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The 5 Commandments of Shopping for a Moisturizer When You Have Oily Skin

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Jan 28, 2021

Ever since I started writing about beauty almost a year ago, I’ve come to realize that choosing beauty and skincare products based on your skin type is so important. You’ll want to make sure you’re using products that won’t mess with your skin or screw up your skin’s needs. Most of us know how annoying it is to put on a cream, serum, oil, etc. that’s supposed to make your face looking glowy, hydrated, and brand-new but that has the completely opposite effect.

The fact is that some products are better suited for certain skin types than others. If you have dry skin, you’re probably going to look for different ingredients or formulations than people with oily or acne-prone skin because you need a bit more moisturization than them. Sensitive skin types might have to stay away from ingredients that can be harsh or irritating. So yeah, knowing your skin type and its needs is important.

When it comes to something as common as a moisturizer, it’s important to know that not all are created equally. We probably all have a moisturizer (or two… or 10) in our skincare haul, but what works for you might not work for me. Some moisturizers are better for dry skin because they contain ingredients that work to heal the skin barrier and are creamier. Others are better for combination skin, containing just the right amount of hydration without being too heavy. And yes, there are ideal moisturizers for oily skin that won’t clog pores or make the skin, well, more oily.

For my friends with oily skin out there, I asked board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology Corey Hartman, MD, FAAD, for his tips on how to choose a moisturizer and how to apply it.

1. You do need a moisturizer: Let’s set the record straight here. “People with oily skin falsely think that, because their skin is rich in oil glands and produces excessive oil, they don’t need to moisturize,” Hartman says. “In fact, it’s the fact that the skin is so dehydrated that causes it to respond by producing even more oil.”

2. Balance is key: “It can be difficult to select the correct moisturizer if the skin is already oily and balance is the goal. Just because oily skin requires the least moisture, it still requires some moisture,” Hartman says. The most important thing is to make sure that your moisturizer is oil-free and noncomedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores).

3. Look for these ingredients: “Seek moisturizers that are serum based and that contain dimethicone, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or squalene,” he adds.

4. Avoid these ingredients: “Avoid mineral oil, lanolin, paraffin, castor oil, petroleum jelly, and siloxane,” Hartman says. “All of these are emollients and can be occlusive, which will clog pores, cause acne to flare, and exacerbate the oiliness.”

5. Add some retinol into your routine: As for application, Hartman recommends applying moisturizer in conjunction with retinol and after thoroughly cleansing your face. “Pat the moisturizer on with several fingers to distribute it evenly and thinly throughout the entire surface of the skin and gently rub it in diffusely,” he adds.