When you have oily or combination skin, there’s a fine line between “summer glow” and “my face looks like an oil slick.” Find your happy medium with these tips.
People Images/Getty Images
| Credit: People Images/Getty Images

Why does your skin get extra slick in the summer, anyway? "As the temperatures increase and humidity increases, your skin responds by producing more oil. You combine that, too, with the fact that perspiration is going to increase this time of year, and you have a recipe for a shiny face," says Laura Rodgers, a North Carolina-based esthetician and owner of Mint Skin Studio. Basically, your skin is going into protective mode and anything it sees as not belonging on your face, it will seek to destroy with its only weapon—oil. Here's how to keep shine at a minimum.

Wash your face

This may seem obvious, but many people over-cleanse, under-cleanse, or cleanse with the wrong product for their skin type. You should be washing your face twice a day, but ditch the harsh scrubs and avoid ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which can leave your skin too dry, triggering it to go into overprotection mode. "If you're not removing things from the top of the skin, you're going to end up with more of that sludginess on the surface," Rodgers says. "But if you have a cleanser that's too high in what's called a surfactant factor—a cleanser that's too detergenty, in other words—and it strips too much oil away, your skin will respond to that by producing more oil." 

Switch up your moisture game

That heavier cream may have worked like a charm during the winter months, but now that summer heat is in full swing, a water-based hydrator is your best bet. "Your skin can't produce water," explains Rodgers. "All it can do is produce that oil. If you make sure you're keeping water levels high enough in the outer layers of the skin, then [it] won't respond by producing too much oil." Look for moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid (also called sodium hyaluronate). It's water binding and works by pulling moisture from the air and trapping it in your skin.

Blot away

Tissues may sop up some of that extra sheen, but they'll also wreck your makeup in the process. And packing on the powder throughout the day? That will just lead to a caked-on mess. Opt for blotting papers, instead, as they will draw oil off your skin while keeping your look in place. And if you're caught without and need a quick fix, a beauty hack Rodgers recommends is using a (clean) toilet seat cover.

Up your antioxidants

Oxidative stressors—free radicals, air pollution, and even lack of exercise and psychological stress—can wreak havoc on your skin and send it into grease mode. To avoid this, increase your antioxidant levels. Think vitamins A, C, and E. "The skin is going to be much more protected from environmental aggressors, which again, is going to help skin to function more normally and make it not do weird things like over-produce oil," says Rodgers.

Wear less makeup

The less you put on your face, the less chance you have of your skin rebelling with a fierceness. Instead of a full face, keep things simple and only swipe on a tinted moisturizer with SPF. "If you do a tinted SPF, I like the ingredient silicone because it's a big, fat molecule that hovers over the surface of the skin," says Rodgers. "It allows oxygen to penetrate, but it keeps water from evaporating out of the skin. It also blurs the light a little bit, so skin looks more airbrushed."