3 ways to tell if you have oily skin – and what to do about it

When it comes to your skin, you may be thinking “Oily? Dry? Combination? Skin’s skin, doesn’t everything work the same on everyone?” The answer to which would be a big 'heck no'. Different types of skin require different routines to be their healthiest and smoothest, and making sure your skin care routine is actually working right for you is kind of our shtick. To do that properly first you need to know your skin type.

How Do I Know if Have Oily Skin? - The Quick Version

Yes, we realize we promised you 3 ways to tell. But for those who want quick answers (don’t we all), we’ve got a handy list for you to consult. If the following points sound familiar, then you, my friend, most likely have oily skin:

  • Your skin is shiny and usually looks and feels greasy by the afternoon
  • Your pores, especially around your forehead and nose, are enlarged
  • You deal with acne and blackheads more often than your friends
  • You leave traces of your oily presence on phone screens and your bangs

If your current feeling is “well dang, that’s my face to a T” then don’t fret, we have a solution for you. (*Spoiler alert: it’s at the bottom of this article).

For those of you who like the nitty gritty details though, read on.

What is Oily Skin?

On the surface oily skin is exactly how it sounds: your face has more oil on it than it knows what to do with and ends up shiny, greasy, and with major potential for clogged up pores and accumulated dead skin. To translate, your skin is primed for blackheads, pimples and other kinds of acne that can just F right off.

If we step into our lab coats for a brief moment and look beneath the surface, what's really going on is everything to do with your sebaceous glands. Located within the skin, their job is to secrete an oily substance called sebum, which lubes up the skin, protects it from drying out or getting irritated, and even prevents it from aging too fast. This stuff’s like a real life fountain of youth.

When done right sebum and sweat secrete out your pores, lubricate your skin and remove dead skin cells. However, oily skin sebaceous glands tend to produce too much sebum, causing your skin to look shiny, your pores to clog and leading to a bunch of pain in the ass skin imperfection.

So you've been armed with the knowledge of what oily skin is, but now comes the question: do you have it? Better question: how do you fix it?

If you’re looking for more detail than we had in our above check-list, here are 3 ways to figure that out:

1 - Look at it

Using your keen powers of perception, look at your face. Handsome right? But that's not why we're here. If you notice you start out your day with a dry face after your shower and cleanser, but by the afternoon your face looks like an oil slick, you've most likely got yourself some oily skin. Next, peruse your pores. Are they looking visibly enlarged, especially around your nose and forehead? If so this can be a sign that oil is being overproduced, and is getting caught in there. It's this clogging process that can lead to the previously mentioned blackheads, pimples and other such unpleasant acnes.

Look especially to your T-Zone, which is the area across your forehead and down your nose. This area naturally tends to have more active oil glands, so if you're noticing this area is oily but the rest of your face is dry then you more likely have combination-type skin, in which case this article is only half for you.

2 - Blotting Papers Test

For our more physical fellows out there, we have a quick and easy test. First off you'll need to get yourself some oil control or blotting papers, which you can find cheap at your local drug store. Normally you'd dab these little guys on oily areas of the face to absorb excess oil and freshen up, but we'll be using them a little differently.

Here's what you do. Wash your face with a cleanser before going to bed and leave it overnight. Don't get fancy with the toners or moisturizers, just leave it cleansed as is. When you wake up the next day before doing anything else get your handy blotting papers and press them to your face. Stick one to your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin if you're sans beard. Press them onto your skin and into the creases until your face looks like a strange post it note collection. The rest is simple. If the papers stick to your face you have oily skin. If the papers stick to some areas but not others, you have combination skin. If they all fall off you've got dry skin.

3 - Feel it out

Oily skin generally feels greasy and moist all over, sometimes only ever really feeling fully clean and oil free after a good cleansing. For those of you with bangs, you may notice them getting oily faster than the rest of your hair, due to repeated contact with your forehead. Or perhaps you've noticed after you use your phone there's a lovely little oil print where your face once was. Sound familiar? If so you most likely have oily skin. 

Why do we have oily skin?

Well unfortunately there are a few ways this annoying situation can come about, and they're often out of our control. Oily skin is typically hereditary, so if you struggle with excess oil you can likely blame your parents for this less than desirable inheritance. Environmental factors like hot and cold air can also play a role, as well as hormonal changes that can be brought on by different stages of life, stress, or illness. On top of all that it's not unlikely for skin types to change with time or the seasons, so you may want to repeat these steps every couple months to keep track of where your skin type is at.

How to Combat Oily skin (*tl;dr - How do I fix this?)

Although your first instinct may be to dry your skin out or wash it again, don't. Full stop. Washing your face too much or drying your skin out can backfire hard by making your glands think your face is too dry and bumping them into overdrive.

What you need to do is balance the oil out. Washing your face in the morning and night with a deep cleaning cleanser (like our Activated Charcoal Face Wash) will give your face the right balanced start and finish to each day. Ingredients like active charcoal and salicylic acid work together to remove excess oil from your face and clean deep into your skin, unclogging oily pores and removing the dying skin cells before they build up to become tomorrow’s problem.

Despite the extra moisture, you still need to moisturize. After cleansing your face apply a water based, oil-free moisturizing gel with hyaluronic acid to protect and restore a natural balance to your skin. Your moisturizer will create a protective layer to prevent more dirt and grime from getting into your freshly cleaned pores.

Oily skin can definitely be a pain, but with proper understanding and a simple and reliable skin care routine, you can balance it out, get it under control, and make it a worry of the past.

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