Ask an Expert: My dermatologist’s top 3 tips for oily skin


As a teenager, I was sort of one of the lucky ones. My skin was relatively decent. I had my breakouts, like anyone going through the hormonal upheaval of teenagedom, but it was never a persistent problem, you know?

Because of this, when I did get hit with awful skin problems in my early twenties, I had no idea how to deal with it. I was still using makeup wipes, that’s how bad I was at looking after my skin. I’d been using the same moisturiser since I was 14 despite my skin’s needs changing and I had no idea how to tackle this painful confidence-hitting problem.

Close View of Womans Face

After a few months of trying to deal with it alone, I finally caved and went to a dermatologist. I struggled massively with oily skin and painful outbreaks, meaning I found it hard to find a moisturiser and facewash that wouldn’t dry me out but also wouldn’t leave my skin oilier than before.  

I left the clinic that day with new ‘Skin Commandments’ from my dermatologist who was horrified at my skincare routine. Her top three tips for oily skin were as follows:

1.         Wear suncream every day.

Faceless woman applying lotion on hand on sunny day

I know, I know, I’ve harped on about this before but it’s just so important, I can’t stop talking about it. She showed me under this special light all of the sun damage that was on my face and in the dermal layers below the surface. My skin is very fair, but all that means is that mine shows up more clearly. I would honestly recommend everyone check out the damage the UV rays are doing – you will never leave suncream out of your routine again. Because I have oily skin, I was apprehensive about incorporating it, but she offered me a few oil-free matte alternatives that really make a difference. My favourite was Heliocare’s SPF 50.

2.         Powder/mineral foundation

Compact Powder On White Surface

Wearing foundation can be a huge source of grief for any of us oily skin people. It ends up in weird clumps on your face when you try to use the mousse ‘oily skin friendly’ ones and just drips off your face if you use anything else without copious amounts of powder. My dermatologist suggested powder foundation, which I had never even heard of. The trick with this one, is that it’s like avoiding the foundation step all together. It goes; primer – concealer – powder/mineral foundation – blush/bronzer/highlighter etc. No need for setting powder either. This is one for truly oily faces – it doesn’t cake or clump but has great coverage and it actually stays where you put it! Of the ones that I’ve tried, I like Clarin’s Ever Matte Mineral Powder Compact.

3.         Exfoliation for oily skin

Free stock photo of anti aging, Asian, asian girl

At this point my skin had been like this for months, so not only did I have active spots and breakouts, but I also had the scars and leftover dark red skin from previous breakouts. My skin was textured and irritated and never really felt clean. I decided the solution was the exfoliate almost daily to try to get rid of this skin, but all I did was make it more irritated and actually increased the oil production. My dermatologist recommended exfoliating just once a week to give the scar tissue time to heal and to use only exfoliators with salicylic acid as it penetrates pores in a mild but extremely effective manner, therefore not irritating existing painful blemishes.