and then gradually decreases with time.
How does oil affect acne?
  • Increased oil production in teen skin can lead to more acne lesions. Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) is the bacteria involved in acne production, and this bacteria, which lives deep in our hair follicles, thrives in oily environments. The combination of C. acnes, increased sebum (aka oil), and skin cells which get "sticky" and plug up the follicles in our skin, lead to an acne lesion. This in turn leads to inflammation of the skin which is why acne spots can be red, tender, and swollen.
How does oil affect our skin?
  • Oil is not all bad! Oil is an essential component of our skin, keeping our skin moisturized, flexible, and resilient. Oil also helps "waterproof" our skin, 
  • Sometimes, oily skin is just oily skin, and doesn't necessarily lead to acne breakouts. When this is the case, topical treatments that contain alcohol can help absorb the oil. Blotting sheets, which are comprised of specially treated paper, can also be applied to your face and help absorb oil.

What is the best way to address oily skin?

  • Finding the right skincare products that work with oily skin can be a challenge as the natural skin oils tend to cause many products to "slide" off of the skin unless a foundation product, such as a primer, is applied first.
  • For my patients with oily skin, we work together to create a skincare regimen that is tailored to their individual skincare needs. Creating that beautiful, healthy foundation of balanced skin mitigates the need to "correct" imbalances in the skin. When we start with an optimal canvas, any primers, foundations, or makeup are optional, and it becomes much easier to achieve the desired end result and appearance with makeup application.
What skincare ingredients help oily skin?
  • Witch hazel: Hamamelis virginiana is a deciduous shrub whose bark is rich in tannins. These tannins provide anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and astringent benefits. Witch hazel has been effective in reducing sebum, or oil, from the skin. Witch hazel-containing products can be very effective in helping mattify the skin without dehydrating the skin. Witch hazel is found in the Bright Girl Bright Tone Hydrating Toner
  • Retinoids: derived from vitamin A, the retinoid family includes retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, and retinyl esters; along with synthetic vitamin A derivatives. Retinoids interact with specific receptors with skin cells, leading to many skin benefits, including in vitro studies that demonstrate retinoids' ability to suppress sebum, or oil, production.
  • Niacinamide: a 2006 study of 100 subjects by Draelos et al showed that topical 2% niacinamide significantly reduced sebum production after 2-4 weeks of use.
  • Green tea: small studies have shows significantly reduced sebum product after application of topical green tea emulsions.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol-containing products are an effective way to help absorb excess oil on the skin. Balance is key as you don't want to dry out your skin as this leads to more irritation and inflammation.
  • Blotting papers: Blotting pads are comprised of specially-treated paper designed to absorb oil from the surface of the skin
General tips to address oily skin:
  • If you wear glasses or sunglasses, be sure to clean them frequently to avoid oil clogging the pores around the nose
  • Always remove makeup and wash your face before going to bed; use warm water and a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser such as Bright Girl Clean+Bright.
  • Avoid scrubbing (which can irritate the skin) and use gentle, circular motions to thoroughly cleanse the face
  • Moisturize with a non-comedogenic, hydrating facial moisturizer like Bright Girl Day+Bright to help maintain balance and harmony in the skin microbiome
  • Be aware of hair products (pomades, gels, etc) that can clog pores/exacerbate oiliness of the skin

Hope that these tips are helpful in understanding oily skin!

Stay BRIGHT,

--Dr. Angela

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