Is Your Skin Both Dry AND Oily? The Problem is Your Products, Not Your Skin

Updated 9/6/15. I’m here to set the story straight—you can’t have both oily and dry skin. You can have oily and dehydrated skin, but not oily and dry skin.

What is dry skin? Skin that naturally produces little to no oil and causes the skin to be dry and flaky. (The dryness occurs even when gentle products are used on the skin.)

What is oily skin? Skin that produces oil and generally will have large pores and the skin is shiny or greasy.  Dry skin means NO oil is produced, therefore skin with a sheen cannot be dry.

What is dehydrated skin? Oily, combination or normal skin that is lacking water and feels tight. Having tight skin doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dry.

I generally hear from people with oily skin who are prone to clogged pores that their skin is feeling dry, but they still breakout and aren’t sure how to care for it. To remedy their skin, they might start using a dry skin moisturizer to provide relief but soon find that it’s not compatible with their skin and causes clogged pores, bumps and increase breakouts. Sometimes they think it’s because they don’t drink enough water, but drinking water does not hydrate the skin this way, even though you have heard this time and time again…

The truth is, if your skin is both oily and dry, something within your skin care routine is too strong for your skin making it feel dry.

Follow these tips to get your skin healthy and balanced:

Be Careful What You Wash With

Many foaming and gel cleansers made today are formulated with an ingredient called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. This ingredient is a surfactant, a cleansing agent that cuts oil from the skin. These ingredients are simply too harsh and will strip the water out of the skin after every washing. And what you wash with is the MOST important part of your skin care routine. Why? Because if you wash with a foaming cleanser or soap that is too drying, it pulls all the water out of the skin and creates dead, dry skin cell buildup. Then you have to quickly run and put your moisturizer on to put back in what you just took out. It makes no sense! Choose either cleansers that avoid the harsh ingredient, Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. These are much better choices as they will effectively deep clean the pores but will not rob the skin of much-needed water.

AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel was chosen as the “Best Cleanser for Oily/Problem Skin” by Allure Magazine because of how effectively it manages clogged pores and acne, yet doesn’t leave the skin feeling tight and dry like many acne cleansers will do. All Renée Rouleau cleansers are sulfate-free.

Note: Bar soaps are a no-no. Even if it claims to have moisturizer added, even if it’s some fancy kind that’s imported from France that French women use to care for their skin and even if it’s really expensive…they are still not every recommended for use on the face. Read here as to why you should never use bar soap.

Never, Ever Leave Your Skin Bare

After cleansing, you must IMMEDIATELY use an alcohol-free toner and moisturizer. If you leave your skin bare for more than 1 minute, it will start to dehydrate. Perform your skin care routine quickly, and be sure to always leave your toner damp on the skin. This will leave your skin protected and avoid the tight and dry feeling.

Read: Five Ways To Reduce Oil Production In Skin

Never Skip Using Moisturizer at Night

Some people avoid using night creams to let their skin “breathe” but using moisturizer at night is very important.  First of all, a night cream is a moisturizer without a sunscreen. You don’t have to use something called a night cream (companies use this as a marketing term) – anything without a sunscreen will work well at night as long as it’s right for your skin type. Secondly, at night, when your skin is at rest, the skin’s permeability is at its highest, therefore, allowing the active ingredients of a moisturizer to absorb deeper into the skin. Skin Recovery Lotion or Sheer Moisture are both oil-free and excellent to keep the skin hydrated without clogging the pores.

Use A Humidifier During The Winter Months

If the air is moist, then the moisture in your skin will likely stay put rather than evaporating into the dry winter air.

Add a Serum Under Moisturizer for Additional Hydration

By putting a few drops of a lightweight skin serum like Skin Drink under an oil-free moisturizer is a great way to give additional hydration while still using a light moisturizer.

Read: What’s The Best Spot Treatment For Blemishes?

Read: Are You Guilty Of Picking At Your Skin?

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.

For more expert advice check out the blog. Also, sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!

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Content found on, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.