Does Oily Skin Need Moisturizing?

Oily skin doesn’t need moisturizing? The big lie.

There are certain things our moms have been telling us for years that are complete and total lies, and I am here to break those illusions! No, you will not get sick if you go swimming right after lunch. No, your gum will not stay in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it. A window does not always open when a door shuts. And no, you will not go blind from sitting too close to the TV.

The next one has to do with oily skin. My mom used to say, “Your skin is so oily you don‘t need moisturizer“. Sadly for us who have oily skin, this turns out to simply not be true.

How do moisturizers work?

Think about this logically. Does moisture come from oil or water? Water of course! Oils and moisturizers work by forming a barrier to prevent the water from escaping our skin so it doesn‘t dry out. There is actually a fancy name for it: Transepidermal water loss. Here is a link to a cool video from a chemistry channel Reactions that explains exactly how moisturizers work.

So, according to The International Dermal Institute, we have to differentiate between dry skin and dehydrated skin. Dry skin is lacking in oils, while dehydrated skin is lacking in moisture, or water. That means you can have super oily skin that is still dehydrated!

How moisturizing helps

Here‘s what happens: Products that are used to fight acne tend to be really drying. In addition, many of us (including me) have tried going to war against the oil, using harsh astringents and alcohol, or washing our faces a gazillion times a day. Our skin‘s natural reaction is then to produce even more oil. It’s a losing battle!

According to Erica Suppe, a research scientist, that extra oil acts like a fertilizer for acne bacteria. But if we use a light moisturizer with ingredients that do not clog our pores, we can kind of trick our skin into believing its sebum levels are balanced. Remember we talked about types of oils that are non-comedogenic! Some moisturizers even act to absorb the excess oils. Walla! Soft, moist skin and less oil!


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