How I Stopped My Oily Skin From Depressing Me

Here’s my beauty truth: I have had oily skin and cystic acne since I was eighteen. (They came together the last summer before college and punched me in the face.) Meaning, for me, I have large pores, acne scars, zits and an excess of oil. I blame my mom for passing on the oily gene, and each time she tells me the benefits — no wrinkles, no lines, no premature aging. And while that’ll be all well and good for forty-something me, right now, twenty-year-old me is actual glazed donut and is CHEESED about it. You can apply eyeliner by looking at the reflection on my forehead. It’s embarrassing.

Maybe, in bad lighting, my shininess could be mistaken for dewy highlight  — but if you were to look closely, you’d see my reality. Not glowing, but gross. Since I was eighteen, I’ve tried to cover my insecurities with makeup — but by midday, my oily skin would oxidize that makeup, leaving me streaky, shiny and sad. Somehow my pores looked bigger, my scars more pronounced. (Stop wearing makeup! people would suggest. Ugh, as if.)

Only recently, at the end of my second year of college, have I figured out how to manage it. It’s a love-hate relationship, because the cons really do outweigh the pros sometimes. Sorry, mom. But here’s how I stopped being an oil slick and resumed being a human being.

Palladio Translucent Rice Paper Blotting Tissues, $4.79

From sunup to sundown, I have to blot my skin. While I used to use whatever was handy — toilet seat covers, paper towels, crumpled tissues from the bottom of my bag — I now use oil blotting tissues like a civilized, beauty-conscious person. I have never known  better oil blotters than these. (I’ve found other brands take off most of my makeup with the oil, which doesn’t look great.) The rice powder leaves a translucent, matte finish that absorbs the oil and doesn’t leave me streaky. And they’re cheap, so I can buy in bulk.

bareMinerals Blemish Ready Powder Foundation, $28.00

A real twofer — finally, a foundation for acne-prone, oily skin. Finding makeup that’s non-comedogenic AND mattifying is not something to be taken lightly. It’s sheer but buildable coverage, so I don’t have a cake face when wearing it. I was STRESSED when they stopped selling this product at Sephora, but thankfully they still sell it at bareMinerals stores and online. It’s the most expensive beauty product I regularly use, but I can’t go back to drugstore formulas now that I know what’s out on the line.

Used with: Makeup For Ever Mix & Fix Setting Spray, $14.00

(Setting sprays used to disappoint me daily — until I found this one. But don’t get me started about primer.)

By day: CeraVe Foamin Facial Cleanser, $10.99

I still remember my dermatologist advising me to buy CeraVe for my then-mild acne and combination skin at fourteen. Even when it graduated to severe cystic acne with a side-serving of oil at eighteen, I still religiously used (and use) CeraVe in the morning.

By night: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask, $7.99

I use this cleanser as a mask 2-3x a week as recommended and as a daily cleanser the remaining days. I’m a firm believer in night showers and deep-cleaning at the end of the day, and I’m not convinced the CeraVe wash can remove all the dirt and oil I accumulate. This does the trick.

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