What Skincare Ingredients Are Bad for an Oily Complexion?

Choosing products for oily skin isn't about banning oil entirely from your skincare regimen. All you need to do is avoid three categories of skincare ingredients.

If you have oily or combination skin, you may assume you should avoid oil-based skincare products like the plague. And pure facial oils ... well, let's not even go there!

Instead, you've probably created a skincare routine that contains mostly drying products—and MAYBE a super-lightweight, oil-free moisturiser. While it's an understandable reaction, eschewing oil isn't healthy for your skin in the long term.

The first thing to understand is that not all oily skin is in good condition. Your complexion could be oily on the surface but dry underneath.

In fact, the sebum composition of oily skin is often lacking in a natural oil called 'linoleic acid'. Studies have found that acne patients who applied this oil for a month saw a 25% decrease in comedone size and severity.

You read that right: some oils can actually benefit oily skin and help prevent spots and pimples. That information has probably turned everything you thought you knew about skincare on its head. Read on for a deeper understanding of what you really should avoid when choosing the right products for oily skin.

There are three families of ingredients you should avoid using on an oily complexion:

  1. Ingredients that strip skin of its natural oils
  2. Oils with a high level of oleic acid
  3. Occlusive ingredients


What Skincare Ingredients Are Bad for an Oily Complexion?


1. Ingredients That Strip Skin of Natural Oils

Studies show that within a few hours of using skin-stripping ingredients, oiliness returns to its original level. This means harsh, solvent-based skincare products don't have a long-term effect on your skin's oiliness. In fact, the effects don't even last until lunchtime.

But stripping ingredients do have a negative long-term effect on the overall condition of your skin. With continued use, these skincare ingredients make it harder for your skin to keep itself hydrated. This means skin is not only oily but also dehydrated and flaky. And you thought it couldn't get any worse!

Ingredients to avoid for oily skin:

  • Alcohol: the key offender
  • Sodium lauryl or laureth sulphate


What Skincare Ingredients Are Bad for an Oily Complexion?


2. Oils With a High Level of Oleic Acid

It's easy to mentally lump all oils together, but in reality, the composition of oils varies greatly. Oils that come from vegetables, fruits, and nuts are quite different from one other.

Oils consist mainly of fatty acids. Oleic acid is a fatty acid that, when present in high amounts, tends to make a heavy oil that sits on top of the skin. This is great for chronically dry skin types and bad for oily ones.

This means you should avoid products predominantly made with:

  • Coconut oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Camellia oil
  • Sunflower oil

Instead, replace them with oils high in linoleic acid, linolenic acid, or alpha-linolenic acid. These are the oils often lacking in an oily skin type. Look for oils such as:

  • Rosehip
  • Evening primrose
  • Hemp seed
  • Grapeseed

Here are some of our favourite facial oils for oily skin:

3. Occlusive Emollients

Occlusives are a type of ingredient that forms a second skin on top of your own. They're a breed of moisturisers that form a seal to prevent hydration from evaporating and protect skin from external attack. Occlusives don't give and don't take.

Occlusive ingredients are excellent for dry skin that lacks sebum, but they offer no benefits for oily skin. Instead, occlusives will only feel heavy, sticky, and greasy.

Occlusive ingredients that oily skin types should avoid:

  • Mineral oil
  • Beeswax
  • Vegetable and other waxes
  • Paraffin
  • Lanolin

If you're looking for products that are appropriate for oily complexions, head on over to our oily skincare shop, where we've carefully preselected the best products for you.

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