For the first instalment in a series of articles focussing on men’s skin care problems, the spotlight falls on Oily Skin, the problems, the causes – and the solutions.
When guys find out that I work in men’s grooming they either hit me with a barrage of standard ‘manly’ responses about how taking care of yourself is ‘for women’, or they ask me for advice. Recently the majority of responses I’m getting are leaning (thankfully) towards the latter. In the industry I think people forget that skin care is a relatively new field for guys, and there are often lots of questions about routines and products, and none more so than guys struggling to deal with oily skin. Of all the skin types, oily skin tends to be the one that causes the most aggravation, with undesirable side effects like spot breakouts and a greasy complexion giving cause for concern. For most guys it’s an annoyance, but in extreme cases it can really dent your self confidence.
If you have oily skin there’s a fair chance that you already know about it. But just in case you need a few pointers there are some key signs to look out for;
Of course everyone can experience a few spots and the occasional shiny forehead during the summer months, but if you’re familiar with the characteristics listed above and you experience them the majority of the time, then you’re one of the many guys with an oily skin type.
If you suffer from oily skin, then it’s normally your sebaceous glands that are to blame. Tasked with protecting your skin from the elements by providing invisible lubrication in the form of sebum these glands can become over active, which then results in oily skin conditions. Caused by the overprotection of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the excess natural oil leaves your skin susceptible to spots and greasiness.
The bad news for guys is that our glands are larger and produce more sebum than our female counterparts, which means that oily skin and acne is typically more common among us men than the fairer sex. But it’s not all doom and gloom; oily skin isn’t as prone to skin ageing, so while your teenage years may be troubled by breakouts you’re much less likely to age as quickly as someone with a drier complexion.
You know how to tell if you’ve got oily skin, and you now know what causes it – but it’s how you deal with your oily complexion that counts. Thankfully for those suffering with excessively oily skin there are plenty of products and professional (but easy to follow) routines which can help you combat the shine. To make it even easier for skin care beginners looking for results I’ve narrowed all the professional blurb into 4 key steps that will help you take control of your complexion. Whether you choose to embrace the whole routine or just the products that your budget will stretch to, your skin is sure to see a marked improvement.
Even if you don’t have oily skin I cannot stress enough how vital it is to cleanse your skin daily if you hope to keep your complexion in tip top shape. But for oily skin types the need is at its greatest. Twice daily cleansing removes grease, build up, shine and excess sebum – all the things we’ve already highlighted as factors that contribute to shine and an oily overload. So if you don’t already, ensure that you’re washing your face every morning and every evening with warm water (and even a face cloth if you have one) to ensure that all the oily skin problems are kept to a minimum.
Once you’ve got to grips with daily cleansing it’s about picking the right products that balance washing with industrial strength paint-stripping, because if your product is too harsh it could strip the skin of its natural oils and not actually improve your complexion. Products designed for oily skin offer an ultra-deep clean without stripping and dehydrating, so that the products in the next stages of your routine can perform with maximum effectiveness – and these products below are some of the best in the business.
For an even deeper clean it’s necessary to use an exfoliator (or face scrub) at least twice a week so that a build up of dead skin cells don’t add to your breakout woes. Again, this is a technique that all skin types will benefit from, but one that’s particularly important for oily skin types. Don’t take ‘scrubbing’ too literally though! Let these professional products do the work for you rather than going hell for leather.
Not strictly a face scrub, but a product that does essentially the same thing is a nifty little gadget called the Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System – something that I’d particularly recommend. I have more of a combination skin type than oily, but the Clarisonic has worked wonders on my skin since I started using it a few months back. In just 60 seconds, the micro-massage action of the Clarisonic removes 2x more dirt and oil than cleansing with your hands alone! Don’t be put off by the slightly higher price point, your skin’s an investment and the Clarisonic is more than worthwhile.
Toning is a step that is almost always overlooked by guys (and most women too), and I have to admit this is an on/off step in my routine but for oily skin it’s another essential step. Those large sebaceous glands I mentioned earlier (you know, the ones that cause all the excess oil), well once they’ve been cleansed and scrubbed during step 1, a toner works to close up the pores to prevent the build up of further grease. Many guys that I’ve spoken to about preventing oily skin conditions admit to giving a toner a miss, but it really can be the missing piece in your skincare jigsaw.
When the main problem with your skin is excess moisture it doesn’t seem logical to apply a product that adds more of it, but I promise you it’s the right thing to do. But (there’s always a but) it needs to be a moisturiser that’s designed specifically for oily skin otherwise you risk a total oil overload. Rather than adding moisture to quench your skin (as a moisturiser would if your skin was dry) this type of hydrating product is more about balancing and regulating your skins natural moisture, not stopping it all together.
After toning and cleansing, apply a small amount of one of these targeted moisturisers and your shine will noticeably decrease and be replaced by a matt complexion.
The first three steps in your fight against a greasy complexion are fairly structured, but step 4 incorporates the added extras and treatments that can make all the difference, whilst giving you the freedom to work to the specific requirements of your skin type. Whether your skin feels clogged, or you want to treat breakouts of fight excess oil on the go, there’s a treatment product for everyone.
Probably the most common choice of treatment for oily skin types, a face mask the perfect excuse for some home pampering with added skin benefits. It’s the simple and accessible way of giving your skin a regular spa treatment without the expense trip to a country house and having to wear a silly robe (well, you can also do that at home if you wanted to). With a list of oily skin benefits as long as your arm, face masks like the ones below promise to clear and tighten your pores, absorb excess oil and banish impurities to leave you with clean, toned and brighter skin that’s protected against future breakouts – what’s not to love?
As I mentioned above – and anyone with oily skin will testify – spots and breakouts are one of the least desirable side effects of having an oily skin type. It’s also a skin condition that can stretch well beyond your teens. The three steps above should go a long way to reducing the amount of spots you experience, but if you do still get the occasional blemish (and hey, who doesn’t!) then there are a number on target spot treatments that can help keep them to a minimum.
Armed with key bacteria fighting ingredients these blemish banishers also reduce inflammation and help speed up the healing process so while they’re not a preventative against future breakouts, when a breakout does occur these boys will come to your aid and ensure that your blemish isn’t going to hang around for long.
Stressful situations, tubes, buses, city living and hot weather are all factors that can cause your oily skin to go into greasy overdrive. No matter how much you take care of your skin, there’s always going to be instances when you’re out and about and oily skin strikes – leaving you in the need of a quick fix. Whether it’s in the form of an easy-to-use pad for a quick sweep of the forehead, or an application of a skin refreshing gel, these products are designed to reduce shine when you’re out and about and need it most.
Store one of these in your man bag to keep on top of unwanted oily skin breakouts…
So there you have it, the low down on what causes oily skin and a simple routine that could change the face of your oily complexion forever. All the products I’ve recommended are designed by professionals to give you the best results, but if you want any specific recommendations then please do get in touch by leaving your comment below. Oily skin can be a real pain, but it’s a pain that can easily be prevented with the right products and an easy routine change.
Good luck in your fight against the grease.
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