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

Updated 9/6/14. 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 produces little to no oil and causes the skin to be dry and flaky.

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 action ingredients of a moisturizer to absorb deeper within the skin. Matte Moisture 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 our 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!

Get Blog Posts In Your Email  >

Content Copyright © 2014, Renée Rouleau, Inc

PERMISSION TO REPRINT: You may use any items from this article in your print, blog, magazine or electronic newsletter. But in order to do so, you must include the following paragraph, including a link to www.ReneeRouleau.com.

"Information courtesy of www.ReneeRouleau.com, a website with skin care tips, products based on nine skin types and advice from skin care expert and celebrity esthetician, Renée Rouleau."

Skin Care Quiz
Skin Care Quiz
POST A COMMENT

Comments:

  1. Hi,

    I know that Renee emphasizes the fact not to leave skin bare for more than one minute after cleansing, otherwise the skin will get very dehydrated. But the problem with this is that I’m on Retin-A, and the rule is you have to wait at least 20-30 minutes to apply it after you wash your face. Any suggestions? I don’t even apply a moisturizer over Retin-A…I leave it alone because I’m afraid that a moisturize may compromise the efficacy of the Retin-A.

    Posted By: Lee Ann  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      Hi Lee Ann, It’s Renee here. GREAT question. So the reason why they say to wait for 20-30 minutes after washing your face before you put on Retin-A is to reduce sensitivity and irritation. Moist skin (when the skin cells are moist from water after cleansing) is 10x more permeable than dry skin. So this means that if you apply Retin-A when the skin is moist, it will penetrate deeper in the skin (which actually makes it work better) but then since it’s working better (stronger) you’re more likely to get irritation/dryness/peeling etc… The goal with Retin-A is to try to minimize the irritation so that you’ll stick with it long-term since so many people give up the moment irritation occurs. As for not applying moisturizer over Retin-A, I don’t recommend doing that as dehydration (especially when using Retin-A) is never healthy to the skin cells. I use my Advanced Resurfacing Serum with retinol as I have very sensitive skin and my skin can’t tolerate Retin-A but if I were to use Retin-A, I would use it this way. Cleanse, tone, leave toner damp, apply Retin-A, then wait 20 minutes for it to really absorb into the skin. Then apply moisturizer. Doing it this way will really allow the Retin-A to perform its best while not compromising the healthy and integrity of the skin. Hope this helps! Read this post as you’ll find it interesting. http://blog.reneerouleau.com/2012/07/the-fountain-of-youth-do-retinol-products-really-get-rid-of-wrinkles/

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  2. Thank you, Renee for answering me. Super helpful! do you think it’s wise to apply the Retin-A while my skin is still damp with toner? or water-dampened skin? I will certainly take your advice on applying moisturizer 20 minutes post-Retin-A application. I just need to make sure this all happens early in the night, not when I’m super tired and can’t be bothered waiting all of that time! lol thanks again, you’re the best.

    Posted By: Lee Ann  | 

    Reply
  3. oops, sorry! you did specify skin dampened with toner. Thanks again! :)

    Posted By: Lee Ann  | 

    Reply
  4. Dear, Renee.

    I’m 21 y.o and I really confused with my skin. I have very big pores on my nose and cheeks but it’s not too oily. If i didn’t wash my face for months i won’t got acne, but no matter what I do my face always full of blackheads and whiteheads which is really stand out. I found that if I rub my face with cleansing oil for at least 3 minutes twice a day my blackheads getting better. But if I rub my face, it becomes redness and really hurt my skin, even if i do that powerless. It really makes me give up and so sad. Because there are so many white things on my pores which are really disgusting. I just bought Retin-A 0,025% but im really afraid it would hurt my skin, because people said it would exfoliate your skin, really hurt and breakout. My skin is very sensitive (cleanse my face twice a day hurts my skin).
    What Im using now:
    Kose cleansing oil
    Double hylarunoic acid face wash
    Green tea and tea tree oil toner (alcohol free)
    Lotion (contains retinol, improved hylarunoic acid, collagen)

    Thank you so much, Renee.
    With love, Anna.

    Posted By: Anna  | 

    Reply
    • Hey Renee,

      Have you ever considered including facials in your routine? I have found that including a full facial once a week where i steam my face, exfoliate, do a mask , extract and then moisturize have really helped to reduce whiteheads on my face over time.

      Posted By: Tricia  | 

      Reply
      • Renée Rouleau

        Hello Tricia, Yes, at-home facials are extremely beneficial to the skin.

        Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

        Reply
  5. Hi Renee,
    I think this blog post explains it great.
    I have oily, to combination skin, because I have really badly clogged pores and blackheads. And, since my skin feels tight and is quite flaky, yet still is only on top, it’s dehydrated. Also, if it makes sense, the clogged pores and blackheads (especially on my forehead) seems to dry up, so it’s really a dry and hard little bump.
    Problem is, for me, that I do use a gentle cleanser, and I use natural oils and serums that are supposed to balance my skin without stripping it, but something is still not working – the flakiness is still there, and what’s worse is that I think it contributes to the clogged pores beacuse the flakes sit on top of the skin. I’m having a really hard time both balancing my skin to avoid clogged pores and keeping it hydrated. It tends to get better, but then more flakes appear. At the end of the day, my skin is oily (not super oily though), with a sheen, flaky, with those dry hard bumps, and more clogged pores have appeared..
    What do you suggest I do? (I have already ordered your BHA serum, so that’s on its way).

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    Posted By: Lisa  | 

    Reply
  6. I have the #3 skin type and use matte moisture after cleansing and toning (AHA/BHA cleanser and Skin Balancing toner) but am finding that my skin is still feeling dehydrated (flaky at times and tight). I still produce oil (in t-zone) so after reading this post, I realized my skin isn’t dry, just dehydrated. Would you recommend using a heavier moisturizer than matte moisture or use a serum, like skin drink under the matte moisture? Thanks!

    Posted By: Alex  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      Yes Alex, you definitely need a heavier moisturizer. Look at the Sheer Moisturizer (still oil-free but more hydrating) or even the Hawaiian Nourishing Cream, especially in winter. Both are appropriate for skin type 3.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
      • Thanks so much! That helps a lot! In terms of a morning moisturizer, would you recommend the daily protection or the age defense (for more moisture?) or a different one?

        Posted By: Alex  | 

        Reply
        • Renée Rouleau

          The Daily Protection SPF 30 is our most popular. It’s very, very light.

          Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

          Reply
  7. Hi Renee, I have combination skin, I am currently using himalaya products, my skin is dehydrated and gets oily and dull, I am breaking out like crazy and its really lowering my self esteem because I have never had skin problems before. Every pimple leaves an awful mark on my face and I don’t know what to do, please help

    Posted By: sherry  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      Hello Sherry, I’m sorry you’re having such difficulties with your skin. You would really benefit from using my products but first, read through my acne posts to get free tips. Read here: http://blog.reneerouleau.com/

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  8. Hi there,

    When I wash my face in the morning it gets really really dry and flaky. Then I put moisturiser in but after a few hours my skin get gets really greasy and oily to the point it even feels heavy.

    I use a facewash for oily skin prone to imperfections and then moisturise with aloe vera gel.

    Can you help? Do you know why this is? I am going crazy as I keep getting spots that hurt quite a bit…

    I hope to hear from you!

    Thank you!!

    Posted By: laluar01  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      You have to use a sulfate-free cleanser. Chances are the cleanser you are using is way too strong and drying out your skin, especially if you’re getting dry and flaky. The aloe vera gel is not hydrating enough. It’s a gel and while it will hydrate immediately, as it drys, it will evaporate and not hold water in your skin. Because your skin is not getting the hydration it needs, it’s over compensating by producing excess oil. Take our skin type quiz to get the right products recommended for your skin’s needs. https://www.reneerouleau.com/skin-types

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  9. Hi Renee, I’m having problems figuring out my skin type. I took your quiz and it said I’m skin type 2 but I’m still unsure.
    My main problems are , when I was my face , afterward my skin feels dry and tight when I put oil free moisturizer on it looks oily and gross. I have been using image skin care products and they are sulfate free etc.. I am also suffering from clogged pores/ blackheads on my nose chin and clogged pores on my cheeks near my nose. I also have large pores and laugh lines by my mouth and I’m only 30 years old. I’m so desperate to find something perfect for my skin. I need your help!!
    What do you think?
    I hope to hear back from you.
    Thank you.

    Posted By: Amanda  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      Hi Amanda,
      After you wash if your skin feels tight (and you’re using a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser) it means that you are waiting too long to apply your next product. After washing, pat your skin lightly and immediately wipe over an alcohol-free toner like our Elderberry Toner. By leaving it wet and then applying your serum or moisturizer, you’re sealing in all the hydration. It sounds like if your skin is feeling dry, the moisture fro washing your face with water is evaporating out of the skin. You never want to leave the skin bare for longer than 60 seconds (at the most) before applying your next product. That should help. As for your skin type, it definitely sounds like you’re a skin type 2 so check out that routine. It’s a great one for you!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply

Post a Comment: