You know how some people pat their cheese pizza with a napkin to soak up the grease? Here’s how to apply that same technique to shiny spots on your face.
I’m a guy with oily skin who likes to not look like a oily guy, even if I know I’m only taking off the top layer of sebum—the stuff that causes you to look oily—when I address the matter. Fellow oily-faced readers out there know the feeling of greasy skin, where it feels like a thin film is on top of your skin. The problem isn’t just the sebum, though. The problem is that the sebum reflects light which causes you to look greasy. And somehow it always seems to get worse after a hearty meal.
But we’ve got solutions for that. Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at mattifying my face (e.g. making its surface matte). There are a few products and steps you can take to balance your skin’s oil levels without drying it out. If you have oily skin (or ‘combination’ skin, which is a curious way of saying that it sometimes gets oily), then put these tips to practice. You should notice less oil production in general, or find that these habits at least neutralize the shine whenever it surfaces.
1. Get Your Skin Toned
After cleansing your skin (or after shaving), pat some toner onto your entire face—just a few drops in the palms, or onto a cotton pad. It absorbs deep into the pores to balance pH levels, preventing excess oil production without drying the skin. I like DTRT’s So Fine Toner, which works double time to prevent any post-shave irritation, and is a great pick-up for dry-skinned gents, too: It uses cactus-fruit extract to preserve moisture levels so that the skin doesn’t get parched.
2. Mattify While You Moisturize
Guys with oily faces sometimes think they don’t need to moisturize, since their skin produces so much sebum. This natural oil is nourishing, yes, but it can clog pores and needs to be kept under control. That’s why a cleansing routine is so important (see the next two tips). And, since this isn’t an article about how to stay moist, but instead one about how to look less greasy, then I’m telling you to cleanse a lot. For that reason, you need to moisturize a lot, too.
Snag an oil-free, mattifying moisturizer for your post-cleanser, post-toner nourishment. A lightweight, non-greasy moisturizer absorbs easily and won’t clog pores (which would otherwise aggravate the situation by making you sweat). Some mattifiers come in light skin tone colors, to gently match your skin color, but unless you’re certain it’s a fit, then I suggest picking up a neutral one, such as Clinique for Men’s Oil Control Mattifying Moisturizer. Apply it morning and night, at least, and following any cleansing.
3. Cleanse Twice Daily—Sometimes Three Times
Frequent canvas clearing is necessary for we greasy people. Wash your face when you wake up, since your body had plenty of time to produce sebum while you slept. You’ll need a fresh slate before doing the rest of your skincare regimen for the day.
Wash your face at night to flush away any toxins and sebum that accumulated throughout the day. No need to let your pillowcase absorb all that grease, or to risk clogging your pores while you sleep.
And, cleanse after any particularly sweaty activity—mainly just after working out. Your skin is naturally oily, so it runs less risk in drying out if you cleanse 2 or 3 times a day. (Someone with drier skin would risk dehydrating the skin cells by stripping even the good oil.)
4. But Use a Gentle Cleanser
Since you are cleansing so much, pick a gentle, oil-free product that keeps pH levels in check. You don’t want to risk drying the skin, which can happen even though you produce lots of sebum naturally. I like Lab Series’ Oil Control Face Wash, which works like a 2-in-1 cleanser-toner.
5. Pack a Pocket Wipe
Since toting a cleanser is a nuisance, just stock up on individually wrapped face wipes, like Niche for Men Face and Body Cleansing Wipes, which work as an on-the-go cleanser (especially good for the gym, if you prefer to shower at home and thus risk letting the sweat dry inside your pores). Or, if you don’t want a washing sensation and instead prefer to soak up excess oil (like your friend Bella’s pizza practice), then buy some blotting papers (such as
MUJI’s Facial Blotting Paper). It’s great before a job interview or business presentation, if your nerves have manifested as oil and sweat on the brow. Simply pat away mild shine whenever it appears, and the hemp paper soaks it up like a sponge.
6. In Warm Weather, Stick with Oils and Serums
It might seem counterintuitive, but in warmer weather, I actually sweat less when I swap my moisturizer for a face oil. It’s not necessarily that the oil prevents oil production—that’s what I use toner and cleansers for—but it makes me sweat less, since it doesn’t sit atop my skin and cover my pores. Oils and serums allow my skin to breathe more, and since they absorb so rapidly, they don’t make me any oilier than I’d otherwise be. I’m just cure to apply them to a freshly-cleansed and toned canvas, otherwise I’m applying it to the film-like layer of excess sebum, which does zero favors.
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