How to Fix Oily Skin

Joy Hernon, 22, talks to MC's resident derm and psychiatrist, Dr. Amy Wechsler, about overcoming oily skin.

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JH: Throughout the day, my skin gets shinier and shinier, and I hate worrying about it. Are there products specifically for this problem?

Look for skin and makeup products that are not just oil-free, but noncomedogenic, meaning they won't clog pores.

JH: My moisturizer and face wash are both oil-free, but I still break out. How can I treat the pimples?

A 2 percent salicylic-acid spot treatment is better than one with benzoyl peroxide, which tends not only to be too drying, but can also bleach your pillowcases. When you dry out oily skin too much, your skin responds by producing more sebum, which leads to pimples. It's good that you know enough to moisturize.

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JH: I try to mask the oiliness with makeup. Can you recommend any particular formulas?

Mineral makeup is ideal for oily skin — again, because it's noncomedogenic. You can also now find concealers with salicylic acid that both cover and treat blemishes. Do you wear sunscreen during the day?

JH: I used to use a moisturizer with SPF, but it made me break out.

You need at least SPF 30. The best way to test a product is to sleep for three nights with a small amount on a less visible area, like the jawline. If you do have a reaction, at least it won't cover your entire face.

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JH: My friends are always trying to comfort me, saying oily skin means you wrinkle at a later age. True?

Though the lore hasn't been scientifically proven, drier skin tends to look more creased, because it reflects less light, appearing duller. Hydrated skin has a more intact surface, and lines fill in a bit with moisture.

JH: Will facials improve my skin? I've never gotten one because I'm afraid they'll make me break out.

Facials are less of a treatment and more about pampering. Still, they won't cause your skin to produce more oil. Extractions, peels, and microdermabrasion are also good ways to get rid of the dead, sticky skin cells that are known to clog pores. Certainly pursue these services — just not all at once!

JH: What side effects should I expect from a facial?

You'll have some mild pinkness afterward, but any facial that results in itching, burning, or marks is too severe for your skin. If this does happen, soak a face cloth in one part whole milk and one part cool water, then apply it to your skin for 10 to 15 minutes.

JH: Great. Thanks so much!

Dr. Amy Wechsler's BEAUTY RX Vichy NormaDerm Anti-Imperfection Hydrating Care, $19; Bare Escentuals i.d. Mineral Veil, $19; Physicians Formula Blemish Rx Blemish Healing Concealer, $8.95.

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