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  • Writer's pictureBruce Salinger

Do You Have Oily Skin? Avoid These Common Skincare Ingredients

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The beauty market is full of products promising to moisturize and clarify your skin. Manufacturers often plaster their labels with images of models with seemingly flawless complexions, but as any consumer knows, you can't always trust what you see.

People with naturally oily skin need to purchase products cautiously because selecting the wrong product can have adverse effects, like acne breakouts. When shopping for skincare products, you want to look for items specifying skin type. Also, if you have oily skin, there are several ingredients you should avoid.

1. Harsh Alcohols and Substances That Strip Away Natural Oils

Primarily, the harshest ingredients, those responsible for stripping away natural oils, appear in face toners. The most aggressive substances are often alcohols, but not always. Common elements to avoid if you have oily skin include:

  • Isopropyl Alcohol

  • Denatured Alcohol

  • Ethanol

  • SD Alcohol 40

  • Sodium lauryl (Laureth sulfate)

When you use these ingredients long-term, they can cause irritation and inflammation. The substances interfere with the skin barrier function, making moisture retention exceedingly difficult. Essentially, using products with these ingredients can change oily skin to dry skin.

While you can use moisturizers to combat dryness, avoiding alcohols and alcohol-based products is best. The beauty of the skincare market today is the prominence of alcohol-free options, such as those with natural ingredients like cucumber, hazel, green tea, and rose water.

2. Oleic Acid-Based Face Moisturizers or Oils

Within the beauty industry, consumers and manufacturers shifted focus from chemically engineered products to those based more on natural ingredients. Still, not all natural substances are suitable for people with oily skin, such as natural oils containing oleic acid.

Many natural oils are comedogenic, resting on the surface of the skin. Essentially, the oils block and clog the pores and can make a face appear greasy. The potential symptoms of these oils are made worse for those with naturally oily skin because they typically have larger, open pores.

People with oily skin should avoid natural oils with oleic acid. The most common oils with this substance include:

  • Sunflower oil

  • Coconut oil

  • Camellia oil

  • Hazelnut oil

Instead of oils with oleic acid, select those products with linoleic acid. The most common oils that are safe for people with oily skin include:

  • Hempseed oil

  • Rosehip oil

  • Grapeseed oil

  • Evening primrose oil

  • Moroccan oil

3. Isopropyl Myristate

A common ingredient in skincare products promoting softer skin, isopropyl myristate can cause irritation and inflammation if used too often. As a comedogenic substance, it can also cause acne.

Isopropyl myristate has many derivatives, and it is essential for people with a naturally oily complexion to avoid them all. Some of the common ingredients to avoid include:

  • Myristyl myristate

  • Isopropyl palmitate and isostearate

  • Isocetyl stearate

  • Butyl stearate

  • Octyl stearate and palmitate

  • Isostearyl neopentanoate

  • Decyl oleate

4. Artificial Dyes, Artificial Fragrances, and Algae Extract

Typically used in lipstick and blush, artificial dyes may contain coal tar and petroleum, both comedogenic. You should avoid products that include the ingredients:

  • Indigolds

  • Xanthenes

  • Fluorans

  • Monoazoanilines

Also, many beauty products use artificial fragrances to mask unwanted odors. Some fragrances can cause skin irritation, sensitivities, and allergies, causing breakouts or rashes. With oily skin, it is usually best to stick with fragrance-free products or those with mild fragrances.

Finally, algae extract is a popular ingredient in concealers. Like other ingredients on this list, algae extract is a comedogenic ingredient and can clog pores, resulting in acne breakouts.

People with naturally oily skin need to remain mindful of the ingredients in the products they purchase. For help creating a safe skincare routine, contact a dermatologist.


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