Trying to manage oily skin can send you into a spiral. Your skin needs oil like the earth needs rain, but sometimes your pores can be a bit too generous in their production of oil. In the words of Alanis Morisette, it’s like raaaa-iii-aaaaiiin on your wedding day.
How to Deal with Oily Skin: Address the Root Cause
Forget everything you’ve learned about managing oily skin that essentially tells you to just soak it up and wait for it to come back. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and acne coach, I always start at the root cause of a problem in order to prevent the unpleasant symptoms (like oily skin) from arising.
When it comes to oily skin, these are the two most common root causes to address:
1. Address hormonal imbalance
Hormones are like little messengers that tell the body what to do in certain situations. There are certain hormones that tell the skin’s oil glands to produce more oil when they are elevated. The two main ones are androgen hormones and cortisol.
Androgen hormones can be elevated beyond normal levels for a variety of reasons, so it’s important to rule out any disorders of the endocrine system with your doctor. Once you have a clear idea of what’s going on with your hormones, you can manage through diet with the help of a nutritionist.
Foods that support healthy androgen levels include almonds, flaxseed, wild salmon and reishi mushroom.
Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and it just so happens to trigger an increase in sebum levels when elevated. Managing stress levels through things like improving sleep, exercising moderately, yoga, meditation etc. is therefore not only super important for your overall health but also for your skin. Permission to relax!
2. Don’t dry out your skin
Your skin’s excessive oil production may actually be caused by dryness. That may sound weird, but it’s actually pretty common. I’ll explain.
If your skin becomes too dry, one way that your body tries to make up for that is by producing oil. It’s not doing this to sabotage you, it’s trying to help. Oil is actually important for keeping the skin hydrated and even protecting the skin from bad bacteria. The problem is, that compensation can become an over compensation leading to oily skin and acne.
Here’s how to keep things balanced to prevent excess oil:
- Don’t use drying products that strip your skin’s natural oils
- Use an acne safe moisturizer morning and night
- Drink your water! Aim for 3 litres per day
- Load up on fruits and veg – they naturally contain water so this helps bump up your H2O intake
How to Manage Oily Skin: Complimentary Practices
These tips don’t necessarily address the root cause of your oily skin so don’t go skipping the first two steps we talked about (nice try!) So why am I sharing these tips? Because they can be an excellent addition to your routine. Think of addressing the root cause as eating your veggies and these complimentary practices as an occasional supplement to bump up the nutrients.
1. Use a rosewater spray
Rosewater has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the skin and calm down both swelling and redness. Plus, it’s a quick and affordable way to pamper yourself and feel luxurious.
My favourite product: Heritage Store Rosewater Spray
2. Cleanse morning and night and avoid all makeup in the hotter months
While gym bros say never skip leg day, I say never skip a face wash in the summer months! That means twice a day: morning and night. Cleansing is so important to keep bacteria from building up in your pores and becoming inflamed (which comes out as pimples!)
Additionally, you’ll want to try your best to avoid makeup in the Summer months as the heat and humidity already contributes to more sweat and oil in the skin. Layering makeup on top of that can lead to clogged pores that eventually become pimples.
This is a great time to embrace the au naturale life and work on accepting your skin as it is. It is totally okay to want to clear your skin, but it’s also important to accept it for what it is now. Your skin will forever fluctuate, so use the no makeup days to work on your acne mindset (read my best tips here!)
Ready to clear your skin? My self-guided ebook The Acne Protocol is your skin BFF!