If you’re one of those people who has oily skin, you know all too well about T-zone troubles, shiny spots and an automatic aversion to any product that doesn’t say matte. It’s a common battle, but one that most people—wait for it—tackle completely wrong. “There are many misconceptions when it comes to dealing with oily skin,” says Omaha, NE, dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD. “The truth is, your skin is most likely oily because it’s dehydrated. Skin overcompensates for dehydration by producing more oil. So all the things you think are helping to solve it are probably just making it worse.”
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Myth 1: If you overcleanse, you can cut back on oil.
One common mistake that oily skin types tend to make is overcleansing to strip the skin of its natural oils. “Overcleansing can actually cause an overproduction of oil,” Dr. Schlessinger says. Still doesn’t make sense? Consider what is probably the exact opposite of what you think: “When the skin feels dehydrated, it produces more oil to make up for what is lost. This increase in oil production can lead to even more shine, not to mention clogged pores and breakouts.”
Myth 2: If you have oily skin, you don’t have to worry about dehydration.
According to Coral Gables, FL, dermatologist Janice Lima Maribona, the fact that you have oily skin doesn’t mean that your skin can’t experience dehydration or even surface dryness. “One thing has nothing to do with the other. Hydration of the skin is very important to replenish water back into the skin—that goes for any skin type.”
Myth 3: Oily skin should skip moisturizer.
People who have oily skin often assume they don’t need a moisturizer. “Every skin type can benefit from a moisturizer in their daily skin care routine. It may seem counterintuitive, but oily skin types need a moisturizer both day and night in order for their complexion to stay healthy and balanced,” Dr. Schlessinger says. So what’s best to use? Dr. Lima Maribona recommends any type of moisturizer (gel, cream or the like), as long as it’s water-based and oil-free. “I also really like the ingredient bisabolol. It’s an oil extracted from chamomile and works as a skin-conditioning agent and has anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It also reduces dryness and makes skin feel soft.”
Myth 4: The sun can help.
The sun has the ability to dry things out, so by default, it should do the same for oily skin, right? “Not only is this completely false, it’s also dangerous,” Dr. Schlessinger says. “No amount of sun exposure is good for skin. The sun may give your skin a drier feel temporarily, but your skin will, again, see this as dehydration and produce more oil pretty quickly to make up for it.”
Myth 5: And so can skipping sunscreen.
Dr. Schlessinger says that many oily-skin sufferers believe sunscreen is too heavy for them. “With new advancements in skin care formulas, there really is a sunscreen for every skin type. Everyone should be applying sunscreen every single day, rain or shine,” he adds. “Similar to moisturizers, those with oily skin types should look for a sunscreen that is lightweight and oil-free with mattifying properties. If you can’t find a formula or texture you like, keep looking. Remember, the best sunscreen for your skin type is the one you’ll actually wear.”