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What facial cleansers can I use for oily or acne-prone skin?

James M.. Wilmott
Dermatology

Oily skin is due to over-active oil (sebaceous) glands that secret sebum into the hair shaft for lubrication and for protection from infection by micro-organisms.  Sebum is a complex and variable blend of lipids that are mostly oils (triglycerides), fatty acids, and waxy materials and the composition of sebum varies from person to person.  Sebum flows from the hair follicle and spreads on the surface to provide a barrier against moisture loss.  Skin also has other lipids that are part of the skin's moisture barrier.  These are different types of materials, and they are essential to keeping water in the skin and keeping unwanted irritants, allergens, and microbes out.  When cleansing oily skin the trick is to remove the offending sebum but without disturbing the skin's natural moisture barrier.  Harsh surfactant-based cleansers should be avoided because they cannot distinguish between the good and the bad lipids.  Over cleansing of the skin can make skin dry and causes the oil (sebaceous) glands to start producing more sebum.  The best way to cleanse oily skin is to use either a very mild cleanser or a solvent based cleanser.  The latter dissolves the sebaceous oils without harming the lipids of the skin's moisture barrier.  They can be either rinsed with water or removed with a tissue or cotton pad.  The skin is not left dry so the sebaceous glands do not have to go into production of more sebum.  Proper cleansing of the skin is essential for the control of the rate of sebum production and to minimize acne formation.  

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, consider consulting a dermatologist to learn the best way to care for your skin. He or she may recommend using a non-abrasive facial cleanser in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Avoid products that contain alcohol, which can irritate the skin. Be gentle as you wash your face. Scrubbing vigorously could make your acne worse. Rinse well with lukewarm water.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.