How to Treat Oily Skin
Here at Sönd, we know first hand what it's like to have problem skin. We know that it can be at best annoying but also distressing and upsetting.
Having oily skin doesn't have to mean constantly battling with shiny skin and breakouts. There are oily skin treatments that you can try that could be the answer to your skin problems.
Here's the lowdown on how to get rid of oily skin including the best treatments for oily skin, how they work and what potential side effects they may cause.
In this Article
Topical Oily Skin Treatments
Topical skin treatments consist of creams, lotions, gels and ointments that you apply directly to the skin.
How to Treat Oily Skin with Retinoids
Retinoid creams are derived from vitamin A and are often used to help control acne prone skin. They also help to manage oily skin by helping to reduce the size of the pores of the skin, which is especially helpful if the pores are particularly large.
Reducing and tightening the pores means that they produce less sebum, the oily, wax-like substance that naturally keeps the skin moisturised. If you have oily skin, sebum production is usually produced to excessive levels, making the skin appear shiny or greasy.
They also help to rid the skin of dead skin cells and other dirt that clog up the pores by acting as a type of exfoliant. This means that the pores become less clogged, and therefore produce less sebum.
It's thought that topical retinoids could also reduce sebum production directly , by binding to, and making less effective, receptors in the pores that signal for increased sebum production.
A downside of using topical retinoids as an oily skin treatment is that they can cause dry, flaky skin. A retinoid cream is worth trying to help manage your oily skin, but do so sparingly to begin with. Apply a thin layer to the skin before bed, and wash away in the morning.
Topical retinoids can also cause a mild burning or stinging sensation, and make the skin more sensitive to the UV rays of the sun. It's therefore recommended that you use a facial sunscreen designed for oily skin during the day.
How to Get Rid of Oily Skin with Olumacostat Glasaretil
Olumacostat glasaretil is a rather complicated name, given to a new type of topical skin preparation that can inhibit the production of sebum. As this treatment is so new, it's not yet known how effective olumacostat glasaretil may be as an oily skin treatment, or if indeed it will be given a name that rolls off the tongue more easily. But early indications suggest that the ointment is well tolerated and shows promising results. Tests on this topical treatment for oily skin continue.
Salicylic Acid as an Oily Skin Treatment
Salicylic acid is a type of fruit acid safe for use on the skin, called a beta hydroxy acid. It’s commonly used to treat acne prone skin but it’s also an effective oily skin treatment.
It works by clearing dirt and debris such as excess sebum, stale makeup and dead skin cells from the pores to help prevent them becoming clogged and forming acne spots. Salicylic acid does this by breaking down the stickiness that holds dead skin cells together, allowing them to become sloughed away, taking excess sebum with them.
Salicylic acid can cause dryness and flaking skin, so it's best to start with a low concentration solution and to use it alongside a moisturiser to begin with.
How to Make Your Face Less Oily with Niacinamide
A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is an effective oily skin treatment, helping to reduce the amount of sebum produced by the skin and shrink the size of the pores.
Skin specialists think that niacinamide works by interfering with the action of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. 5-alpha reductase converts the hormone testosterone into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is responsible for the production of sebum, so reducing it therefore reduces sebum production.
Sounds good, right? So, how to get rid of oily skin with niacinamide? You can buy skincare products that contain niacinamide such as creams and serums, from beauty aisles over the counter in pharmacies.
Niacinamide can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, so make sure you also project your skin from the sun’s rays.
Tips for Oily Skin - L-Carnitine
L-carnitine is an amino acid present in the human body that also has antioxidant properties. It’s available in skincare products that are available without a prescription including creams and gels.
It works as an effective oily skin treatment by both reducing sebum production and the size of the pores.
There are no known side effects to using L-carnitine on the skin, and it’s considered very safe when used in skincare preparations.
How to Get Rid of Oily Skin with Licochalcone A
A relatively unknown oily skin treatment, licochalcone A is naturally derived from licorice root. It works well for oily skin as it reduces sebum production and pore size.
It also protects the skin, keeping it healthy, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Studies suggest that the use of licochalcone A on the skin has therapeutic benefits when applied to even sensitive or irritated skin, suggesting that there are no known side effects.
Using Cosmeceuticals to Manage Oily Skin
Cosmeceuticals are products designed for use directly onto the skin that aren't medicated, but more cosmetic. We discuss more in our article on caring for oily skin.
Systemic Treatments for Oily Skin
If you've tried topical products for your oily skin and they haven't had much effect, your skin specialist or GP may recommend that you try a systemic treatment – that is, a drug that you take orally that can help manage your skin from the inside.
How to Control Oily Skin with Isotretinoin
Isotretinoin (also known as Accutane) is an oral form of a retinoid drug, derived from vitamin A. It's very successful as an oily skin treatment and works by reducing levels of sebum within the skin. It does this by tightening the pores which in turn reduces the amount of sebum they can produce.
As much as this sounds like a wonder drug if you have problem, oily skin, isotretinoin does have side effects.
For this reason, and the fact that it can take up to six months of treatment to begin to have an effect, doctors do not prescribe this drug as a first line of treatment. It will only ever be prescribed if your problem skin hasn't responded to any other treatment.
The side effects of isotretinoin include dry skin, particularly around the mouth and eyes. More severely, taking this drug can lead to depression and anxiety and increase the levels of sugar in the blood.
It can also lead to severe birth defects, and is not prescribed for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant.
Anti-Androgen Drugs as an Oily Skin Treatment – Spironolactone (Aldactone)
In our article on the causes of oily skin , we discuss how an increase in androgens can lead to oilier skin. Androgens are male hormones, such as testosterone, that are present in lower concentrations in females.
Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or going through puberty can cause an increase in androgen levels in women, leading to oily skin.
Anti-androgen drugs such as spironolactone (also known as Aldactone) tablets help to block the androgen hormone receptors which helps to suppress the action of these hormones.
At a low dose, spironolactone tablets, available on prescription from your GP or dermatologist, can be effective at reducing the oiliness of your skin. On the downside, spironolactone does have side effects.
Spironolactone can cause stomach upsets, breast soreness and a disruption to your menstrual cycle. It's not suitable for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant.
It can also act as a diuretic, which means it may make you pass urine more frequently and in larger volumes. This may cause you to become dehydrated so if you are prescribed this drug for your oily skin, make sure you stay well hydrated.
How to Treat Oily Skin with Oral Contraceptives
As oily skin is so often a consequence of fluctuating or out of balance hormones, sometimes your GP may recommend the oral contraceptive pill as an oily skin treatment.
It helps to reduce the level of androgen hormones produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands which helps to limit the production of testosterone. This in turn helps to reduce the production of sebum, thereby managing oil levels in the skin Taking the oral contraceptive pill does have side effects that your doctor will discuss with you. Side effects include weight gain, changes in mood, headaches and potentially high blood pressure.
Professional Treatments for Oily Skin
How to make your face less oily might be a constant battle, but professional help is at hand. Aside from topical treatments and oral medications, there are some other treatments that can help control sebum production and oily skin.
How to Get Rid of Oily Skin Using Botulinum Toxin
Botulinum toxin is otherwise known as Botox, the injectable substance that helps to freeze wrinkles and fine lines.
But it's also known to help reduce sebum production and oiliness . Researchers think that this is due to the toxin's ability to block the release of a chemical that signals the release of sebum.
Botox is available in many certified clinics but also high street beauty salons. If you'd like to explore the ideal of having Botox to control your oily skin, make sure you visit a registered clinic where the Botox is administered by properly qualified and experienced staff.
Photodynamic Therapy as an Oily Skin Treatment
Photodynamic therapy is used to help manage acne prone skin, but it can also help to control excess oil in the skin too.
The therapy involves shining light of a certain wavelength and dose directly onto the skin.
This helps to destroy the cells that produce sebum in the pores of the skin. Studies are as yet inconclusive as to the real benefits of photodynamic therapy on oily skin.
But some have shown promising results after multiple sessions. Again, this therapy should only ever be administered by a qualified therapist in a reputable clinic.
Risks of this light therapy include burning and stinging of the skin, and the skin being more sensitive to sunlight.
How to Control Oily Skin with Lasers
Laser treatment is another skin treatment that is offered by both clinics and beauty salons. There is some evidence to suggest that laser treatment can reduce oiliness in the skin.
Again, if you're considering laser treatment to help your oily skin, choose your practitioner wisely. Side effects include burning and scarring of the skin, which could be much worse if carried out by someone who isn't well trained or experienced.
How to Stop Oily Skin
If you’re wondering how to treat oily skin, there are some at home remedies you can also try…
How to Get Rid of Oily Skin Using Blotting Paper
Big news a few decades ago, blotting papers for oily skin are essential! Press them onto your skin and they’ll whip away shine, leaving behind smooth, matte skin by absorbing excess oil.
Blotting paper for the skin is available in beauty aisles and pharmacies and is a great alternative to pressed powder if you don’t want to overload your skin.
Diet Tips for Oily Skin
What you eat can also have an impact on the oiliness of your skin. When you eat fatty and oily foods, you can leave deposits around the mouth and on your hands that can lead to shine and can also block the pores leading to spots and breakouts.
Try to eat a balanced alkaline diet with plenty of green leafy vegetables and avoid processed foods , dairy and sugary snacks.
Astringent Products as an Oily Skin Treatment
Astringents are skincare products that cleanse and tone by removing dirt along with excess oil. They’re available from beauty shops and over the counter, and stronger astringents are available on prescription. Witch hazel is the most common astringent oily skin treatment and is often found as a standalone liquid but it can also be found added to creams and ointments.
Tips for Oily Skin - Taking Supplements
Food supplements can also be useful as an oily skin treatment, particularly probiotics. Probiotic supplements contain gut friendly bacteria and viruses that help to keep the natural gut microbiota thriving.
A healthy gut microbiota helps to support healthy skin and evidence suggests that this can also mean less chance of acne prone or oily skin.
When to See a Doctor About Oily Skin
If how to get rid of oily skin is seriously causing you stress or you’ve tried everything to no avail, speak to your GP about a referral to a skin specialist.
They may be able to make suggestions on how to treat oily skin in your case, or prescribe medical solutions.
Skincare - What Helps Oily Skin?
We've developed an effective skincare range, specially tailored for problem skin types from oily skin to acne prone skin and eczema to dry skin. We created it after suffering problem skin ourselves and we'd love for you to discover the power of our creation. What's more, there's no known side effects!
Our alkalising skincare range includes cleansers, moisturisers and toners that help to support healthy skin and nourish all problem skin types. We have many customers who can't believe the transformation of their skin since using Sönd skincare, and you could be the same! Try us for six weeks and see how you can transform the health of your skin, too.
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.