5 Skincare No-Nos for Oily Skin

Anyone with an oily skin type knows that we take the brunt of skin imperfections. When not taken under control, our skin will secrete excess sebum. This can then lead to enlarged pores, perpetually greasy skin, and worst of all, acne.

However, despite the bad rep oily skin gets, there are a number of benefits to having oily skin. For instance, the sebum production in oily skin helps retain skin elasticity as well as slows down the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Thus, people with oily skin tend to maintain a more youthful appearance for a longer period of time. In addition, oily skin that is well-balanced will lend one a naturally glowing appearance — sans illuminating foundations and shimmery highlighters — without looking like a greasy frying pan.


Oily Skin 101: What to Avoid

Of course, the benefits of oily skin are only achievable if you use the right kind of skincare products coupled with suitable skincare techniques. Without the right skincare routine, your skin will end up worse off and you will be left to deal with one skincare concern after another.

If you have oily skin and can never seem to give your skin the perfect environment to shine (pun intended), you might have fallen prey to the following skincare pitfalls when caring for oily skin:


Exfoliating your skin is an important step in any skincare routine as it helps in removing the buildup of dead skin cells. This removal of dead skin cells can encourage cell turnover, promote an even skin tone as well as remove any hyperpigmentation concerns you may have (especially those left over from acne). However, when done in excess, exfoliation can cause problems for your skin rather than improve it. Over-exfoliation can compromise the skin’s natural barrier, resulting in sensitised skin that is not able to repair and heal itself well. In addition, over-exfoliation can strip the surface of your skin of its moisture, thus leading to dry and flaky skin. As a general rule, exfoliation should only be done once a week with a gentle exfoliator, which brings us to our next skincare pitfall:

The Wrong Kind of Exfoliator

Exfoliators can be divided into two main categories: physical and chemical exfoliators. Physical exfoliators refer to scrubs that contain microbeads, while chemical exfoliators refer to products with chemical ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). For those with oily skin, it is best to avoid physical exfoliators as they can be too abrasive on the skin and can damage the skin’s natural barrier. Chemical exfoliators, meanwhile, tend to be more gentle on the skin, which makes them more suitable options for oily skin types. BHA exfoliators, in particular, are great for people with oily, acne-prone skin as the BHA is able to simultaneously exfoliate the skin and target the blemishes without stripping the skin of its moisture.

Oil-Stripping Ingredients

Another common mistake those with oily skin tend to commit is looking for products that contain harsh and drying ingredients such as alcohol, benzoyl peroxide and retinol. This is due to the assumption that these ingredients will help get rid of the excess oil produced by their skin, thus allowing them to achieve a grease-free appearance. While these ingredients may rid oily skin of its excess sebum, they can sometimes do their job far too well, thus causing the skin to become too dry that it has to compensate for the lack of moisture by producing more oil. Hence, this explains the vicious cycle some oily skin sufferers go through. To truly gain the full benefit of these ingredients, include only one of them in your skincare routine. For instance, if you are already using a retinol product, do not add a benzoyl peroxide treatment to your routine. Including both these ingredients to your skin can be extremely drying, thus exacerbating your skin’s oil production.

Heavy Emollients

Oily skin needs moisture just as much as its dry skin counterpart. But, not any moisturising agent will do. Use one with too heavy a formulation or that contains the wrong ingredients and your oily skin will go into overdrive. This can result in clogged and enlarged pores, as well as the development of acne. Some ingredients that those with oily skin should avoid are petrolatum, coconut oil and shea butter because of their highly comedogenic nature. Rather than using heavy moisturisers, opt for lightweight serums or gels that will less likely clog your pores. An easy way to choose a moisturiser suitable for oily skin is by looking for the label “non-comedogenic”, which means the moisturiser does not contain pore-clogging ingredients.

Oils High in Oleic Acid

The oil cleansing method as well as using facial oils to moisturise the skin have gained popularity in recent years, especially among natural beauty lovers and those with dry skin. For those with oily skin, you might be wondering if including oils in your skincare routine is a good idea. Your hesitation is understandable; after all, why would you add oil to your already oily skin? The basis behind this skincare method is that by applying oil onto the skin, it will help to balance the skin’s sebum production, thus preventing excess oil. If you have tried this method but ended up with breakouts instead, you might be using the wrong type of oil. Out of all the chemical components found in oils, two of the main ones that are important to skin is oleic acid and linoleic acid. These acids are found naturally in our skin, but for people with oily skin, there is a lack of linoleic acid production and an excess of oleic acid production. Thus, when you are looking for an oil suitable for your skin, make sure to use one that has a high linoleic acid content such as rosehip oil and evening primrose oil. Avoid oils high in oleic acid like coconut oil and sweet almond oil.