“Remedies for oily skin” is one of the most searched keywords online. Salicylic acid and hyaluronic acids are some of the most common and most talked-about acids for skin oiliness.
People experience oily skin when the sebaceous glands produce sebum excessively. (1)
Between salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid, which is better for restricting excessive sebum production and treating oily skin?
Both acids have their perks. Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin, and hyaluronic acid hydrates it.
Hyaluronic acid results in decreased sebum production, whereas salicylic acid is water soluble and dissolves dead skin cells and enhances skin appearance by unclogging pores.
Therefore, salicylic acid is the better option for oily skin. Read below to know more.
The Better Choice for Oily Skin: Salicylic Acid or Hyaluronic Acid?
Read further to learn which is the better choice for oily skin, salicylic acid or hyaluronic acid
How is Salicylic Acid Good for Oily Skin?
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid, a natural compound in plants. It has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anti-infective, and antibacterial properties that allow exfoliation.
Salicylic acid is a keratolytic drug, a conjugate of salicylate. It is available as creams, ointments, transdermal patches, gel, plaster, and liquids.
Salicylic acid is an odorless white to light tan solid. It sinks and mixes slowly with water. (5)
Note: Salicylic acid is obtained from wintergreen leaves and white willow tree bark.
Salicylic acid is good for oily skin in the following ways.
1. It treats acne and unclogs the pores.
Salicylic acid is a peeling agent with anti-inflammatory and bactericidal effects that treat acne effectively. (7)
Topical salicylic acid shrinks pimples by unplugging blocked skin pores and reducing redness and swelling. It prevents and clears blemishes and pimples on acne-prone skin.
2. It is an oil-soluble exfoliant.
Salicylic acid penetrates deep into the skin to fight acne by dissolving dead skin cells responsible for pore clogging. It penetrates the skin’s lipid layers as it is an oil-soluble beta-hydroxy acid. (9)
Moreover, salicylic acid exfoliates and softens the skin’s outer layer. It is also a comedolytic agent that controls the formation of comedones (blackheads) and blemishes (due to trapped dead skin cells and oil in the pores). (8)
3. It is oil soluble and good for oily skin.
It is beneficial in skin brightening without causing extensive damage to the pores. It dissolves dead skin cells responsible for clogging pores, fights acne, and enhances skin appearance.
How is Hyaluronic Acid Good for Oily Skin?
Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) present in all vertebrates. It is a major component of connective tissue that allows cell growth, differentiation, and lubrication. (12)
Hyaluronic acid has water-balancing, joint-stabilizing, shock-absorbing, and long-acting lubricant properties. Its anionic properties attract water and induce swelling, resulting in increased tissue volume and the maintenance of the skin’s structural integrity. (13)
Hyaluronic acid is good for oily skin in the following ways.
1. It decreases sebum production in oily skin.
A 2017 study observed a healthy relationship between hyaluronic acid and maintaining sebum production (from the skin’s sebaceous glands).
Excessive sebum production produces oily skin (6) and causes primary lesion formation associated with acne.
Hyaluronic acid suppresses this sebum production and is suitable for treating hyperseborrheic states (sebum hypersecretion is a scalp problem induced by excess sebum production due to the sebaceous gland’s hyperactivity). (14)
Hyaluronic acid is suitable for oily skin as it decreases sebum secretion. (15)
2. It retains water, hydrates skin, and inhibits oil overproduction.
Hyaluronic acid can bind and keep water. (16) For this, it is used in several products for oily skin.
Note: Except on the soles and palms, sebaceous glands are present everywhere on the body. (18)
According to research studies and dermatologists, salicylic acid is better for oily skin than hyaluronic acid, as the former treats blackheads and acne and exfoliates the skin by dissolving dead skin cells.
DIY Homemade Toner Recipes for Oily Skin
Green Tea and Rice Water Toner to Reduce Excessive Sebum
Starchy rice water has a toning effect and can tighten the pores of oily skin.
How to prepare:
- Boil 1 cup of water in the pan.
- Add 1 tsp of green tea leaves and lower the heat.
- Let it brew for at least 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Strain the green tea water into a bowl.
- Add 2 tbsp of washed rice.
- Put the lid on the bowl to infuse the green tea with the rice and set it aside overnight or for at least 5 hours.
- Strain it and transfer it to a clean toner bottle.
How to apply:
Using a cotton ball, apply this toner to your face after cleansing.
Eucalyptus Oil to Decrease Excessive Sebum Production
Eucalyptus-obtained essential oils have commercial and medicinal uses. These oils contain many bioactives that exhibit herbicidal, insecticidal, antimicrobial, fungicidal, and antiviral activities. (22)
A 2014 study observed that eucalyptus oil decreases sebum production (23) by reducing the size of the sebaceous glands and controlling acne spread.
How to apply:
- Fill a 2-ounce spray bottle with purified water.
- Add 1 tsp pure aloe vera gel (natural emulsifier) and 2–4 drops of eucalyptus oil.
- Shake well before use.
- Spray the mixture on your oily skin.
Dermatologist-Recommended Tips to Control Oily Skin
The following are tips from dermatologists to control skin oiliness:
- Use a gentle, foaming face wash as it doesn’t cause sebum overcompensation or damage to the skin barrier. It provides deep-pore cleansing to control acne-related symptoms. (24)
- Avoid alcohol/oil-based serums as they can lead to skin irritation.
- Wear sunscreen to prevent sun damage, a leading cause of age spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Go for sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to eliminate acne breakouts. Avoid oils or fragrance-containing sunscreen.
- Wear water-based, oil-free makeup.
- Remove all your makeup before going to bed.
- Use blotting papers throughout the day by gently pressing them against your face to absorb the excess oil. Avoid rubbing the paper as it spreads the oil to different areas.
- Avoid touching your face throughout the day. It might be tempting, but it can transfer bacteria, oil, and dirt from your hands to your face. Touch your face only when doing your skin care routine, and make sure your hands are clean. (25)
What Causes Sebum Increase in the Skin?
Consuming dietary fats or carbohydrate-rich foods such as milk, beans, cookies, bread, soft drinks, potatoes, popcorn, cherry pie, and spaghetti increases sebum production. Changing the carbohydrate type can alter the composition of sebum. (3)
Every skin is different, and its type varies from person to person. Oily skin is one such skin type, which is the result of excessive sebum production.
According to the experts, salicylic acid is a better choice than hyaluronic acid for treating oily skin.
To improve oily skin, you can make a DIY mask using salicylic acid, green tea, and eucalyptus oil.
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