‘I’m a Dermatologist, and These 4 Common Ingredients Are Making Your Oily Skin Even Oilier’

Photo: Getty Images/Delmaine Donson
There are a few different culprits that could be to blame for your oily skin, and a lot of them are out of your control—like genetics, stress, hormones, and the environment.  But while you may not be able to change your DNA or dictate the humidity and pollution levels where you live, according to Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, there are a few things you can do to keep your oily skin from getting even oilier (and potentially breaking out), and it all comes down to the products you're using on your complexion.

Dealing with this type of complexion is a delicate balance. According to Loretta Ciraldo, MD FAAD, a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, using the wrong ingredients can lead to a disruption in the hydrolipid barrier (aka the acid mantle), which will wind up making your skin oilier. On the one hand, you want to be careful with any products that will add more oil into your skin, but on the other, you also want to avoid anything that's overly drying, because if you strip your skin it will start to produce additional oils of its own to account for the difference. All of this makes you more susceptible to breakouts, and your oily skin can become acne-prone real quick.

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In order to keep things at a regulated (or "non-greasy") state, Dr. Ciraldo notes you want to ditch any products that encourage oil production, and instead swap in formulations that create a “healthy balance of good skin lipids and oils" on your acid mantle—like gentle exfoliating acids (lactic, glycolic), non-stripping acne ingredients (sulfur, salicylic acid), and ceramide-rich moisturizers.

Below, four ingredients to steer clear of.

1. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an ingredient most commonly used to treat acne and breakouts because of its drying properties. But, Dr. Ciraldo says that those with oily skin should avoid using the ingredient because can cause “our skin to overcompensate for the drying side effects of the ingredient.” The result? “Overproducing oils that are not healthy for the skin,” she explains.

2. Argan oil

If you love the feeling of lathering your hair in hair oil, we’re right there with you. But, if you have oily skin, Dr. Ciraldo says you should avoid using any hair care products that have argan oil on their ingredient lists. “Many of my women patients break out from argan haircare,” Dr. Ciraldo explains. And while argan oil is great for repairing hair strands, Dr. Ciraldo explains that the combination of sulfates and argan oil found in these hair products can clog pores, make skin oiler, and cause breakouts.

3. Occlusives

According to Dr. Nazarian, occlusive products such as petroleummineral oil, and lanolin “can make oily skin worse by interfering with the skin’s ability to communicate with the surrounding environment and regulate properly.” Especially during the warmer months, it’s crucial to use lightweight products that allow skin to breathe through heat and humidity.

4. Alcohol

Certain toners and cleansers have alcohol in them which Dr. Nazarian says “can strip the natural hydration from the skin.” If you have naturally oily skin, opt for alcohol-free products to help your skin regulate oil production.

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