Can you use oils and serums on oily, acne-prone skin?
A lot of people assume that if you have oily skin, the last thing on earth that you would want to do is add more oil. And that makes sense, right? Why would you want to make a bad situation worse by adding more oil to the party?
But that’s not actually right. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that incorporating oils and serums into your routine can be very beneficial and may even help regulate your skin’s oil production.
How to make oils and serums work for oily skin
Understand your natural oils
To get a better idea of how oils and serums can help you achieve the clear and oh-so-glowy skin of your dreams, we first have to look at the oils your skin produces naturally and how they function.
Basically, our skin produces two types of oil that help to hydrate our skin and protect it from outside elements: sebum and natural lipids.
Sebum is a wax-like substance produced by the sebaceous glands to moisturize the skin and create a barrier that locks moisture in the skin and prevents evaporation.
Natural lipids hold our skin cells together and provide lubrication. These lipids include cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids.
While sebum is probably best known as the stuff that makes blackheads and zits, a balance of both of these oils is actually super important. Believe it or not, these oils promote cell turnover, protect the skin from outside debris, and moisturize. They are the gatekeepers for our skin, so they are both necessary and important.
Balance those natural oils
All that said, an overproduction of sebum is the most likely culprit if your skin appears greasy.
Many people with oily skin tend to reach for oil-free products, but this may actually be working against you. When you use oil-free products, you can dehydrate the skin. Your sebaceous glands then try to overcorrect this problem by producing even more oil. The excess of oil mixes with bacteria and causes acne, creating a vicious cycle that feels unending.
The key to clear skin is balance. That’s where facial oils and serums can make a big difference in your skin care routine.
Understand the difference between oils and serums
Ok, so that’s your natural oils out of the way. But what about all the oils and serums you can buy to give your skin a boost?
First, let’s talk about the difference between these two types of products. Because facial oils and serums? They are definitely not the same thing.
Facial oils are oil-based products that have added extracts and antioxidants. Face oils have larger molecules that are designed to not absorb deeply into the skin – that way, they remain on the skin's surface, where they can do good stuff like strengthening the skin barrier and preventing moisture loss.
Serums, on the other hand, are lightweight products which are usually water-based, designed to deeply penetrate the skin. They work underneath the skin’s protective barrier to encourage healthy skin and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness by keeping the underlying skin cells hydrated and plump.
When it comes to oils and serums, this isn’t an either/or situation. You can incorporate them both into your routine, as they work differently and address different issues.
Choose the right oil or serum for acne-prone skin
Again, healthy skin is all about balance. That means it’s important to keep your skin’s moisture balanced so that the sebaceous glands don’t kick into high gear and overproduce sebum.
Fortunately, we can take a look at some ingredients that will help you obtain or maintain balance if you have oily, acne-prone skin.
When it comes to serums, look for lightweight, water-based formulas that contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), salicylic acid, or hyaluronic acid. These will help penetrate and hydrate the skin while leaving behind minimal residue. Experts recommend avoiding serums with a lot of botanical seed oils, as these seed oils can cause irritation.
When it comes to facial oils, look for products that are rich in antioxidants. Dermatologists recommend looking for products with:
- vitamin C – increases the production of collagen and stimulates cell regeneration
- zinc – regulates oil production
- and retinol – reduces inflammation
When picking out new products, always do a test spot somewhere on your skin that is not noticeable. You always want to make sure you don’t have a reaction to an ingredient, especially before you put it all over your face!
Finally, incorporate oils and serums into your skincare routine
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about how to use oils and serums once you’ve finally found one that feels like a good fit.
Knowing when and how to properly apply these products is just as important as selecting the right ones. Experts recommend using oils at night when your skin is most relaxed and the air is driest.
1. Start with clean skin
Before using any serums or oils, give your skin a good, deep clean. Using a probiotic cleanser can be especially helpful to create a well-balanced skin environment. Use lukewarm water and apply the cleanser with your fingertips, working it into your skin for 30 to 60 seconds, then rinse thoroughly.
2. Apply your serum
It is always recommended that you apply products from lightest to heaviest. In this case, start with the serum and then use the facial oils. While your skin is still damp, apply the serum with your fingertips. Since serums are lightweight, you need to press it into your skin rather than simply massage it. You only need a few drops of serum to cover your entire face. With these types of products, less is more. Give your skin a few minutes to fully absorb the serum before moving onto the facial oils.
3. Apply your facial oil and moisturizer
After the serum has been absorbed, you can apply your oil. Add a few droplets to your fingertips and gently massage it onto your face. Again: remember that less is more. After you apply your oil, you will still need to apply a lightweight daily moisturizer designed for acne-prone skin. This will lock everything into place and give your skin a little added protection from dirt, debris, bacteria, and UV rays.
And that’s how you can benefit from oils and serums, even if you have oily skin.
While it seems counterintuitive to use oil on oily skin, it can be super helpful when it comes to keeping your skin well-balanced and preventing overproduction of oil.
Looking to take your skincare to the next level? Don’t stop at oils and serums! Get a personalized skincare bundle that’s right for your skin type when you take our quiz.