A few weeks ago during a impromptu sleepover with one of my girlfriends, our conversation about beauty products led to something I did not expect. After complaining that her skin was oily beyond belief (hers not mine because I’ve seen it all), she walked up to me and pressed her finger against the side of her nose. What followed was a gushy white film that made me want to wash my face.
Perhaps you think I overreacted. But as someone who routinely bypasses pimple-popping videos on YouTube, I definitely don’t have a stomach for this kind of stuff. There’s a difference between slick skin and pores that literally leak out dirt and grime. According to the interwebs, the latter is more popularly known as nasal hummus and there’s more than enough examples here, should you want to see it in action.
But for now, here’s the expert advice you need if your nose is especially oily and in need of a deep cleansing that’ll rebalance your skin.
What Is It?
In the simplest terms, certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor Dr. Audrey Kunin defines nasal hummus as whiteheads squeezed from enlarged pores on the nose or T-zone, which extends across the forehead, down the nose and chin.
“This area contains the largest number of oil glands on the face. So naturally, we tend to see more blackheads, whiteheads, oiliness and shine in these areas,” she says. For further clarification, a blackhead is an accumulation of dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum within the oil gland that has reached the surface of the skin. Once it contacts air, it turns black, hence the moniker.
A whitehead contains the same type of cells, in addition to an abundance of white blood cells (a.k.a. pus) that have not been oxidized by air. This is usually what nasal hummus is composed of.
While the obvious goal is to eliminate all of that excess oil, overly aggressive attempts to remove it can leave the skin patchy and irritated. Ultimately, healthy skin requires small amounts of oil.
According to Kunin, “There is a misconception that steps taken to reduce excessive oiliness create a rebound reaction where even more oil is produced.” This isn’t true. “Oil production is triggered by the presence of hormones at the base of the oil gland, which cause sebum to be produced.” So while some people swear by fighting oil with oil, there are alternatives that work just as well.
In the case of an oily nasal area, Kunin recommends using a daily cleanser that contains both glycolic and salicylic acids, since these ingredients can penetrate to different levels of the skin and oil glands, which helps cleanse away more oil. However, be wary of how you’re utilizing them. Since water neutralizes glycolic acid, it should be applied to dry skin for optimal effectiveness.
Also, soap-free and pH-balanced cleansers that contain hydrators such as hyaluronic acid can help reduce accidentally over-stripping skin of its protective surface oil. “Exfoliation, such as with the DERMAdoctor Kakadu C Intensive Vitamin C Peel Pads is useful to unplug pores, which prevents a buildup of sebum beneath the skin’s surface,” says Kunin.
And in addition to a cleanser, using a toner afterward will further replenish skin moisture. However, not that “this is different than replenishing oil. You are replenishing water to help maintain a healthy complexion.” From there, finish off your routine with a lightweight oil-free moisturizer, such as DERMAdoctor Lucky Bamboo Jukyeom 9x Water Gel.
Additionally, retinols and prescription retinoids allow pores to breathe and oils to flow freely in more minute amounts. Lastly, if nasal oil or any of these treatment options lead to acne cysts or excessive inflammation, redness or the inability to reduce excessive oils, it’s time to check with a dermatologist.
Ahead are glycolic and salicylic acid cleansers that’ll jump-start your journey to more balanced skin.