A little over a year ago, my skin (which, historically, had only ever been dry/combination) went a little bonkers. I was stressed, I had gone off a medication that affected my hormones, my diet was all over the place, I was abusing acid-heavy exfoliating products, and as a result, my skin seemed to flip personalities practically overnight. All of a sudden, my skin had become uncontrollably oily, and I’d wake up to at least three new pimples every single morning. As a beauty editor, I’m super blessed to have plenty of top-notch products at my disposal and experts on speed dial, but nothing I implemented seemed to make a dent in my oily, acne-prone skin until a friend from the industry recommended I see celebrity facialist and Brentwood-based esthetician Vanessa Hernandez.
To make a long story short, I was able to stop by Hernandez’s gorgeous studio, where she quickly put me on a strict skin protocol—one of four curated healing methods she’s famous for in the L.A. area. (To help get my oily skin and acne under control, she prescribed her Acne and Congestion plan, but she also has plans geared toward pigmentation, texture enhancement, and tightening. As her website outlines, the VH Method is a personalized and curated skin treatment protocol Hernandez and her wonderful team specifically customizes for your skin type and concerns.
“We not only address all of your skin’s needs both externally and internally but also develop a combination of in-office treatments and at-home routines that fit your lifestyle and budget,” she explains. “The VH Method incorporates the most advanced technologies that trigger collagen production, smooth and refine the skin’s texture, brighten skin tone, and give you an overall healthy, youthful, and radiant glow.”
Since I can personally vouch for how knowledgeable and effective Hernandez’s skin expertise is, I asked both Hernandez and her fellow esthetician Dakota Katt (who I still see for regular skin check-ups) to share all of their best tips and product recommendations for oily skin. Keep scrolling!
If there’s anything I’ve learned after talking to countless skin experts, it’s that pinpointing your skin type is a lot more complicated and personal than the product industry would like us to believe. Even within one category (like, for instance, oily skin), there are so many variables that come into play, and just because someone may exhibit a particular symptom, such as acne, that doesn’t automatically mean they fall into the oily-skin camp. (Hello, hormones, pollution, diet, etc.)
Consulting a dermatologist or licensed esthetician to assess your skin type and any concerns you’re having is the best way to Nancy Drew your skin type, but in general, Katt says (a) having significant shine on your face by midday; (b) noticing enlarged pores, especially around the T-zone; (c) experiencing frequent congestion and/or breakouts; and (d) applying foundation only to have it pill off quickly after application are all common signs your skin is on the oilier side.
As Katt explains to me, oily skin is essentially too much of a good thing, and it manifests when our sebaceous glands begin to produce an excess amount of sebum. (FYI: Genetics, diet, environment, overwashing, hormones, medications, and cosmetics are just a few of the factors that can cause or exacerbate oily skin.)
That said, sebum is important. It helps keep our skin hydrated, healthy, and supple, and it even diminishes visible signs of aging by keeping our complexion dewy and moisturized. In excess, however, it can lead to acne, congestion, and unwanted shine, and using products that are either too rich or overly drying can definitely make oily skin worse.
“Oily skins don’t need additional oil (which is why lightweight or oil-free moisturizers are recommended), but what you do need is water,” explains celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. “When the skin doesn’t have the adequate water levels it needs to function properly, it attempts to balance itself by stimulating the nerve endings at the base of the pore. These nerve endings are connected to oil glands and send a message that it’s time to make more oil.” Additionally, Rouleau says that when the oil starts pushing through it may also encounter a clog, triggering bacteria that could potentially lead to a breakout or blemish. Simply put, she says, skin cells are like fish: “They need water to live, and without it, your skin will appear oiler with an increased chance of breakout activity.”
“Above all else, I recommend products that gently exfoliate for oily skin types,” Hernandez shares. “There are two ways to exfoliate: physically and chemically. Gentle scrubs, facial tools, and even washcloths are considered physical methods, while AHAs (like glycolic and lactic acids) and BHAs (like salicylic acids) are considered chemical.” Additionally, Hernandez recommends swapping super-rich moisturizers for lightweight or oil-free options instead, as formulas that are too heavy or have too much oil will only congest your pores.
In a perfect world, we’d all have our very own skin experts on speed dial or within walking distance from our homes, but in-office appointments can be spendy, and since we’re still doing our best to stay at home as much as possible right now, we asked Hernandez to share her recommended oily-skin product protocol with us. Below are the morning and evening lineups she typically recommends for clients with oily skin. Keep scrolling!
FYI: Product strategy is involved.
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