News, Culture & Society

BEAUTY CLINIC: Balancing an ‘oil slick’ skin

Jo and Sarah answer real questions from readers: to put your query, go to 

Q Can you suggest a reasonably priced moisturiser for my oily skin? I am Asian, in my twenties, and have been using a drugstore moisturiser with hyaluronic acid (HA) and squalane for some time. It feels nice when I put it on but by the middle of the day my skin is extremely oily. I now have whiteheads too.

 A  Both HA and squalane should be suitable for oily skin in that they hydrate and moisturise without adding to the oiliness but something clearly isn’t suiting you.

One thing to start with: we wonder if you are using too harsh a cleanser, which is stripping your skin of natural oils? It may sound like a good idea to dry up your complexion but doing that simply prompts your skin to go into overdrive and produce more to compensate. So it’s important to choose a gentle balancing cleanser. Perhaps try Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser, £8.99,, a light foaming wash that’s designed to cleanse deeply without irritating or stripping skin.

Consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto of the Cadogan Clinic in London (, who is a spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, explains that skin has a natural 24-hour cycle (circadian rhythm). ‘Oil production tends to peak mid to late afternoon and many people notice their skin is most shiny then,’ she says.

For oily or combination skin, Dr Mahto suggests choosing products that contain salicylic acid, niacinamide, lactic or glycolic acid. ‘Salicylic acid can penetrate the pores to break down oil. Lactic and glycolic acid are helpful for brightening and chemically exfoliating the skin. Niacinamide is anti-inflammatory,’ she explains.

Dr Mahto recommends La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo(+) Blemish Treatment, £16 at (currently £12). This is formulated with active ingredients including niacinamide and salicylic acid to hydrate and correct skin so it becomes clearer in four weeks. We wrote about this when it launched here.

Another option on Dr Mahto’s list is NIP+FAB Purify Zero Shine Moisturiser, in the brand’s Teen Skin Fix range, £9.99, This lightweight moisturiser contains anti-bacterial wasabi extract plus zinc, niacinamide, salicylate and mattifying powders to help prevent excess oil build up and breakouts.

Pharmacist Shabir Daya suggests two products from Garden of Wisdom, an excellent range at beauty steal prices: Niacinamide Serum, £9 for 30ml, to regulate oil production, followed by Daily Hydrator, £10 for 60ml, a very light, non-comedogenic hydrating lotion that sinks in rapidly.

If you prefer totally natural products, you could consider Wild Source Apothecary Harmony Oil. This organic and vegan formula is non-greasy and combines anti-inflammatory CBD oil with marula, blackcurrant and watermelon seed. Founder Kate Roath originally started hand-making skincare for her own blemish-prone, mixed race complexion then trained in aromatherapy, holistic and beauty therapy. Kate points out that, although it sounds counter-intuitive, using facial oils on an oily skin does not make it more oily. Skincare experts including our long-term friend and colleague Liz Earle say that well-formulated oils can balance skin and gently persuade it to behave well. Harmony Oil is £48 for a generous 50ml and you only need a few drops.


Beauty Bible loves… 

Norfolk Natural Living, from £12. 

We happened upon Norfolk Natural Living when on a little break to Norfolk recently. It’s to be found in the famously stylish village of Holt. (Which is definitely worth an hour or two of your time, if you’re anywhere nearby.)

We’re always interested in natural cleaning products as well as natural beauty products – and this lovely store sells both. So we were equally taken with the Linen Mist (like a posh Febreze!) as the Hand Wash and Hand Cream, all of which are offered in Lavender and/or Sea Salt scents. The first is very lavender-y (Norfolk being perfect lavender-growing country), while the second is ozonic and aromatic, conjuring up the North Sea beaches just a few miles away.

Norfolk Natural Living

You’ll also find scented candles and diffusers (we think you’ll also love the Rose Garden fragrance), laundry detergents, all created with natural ingredients that offer an effective and more eco-friendly alternative to mainstream detergents and harsh cleansing chemicals.

And if you visit the store rather than shop online, you’ll also find a wonderful range of brushes, notebooks, pegs, jugs and other household gorgeousness. (For us, one of life’s small but most definitely not insignificant pleasures is hanging out laundry to dry in the sunshine.)

All beautifully packaged: modern-looking, but with a hint of nostalgia – making Norfolk Natural Living a name to watch, we predict.