A Celebrity Esthetician Shares How To Fix "Oily Dehydrated" Skin
Skin care concerns—and sometimes types—are never mutually exclusive. You can have both sensitive and blemish-prone skin. You can experience ruddiness and an oily T-zone. You can deal with hormonal breakouts and fine lines. I think you get the picture.
One of the most common overlaps skin care experts see is a complexion that's both oil-slick and lacks moisture. Of course, this sounds counterintuitive, but it's a very real and common issue. Celebrity esthetician Aida Bicaj calls it "oily dehydrated skin"—and she has the routine to fix it.
What is oily dehydrated skin & one esthetician's go-to routine.
"Oily dehydrated skin is the residue of oiliness on the surface of the skin and then dry underneath in the lower levels of the skin," she says. "And why is that? Because people need to balance the skin." It's a common concept that skin care experts note happens all too frequently. The problem, she says, is people see oil production and buildup and immediately go to stripping cleansers, over-exfoliation, and skipping adequate moisture. And as we're often reminded, dry skin kicks your pores into overdrive: triggering even more sebum production. It's a vicious cycle.
If this sounds like you—certainly, I've been guilty of this bad habit in the past—Bicaj has a balancing routine to even things out:
- Milky cleanser. "One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is using the wrong face cleanser—so many people use these stripping gels that remove the productive oils from the face," she says. Instead, she always recommends a soft, gently milky option that adequately removes dirt, makeup, and buildup but won't trigger excessive oil production. Check out our favorite cleansers here.
- Gentle exfoliating toner. While she notes that overexploitation is a huge problem in modern skin care routines, very gentle daily options will help slough off excess dead skin, balance the skin, and allow hydrating products to penetrate deeper. "Definitely use a light exfoliator or a balancing lotion," she says, noting that if you keep this habit consistently, you'll get better results in the long run. But it comes with a big caveat: You shouldn't use potent exfoliating treatments elsewhere in the routine, a la a chemical peel or strong retinoid as that will tip you into overdrive.
- Breathable moisturizer. Top off your routine with a cream that will not clog your pores and will allow your skin to breathe, she says. In the winter, she also recommends folding in a hydrating mask when you're able.
- Internal hydration. Dewy skin starts from the inside out, and she's a strong believer that your skin needs hydration from nutrition as well. "[Skin care] doesn't take care of the inside of the skin. It only protects the outer layer of the skin," she says. Be sure to eat a balanced diet, rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and proteins—as well as drinking enough water. If you need additional help, you can look for skin-supporting supplements too.
When you're balancing the skin, it's all about getting back to moderation: Find products that aren't too thick or too potent. With time, care, and patience, your oily dehydrated skin will find its way back to normal.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.