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The Best Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin

Smooth Fine Lines and Wrinkles

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"It's a common myth that oily skin ages better, but oil doesn't affect collagen and elastin, the two components of your skin that play a role in lines and wrinkles," says Emmy Graber, M.D., President of the Dermatology Institute of Boston. Translation: Oily or not, it's important to incorporate anti-agers into your routine. The best ingredients to look for? Alpha hydroxy acids, which both stimulate collagen and gently exfoliate, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City (glycolic acid is one especially good option). For even more beauty benefits, pick a product that combines alpha and beta hydroxy acids; the latter help remove excess oil, says Zeichner. One to try: SkinMedica AHA/BHA Cream ($44; skinmedica.com). (More look-younger tips: Anti-Aging Solutions That Have Nothing to Do with Products of Surgery)

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Banish Breakouts

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Excess oil can easily contribute to blocked pores, blackheads, and, you guessed it, breakouts. While those beta hydroxy acids you're using for anti-aging purposes do double duty (they also keep pores clear), when a rouge pimple pops up, the best bet is to reach for a spot treatment with 10-percent benzoyl peroxide. "This effective ingredient kills bacteria and helps open up the clogged pore," says Zeichner. "You'll find it in various concentration in over-the-counter products, but oily skin types can typically tolerate a more potent formula." Try: Clean & Clear Persa-Gel ($7; ulta.com) and check out The Best Skin Care Routine for Acne-Prone Skin.

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Keep Skin Healthy and Hydrated

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When your complexion feels seriously slick, it can be tempting to skip moisturizer entirely, but resist the urge. "Skin hydration and skin oil are two totally separate issues," says Zeichner. "Your skin can feel oily, yet be totally dehydrated." And in a cruel twist of events, dehydrated skin can actually start to produce more oil, only exacerbating the situation. The trick is to avoid hydrators that contain heavy and occlusive ingredients (petrolatum and dimethicone are two common ones), and go with gel moisturizers instead, says Graber. "Gels are more lightweight than traditional lotions and creams, plus they absorb quickly, and don't feel heavy on the skin." We like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($19; neutrogena.com).

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Get a Glow

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The goal is for skin to look fresh and dewy, not slick and shiny, so maintain a regular exfoliation schedule, sloughing once or twice a week with a physical scrub, says Zeichner. While these can potentially be too harsh for the dry or sensitive set, the excess oil on your skin gives the scrubs extra slip, so that they glide along skin without scratching it. Still, steer clear of formulas with irregularly-shaped pieces of kernels and nuts (their jagged edges are too sharp for anyone's skin). Instead, choose a scrub with finely-milled and uniform particles, like bamboo powder. One to try: The Body Deli Bamboo Facial Polishing Powder ($15; thebodydeli.com).

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Fade Sun Spots

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"As a rule, those with oily skin types can tolerate stronger active ingredients in higher concentrations than those who are dry or sensitive," says Graber. That means, if you're dealing with discoloration or stubborn brown spots, you can use hydroquinone. The gold standard of spot-fading ingredients, it works by decreasing the production of pigment (read: color) in melanocytes, the skin's pigment cells (it's extremely effective, but can be irritating for some). A derm can prescribe it at a four-percent concentration; over-the-counter options, like Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum ($60; murad.com), contain two-percent.

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Minimize Shine

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The quick fix: Zeichner says there are three different ways to mattify skin, stat. Option 1: Apply a clay- or charcoal-based mask; both ingredients help to pull out and absorb excess oil in minutes, leaving skin more matte. Results are temporary, though, so consider using one the morning of a big event or before a big night out. Our pick: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask with Red Clay ($30; sephora.com). You can also mattify with makeup. Oil-absoring primers, like Laura Geller Spackle Treatment Mattifying Make-Up Primer ($32; laurageller.com), tamp down shine and prolong the longevity of your makeup. And finally, good ol' blotting papers are ideal to stash in your pocket or purse for an on-the-fly fix (be sure to press and lift, never rub, to ensure that you don't remove your makeup along with the oil). Try: Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens ($10; sephora.com).

Long-term solution: Unfortunately, there's no permanent, topical fix for shiny skin...yet. There are some prescription, topical products in the works that will minimize oil production, says Zeichner. But until then, the only options currently available are oral meds, including some birth control pills. (Here are The Most Common Birth Control Side Effects.)

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