- Face masks can be used to draw excess oil from the skin.
- Some ingredients, such as clay, are especially beneficial for oily skin.
- Other ingredients, such as occlusive emollients, should be avoided as they trap oil and clog pores.
Face masks can draw oil from the skin and reduce oiliness when they contain the right ingredients. Other face masks can trap oil, or excessively dry the skin, causing it to overproduce oil to compensate.
Knowing the right ingredients for oily skin is key to choosing the most beneficial face mask or to making your own at home.
Why Use a Face Mask for Oily Skin?
If your skin type is oily, face masks can help absorb the excess oil as well as remove dirt, makeup and other surface impurities. The best face mask for oily skin will result in refreshed skin and unclogged pores.
Clay masks are a good type of face mask for oily skin as clay absorbs excess sebum, or oil. Some clay masks also incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe redness resulting from blemishes.
A sheet mask is a face-shaped mask made of fiber, cotton, cellulose or coconut pulp. The fabric is soaked in varying serums that are formulated for different purposes, including oil reduction. Depending on the ingredients, sheet masks can be an effective choice for oily skin.
Exfoliating masks remove dry flakes that can make skin appear dull. As oily skin has a tendency to have a thick layer of dead skin on the surface, these masks can be particularly helpful.
People with oily skin should avoid cream and gel masks. Cream masks are often filled with oils and moisturizers that can lead to clogged pores, especially if your skin is already oily. Gel masks tend to have a thinner consistency, but they’re still designed for hydrating rather than mattifying oily skin.
How do I know the mask is working?
Your skin should look and feel less oily after using a clay mask, and your pores may appear smaller and less noticeable.
A sheet mask should make your skin feel cleaner and look brighter, while an exfoliating mask will leave it soft to the touch after sloughing off the dead skin cells.
If however, you experience breakouts or your skin feels red or irritated after use, you should stop using it and try another mask with a different formulation. If removing the mask is painful, you can try removing it sooner next time to avoid it drying out.
Ingredients to Look For
Some ingredients are especially beneficial for oily skin due to their oil absorption or cleansing properties. Here’s what to look for:
Clay absorbs extra moisture and sebum, mattifying your skin and leaving it smooth to the touch. Kaolin clay is a popular option for face masks, as is bentonite clay.
If left on the skin too long, clay can dry it out and lead it to overproduce oil. To reduce the chances of this occurring, follow all instructions and avoid using the mask too often.
Other oil absorbers
In addition to clay, there are other ingredients incorporated into masks to absorb excess oil. Look for ingredients such as silica, magnesium aluminium silicate and sulphur. These molecules bind to excess oil, removing it from your skin and mattifying it further.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a humectant that attracts water from the environment, and is a lightweight moisturizer that fights dryness without clogging pores. It also helps reduce rough skin, and can also minimize the appearance of wrinkles by rehydrating the skin.
Face Masks for Oily Skin and Acne
Some people experience acne-prone skin as well as oily skin. They may want to seek out face masks that will cleanse away oil and unblock their pores without irritating their skin further. While there is some evidence that clay can help reduce acne, the following two ingredients are especially beneficial for oily skin and acne.
To remove dead skin that can clog pores, glycolic acid is a beneficial mask ingredient. A member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family, glycolic acid removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells without causing irritation.
As a humectant, glycolic acid also has rehydrating properties similar to HA. However, like any exfoliant, glycolic acid can lead to dryness and irritation if used too frequently.
Salicylic acid (SA)
This oil-soluble exfoliant is a member of the beta hydroxy acid (BHA) family. It penetrates pores to remove excess oil, dirt and other debris that can lead to acne breakouts. It also soothes redness and other signs of irritation.
Some individuals may find that SA is drying and can result in flaking skin. Those who are allergic to salicylates (including aspirin) should avoid applying this ingredient topically.
Ingredients to Avoid
Some mask ingredients will increase oiliness rather than decreasing it. These ingredients are usually problematic in one of three ways:
- Trapping existing oil
- Adding extra oil to skin
- Overly drying out skin
Following are three categories of ingredients that people with oily skin should avoid:
Occlusive emollients keep skin hydrated by creating a protective layer that helps prevent water loss. While beneficial for extremely dry skin, these emollients make oily skin feel even more greasy. Emollients to avoid include petroleum jelly, beeswax, vegetable wax, paraffin and lanolin.
Oils such as coconut, hazelnut and camellia rest on top of the skin, making it appear even more oily and potentially clogging your pores. If you need moisturizing, opt for a lightweight ingredient that will absorb easily, such as HA.
Alcohol and other drying agents
Mattifying oily skin is a delicate task: If you remove too much moisture, skin will react by overproducing oil in order to rehydrate itself. Alcohol is one of the most drying ingredients, and can cause skin of any type to dry out and flake.
While their effects aren’t as extreme, you should also watch out for sodium lauryl and laureth sulphate.
DIY Face Masks for Oily Skin
While there are many types of face masks available for oily skin, you may prefer to make your own. As you formulate the masks, be precise with the quantities of the active ingredients as too much can strip your skin of necessary moisture.
Making your own face masks gives you more control over customizing the formulation. However, the process is time consuming, and the costs can add up quickly if you need to purchase many ingredients.
Alternatives to Face Masks for Oily Skin
Masks aren’t the way to manage oily skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends the following products and skin care habits to keep oily skin in check.
Look for products that are noncomedogenic, meaning they are specially formulated to not block pores, and that are oil- and alcohol-free. Moisturize daily with a quality skin care product and use sunscreen formulated for acne-prone skin when you go outside.
Skin care habits
The AAD recommends cleansing your face with a gentle, foaming cleanser every morning and evening, and again after exercise. If you require extra oil control throughout the day, blotting sheets can be used. Try not to touch your face as this transfers dirt and bacteria to your skin and can lead to clogged pores.
Face masks can help control the production of excess oil that leads to shiny skin. Clay, other oil absorbers and HA are effective all-purpose ingredients to look for in any face mask for oily skin.
Individuals with oily skin that are also acne-prone may want to look for two additional ingredients: glycolic acid and SA.
Lastly, avoid pore-clogging ingredients such as occlusive emollients and natural oils; avoid alcohols and other drying ingredients.