How to Combat Oiliness

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post, Skin Care


Written by Sam

Listen up, lieutenant. We’ve been getting our butts kicked by shine lately, and enough’s enough. Are you ready to take the battle to the enemy? It’s time to combat oiliness with the help of today’s guest post from Sam.

How to combat oiliness and shine

You peek up above the lip of the trench to scout around for a split second and then duck down again. The cool earth clings to your palms, collects under your nails. You pull your fingerless gloves on a bit tighter, their frayed edges straining against your joints. You listen and hear only the faint creaking of antiquated boards that serve as walkways, doors and handholds in this subterranean lair.


A sudden scream shreds the silence, immediately followed by a deep, guttural roar from somewhere up ahead.

It’s time. You spring from your trench, balancing yourself on the muddy edge, and finally see what you’ve only till now known as a legend. It’s giant. Amorphous. Greased rainbows slither across its filmy skin. Smokey tendrils swirl within its core, the damped sunlight seemingly refracted by its odd composition. A slick trail extends behind it; a viscous, dark eschewal of this awful thing. And you know its name. OIL.

If You Have Naturally Oily Skin

It’s time to take the battle to the enemy. Oily skin is both a blessing and a curse, but that truth no longer justifies inaction. Even though your comrades with oily skin generally develop wrinkles later in life than those with dry skin and often retain more of their skin’s elasticity over time, they must also deal with makeup meltdown, large pores and potentially horrid acne. The large pores and blemishes can be concealed, but it’s relatively difficult to keep that viscous, dark eschewal at bay until the sun disappears behind a distant crest and sleep overtakes you.

Before you charge in recklessly, you need to establish a proper base of defense. The first line comes from the use of a mattifying agent prior to the application of your foundation, which will prevent or lessen oil production throughout the day. It may sound strange, but Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia is a spectacular sebum stopper (here’s some more info on it). Just apply about a capful with a disposable cosmetics sponge after your moisturizer and sunscreen, and allow it to dry.

Dry Skin

But perhaps you’re waging the war on a different front. If your home front — your skin — is dry and arid, instead of oily, where the harsh sun glints off of the filmy sheen left by the legendary beast, recall your basic training. Check every product you use on your face to see whether it is oil or water based.

Do you remember that experiment from elementary school? The one where you mixed oil and water together in a beaker and watched them slowly separate? Well, putting both oil and water based products on your face is essentially the same thing. It could cause even the best, most long-wearing products to detach from the skin and separate into their base components, some of which could appear as blotches of shine. It’s true: even dry skin can fall to the dreaded greasy smear.

But maybe you’ve been careful not to mix oil- and water-based products yet still struggle with shine. Another common cause of shine on non-oily skin can be due to the use of products containing silicone in combination with more aqueous ones. When mixed, water causes silicone to curdle (essentially becoming a sort of plastic). As the silicone microscopically clumps and collects in minuscule spheres, it can reflect light in various and unappealing ways, thereby allowing the OIL MONSTER to prevail.


Normal Skin

If, instead, your battle occurs amidst grassy rolling plains dotted with the occasional patch of wildflowers and low-lying scrub — in other words, you have normal skin — track down a slightly richer moisturizer than you currently use, one that makes your skin just a tad bit oily. Then, use a foundation formulated for oily skin. These generally last longer than ones made for normal/dry skin, but they can look dry or cakey without the extra moisture.

Now that you’ve taken the steps to strengthen your defensive position, it’s finally time to go on the attack. Although they may not be as practical for HD photo shoots (due to the texture they may produce), setting powders with corn starch or talc in them are excellent for controlling shine and preventing makeup transfer. These bases mattify skin very well and last much longer than their HD-ready friends. Plus, they also tend to be cheaper (bonus!). Rice powders are great alternatives, though they can be tougher to find and run a bit more expensive.

But perhaps you’ve gone too far. You’ve jumped over the edge of your trench and skittered across the field, dodging in between points of cover, and now you see no way to turn back. Don’t despair. Your knapsack contains the right supplies for just this situation, in this case blotting sheets. While most companies make variations of these, some are definitely better than others. Most blotting sheets are merely just absorbent pieces of paper that suck up all of the oil (and often makeup) on top of your skin but do nothing to prevent future oil production. Instead, look for sheets that are double-sided — one side absorbing oil, while the other deposits a colorless powder to re-mattify your face. Make sure to blot, not rub these on, or you run the risk of smearing and redistributing not only your makeup, but also the nasty oiliness as well (strengthening its hold on your territory!).

No one likes to look oily. It can ruin even the most meticulously applied makeup by causing creases, blotches, transferring and oxidation. Let’s do everything we can to keep the OIL MONSTER from breaking through to our makeup. It’s a relatively simple battle, really, one we’ll win through preparation, layered defense and strategic offense.

In this battle, we take the good days with the bad. We run when we have to, fight when we must. Now — now is the time to fight!


Written by Sam

Sam is a 17-year-old, oddly tall guy whose love of all things skincare, makeup, and fashion started when he entered the modeling world at 14. Since then, he’s established himself as a freelance makeup artist in the theatre and fashion worlds, and started his own blog to preach the wonders of orange eyeshadow, Asian skincare, and designer fragrances to the masses.


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  1. Vijaya says:

    Honestly, I don’t even bother to fight oiliness any more. Acne=problem, oil=… Ehh? I can deal with it, especially since it’s summer and everyone’s sweating themselves senseless anyway.
    Vijaya recently posted … Linnaeus Cosmetics Review: The Orchid Dottyback Collection (And Some Info!)

  2. Sabrinna says:

    im trying to deal with it and im currently trying out urban decay’s deslick. its great since so far after using it twice my oil was controlled for 8 hours 🙂 However, im just not sure if its safe to use everyday. You recommend milk of magnesia, im interested in trying it out, but is that safe to use everyday without causing acne? (i honestly am sick and tired of getting acne non stop, i havent found a cure 🙁 ) Thank you for posting this!

  3. Nivedita says:

    I used to be very upset about oiliness. but no more. I realized oily skin would stay younger for a longer span of my life. but yes, you are right, the blotting sheets do soak up the oiliness as well as the make up. Where I live the double layered sheets are not available, but what are compacts for!!!

    Nice article, liked the way you approached it. Almost felt like I was watching a thriller!!
    Nivedita recently posted … My 200 followers Giveaway!!

  4. Tessa says:

    I used to have a very dry skin, but since a few weeks it seems to have changed! I now have more breakouts then I ever had and I will have to change my skincare routine, because my skin feels pretty oily lately.

  5. Chris25 says:

    i use NYX Blotting Papers. Thankfully my oiliness has decreased since high school. 🙂

  6. Christy says:

    Sam, would you recommend Milk of Magnesia for combo skin? My skin is definitely more oily than dry (particularly in the t-zone) & I have the problem with color transfer to clothes & blotchy, shorter lasting foundation coverage as the day wears on. Any advice for us combo/oily gals?
    Christy recently posted … Free Shipping/Reduced Prices Blog Sale!

    • Sam says:

      Yep, you can definitely use MoM on combo skin. Just apply only in areas where you get oily, and use a separate moisturiser for your dryer spots.

  7. Sarahc says:

    That’s what I’ve always told myself about oily skin, that it will keep the wrinkles away longer. It’s the silver lining to acne prone skin.

  8. steph says:

    Only 17, I don’t believe it. So smart & informative. Love these posts.

  9. Vnssa906 says:

    Milk of Magnesia!? I definitely have to try this tomorrow morning. I’m thinking, will it make my face white? *runs to the pantry to test drive 😉

  10. yuri says:

    i wonder if using mattifying product affect all those nice things that come with having oily skin since we are using them to lessen the production of oil

  11. Amy says:

    I have really, really, super, oily skin. I’ve tried MoM and it didn’t do anything for the oiliness. I have found two products that seem to help more than anything else I’ve tried- Super Matte Anti Shine Professional Cosmetics by Make-up International (seriously, this stuff is awesome and doesn’t have that funky slippy silicone feeling you get with some mattifiers), followed by Tarte Smooth Operator finishing powder. While nothing keeps me shine free all day long, these two products together work better than anything else I’ve tried, and I’ve tried nearly everything.

  12. Quinctia says:

    Rice powder is great for a matte look, it’s probably my favorite powder I’ve ever used.

  13. Jess says:

    OMG, SAM! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    It works!!!

    I have a super oily nose – I mean, so oily that I apply my makeup at 8:30 am and by 9:30 I’m as shiny as a disco ball.

    I read your guest post here, and I thought, what do I have to lose? So I bought a bottle of MoM and tried it on my nose, after applying my face moisturizer. I was scared that the white chalkiness would be a problem, but no – I put on my Too Faced Amazing Face Powder foundation and it disappeared.

    Alllll dayyyy I have not had to blot my nose with oil absorbing sheets or my UD De-Slick powder. Even by 9 at night I’m good to go!
    It’s funny, a $3 bottle of MoM works the wonders that my almost $30 UD De-slick powder cannot!

    Sam, THANK YOU!!!!!! and Karen, THANK YOU for feauturing his posts!!

  14. Silka says:

    You are the angel that save my life! MoM is a present heaven sent! , let me tell you that I was the “mamita” of oily skin until I read your article. Now I know what it feels not to bother you look like a butter bar at 9:00 a.m.

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