Go, get oil-free sheen

Bothered by oily skin? Follow this effortless regime suggested by Kiran Lohia and get yourself a flawless skin all year round


I often hear women with oily skin say light heartedly that their skin produces so much oil, one never needs to worry that we’ll run out of this resource. Yet, oily skin has been the most difficult problem to deal with for centuries.

In India, the hot, humid weather conditions, result in the skin secreting more oil. This, when left untreated, leads to clogged pores, blackheads and unnecessary build-up of dead skin cells, making it difficult to have clear and healthy skin. Treating oily skin is important because excess oil production is the leading cause of pimples and acne. Here’s what to look for in skin care products if you have oily skin:

Salicylic acid

Use products containing salicylic acid—this is a natural beta-hydroxy acid that is derived from willow bark. Willow bark has been used throughout the ages to prevent acne and oily skin. Thankfully, science has empowered us to extract the salicylic acid from nature to give better and faster results.

Look out for: To get the maximum benefits of this ingredient, pick a cleanser and moisturiser that contains two per cent salicylic acid. Check for the ‘Technologically Proven’ tag for irritation-free results.


This is a natural element present in every cell of our body and hence it rarely causes allergies. [Sulphur is not to be confused with sulpha drugs, which are a group of antibiotics containing chemical ingredients.] Sulphur is a miracle ingredient for oily skin and pimples because it has multiple benefits. It is antibacterial, thereby effective at killing the bacteria that cause pimples. It is also anti-seborrheic, meaning it reduces oil secretion by the sebaceous glands. Finally, it also has keratolytic properties, which means that it promotes the quick shedding and exfoliation of dead skin cells that clog pores and cause breakouts. So, go for the products containing sulphur.

Look out for: Browse for products with BioSulphur, a sulphur molecule that has been biologically modified to be better accepted by the skin for gentler and more effective results.

Vitamin A derivatives

Some of the most important ingredients for treating oily and acne-prone skin are derivatives of vitamin A, called retinoids. These include [in the order of strongest to gentlest] tretinoin, adapalene, retinol and retinyl palmitate. All of these retinoids act by causing old skin cells to shed—revealing newer skin cells. Thus, retinoids make the skin even and balanced, while also preventing and treating oily skin and pimples.

Look out for: Select the one that suits your skin best—the strongest of the vitamin A derivative to the gentlest—depending on your skin sensitivity.

Getting healthy skin is one thing, managing it is another. Here is a guide to manage the skin you’ve achieved:

Frequent washing = excess oil

It is easy to fall into the trap of washing your face multiple times a day to get rid of excess oil. However, over-washing can result in over-drying of your skin, which paradoxically results in excess oil production. Constant face cleansing strips your skin of oil, causing your oil glands to work overtime and produce more sebum. Don’t wash your face more than twice a day, and never use soap, as soap can cause over-drying of the skin.

The secret non-block ingredient

Products that contain comedogenic ingredients have the risk of clogging your pores to create blackheads and whiteheads. Non-comedogenic ingredients do not cause skin breakouts and prevent acne from occurring, especially in oily and acne-prone skin.

Use products that have been certified by dermatologists. They analyse the ingredients to ensure that a product can be classified as non-comedogenic.

Mineral mantra

Always avoid oil- and cream-based makeup. Mineral-based makeup is the best option for those with oily skin as it is safe and non-comedogenic. Mineral-based makeup differs from traditional makeup in a very specific way. It contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which have been proven to improve the condition of your skin with continued use by protecting it from the sun.

Most other cosmetics have a multitude of ingredients including fragrances, preservatives, dyes, and other harmful additives. These ingredients can be damaging to the pores and the skin’s general appearance. Mineral based products do not react with your skin, and are hence ideal for sensitive, acne-prone or damaged skin.

Stress management

Managing stress is the foundation of a healthy body and mind. But did you know that coping with stress helps maintain a healthy supple skin too? Stress is one of major triggers of oil secretion.

Simple techniques like exercise, meditation and yoga are by far the easiest and most efficient ways to deal with stress. So now you have yet another incentive to lace up your sneakers.

Over-exposure to the sun

We repeatedly hear that over-exposure to the sun is detrimental to one’s skin. That’s because UV rays from harsh sunlight harms the skin and is also a leading cause of skin cancer. However, no sun is also as bad as over-exposure. The best protection is to avoid the sun in peak hours and apply sunscreen on any uncovered areas.

Toning art

The skin is a wondrous organ. It naturally self-regulates its pH and its health. Many people still adhere to the CTM model of cleanse-tone-moisturise in order to ensure that the skin’s pH is balanced after cleansing. However, some of these toners contain alcohol, which over-dries and irritates the skin. So, watch out for those products that contain alcohol as they can damage your skin in the long-term.

This was first published in the June 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Kiran Lohia
Dr Kiran Lohia is the only American born and trained dermatologist in India. She is also American board certified in Aesthetics and Lasers as well. She is regularly covered in the press on the latest innovations in beauty, and is regularly covered in publications such as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Hello Magazine, Times of India, Hindustan Times, and she is a regular columnist and on the expert panels of Good Housekeeping, Times of India, Bollywood Shaadis and more! She is also a regular on TV as as expert for Band Baaja Bride.



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