How to Compile an Oily Skin Regimen

The term “Oily Skin” refers to the abundant secretion of sebum by sebaceous glands at the root of your pores (hair follicles). The sebum makes its way through the follicles onto the surface of your skin where it forms a protective film; the acid mantle.

If you have oily skin you will have relatively large pores in your t-zone, probably working their way out across your cheeks, and at times your skin may appear shiny or oily. The size of your pores is a result of the passage of sebum onto the surface of your face, and the natural oils on the surface causes the shine.


Although you probably wish your sebum gone, it is there to protect your skin from infection from viruses and bacteria; potentially irritating substances and loss of water through the skin’s surface (trans-epidermal water loss). In fact the sebum and lipids between the cells on the surface of your skin (intercellular lipid matrix) do such a good job protecting you that your oily skin is usually far more tolerant and slower to show signs of age than dry skin is. The natural barrier function that your lipids provide is far more resistant to being compromised than the barrier of someone with dry skin.


Skin may be oily because of its inherited skin-type, or because of a temporary skin condition. Oily skin conditions can be brought about by;

  • Hormones – your skin may become more or less oily based on your body’s hormonal phase, for example, sebaceous glands become more active when we hit puberty, but decrease dramatically during menopause
  • The environment – occupations where you may be exposed to significant amounts of occlusive or airborne grease such as kitchens or plants where food is frying in open pans
  • How well you take care of your skin – some skin may be only slightly oily, but inappropriate skincare encourages increased sebum production, making your face oily and potentially causing acne


The goal of a skincare regimen for oily skin is to remove surface lipids and build-up of dulling dead skin cells. If your oily skin is inherited you may have thicker skin which has difficulty shedding dead cells naturally, a process known as desquamation. As this can make you more prone to a build-up of dead skin cells, your pores may be more likely to become blocked, resulting in acne. This is why one of the keys to dealing with oily skin is regular exfoliation.

  • Natural plant saponins contain mild surfactants (compounds that make oils soluble in water) which help to remove oil without over-stripping
  • Many plant extracts have powerful astringent qualities which can help reduce the production of sebum; these include Witch Hazel, Pomegranate, Linden and Hypericum extracts
  • Also a surprising number of essential oils are astringent; these include Cedarwood, Chinese Cinnamon Leaf, Clary Sage, Lemon Peel, Rose, Jasmine, Bergamot, Geranium and Wild Mint Oils
  • If acne is an issue, Beta-Hydroxy Acid (or Salicylic Acid) is a chemical exfoliator which is adept at clearing clogged pores. It is oil-soluble, unlike Alpha Hydroxy Acids which are water-soluble, and therefore better able to dissolve the fatty lipids blocking pores


Oily skin should be cleansed with a soap-free and sulfate-free, foaming gel cleanser to remove surface lipids without over-stripping. If your skin is comfortable after cleansing without applying moisturizer you probably aren’t over stripping.


The excessive build-up of dead cells common to oily skin can create a dull complexion. One of the most beneficial steps for oily skin may be exfoliating. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from your skin’s surface and clears pores to help avoid acne. You may be able to exfoliate up to 3 times a week without over-doing it; the key is to “listen” to your skin to find an appropriate balance for your skin.


Maques for oily skin are often based on natural clays which absorb excess oil, purify pores and exfoliate. It is best to apply masques following regular exfoliation when your skin is free of excess dead skin cells, and therefore open to improved penetration of the ingredients.


Toners designed for oily skin tend to have astringent ingredients to refine pores and discourage production of sebum. As with cleansing be sure not to over treat your skin and compromise the natural barrier function of your facial lipids.


Oily skin is slow to show signs of aging, but that doesn’t mean the processes of aging aren’t at work. We recommend starting on a regimen of protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory performance ingredients to fight free radical and inflammatory damage before signs of aging appear. In addition serums which seek to reverse signs of aging with Vitamins A, C and E should be added as your skin’s youthful vitality begins to be challenged.


The skin around your eyes ages faster than the rest of your face. It is essential for all skin-types to start caring for their eyes early to avoid premature skin aging. Modern treatments can help to reduce the appearance of symptoms, and targeted peptides can help to restore Collagen and Elastin. But we do advise against ignoring what your body is telling you with these symptoms, and making sure you get adequate rest.


Oily skin is susceptible to a condition in which over-stripping of lipids during cleansing causes your barrier function to be compromised. To make up for this your skin may compensate by increasing production of sebum - making your oily skin-type more extreme. This is why the role of a moisturizer is to supplement the natural barrier function of your lipids - in this case to ensure that you do not encourage production of more sebum. For this reason those with oily skin are generally encouraged to moisturize regularly.

However, if you have oily skin and can consistently cleanse without over-stripping lipids, you may find that you are able to forego regular application of moisturizer, and still maintain healthy skin. As in all things we believe that balance is key to success.


Daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential for everyone, even those with oily skin. Up to 90% of extrinsic (non-genetic) aging is attributed to UV rays so this is the most important step to take. For oily skin be sure that sunscreens are non-comedogenic (do not clog pores) and hypo-allergenic - because irritation is a primary cause of acne.


As we mentioned be sure not to over-strip oily skin.

  • Avoid comedogenic ingredients like chemically altered Lanolins; Fatty Acids like Oleic, Lauric, Isostearic, Palmitic and Myristic Acids; Oils like Coconut, Linseed, Grapeseed, Soybean and Oilve Oils; Cocoa Butter, Squalene and almost every red dye, as they can cause blocked pores
  • Try to reduce the use of makeup in humid climates as it can encourage blocked pores
  • Shower immediately after sports or exercise to wash away sweat and excess sebum


THE SIREN - Hydrating Cleansing Gel
THE RASCAL - Refining Foaming Exfoliator
THE LUMINARY - Vitamin Clay Masque
THE PACIFIST - Soothing Moisturizing Lotion


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