Some may think it's only teenagers who get an oily T-zone. Not the case! "Oil production in the skin is primarily controlled by hormones, cortisol (stress hormone), and androgens (male-type hormones)," says New York City dermatologist Jessica Weiser, M.D. "Oily skin in adult women, especially those over 30, is the result of overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands in the skin." Here's how to reduce the extra shine (without stripping your skin dry).
Use a physical scrub like Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Face Polish ($32; sephora.com), which is made out of microbeads that purify oily skin. If you have sensitive skin, a chemical exfoliator infused with alpha hydroxy or salicylic acids can be used to dissolve pore-clogging dead cells from the uppermost layer of skin to reveal fresher skin underneath.
Adding a retinol -- or prescription-strength Retin-A -- is helpful in reducing sebum production and increasing cell turnover to prevent blockage of hair follicles and increase oil drainage, Dr. Weiser says. Retin-A and retinol (its weaker-but-still-effective OTC counterpart) also make existing blackheads less sticky so blocked oil, dirt, and grime can reach the surface of your skin and be washed away.
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Scientists have found that cutting back on sugary snacks helps reduce breakouts. How so? Noshing on foods with a high glycemic index (think: cake, candy, and cookies) absorb into the bloodstream more quickly and cause a spike in hormone levels, which may boost sebum production. The obvious culprits are sweets like cake, candy and cookies. But, you should also be wary of other surprising “High GI” foods like white rice and pasta, potatoes, corn and bran flakes, and melons.
Sea buckthorn oil is one of the new, promising ingredients in facial oil control. One study found that a cream infused with the extract was able to reduce sebum production by nearly 45 percent. The oil (try Sibu Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, $35, Whole Foods), which can be purchased at a health food store and added to your face lotion, balances your skin, reduces inflammation, and kills acne causing bacteria.
If you are prone to greasy skin and breakouts, choose lightweight, oil-free moisturizers for your skin, says celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau. "Avoid the ingredients mineral oil, petroleum, and petrolatum in your moisturizer, as these may suffocate the skin and clog the pores." If these comedogenic ingredients are listed as one of the first five ingredients, consider steering clear. If they are listed at the bottom of the label they may be included in small, safe-for-skin doses.
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to reduce oily skin. "The amount of oil your skin produces is directly tied to the hydration levels in your skin," Rouleau says. "When the skin doesn't have the water it needs, the skin attempts to balance itself by producing more oil (by stimulating the nerve endings) to compensate for the lack of water."
Learn how to banish oily skin all day long with these easy tips.