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What a dermatologist wants you to know about using oil blotting papers


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Photo: Stocksy/Studio Firma

We’re in the heat of the summer, which means there are a few non-negotiables that you keep on-hand for your skin: refreshing facial mists, uber-strong SPF, and—if you’re oil prone—blotting papers. Because nothing wrecks a good selfie like too much shine (that ain’t your highlighter).

These little Post-it sized essentials are all fine and dandy, until a sub-reddit stops you dead in your tracks. While scrolling through the Skin-Care Addiction page, some Redditors posited that, since many of these sheets contain oil-absorbing ingredients like talc or rice powder, they could be irritating or even bring on breakouts. Could it be true? (Gasp!)

To find out, I asked Kim Nichols, MD, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based dermatologist, who says you don’t have so much to worry about in the department of breakouts. But in terms of staving off oil production in the future, she says not so fast. “Oil blotting papers—at least the ones sold in the USA—aren’t necessarily bad for the skin, but they can offer you a sense of false hope,” she explains. “The appeal of an oil-blot sheet is seeing oil reflect onto the sheet. It’s a visual that feels validating.” (You gotta admit that seeing that oily residue on the piece of paper is oh-so-satisfying.)

Despite this, when using the oil-grabbing sheets, you’re not getting to the root of the issue. “It doesn’t do much to solve the oily skin problem, however,” says Dr. Nichols. “To do that, you may need a retinol or a medication prescribed by a board-certified dermatologist to reduce the amount of oil production in your skin for a clearer glow.”

So if you’re really into the addicting feeling of blotting that excess shine away, go ahead—but perhaps try combatting that oil with, well, the right facial oils.

Also, these are the best moisturizers for oily skin. Another thing that’ll help? Exfoliating once a week—here’s why. 

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