Dry and oily skin is more common than you think!
You are not alone, first of all.
When I switched over to using oil on my face, I LOVED it and so did my skin – we literally couldn’t get enough. And then one day, I began to notice – my skin still felt dry, yet there was a thin film of grease on my face after applying a facial oil – it was like my skin wasn’t absorbing it completely or something. A total paradox – dry and oily skin at the same time! Sooo….what to do?
Here is a HUGE secret – if you get this, your relationship to your skin will never be the same and it will be a LOT easier to navigate skincare.
Our skin is not designed to be bombarded with skincare! Do you think our primal ancestors went around washing their faces morning, noon and night and slathering them with all kinds of toners, lotions, creams, serums, oils, and vitamins? Hell no!
Two powerful insights
Here’s the secret – skincare is not like food for the face. If we went with that metaphor, then yes, food is necessary, we gotta eat and we should eat healthy, right? Here is a better analogy: skincare for the face should be like SUPPLEMENTS for the body in that:
- It is not necessary for health
- It should only be used when a fairly severe imbalance or need of healing is detected
- Once the balance has been restored, use should be discontinued or reduced
- It is actually quite a big deal for our skin to process and digest anything we put on it
- It must be used with care otherwise it will create side effects and other imbalances!
Here is secret number two – our bodies are super dynamic – constantly in flux. That is why in Ayurveda, it is recommended to modify diet and lifestyle slightly depending on the season. Most of us do this to a certain extent pretty unconsciously – we obviously wear different clothing, but we might notice that we tend to eat heavier meals at perhaps an earlier time in the winter and lighter meals later in the summer. Or we even change our music tastes slightly, listening to happier more upbeat stuff in the summer and more melancholy tunes in the winter.
Well, our skin is also changing. It changes with the seasons, with our diet, and with (if you are a woman) our cycle. Even changing one thing in your diet on one occasion will send a ripple effect that the skin ultimately feels and responds to.
So if your skin was loving something before and is no longer, that’s actually a beautiful thing to experience! It means you’re in tune with your body and noticing these subtle things. And it gives you an opportunity to move into a more enlightened relationship with your skin, supporting it in its new phase.
Whenever I start feeling something off with my skincare, I immediately stop using it. Yup – I totally bareface it – no facewash, no creams, oils, makeup, nothing. (Scared to be a bare face? You gotta read this.)
And then I analyze what my skin is doing, what it feels like and slightly recalibrate my regimen.
Why does dry and greasy occur?
There are several reasons:
Overuse of a clarifying oil
Wrong oil for current skin condition
Oil applied incorrectly
Dehydrated skin – needs a hydric moisturizing component, not just oil
Clogged, congested skin – not allowing oils to sink in, so they sit on the surface
ONE – Overuse of a Clarifying Oil
Have you ever heard the term “dry oil”? Or the phrase “fight fire with fire”? That’s exactly what’s happening! MOST of the stuff we put on our face disturbs our acid mantle – this is the thin layer of sebum that our skin is naturally coated with – it’s like a self moisturizing, protective mechanism. It’s actually quite beautiful and one of the reasons we should strive to leave our skin alone – it’s GOT this!
Well, if we’re constantly stripping sebum in an effort to get rid of our “oily skin,” the skin is going to produce more and more! It’s very capable of doing that till kingdom come, and you will NOT win the battle against Nature. All it knows is that the more intensely it senses a lack of sebum, the more intensely it will try to replace it. So, and this is one of the reasons that oils are actually super effective against acne, imagine what happens in the opposite scenario – all of a sudden the skin is getting the feedback of PLENTY of oil here. It’s going to SLOW its sebum production.
Now – not all oils are created equal. All oils are in fact complicated mixtures of different lipids, waxes and esters. So is our sebum. And that’s ANOTHER thing that can cause acne – if the composition of our sebum becomes too “sticky” it tends to clog pores more. But that’s another way we can use plant oils to our advantage – we can choose ones that will help balance the composition of our sebum, making it less sticky. (Clear Resolution was especially designed to de-stickify sebum and eliminate sebum overproduction.)
Those oils that make sebum less sticky are often referred to as “dry oils.” They are high in linoleic acid, which helps to make our sebum less sticky.
There’s a chance, if your skin feels dry and greasy AT THE SAME TIME, that you are OVERUSING a balancing/dry oil. It is drying your skin out, and that greasy feeling is your skin telling you: I’m full. Enough. Slow your roll. Do something different.
So here are some things to do:
1) Use less of the oil each time you apply. If you’ve been doing 6 drops, go down to 4. Use an absorbing fluid to help spread the oil all over the skin. For more info on applying oils correctly, read this post.
2) Apply less often. If you’ve been doing am + pm, just do am.
3) Switch from the oil to a butter or to another oil with higher oleic acid content. Very important to use the correct butter (Salvation!!!!), but if you do, this will be magic. The correct butters keep acne in check through incredible anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial compounds, keep fighting fire with fire (ie oil vs oil), so your skin is not overproducing sebum, but have a firmer, more waxy, matte feel – not greasy (just make sure you apply a very sheer layer!)
Shameless product plug: I created Salvation especially for this. If you are having the greasy/dry experience, I highly suggest trying Salvation out. It is NOT your typical butter. It is a very dense, dry, waxy balm. I find it does not leave behind a greasy texture – the texture is more waxy/dewy and actually quite pleasurable! It really feels like your skin is being supported and hydrated. Plus, the scent is amazing.
AND, the benefits of the butters are simply too good to be true. In acnegenic skin, our skin tends to be thinner and less elastic than other skin – this also contributes to the dry/oily feel and to the propensity of our pores to clog. But Salvation does an incredibly good job of restoring barrier function and elasticity. It also shrinks active acne. I often use it at night instead of Zen Physic as an all-in-one restoring and blemish soothing night treatment.
Finally, it increases collagen production and is brimming with antioxidants – which have been tested to actually combat acne as effectively as they do aging! Woot!
Anyhoo, just sayin:’ there’s a reason I called it “Salvation!”
TWO – Wrong oil for current skin condition
Very similar to above. Maybe you started using a high linoleic oil because your skin was oily. Now it’s balanced out, and perhaps dried out a little too much. If this is the case, introduce a hydrating serum, and switch to a more hydrating oil or butter. To keep the benefits of the clarifying, high linoleic oil, you can also mix it with a butter or another oil and split the difference, getting the best of both worlds.
THREE – Oil applied incorrectly
Similar to above – the most common mistake I see with oils is that they are applied incorrectly – most people put too much oil on their face. I only use 4 drops – one for each quadrant of my face. Another way an oil can be applied incorrectly is that it can be applied with other skincare that is not compatible with it. I know a lot of people have a whole 6-12 step process and a different product for every step. But just be aware, there are certain products you may be applying prior to your oil that keep it from sinking in and hydrating your skin. Oil is best applied on clean skin or over a light, non-comedogenic hydrating serum.
FOUR – Dehydrated skin
If your skin is super dry, then a hydrating serum is a must in conjunction with your oil. This is because the oil can only replenish your skin with lipids, and your skin needs both oil and water for proper hydration. Internally, drink lots of water and make sure you are eating enough starch and healthy fats – this will help a lot with your skin feeling youthful, elastic and hydrated. Foods like sugar, alcohol and caffeine deplete your skin of moisture, so avoid them if possible.
Use the hydrating serum before the oil, and consider using a more emollient oil or even a butter (see above). You can also use the serum AFTER the oil to help it sink in – the patented moss serum sandwich! You can also mix the serum with the oil/butter in an anointing bowl to make a spontaneous mini lotion and apply that.
FIVE – Clogged, congested skin
At the beginning of this post, I said I once found myself in the same situation. For me, the answer was that there was a layer of dry, dead skin cells that were preventing the oil from sinking in. After a good, deep oil cleanse and an enzyme exfoliating mask, the oil sank in eagerly. The lesson here is if the skin gets dry, and isn’t being exfoliated properly, then the buildup of dry, dead skin will exacerbate the condition and prevent hydrating products from accessing the skin.
Another way the skin can become clogged is with build up from other products like cleansers, serums, and whatever else. Finally, skin that is acne-prone is also prone to getting clogged simply with its own dead skin cells that aren’t been shed properly and with its own sebum, that tends to be stickier than “normal” sebum.
So, try exfoliating, oil cleansing, or even a face scrub (be super gentle) and see if that doesn’t help!
Thanks for reading!
In beauty and bliss,