We’ve probably all had a time in our lives where we noticed a few more blemishes and sought-after products that were labeled “oil-free”. I was in the oil-free club for many, many years. I bought into the marketing claims that oil was bad and that I needed to rid myself of any oil if I want beautiful, acne-free skin. Not only are these claims misleading, but as science advances and we learn more about skin biology we are also learning what our skin needs to function properly. Spoiler alert: one of those things is oil!
Acne is the most common skin condition in the USA, affecting approximately 50 million Americans yearly. Acne affects men and women of all ages with 3 in every 4 people suffering from the condition. There are tons of myths and misconceptions about acne and today we are going to set the record straight! By the end of this read, you might even find out that the oil that you thought was your enemy, may turn out to be your friend.
What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. The skin has glands that produce an oily liquid called sebum. Sebum is responsible for carrying dead skin cells through hair follicles to the surface. Breakouts occur when these follicles get clogged, and oil builds up under the skin. This mixture of congested dead skin and oil forms a little plug that gets infected with bacteria and thus, swelling occurs and you have yourself a beautiful new pimple. Acne appears in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, or pimples.
Myth: Oil-free products are better for your skin
Fact: Oil-Free products don’t exist. The “oil-free” craze was born in the 1970s when dermatologists came up with a flawed method for testing comedogenicity (pore-clogging capacity) of skincare ingredients. The result: false positives for commonly used oils. Thus, in the 1990s skincare and cosmetic companies capitalized on these studies and sent the message to consumers that oil clogged pores and you should get rid of all the oil on your skin. Voila, the oil-free product is born!
Not only is the term oil-free misleading, in some cases it is absolutely not true. For a long time, oil-free meant mineral oil-free, not literally oil-free. Furthermore, tons of ingredients do not have the word “oil” in their name and should definitely not be put in a non-comedogenic product but can still sneak by under “oil-free” claims. Pay attention to your ingredient labels people!
Even if you suffer from acne, you still need products with some oil in them to help hydrate and protect your skin. More on that later.
Myth: People with oily skin shouldn’t use face or cleansing oils
Fact: It may seem counterintuitive to add more oil on your skin that already appears oily, however, using facial oils can help regulate your oil production. Specifically, olive oil mimics your skin’s natural sebum (oil) production. Applying this to your face can help balance your oil production since your skin won’t feel the need to overproduce. Rose, sunflower, and jojoba oil are also good ones to look out for!
Myth: You need to wash your face more to get rid of acne
Fact: Washing our face more often won’t cure acne, because acne is often not caused by dirty skin. Washing your face twice a day is a good idea, but any more than that will do it more harm than good. If you overdo the washing (especially if you use a harsh cleanser) you risk over drying and damaging your skin.
Many times, people with oily skin use harsh cleansers that strip the skin of too much oil, which sets off an alarm bell for your skin to increase oil production-making your skin oiler and oiler. Blemishes pop up, making you think that you need to cleanse more, and the cycle continues, making your skin dry, irritated, and inflamed. The key for all skin types is to find that balance of cleansing your skin of dirt and bacteria while replenishing nourishing oils.
Since olive oil has antibacterial properties, it can help in killing bacteria that cause acne – thus reducing overall skin acne. The anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce redness and irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Myth: Acne-prone skin doesn’t need extra moisture
Fact: This is a common misconception. Oily skin with extra oil does not equate to skin hydration! Drying up moisture on the skin’s surface hurts its ability to fight acne and encourages breakouts to last longer. People with larger pores and thicker skin tend to produce more oil, which can lead to acne-prone skin. Elimination of moisturizer and oil in your daily routine will dry out your skin and cause it to overcompensate by producing more oil. Regardless of what skin type you have; your skin needs moisture. Moisturizing the skin helps with barrier function and is imperative for overall skin health. Look for non-comedogenic moisturizers or face oils. These won’t clog your pores and will help keep your skin hydrated and balanced.
Myth: Facial oils cause acne
Fact: Non-comedogenic, facial oils with naturally derived oils are not responsible for your latest breakout. It’s comedogenic oils like mineral oil that you need to watch out for. Plenty of oils are naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which promote clearer skin. The truth is-acne can be triggered by a lot of things. Some of which include, stress, hormonal changes, certain medications, and diet. However, your skin may be sensitive to certain ingredients in natural products (as well as non-natural ones) so make sure you pay attention to how your skin reacts when you introduce a new product into your routine and seek help from a professional if you’re not sure.
Be Kind to Yourself Today,