Oily and Acne Skin
What does an Oily skin type look like?
Oily skin often looks shiny, feels oily to touch and is more prone to acne and breakouts than a drier skin type. Oily skin can also have a thick, firm appearance with enlarged pores which can become aggravated from dehydration (lack of water in the skin). Oil production is controlled by androgen hormones but can also be affected by other factors including diet, stress and genetics.
Oily skin is caused by overactive sebaceous (oil) glands. These glands secrete oil which forms a film over the skin, helping lock in moisture. While this can lead to breakouts it can be beneficial as this helps prevent premature aging.
What causes Acne??
There are many factors that can cause our skin to breakout. From having a naturally Oily skin type to hormones to diet and weather. Some factors we can control, others not so much.
Some factors that can aggravate acne include excessive oiliness/overproduction of oil by the oil gland, improper skin care preventing thorough removal of oil, dirt and makeup from the skin, hormonal imbalances, hyperkeratinisation, food allergies and sensitivities, lack of vitamins, climatic conditions, especially heat and humidity, which increases bacteria, use of harsh astringents and drying cosmetics, improper diet, picking/squeezing pimples, build-up of bacteria in the pore and some medications.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes…
Hyperkeratinisation, Excess oil, and Bacteria
There’s a type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (or P. acnes) that lives in our oil glands. When dead skin cells stick together teamed with excess oil in the oil gland it creates the perfect environment for P. acnes to thrive. As P. acnes reproduce, irritation and inflammation occur, causing red, swollen blemishes.
Hyperkeratinisation is the irregular or excessive shedding of dead skin cells, not only on the surface of the skin but also inside the pore/hair follicle. Skin cells normally shed on a regular, daily basis but the excess oil created by an oily skin type prevents this natural shedding process, trapping the cells in the pores, causing congestion and breakouts. Therefore, those with Oily skin need to help this shedding process along with regular exfoliation to help keep pores clean. We need to consider exfoliants that can actually get into the pore, which is one of the reasons why I love glycolic acid for Oily skin types.
Glycolic acid dissolves the intercellular cement between skin cells that causes abnormal keratinisation and aids in the exfoliation of dead skin cells. Glycolic acid can also increase skin hydration. With dead skin cells removed, hydrating products can penetrate better thus work more effectively. Glycolic acid also increases the skin’s ability to bind water through activation of glycolic acid and the skin’s own hyaluronic acid content (remember hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water). Glycolic acid enhances the effects of hyaluronic acid, raising the skin’s own ability to increase its water content. It is one of the most beneficial AHAs for Oily skin. Due to its smaller molecular structure it is able to get deep inside the pore and remove dirt, dead skin cells and excess oil build-up.
While I am not a big believer that eating junk food causes you to suffer breakouts, I do strongly believe what you eat and drink can impact your skin. Let me explain…
I have seen in my own skin and that of my clients, the negative and positive impacts of certain foods on our skin. I suffer several food intolerances including dairy and eggs. While I did avoid having a glass of milk or eating whole eggs, I would still eat foods with these ingredients in them such as cakes, crackers etc and would still eat cheese and yoghurt. Four years ago, my husband and I began eating a vegan diet which meant we were eliminating most of my food issues and doing it strictly. I began reading all the labels of everything processed and discovered how much milk and eggs I was actually eating without realising it. I was constantly bloated, and my skin was always red and inflamed despite my extensive sensitive skincare routine. Within days my bloating was gone and within a few months people were commenting on how radiant my skin was. By eliminating the foods my body didn’t like my skin improved. No change of skincare required!
Another great example is a client I had many years ago who had always suffered acne and redness. She first came to me when she was just 15 and at the time we just put it down to being a teenager. Around age 21, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Once she was given this diagnosis she strictly adjusted her diet and the improvement in her skin was amazing. Her breakouts reduced significantly along with the redness and itching.
Another dietary factor to consider is our intake of water, not just how much water we drink but also how much caffeine and alcohol we drink. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate us, so its always important to enjoy these in moderation and make sure you are drinking plenty of water to rehydrate yourself. If you struggle to drink water, you can also drink herbal teas that will help with skin hydration but also give added skin benefits. For example, Rosehip tea is loaded with Vitamin C to help with skin healing, radiance and collagen production and as it’s free from caffeine it will not dehydrate your skin. Water intake is also important to help flush out any toxins built up in our body and skin, helping to minimise breakouts and congestion.
It is always recommended to enjoy a wide range of fresh foods as they are full of essential vitamins and minerals and many have a high water content, helping keep your body hydrated. Keep processed foods to a minimum but don’t feel guilty having something naughty, just remember all in moderation.
I also recommend vitamins such as Zinc and Vitamin C to promote skin healing. Some others also recommend Vitamin A. Don’t forget to always check with your doctor or pharmacist before you begin any medications.
Androgen hormones (male hormones such as testosterone) can be a major cause of acne. In women, androgen hormones are produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells and are to be converted to estrogen. Various factors can cause hormonal changes and imbalances in women. These hormonal changes can trigger excess oil production and cause skin cells to become sticky, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.
Some women find it beneficial to use a low dose contraceptive pill to help balance their hormones and thus reduce their breakouts.
Other hormonal breakouts can happen due to the hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy, our menstrual cycle, or triggered by stress.
Climate and Work Environment
Do you work in a fast food restaurant or another type of greasy, dirty workplace? All those impurities can clog pores and create breakouts and blackheads. Be sure to do a thorough double cleanse followed by moisturiser as soon as possible after work. This also goes for sport and the gym. It’s great to sweat out those toxins and be active but you must cleanse that sweat off the skin.
If you work in an air-conditioned work place this can lead to dehydration and trigger breakouts as well, so consider some hyaluronic acid under your moisturiser to help your skin hold onto the water that the air conditioning sucks out. And drink plenty of water!
Heat and humidity can increase oil gland secretion, making your skin oilier so keep on top of your cleansing and moisturising to help keep your skin as balanced as possible
Proper Skin Care
I have seen many clients with Oily/Acne skin over the years and so many of them are using the wrong products or using them incorrectly. Because we see Oily/Acne skin as dirty we are obsessed with cleansing and scrubbing and using products to dry up oil and breakouts. By doing this we are destroying our skin’s natural barrier, making our skin inflamed AND causing our skin to make more oil! When we strip the natural oil away and do not use a hydrating moisturiser our skin freaks out and makes even more oil!!! Moisturiser is important for ALL skin types, you just need to make sure you are using the right type for your skin. I always encourage active ingredients for everyone except the really sensitive skins. How many active products I recommend for an Oily/Acne skin depends on many factors. The main things I consider are:
-Are you Oily with breakouts/just oily/sensitive with breakouts/dry with breakouts
-Are your breakouts all over or just on your chin/forehead/cheeks etc
– How inflamed/severe is your breakout
-What skin care are you currently using
-What health factors may be contributing to your breakouts
I do not recommend an entire medicated/active range for someone with just a few breakouts or oiliness. I may recommend a good glycolic acid cleanser or a spot treatment incorporated into a skincare regime suited to your skin type. Having the correct cleanser and moisturiser is crucial to a healthy balanced skin.
In severe cases I recommend you see your GP or Dermatologist. They can advise of other options such as antibiotics, contraceptive pill or Roaccutane. (I suggest Roaccutane as a last resort due to its many negative side effects)
Some of my favourite ingredients for Oily/Acne skins include Glycolic acid to deep clean, Vitamin C to aid skin healing, Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate and Aloe Vera to hydrate and soothe. Some other great ingredients include Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid as a spot treatment. Tea Tree and Lavender essential oils are great for treating bacteria and reducing redness, itching and swelling.
Regular use of Glycolic acid can improve the look and texture of the skin by reducing hyperkeratinisation. It removes dead skin build-up and deep cleans the pores, preventing clogged pores
How can we help?
At Maya Beauty & Dermal Therapy we have a variety of treatments for Oily and Acne skins. It is a good idea to have regular professional facials for a thorough cleanse and exfoliation. You can have them as often as weekly, I recommend at least every 4 weeks.
We offer LED Light Therapy using red light to speed up the healing process and reduce inflammation and blue light to kill bacteria.
Our Skin O2 Mask contains ingredients to soothe, heal, hydrate, and protect inflamed skin including Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, Centella Asiatica (Pennywort) to strengthen the skin and assist with wound healing and Allantoin (from comfrey) to soothe and protect the skin while aiding skin healing.
We also offer a range of peels including the Skin O2 Blemish Peel which contains Lactic and Salicylic Acids, Retinol and Vitamin B3. Let’s look at these ingredients and why they help Oily and Acne skin…
Lactic acid is a component of our skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF). It is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used in skincare to exfoliate and moisturise, treating fine lines and creating softer, smoother skin.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that works as an exfoliant by dissolving the top layer of corneum cells, improving the appearance and texture of the skin while reducing sebaceous follicle blockage, reducing congestion and breakouts. It is also antimicrobial and antiseptic making it perfect for acne prone skin.
Retinol enhances skin radiance and reduces fine lines and wrinkles, as well as improving oily and acne skin. It helps regulate collagen production, giving the appearance of younger looking skin.
Vitamin B3 helps improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, dull complexion, helps restore a weakened skin barrier and accelerates the chemical reaction of other ingredients.
We also offer Pico laser treatments. We can use the 532nm setting to help reduce itching and any damage to the pigment of the skin caused by spots. We use the 1064nm setting to assist with pitted acne scarring by encouraging collagen production in the dermis.
We have a range of homecare products including a glycolic gel cleanser, spot treatment, treatment serums, glycolic exfoliant and moisturisers. We also have a range of mineral based makeup that will not clog the skin and a tinted SPF30+ to leave your skin looking dewy and protected without the thick, greasy feeling.
What can you do at home?
Focus on gentle but thorough cleansing morning and evening. Exfoliation can be done 1-2 times weekly, depending on how sensitive your skin is. Take care not to over-exfoliate and strip your skin. Moisturisers should be used after cleansing morning and night. Some with oily skin prefer a lighter cream for the day, followed with an SPF. I recommend a chemical based SPF as the Zinc based ones will no doubt feel to heavy and greasy for your skin. Your evening moisturiser can be something a little stronger and more active, including ingredients such as glycolic and retinol. The most important thing to remember when it comes to moisturisers for oily/acne skins is to make sure it is a water-based lotion or gel; Creams will feel too heavy and make you feel greasy.
Do not pick or squeeze spots EVER! Once a spot is picked or squeezed it takes longer to heal and is harder to cover with make-up. It also spreads bacteria creating MORE pimples and can cause pitted acne scarring.
Some other little things to remember:
Don’t touch your face unless putting products on
Keep make up brushes and sponges clean
Remove makeup thoroughly every night
Use mineral based makeup only. It allows your skin to breathe.
Wash pillow cases and towels frequently.
Clean skin after sport or anything that causes sweating.
I hope this information has helped you all understand why you are suffering acne and makes you feel empowered to improve your skin health and appearance.