Oily Skin

In contrast with dry skin, oily skin produces sebum, an oily or waxy substance that moisturizes and protects your skin and hair. The amount created may be so utterly high, it is uncontrollable and that can lead to pores clogging. This results in black heads, white heads, and ultimately enlarged pores.

When the excess oil is combined with bacterial contamination, the result is zits (or more technically: papules and pustules, depending on the external visibility of pus). The natural microbiome, beneficial microorganisms that serve as a physical barrier to prevent the invasion of pathogens, gets trapped in those clogged pores and the overgrowth may result in an infection, which manifests as a zit.

What Exactly Are Blackheads?

Black heads are the result of the overproduction of sebum, which secretes through the skin pores. It is very important to cleanse daily and regularly use a clay mask to pull out the impurities that could be contributing to clogging. When a black or white head is not properly removed, the pore where it sits may permanently enlarge, resulting in the infamous enlarged pores, which are harder to shrink the older we get (remember: skin’s elasticity and elastic recovery decrease as we age).

Tips and Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Oily skin must be cleansed twice a day with soap, followed by a toner or oil cleanser with witch hazel, tea tree oil or any other ingredient that can control skin’s oil production. It is very important to not deplete oily skin from oil, as the result may be overcompensation by the skin, which translates into even higher sebum production.
  • It is very important to It is also crucial to pay attention to skin’s hydration. We tend to confuse the terms condition vs. type. Dry is a type, but dehydrated is a condition, which can affect dry and oily skins. Oily skin should be properly hydrated with a water- based serum or a light gel cream, containing hyaluronic acid, vitamin B, urea, or other water carrying molecules that can penetrate through skin.
  • A light moisturizer containing squalene, mineral oil, triglycerides or dimethicone (or any other non-comedogenic emollient) should be used at night.

Active Ingredients

For General Oily Skin Areas

  • Witch hazel and tea tree oil are both regulators of sebum production without drying the skin or excessively stripping it from oil. Look for them in toners or oil cleansers.
  • Vitamin B regulates the production of sebum and it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It may therefore help with acne prevention and other unappealing conditions that surface when oil production rapidly increases. It can also assist collagen production, which retains water, boosting hydration and, in turn, elasticity.
  • Non-comedogenic emollients. Just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean that you should not use a moisturizer. In fact, moisturizing with products that contain non-comedogenic oils may help balancing the skin so it will not produce so much oil.
  • An astringent toner can help with oil control (look for witch hazel or tea tree oil). Also, antioxidants will prevent the reappearance of black heads, which are the result of oxidation of the fatty acids. Look for vitamin E and A to prevent the darker appearance.

For Skin Affected by Mild to Moderate Acne

  • HClO (Hypochlorous acid) is a powerful antibacterial that can help with acne, including adult acne. Salicylic acid is oil soluble. It works to unclog blocked pores by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells allowing them to release from the pore more easily.
  • Salicylic acid also decreases the skin’s sebum production, leading to fewer breakouts. Another benefit is it acts as a chemical exfoliant for oily skin.
  • Retinol or Vitamin A is an oil soluble vitamin that is demonstrated to be a powerful antioxidant, thought to rebuild collagen by reconstructing skin cells. There is also a prescription grade available, which should be prescribed and even administered by a licensed physician, when acne is severe.


  • Dr. Marta

    Supported by a BSc. in Chemistry, MS in Polymer Science and doctorate in Polymer Chemistry, Dr. Marta began a fifteen-year journey into the health and beauty industry ultimately leading to the founding of “dr. mp”, a company dedicated to among other things, formulating skincare products for private labels. She is the author of many informative blog articles.