Having oily, acne-prone skin means more TLC for your skin, not torture. Ditch the harsh skincare products and switch to this simple yet effective 6-step skincare routine for oily, acne-prone skin.
6-STEP SKINCARE ROUTINE FOR OILY, ACNE-PRONE SKIN
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Face Wash > Acne Patch (as needed) > Moisturizer > Sunscreen
Oil Cleanser > Face Wash > Exfoliant (2-3x a week) > Moisturizer
1. OIL CLEANSER
Oil-based cleansers effectively remove waterproof makeup and sunscreen that regular water-based face washes.
They are also great for massaging off whiteheads and blackheads that come to the surface.
Oil-based cleansers include cleansing oils and cleansing balms.
DON’T substitute an oil cleanser with micellar water, makeup wipes, astringents, or toners.
An oil cleanser is the most suitable first-step product for this skincare routine. Read on to find out why.
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2. FACE WASH
Although you have rinsed thoroughly, an oil cleanser may still leave a greasy film that can prevent succeeding products from penetrating your skin.
Use a water-based face wash that’s pH-balanced (around 5.5) and SLS-free (sodium lauryl sulfate) to gently remove residue, dirt, and excess oil without drying your skin.
Anti-acne soaps and face washes are NOT the best products to treat your acne!
They are too harsh and leave the skin feeling dry and tight which can even worsen acne.
Plus, the active ingredients in these products are in contact with your skin so briefly that they can’t produce the desired effect at all.
Use a pH-balanced, SLS-free face wash instead.
More options: 11 Best Drugstore Facial Washes in the Philippines
3. ACNE PATCH
Acne patches are a must-have if you experience fluid-filled (e.g. pus-filled) acne.
They can dry them out faster than other treatments and with less pigmentation and scarring.
They also protect the zit from your compulsive touching and picking.
There are 3 major types of acne patches:
1. Hydrocolloid, the regular one that absorbs fluid.
2. Medicated, which has a layer of acne-treating ingredient/s.
3. Microneedle has tiny dissolving needles that contain acne-treating ingredient/s.
Regardless of type, use acne patches only on clean, untreated skin. Anything that goes under the patch, whether dirt or treatment, gets trapped and may cause irritation.
For cystic acne and other pimples without fluid, use BHA instead. To be discussed next.
If you’re oily and acne-prone, make exfoliating a habit!
Acne forms as a result of your pores getting clogged. Sometimes the clogging is caused by a buildup of dead skin cells, which traps in sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells, causing inflammation.
Exfoliating helps prevent acne by dissolving the dead skin cells that could block your pores, allowing the healthy free flow of sebum.
DON’T scrub your face forcefully!
Instead, use a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) like salicylic acid and betaine salicylate to exfoliate your skin.
BHA has the unique ability to prevent and treat acne at the same time.
Unlike other acids, BHA goes deep into the pores to work its magic. It sloughs off dead skin cells, pushes out existing clogs, and calms down inflammation. It’s even effective against cystic acne!
What’s more, because BHA promotes a faster skin cell turnover, it also helps in lightening pimple scars and pigmentation sooner.
For best results, use a toner- or serum-like product (NOT spot treatment) that has at least 2% BHA.
Toner- or serum-like BHA products can be expensive but they are a very good investment for your acne. Some of them can also last you for months so it isn’t as expensive as you think.
How to use BHA + Precautions
Follow directions for use. Apply BHA on your face and neck or on trouble areas only.
Find out what frequency works best for you (unless directed) and always use a moisturizer after to counter BHA’s drying effects.
BHA can also make your treated skin more sensitive to UV rays, so apply sunscreen every day and avoid direct exposure to the sun.
When you start using a BHA product, expect to experience purging or a temporary “breakout” as a result of BHA cleaning out your pores.
BHA will push out all your whiteheads and blackheads to the surface, some of which will turn into pimples.
Purging lasts anywhere between 4-8 weeks. It can be a tough time for your self-esteem, but you should weather it out and finish the process.
With continued use, your skin will be clearer and you’ll have much less acne afterwards.
No matter how gentle your face cleansers are, they can still strip away essential moisture and oil from your skin. Replenish them by using a moisturizer that’s suitable for your skin type.
NEVER skip the moisturizer just because you have oily skin!
If you don’t moisturize, you could become oilier because a dehydrated skin will produce more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture.
Moisturizing is also necessary to counter the drying effects of BHA and some sunscreens.
As an oily type, use an oil-free moisturizer to deliver much-needed hydration to the skin without exacerbating your oil slick.
An oil-free moisturizer typically has a gel or light, watery texture that is easily absorbed by the skin without leaving a greasy film.
If you have sensitive skin, avoid moisturizers with alcohol, fragrances, and essential oils.
More options: 7 Best Drugstore Moisturizers For Oily, Acne-prone Skin
Sunscreen is extremely beneficial for people with acne.
Zinc oxide, a common ingredient in sunscreens, provides not only sun protection. It also has sebum control and anti-inflammatory benefits, which you can reap in some formulations. (Check the product if it has zinc oxide.)
Exposure to UV rays can also lead to worse post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or the dark discoloration that’s left after your pimple dries out.
Most importantly, acne medications like BHA make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Cover up with sunscreen every day to avoid UV-induced skin damage.
When picking a sunscreen for oily skin, make sure to tick off all these boxes:
- SPF 30 or higher
- broad spectrum, or has UVA and UVB protection, or is PA++++
- waterproof or water-resistant
SPF shows protection against UVB rays, whereas PA rating shows protection against UVA rays.
Broad spectrum means it protects you from both harmful UVA and UVB rays.
If you have sensitive skin, add alcohol-free, fragrance-free, essential oils-free to your checklist.
Other things can be left to your preferences. The most important thing is to find a sunscreen you’ll love to wear every day.
TIPS & TRICKS
Patch test the product at least 24 hours before adding it to your routine. Following the product instructions, use a small amount on the inside of your forearm. Check for any allergic reaction.
Don’t use all new skincare products at once. It will be harder to identify the culprit when you start experiencing irritation or breakout.
How to transition into this new skincare routine
1. Start with using the new face wash, the new moisturizer, and acne patches. Monitor your skin’s reaction for 2 weeks.
2. If your skin reacts badly, find out which one it is (e.g. by elimination). Finalize your face wash and moisturizer before using new products. You can finalize your acne patch along the way.
3. If it all goes well, start using the new oil cleanser and sunscreen. Monitor your skin’s reaction for 2 weeks.
4. Same goes: If your skin reacts badly, find out which one it is. Don’t use new products until you have finalized your oil cleanser and sunscreen.
5. If all goes well, start incorporating the BHA. Again, you will experience purging. Hold on and weather it out for 8 weeks. Don’t incorporate new products within that timeframe.
6. Other specialty treatments should be added last and ONE BY ONE. Each product that causes purging should be given an 8-week adjustment period. Others, 2 weeks minimum.
A routine alone may NOT cure your acne as your other lifestyle practices may also factor in.
In some cases, acne is a symptom of an underlying health concern that needs to be addressed first in order to treat the acne.
For best results, try looking into these areas and make healthier changes for a more holistic approach to treating acne.
- Mental health
- Digestive issues
- Hormonal issues (if female)
- Reproductive diseases (if female)
For persistent and/or severe acne despite a diligent skincare, please seek the help of a dermatologist.
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