The Twinkle Apothecary Guide to Oily Skin
Hello, yes. Hi.
If you've followed my brand for any amount of time or have read any of my previous blogs about skincare, you might be thinking... what now? I thought she said these products were good for all skin types?!
And, yup! You are absolutely right. Every single one of my skincare products will help balance your skin no matter if it's dry, oily, acne prone, whatever...
But you see, the problem is that no one believes me. Skincare has been made out to be so overwhelmingly complex and elusive (all the better to get you to buy more things!) for so long, that me trying to talk about a minimal, "one size fits all" approach is going right over everyone's head. Every day I get questions like, "Hi, I have dry skin, what do you recommend?" And I'm like, "I recommend this skincare routine, which I recommend to literally everyone no matter their skin type, and I'm positive that if you follow it, your skin will become more balanced!"
And then I never hear from them again.
So clearly I need a new approach here.
Instead of giving everyone the same advice in one fell swoop, I'm going to try to break it down by skin "type" or, concern, and dig deeper into *why* these products work to balance your skin in a series of blog posts, starting with oily skin today!
If you stick around and read the whole series, you'll probably notice that there is a lot of overlapping information, because the basic principals of my skincare approach really do apply to everyone. However, I'm also going to get more specific about product recommendations and routines for you, so read on to get all of my best tips and tricks to apply to your skin.
Hey, if it's easier, you can even pretend like we never had the conversation in the past three paragraphs and simply choose to look at the following information as if it applies only to you and your extra special skin!
Ok, ready? Let's go!
What is oily skin "type" and how do you know if you have it?
First of all, everyone's skin produces oil, aka sebum - a natural secretion composed of wax, fatty acids, cholesterol, and glycerides - to protect and moisturize our skin.
Oily skin as a skin "type" refers to someone who has a more-than-average amount of oil glands in their skin. This means that someone with an oily skin type will naturally produce more oil than "average," or "normal" skin. (In parentheses obviously, because what is "normal" anyway...? Everyone's skin is different!)
Oily skin types will often have larger, more visible, and more easily clogged pores, and are often more prone to breakouts and blackheads, as more oil production leads to more opportunities for more oil to solidify and become clogged in the pores.
Clogged pores + harmful bacteria strains like, P. Acnes, can lead to acne breakouts, so oily and acne prone skin often go hand in hand, but I will make a separate guide for acne prone skin, so keep an eye out for that later!
If you consistently feel like your skin is always oily, no matter what products you try, and you notice that you are prone to blackheads, breakouts, and more visible pores, you probably have oily skin as a type.
But actually, anyone's skin can over-produce oil at any given time, as your skin's oil production varies, and is affected by both things I cannot help you with, like hormones, aging, stress, the weather in your climate -
and things I can help you with, like the products you use, and the condition of your skin's barrier layer.
What is the barrier layer? I'm so glad you asked!
Understanding your skin's barrier layer is key if you're trying to balance oily skin. Oil basically *is* the barrier layer. I've been talking about the barrier layer for a looooong time here, so be sure to check out
for lots more information.
And if you don't have time for that, here's the gist:
Your skin's barrier layer, also referred to as the acid mantle, or, the microbiome, is the (slightly acidic) layer of protective oil (yes, the sebum we discussed above,) which is also loaded with good bacteria and microbes that fend off bad bacteria and potentially harmful pathogens.
This barrier layer of natural oil and good bacteria keeps your skin moisturized, elastic, hydrated, youthful looking, and infection free. Please, if you take away just one thing from this post, I hope you understand that oil is NOT a villain and you do not need to wash it all away. It is essential to the health of your skin.
All skincare should support our skin's natural efforts to keep itself balanced, but unfortunately, most mainstream products targeted to oily skin seem to make people think they need to banish all of that nasty, evil oil with harsh "deep cleansing" "oil-free" products.
Because your skin's barrier layer is acidic, using harsh cleansers (ALL soaps and foaming cleansers are too alkaline and thus too harsh for your acidic skin barrier!) will strip the good, protective oil off of your face, creating an inhospitable environment for the good bacteria and microbes to thrive. This lack of oil and good bacteria leaves your skin prone to transdermal water loss (aka dryness, see also: pre-mature aging,) and infection, rashes, allergic reactions...
This also causes your skin to amp up its natural oil production, and overproduce oil in an attempt to correct the situation and restore balance.
Therein lies the problem.
Which brings me to my first topic when it comes to balancing oily skin:
Washing your face and exfoliation:
Here's the basic idea: you want to wash away the dirt and excess oil before it can solidify in your pores and lead to breakouts, without disturbing your skin's barrier layer. Sounds impossible, but it's actually not, once you get the hang of it!
ALL of my cleansers and face masks will be helpful and balancing for oily skin. If you're shopping elsewhere, look for the most gentle thing you can find. You'll want to look for something that's pH balanced - around 4.5-5. NO soap. NO foaming cleansers. (Never, ever, EVER!)
But honestly, why are you reading this if you're just going to go shop elsewhere? Let's talk about my products!
Oil cleansing and double cleansing:
Incorporating oil cleansing into your routine is my number one tip for those of us with oily skin and easily clogged pores, and unfortunately it's the hardest idea to convince oily skin types to try!
Here's why it works though -
Oil dissolves oil. I know it sounds and feels sooooo counterintuitive, but using oil to cleanse will help break up the old, excess oil that's trying to solidify in your pores. If you try it, and stick to it, I'm positive that you will see fewer clogged pores and blackheads over time. I was skeptical at first too, but I've found that the more I oil cleanse, the better my pores look.
Oils that are good to use for oil-cleansing oily skin:
Makeup remover and cleansing oil (obviously, this is the one I designed with oil cleansing in mind!)
Any of my facial oils will work - although I really prefer the slippery texture of the makeup remover and cleansing oil.
Kalahari/Watermelon seed oil
For oily skin, I recommend oil cleansing in the mornings - either using your fingers to "wash" the areas where your pores tend to get congested, or, using a damp konjac sponge to massage the oil into your skin. (The sponge is great if the thought of just rubbing oil on your face with your bare hands doesn't make you feel like you'll get clean "enough.") Charcoal or lavender are great konjac options for oily skin, but any will do, really! Always follow, of course, with toning and moisturizing... scroll down for those sections!
At night, double cleansing - using a cleansing oil as a first step to remove makeup/excess dirt and oil, is going to be your best bet. Now, I know two cleansing steps probably isn't the magical, easy skincare miracle you were hoping for, but it's going to make a huge difference in balancing your skin and keeping your pores clear. I know because I have "oily" skin, which I keep in balance and breakout free by double cleansing nightly.
For the second cleansing step, I recommend using one of my exfoliating facemasks -
charcoal if you're trying to prevent/stop breakouts,
green tea to minimize pores,
or pink clay if you want a "deep cleanse" that balances your skin and leaves it looking radiant -
or the exfoliating cleanser 1-3 times per week, and the calming cleansing grains the rest of the time.
I know it's tempting to want to scrub your face daily, but with oily skin you want to take care not to over-exfoliate. Too much exfoliation is damaging to the skin barrier, so just a couple times a week is plenty for you to keep your pores clear and oil production in check.
It's time to retrain your brain to go for the most gentle approach possible to prevent stripping your skin and causing your skin to over-produce oil. Exfoliating and face masks are helpful to add into your routine a couple of times per week, but when it comes down to it, the softer, more gentle calming cleansing grains are actually your best friend!
Toning is extremely important for oily skin, for several reasons. Always tone with toning mist after cleansing, morning and night.
For oily skin, toning mist is a great way to ensure the pores are clear from any trapped dirt or oil. Think of it as a third cleansing step. You'll want to use a cotton (or reusable!) pad to wipe the toning mist over your face if you're oily and prone to clogged pores. (I like doing this because I like to be able to see that my face is really clean!)
Toning mist is also astringent, meaning, it helps tighten the pores back up after they've been scrubbed open.
Lastly, toning mist helps re-balance the skin's pH after cleansing, keeping the delicate barrier layer and microbiome in check.
Once more, because I really can't say it enough, don't skip this step!
After toning, of course you'll need to moisturize. Yes, even if you have oily skin!
Moisturizing oily skin:
Speaking of things that feel counterintuitive but are actually very helpful and balancing for oily skin, you should use a facial oil to moisturize!
Here's why: in addition to repairing, conditioning, and strengthening the skin barrier, adding oil to your skin "tricks" your skin into thinking that it doesn't need to produce more of its own oil, putting a damper on those over-productive oil glands.
However, please note that it will feel like too much at first.
There is an adjustment period.
The first couple of days will feel really weird and yuck, and there might be a week or so where you think I have no idea what I'm talking about,
but before you know it, like magic,
your skin will be less oily.
It's called balance. This is your new life now.
I recommend starting small, using my facial oil for acne prone skin, because it's the lightest weight and fastest absorbing oil in my collection. Start with just a couple of drops, let it soak into your skin, and go from there.
Over time, as your skin adjusts, you'll probably find that you can use more and more oil. You might want to try my original facial oil, or the extra juicy sensitive oil. They're richer in texture but still non-pore-clogging and perfectly safe for you.
You'll also be able to add a richer butter to moisturize more deeply as needed. (At nighttime, or in the winter!) The Beauty Butter is my top choice for oily skin because it absorbs so easily into the skin. Again, start small and add more as needed.
Now, makeup and extras:
Honestly, I can't speak to foundation as I haven't worn any in years, but I do know that yes, you can absolutely use my Facewhip during the day, even though it is a fairly thick, rich moisturizer. Same rules apply that we discussed in the moisturizing section. Start small, give it time to soak in, and add more as needed. If you're following my skincare tips, you'll be fine.
However, if you're still washing with a harsh soap, not toning, and not moisturizing with oil to turn off your skin's over-active oil glands, yeah, it's probably going to feel like too much.
No matter what you use as far as facewhip/foundation goes, you're definitely going to want to follow with POWDER!
My translucent mattifying powder is the key to keeping your skin from getting too shiny throughout the day. It also keeps the oils and butters (from moisturizing, facewhip, and even foundations) from slipping and sliding all over your face. It also helps set your eye makeup/eye tint when applied to the lids. It's a must for pretty much everyone, but especially those of us with oily skin! Apply it over your moisturizer/facewhip/foundation for sure, and perhaps over other color on eyes and cheeks as needed.
Other colors: shimmer powders vs. serums. vs. balms
Oily skin will probably be happier with one of my shimmer powders or serums over a highlight balm, which may feel too heavy on the cheeks/eyes. However, once your skin starts to become more balanced, feel free to try incorporating a balm into your makeup routine as they're non pore clogging and super easy and fun to play with - fall/winter, when there's less moisture in the air - is a great time to experiment with a cream blush. And of course the balms are always great for the lips, which, fun fact - do not contain any oil glands and thus need to be moisturized daily!
Eye serum - yes.
Acne spot treatment - yes!
Hydrosols - YES! Even oily skin likes to be hydrated - use it just before moisturizing with your facial oil.
Beauty tools - gua sha and facial rollers, yes! I like to Gua Sha during my morning oil cleanse, and facial rolling at night after applying my beauty butter helps everything soak in so nicely. Increased blood flow from daily massage helps smooth your skin without resorting to another exfoliation session.
Facial cleansing brushes - no! (Too much exfoliating!)
Dermaplaning - Ok occasionally, every 6 weeks or so so as not to disrupt the skin barrier.
Facemask/cleanser add-ins: fresh aloe, toning mist (in place of water,) green tea, turmeric, activated charcoal are all good things for pore-refining properties and radiance;
coconut water, yogurt, coconut milk, and enzyme rich fresh fruits like pumpkin and papaya are gentle, moisturizing ways to refresh your skin and promote cell-turnover without resorting to manual exfoliation;
oats/oat flour are a soothing mask add-in for all skin types.
Lastly, a few things to avoid:
coconut oil, cocoa butter, mineral oil/petroleum jelly, harsh exfoliants, soap and foaming cleansers - if it get's even slightly sudsy, it's bad news for your oil balance.
That's all I've got for now... I hope this is helpful! Scroll down to shop all of the products mentioned, and stay tuned for the next post in this series!
- Stefanie -