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How to Tell If You Have Oily Skin

You may hate your oily skin and the way it makes you feel like a grease monkey pretty much constantly, but your 50-year-old you will be thankful you had oily skin because it ages better than dry skin. Oils keep the skin plump allowing fewer wrinkles to form. Many young women have oily skin but as they age, they may find their skin becomes more dry, especially in their late 30s.

Oily Skin Characteristics

If you have oily skin, you likely know it. Your skin becomes shiny within the hour after cleansing. You'll notice your T-zone (the entire forehead, down your nose to the chin) is most oily. You have a tendency to get acne if a teenager or young adult and you're prone to enlarged pores, blackheads and what I call, "Greasy Bangs Syndrome" wherein you can't wear bangs because they become grease catchers.

Still not sure if you have oily skin? Try this test: take a paper napkin and press it to your forehead, nose and chin. When you pull it away, the paper will be translucent with oils.

If your cheeks tend to be dry and flaky, then you likely have combination skin. Most women have combination skin at some point in their lives.

Causes of Oily Skin

Oily skin is caused by overactive sebaceous (oil) glands. Heat and humidity will increase sebum production, which is why you may suffer more in the summer months.

How to Take Basic Care of Your Skin

The secret to treating oily skin is to not go overboard with products. If you exfoliate too much and swipe on drying toners every night, your skin will react by producing more sebum.

Try a basic skincare routine:

- Wash with a cleanser formulated for oily skin. I recommend cleansing your skin at night and rinsing off with warm water in the morning so you don't over-cleanse skin, again causing it to go into oil overproduction. See my list of Best Facial Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin.

- Most experts recommend even women with oily skin use moisturizers, but others don't. I personally never used moisturizer when I had oily skin (it's now dry thanks to age). If you do choose a moisturizer, find one that's oil-free. I include many great moisturizers in this list.

- Exfoliate twice weekly with a gentle scrub. I list some great ones here.

- If you suffer from breakouts, an astringent may help. You may also use toners, which can be too drying for other skin types.

Best Makeup for Oily Skin

Choose powder blush, eyeshadow and bronzer. Always pick the oil-free foundations and tinted moisturizers.

Carry blotting papers with you when you leave the house. These will soak up your oils without messing up your makeup and they help you avoid powdering your face too often which can clog pores.

A Word on Your Skin Type

The cosmetics industry likes to put us in little boxes so we'll be more apt to buy their products and one of the ways they do this is to box us into skin type categories. According to the skin care industry, we all fit into one of these categories: normal, dry, combination or oily skin.

The truth is our skin changes quite a lot. A New Yorker may have dry skin in the winter because of furnace heat and oily skin in the summer because of the heat. A dry skin sufferer can travel to Seattle, where the air is thick with cool humidity, and may find her dry skin has become normal all of a sudden (this happens to me). If you live in dry, arid Arizona, central California or New Mexico, your oily skin may turn combination.