Many patients with oily skin tell me that they do not use any moisturiser and they are quite happy at that. Then they start to ask me why do they need moisturiser when their skin is already producing oil?
“Oh no, I don’t use moisturiser. It gives me pimples whenever I use it”.
Then, they start to look to me for the nod of approval…
I know there is a myth out there – people with oily skin do not need moisturiser. And this myth has been circulating around for a very long time. When something gets repeated often enough, you start to believe that it is the truth.
To determine if your skin is oily, you can do a tissue test. Wash your face with your regular cleanser and keep your face bare. Wait for one hour and then blot your face with a clean tissue. Start with your T zone first, and then followed by your cheeks. If you see grease spots on the tissue, you probably have oily skin. If the grease spots only appear on your T zone and not your cheeks, you probably have combination skin type.
Many people have combination skin and they often come to seek treatment for pimples. People with oily skin tend to prefer strong cleansers which are “foaming” or “deep pore cleansing”. These cleansers often leave their skin dry and tight after washing their face.
A lot of people do not understand that sebum is not equivalent to moisturizer. Moisturizers contain ingredients to hydrate the skin whereas the sebum is produced by our oil glands to lubricate our skin and to seal in the moisture. After we have washed our faces, our skin will be dry. If you skip the moisturizer, the oil glands will compensate to produce more sebum to reduce moisture loss from the skin. As a result, you realise that your skin will be even more oily after 1-2 hours of washing your face and skipping the moisturizer.
Moisturizer is particular important for those with pimple problems, a common occurrence among people with oily skin. This is because the products used to control pimples (such as Retin-A) often dry up and irritate the skin. If you skip the moisturizer in such circumstances, you may end up with red, itchy and flaking skin.
Skin hydration is a balancing act. While you want to keep your oily skin at bay, you need to moisturize your skin as well. For patients with oily skin, a lotion or gel moisturizer should suffice. However, if you have oily skin and are using pimple control products, you would need a more hydrating and creamy moisturiser. When in doubt, always consult a qualified doctor who is able to address your skin concerns.