Oily Skin, Meet Your Serum Soulmates

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Putting fewer products on oily skin is almost like reflex, an easy solution to avoid aggravating the daily grease fest we experience. When I started taking my skincare seriously, I first explored the world of sunscreens, masks, and cleansers. I was hesitant about getting into serums.  Would it be too thick for my skin? Would it cause allergies? Would it make me oilier? Don’t I have enough products?

Curious person that I am, however, I can’t help but gravitate toward them. After doing some research, I learned that serums would give me what I need. I can go after specific concerns aside from having a disco ball for a face come two in the afternoon. Serums, applied after cleansing, toning, and essence-ing (?) but before moisturizing, penetrates deeper into the skin because of its small molecules and therefore, delivers a higher concentration of active ingredients. This is what makes serums more apt in targeting more specific skin concerns like enlarged pores, pigmentation, signs of aging, dullness, and texture. This is also why I made it a mission to find serums that would agree with my oily skin.

Here’s what I found.

It’s already a given for us #oilyskinladies but serums can help manage acne-prone skin. A longtime go-to, the Effaclar Duo (+) from La Roche Posay helps clean clogged pores and manages excess oil production. As you know, clean pores lead to less irritation and blemishes. This product is also non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and it has no parabens. I always use this whenever I’m outdoors for too long and if I feel a pimple coming up. I also use this as a spot treatment.

You can also check out Glossier Super Pure, which contains niacinamide and zinc. These ingredients help calm blemishes and remove skin impurities that build up inside your pores.  With its lightweight formula, I apply it every morning before makeup, a feat because finding products that go great with makeup is a task in itself. You can also check out its cheaper alternative, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. Just note that serums that contain niacinamide cannot be applied with Vitamin C serums.

It was only when I got into skincare that I found out you can be oily and dehydrated at the same time. It panicked me – am I dehydrated? Yes. Do I slather oil? Depends. What do I use? I researched and researched. When I read that the Hydrate Facial Serum from Jordan Samuel Skin contains Hyaluronic acid, stabilized Vitamin C, and hexapeptides with cucumber, tamarind, and passionflower extracts, all hydrating properties, I was sold. I use this serum morning and night because I instantly noticed that my skin is less greasy in the afternoons and after I wake up after the first few days of use. My skin feels like it just drank eight glasses of water and my skin knows if I forget to use this.


Being in my early thirties, fine lines are also starting to show and my skin is not as taut as it was. No one would definitely mistake me for a college student. Even though I’m not aiming for that, I just want to age slowly and gracefully but don’t we all?

Many anti-aging products have a thick consistency, which is not good for those with oily skin like mine. Then I found Buffet from Deciem’s The Ordinary. This serum targets multiple signs of aging while retaining a consistency that’s light enough for oily skin. Best applied at night, Buffet contains a wide variety of ingredients –  Matrixyl, Peptide complex, Syn-Ake, and 11 amino acids to help keep those fine lines at bay. I love its texture; it’s silky but not too thick and it sinks in well on my skin, a perfect night serum that blends well with other products.

Another option is the Genius Liquid Collagen from Algenist. This vegan, collagen-based serum helps to restore the firmness of your skin. Like a tall drink of that much-needed water, this serum contains corn, soy, and wheat protein fibers to fight signs of aging. It has a fragrance though, but I didn’t mind because it smells very sophisticated. You know, the smell as if you’re doing something right in your life. The texture is smooth to the touch but a bit bubbly. This has become one of my go-to night serums because my skin feels bouncier and softer when I use this.

Vitamin C Serums are the biggest finds I had when I was looking for serums. They helped lighten post-blemish dark spots I had in my chin, brightened my skin, and managed my enlarged pores. For those with oily and sensitive skin, you can try the Freshly Juiced Vitamin Juice Drop from Klairs. Designed to be non-irritating and gentle, it’s a good start for those hesitant about piling on products with strong ingredients.

For those who are looking for something stronger, the C-Firma Day Serum from Drunk Elephant has 15% potent antioxidant complex of L-ascorbic, and ferulic acids, vitamin E to help neutralize environmental stressors and reduce the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles. This serum also has pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extracts that helps smoothen the skin texture. Just note that for Vitamin C serums, sunscreen every morning to avoid having skin irritation is a must. It is also best to not mix AHA and BHA products when using these.

An option for those looking for a multitasking serum is another product from Drunk Elephant – the TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, which contains glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids along with hydrators like raspberry extract and horse chestnut. An ingredient powerhouse which you can’t feel due to its gel-like texture, this helps lighten pigmentation, prevent acne, reduce dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, and improve uneven skin tones.

I know I have mentioned many great options but please do not pile everything on. Limit your face to three serums per routine. These products have powerful ingredients that may not agree with the others. They might not even agree with your skin. That is why you should also do your research. Look at the ingredients before buying and see what will work on your face. Serums are one of the most expensive products in skincare so proceed with caution. You can also test products in your hands first to see if there will be reactions.

Enjoy!

*published in puropulence.com titled “Serums For Oily Skin.” last October 2017

Why your AM and PM routines should be different

When I first found out that skincare goes beyond cleansers and toners, I got to know the benefits of serums, essences, masks, and moisturizers. Then I read about the 10-step routine and it’s just information overload. There is so much to do, and for someone who has oily skin with pigmentation, there’s a lot to treat. I bought so many products making me paralyzed with fear when I sat on my vanity. I’m going to put all this twice a day? When? How?

Using many products at night is okay with me. I’ve gotten used to it and even take pleasure on having a few minutes to myself –between my thoughts, my skincare, and I. It’s a time for me to really look at my face and check what exactly I would need that day.

At night, I usually remove my makeup with a cleansing balm like Banila Co’s CleanIt Zero Purity or Emma Hardie’s Moringa Cleansing Balm before anything else. They both remove my makeup so quickly and so efficiently. This step also serves as the time to relax; I turn on the music, close my eyes, and massage my face until the song is over. I know it’s too long but I like the feeling of balm on my face.

I then cleanse with a foaming cleanser like Earth Tu Face’s Palmarosa + Aloe FaceWash before I put on my masks. I choose my mask depending on what I need that day – Georgette Klinger’s Vitamin C Mask if I need some brightening, Dior’s Hydra Life Pink Clay Mask for when my skin needs an extra glow, or Innisfree’s Super Volcanic Clay Mousse Mask if my skin is a bit congested. I put on my mask and watch a rerun of The Office while waiting for it to dry.

Once that’s off, I go to my vanity and watch makeup tutorials until I finish my routine. I start with a hydrating toner, like Whamisa’s Organic Flowers Toner in Refresh or By Wishtrend’s Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water. I then pat SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence, the cult fave fermented essence, which helps refine pores and even skin tones. After that, I put on an acid, like Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, which is both clarifying and anti-aging. Then I use an exfoliating toner, Biologique Recherche’s P50, which is literally a miracle in a bottle. My skin is always clear and glowing the morning after whenever I use this.

I follow this with serums to treat whatever my skin is feeling that day. If my skin is feeling extra oily, I will use the Bare Alchemy Ambrosia Cleanse Serum. If I have a budding zit, I will use Glossier Super Pure and use this continuously until the zit subsides. If it’s a good day, I will pull out Sahajan’s Ayurvedic Radiance Blend Face Serum or Bare Alchemy’s Ambrosia Cleanse Serum. With this, I always use a hydrating serum, like Jordan Samuel’s Hydrate Facial Serum, because it’s like a tall drink of water and an anti-aging serum like The Ordinary’s Buffet because I need to. I’m already in my 30s so I desperately need to keep those wrinkles at bay.

I cap my nighttime routine off with a moisturizer. This was a tricky part since it took me a long time to find a moisturizer that will not make my skin oilier. I found Blended Boost’s Face Cream, which can be customized to fit your skin needs, and J.One Cosmetics Black Jelly Pack. They are both hydrating and moisturizing but I don’t wake up with a greasy face after. I sometimes mix Butter Elixir’s Face Oil with my moisturizer if I feel like I need more nourishment.

Having these many products in my stash was a huge adjustment in the morning. You see, I love to sleep a bit too much. I tried doing all the steps above in the morning but it just didn’t work. My skin got greasy even before lunchtime and it was difficult to apply makeup. I also experienced breakouts. This is when I realized that I don’t have to follow a specific routine, I can adjust it based on what my skin needs and how my skin works.

I use a different type of cleanser in the morning – something gentler like Goodal’s Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam or Alder New York’s Everyday Face Cleanser. They don’t strip my skin but they do the cleansing part well. For toners, I use something lighter like mists. Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator or Enature’s Vita 8 Nutritive Mist is so light and yet so hydrating. Mists are also great for waking up the skin and for reducing the puffiness a bit.

In the morning is when I will use my Vitamin C serums, like Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum or Skindeva’s Vitamin C+E Serum to brighten dull spots. These two products have a very light oily texture and sink in the skin quickly so it goes great with makeup. I do this because Vitamin C is very fussy with products used with it. After this, I use Onomie’s Priming Serum to even the tone of my skin.

After the serums, I use a different moisturizer, something lighter than what I use a night – Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion or Yasou’s Cellular Day Cream. They both work great with makeup and don’t make my skin oily. Up next is sunscreen, which is, again, a difficult search for me. Most of the sunscreens in the market are too greasy or too thick for my skin. Some have even broken me out. I use either Benefit Cosmetic’s Dream Screen or La Roche Posay’s Antihelios XL Ultra Light.

As you can see, my morning routine is much shorter. I have toned it down because what I need during the day is very different from what I need at night. During the day, my main goal is to mattify and protect my skin. I spend my days either stuck in the office surrounded by air-conditioning or outdoors surrounded by dust or under the sun so protection is important. Also, if you apply makeup finding products that will blend well with your foundation is necessary.

My goal for my nighttime routine is to cleanse, treat, and moisturize to prepare for the next day. Double cleansing is very important because it removes everything that my face has encountered during the day. This is the time to check what my skin needs and what I can do for it be it a serum or a mask.

It would, of course, be a different thing for people who have normal or dry skin types as they are looking for different things. Note that the routine I mentioned took a lot of trial and error on my part in order to find the most suitable products for my skin. However, my experience just proves to me that yes, layering products can be effective but it can also be customized depending on what your skin needs. Happy Discovering!

**published in puropulence.com last December 2017