Why I'm Giving Myself Permission to be Sweaty and Oily

The five reasons I’m coming to terms with my oil and sweat "problems" this summer.
Publish date:
August 4, 2015
oily skin, summer, hyperhidrosis, sweat

Three weeks ago, on one of the most humid days of summer in New York City, I found myself standing in front of the full-length mirror in a lady’s restroom, having a mini mental freak-out. Twenty minutes prior, I had perfectly matte, budge-proof makeup, but the walk from my train station to the job-interview location was so uncomfortable, even my attempts to walk slow and use a fan weren’t enough to keep my skin cool.

I was sweaty, oily and embarrassed.

Afraid of distracting or grossing out my interviewer with my makeup mishap, I headed to the bathroom to touch up, but I ended up making the situation worse. My powder, which normally would’ve saved the day under any other weather condition, created a cakey mess and smudges on my base. Although I was able to fix the spots in time thanks to a small container of foundation I brought, the mini freak-out was enough to lower my confidence during the interview.

Ever since I hit puberty, my face (particularly my T-zone) has been an oily, sweaty, acne-prone battleground—one that I’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to control. Mattifiers, primers, powders, oil-control lotions, blotting sheets: you name it, and I’ve probably tried it. But during the summer, all my attempts to keep the shine and sweat at bay are done in vain. No matter how much I prep, set or touchup, I can’t prevent those tiny little sweat droplets from forming on certain parts of my face.

And you know what? I’m starting to be OK with that.

Due to Northeast summer temperatures (right now we’re in the middle of a humid heat wave) forcing me to deal with my worst skin problems every day, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to be one of those perfect-all-the-time, sweat-free creatures. Instead of trying to do damage control every time I get shiny, I’ve been learning to accept and embrace my skin issues. Here’s why:

Sweat and oil have a purpose. I’m not sweaty because my body hates me. It actually LOVES me—so much that it creates sweat that will evaporate to cool me down. That’s what I tell myself. As for oil, it just means my skin produces a lot of sebum—that thing that will make my skin age slower in the long run.

Accepting shine means saving money on products. Instead of piling on my powder (which can look cakey) and wasting blotting sheets every day, I only bust out my shine-control touchup products for special occasions, particularly when I know I’m going to be photographed. That means I’ll save money on replenishing my supply, which leads to more money for my ice cream and lipstick fund.

I end up using—and worrying about—less makeup. When I finally realized even my best mattifiers, primers and foundations couldn’t completely save me from the humidity, I went for a simpler makeup routine, because why waste the good stuff? These days, I stick to a multitasking moisturizer that has SPF and mattifies, rather than layering on separate products. I also only concentrate my foundation on areas I need to cover the most, and I avoid putting a ton on my upper lip, because LIP SWEAT. At the end of the day, there’s less cakey makeup to deal with.

I don’t have to look perfect 24/7 for ANYONE. Being really sweaty and oily makes a lot of people feel embarrassed because society tends to view sweat and oil as gross—unless the sweat and oil is on a woman who happens to be a spray-tanned Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated model. Women are expected to be glowy, not oily, and glisten, not sweat. It’s confusing, and don’t even get me started on the double standards and why no one bats an eyelash when a dude walks around in sweaty gym clothes all day.

Most PEOPLE sweat. A lot of people have oily skin that freaks out in the summer. Rather than hiding my oily, sweaty face in shame, it’s been so much easier, and much less stressful, for me to brush off my skin issues as normal, and move on with my day.

It’s unavoidable. Very high temperatures making your skin oily and your body sweaty are just part of the summer experience, so I don’t take it as mother nature’s revenge if my skin starts going crazy. Hot temps and humidity will happen, whether I like it or not, and on the worst days, I just remind myself that this isn’t too far away.

  • Are any of you as tired as I am of controlling shine and sweat?
  • Are you just going with the glow this summer?
  • What are your favorite ways of cooling off?