How many of you are struggling with your oily skin in summer? It can be just your T-zone or other parts of the face may be oily – it looks oily, shiny and it’s very acne prone. How many of you know that blotting paper is the last thing you need to help to get healthy skin? There are some better ways than those fancy blotting papers!

Myth #1: Oily Skin means you have too much oil

Everyone was told that there’s an over-secretion from the oily glands if you have oily face. But why your oil glands care to work so hard to produce oil? One of the many messages from our body to the oil gland is that there is a lack of moisture sensed so the oil glands want to ensure that the skin is being looked after. Now, when you use blotting paper to absorb the oil, the skin sensor detects the removal of oil and can be sending a stronger signal to the oil glands asking for help: “Oil is going low again, Give me MORE!” and the vicious cycle continues!

There is also a saying that you need to deeply clean your skin so to avoid inflammation that’s very acne prone so you washed your face several times a day. This is another way of signaling to your face that it needs to be moisturized. It may stimulate the oil glands to work even harder. So, none of the blotting paper or frequent washing (more than 2 times / day) may be helpful to your oily skin unfortunately.

Myth #2: Scrubbing Oily Skin Helps

Another common habit around is frequent scrubbing to “hopefully” keep the pores open and clean. Quite on the contrary, over scrubbing will send a signal to the underlying tissue that the skin (experiencing more tearing from scrubs) will need more protection, so you can guess what will happen – more secretion to protect the skin. This also applies to most facial toners that contain alcohol which can be drying for the skin. (Note that most facial toners will not have alcohol listed as ingredients but watch out for ingredients like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, acetone or benzoyl peroxide which are all drying for the skin.). When you have oily skin, you want to be gentle and keep it hydrated, rather.

{photos by freutcake}

Tip #1: A DIY deep natural cleansing mask:

  • Add 2-3 tablespoon of fine oatmeal to chamomile hydrosol
  • Leave the mixture at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until the oatmeal turn soggy
  • Apply the mixture onto face with gauze and leave on for 15 minutes (best to do this lying down) – spray hydrosol every couple of minutes to keep it moistened
  • Take off the mask and wash the face and apply non-alcoholic based toner (hydrosol like witch hazel will do the job perfectly) and hydrating natural moisturizer

Myth #3: Oily skin is more hereditary than anything else

There can be multiple reasons for oily skin:

  • Hormonal changes – androgen (or commonly known as the male hormone despite also present in female) stimulates oil secretion and estrogen support the skin fineness. There is a constant change of hormones in our body and the body will help to balance the hormones given the right environment (lifestyle and diet). Liver overloads (with lots of toxins or inadequate sleep) will also contribute to the hormonal imbalance thus affecting your skin health.
  • Digestion Health – from TCM perspective, one of the common causes of oily skin is spleen deficiency. Spleen rules transformation and transportation and dampness can collect when dysfunctional. Dampness will accumulate and transform into phlegm and manifest through the skin. In Ayurveda, Kapha dosha is frequently associated with oily skin, which in this case, is similar to dampness in TCM.
  • Stress – when a person is stressed, it may cause an increase in sebum production.
  • Diet – Diets that are mucus prone (e.g., dairy) or dehydrating (e.g., alcohol) may lead to oil skin. Refined sugar will further aggravate inflammation of the skin. On the contrary, keeping your body hydrated and a rich good oil diet (like quality omega 3) can help to improve the fineness and smoothness.
  • Weather and environment – in warm and humid weather, we always prefer air-conditioned environment and that dehydrates our body (and skin) and hence it can stimulate sebum production.

Food & Herbs for Healthy Skin

Some food and herbs that is helpful for combating oily skin:

  • Herbs supporting liver health: burdock root, dandelion root and leaf, sarsaparilla, schisandra berry, milk thistle
  • Herbs supporting the spleen and digestive health, especially in resolving dampness: astragalus root, atractylodes, poria, dioscorea, fennel, orange peel, sprouted beans and legumes. Sprouted beans are very fiber rich and are nutrition rich and are gut healthy.
  • Fruits and vegetables in whole will also be good in keeping it nourished and hydrated. Consume at room temperature to ensure it doesn’t hamper digestion.


Keeping your skin clear and clean can be gentle and natural without irritating the system.  A healthy diet and lifestyle can keep your body nourished and hydrated – keeping the sebum production in balance!