Oily skin can be a struggle. There is no greater (beauty) letdown than starting the day with a fresh complexion that veers into oil slick territory midday. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks to keep your oily skin under control and your complexion fresh and clean all day. Here is our guide to caring for an oily complexion, including a curated skin care routine for oily skin.
- What Makes Skin Oily?
- Skin Type Test
- How To Fix Oily Skin
- Oily Skin Care Routine
- How to Build a Skincare Routine: Oily Skin
- Eye Cream
- Still have questions? Let me know below!
- Step 1:
- Step 2:
- Step 3:
- Step 4:
- The best moisturiser for oily skin
- Best serum for oily skin
- Best sunscreen for oily skin
- Best primer for oily skin
- Best foundation for oily skin
- Best cleanser for oily skin and large pores
- Best exfoliator for oily skin
- Best mask for oily skin
- Best night cream for oily skin
- Still have questions? Let me know below!
- How I Finally Found the Perfect Routine for My Oily Skin
- The Best Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
- Morning Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
- Evening Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
- Should I exfoliate?
- Will wearing make-up make my acne worse?
- I’m going on holiday and sunscreen makes my skin break out – what shall I do?
What Makes Skin Oily?
Like dry or combination skin, oily skin is a genetic skin type. It is linked to a hereditary disposition to overproduce the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which triggers an excess of sebum production in the skin. We need sebum – the oily, waxy substance that lubricates the skin – to keep our moisture barrier intact, but overproduction can become problematic. Excess oil causes pores to enlarge (as they stretch to contain the amount of oil generated) and when trapped, oil can combine with dead skin cells and bacteria on the skin’s surface to cause breakouts.
Skin Type Test
There are a few giveaways that you have oily skin. It often displays the following characteristics:
- Shiny looking
- Greasy to the touch
- Orange peel-like texture with visible, enlarged pores
- Makeup feels like it slides off as soon as it is applied
Still unsure if you have an oily complexion? Try this 3-step test to reveal your skin type:
Cleanse & Wait
Wash your face with your favorite Eminence Organics cleanser and do not apply additional product for at least an hour.
Take a clean piece of tissue and gently dab your T-Zone.
Examine Your Skin
If your skin feels comfortable (not tight), but there is residue on the tissue, your skin is likely oily.
How To Fix Oily Skin
Oily skin may be genetic, but oil production can also be influenced by hormones, stress, the environment and seasonal changes. Here are a few tips to keep oily skin in check.
- Skip Harsh, Drying Ingredients
Many of the products that claim to fix oily skin can actually make it worse. Most contain harsh ingredients that strip the skin’s moisture barrier. While they may make your skin feel less oily, they often trigger even more oil production to compensate for a dried out complexion. When choosing a cleanser, Real Simple advises following this rule of thumb: “You should avoid cleansers that contain harsh surfactants, which rid skin of too much oil and leave it so dry that it feels taut—and might just squeak if you dragged a finger across it. Some common surfactants include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS).” Instead, choose natural and organic products that are formulated without harmful additives that strip your skin of necessary moisture.
- Adjust Your Diet
Avoid alcohol and spicy foods which raise your heat index. These dilate blood vessels and cause you to perspire, adding sweat to your already slick complexion. Instead, stock up on foods like carrots, grapefruit and kale which are high in Vitamin A and slow oil production. And, don’t be afraid of oily food. In fact, foods like salmon, tuna, walnuts and pumpkin seeds which are rich in omega-3 fats help regulate the hormone that controls oil production and keep skin balanced.
- Keep Your Skin Care Cool
Eminence Organics President Boldijarre Koronczay recommends keeping masks and moisturizers in the fridge to keep your complexion cool and oil-free. He says: “Applying products directly from the refrigerator will keep your skin temperature lower, thereby reducing excess oil production.”
- Embrace Minimalism
If you have oily skin, it may be time to rethink your makeup routine. Primers and liquid foundations often contain silicones which clog and enlarge pores, exacerbating oily skin woes. We suggest swapping your silicone primer for a natural alternative like Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate which uses lactic acid and natural extracts of red clover flower and ribose to create primer-like results. Instead of your favorite liquid foundation, Allure recommends using a mineral powder like Sun Defense Minerals that “sucks up excess oil like a sponge.” If forgoing your favorite liquid formula is a no-go, opt for a lightweight formula like Caramel Latte Tinted Moisturizer (also available in Vanilla Latte) which provides coverage as well as hydration.
Oily Skin Care Routine
One of the best ways to tackle oily skin is through your skin care routine. Here are the skin care steps we prescribe to keep your oily skin looking fresh and matte.
One skin care myth we have to bust: Oil cleansers make skin more oily. In fact, they can actually improve the look of oily skin by absorbing excess sebum from its surface. Heidi Waldorf, MD tells Cosmopolitan: “It might sound counterintuitive, but oil cleansers were made for greasy skin types. The oil in the face wash attracts your skin’s sebum, so you can rinse both away without stripping your face.” One of the best ways to give oily skin a thorough – but gentle – clean is by adding a double-cleanse to your skin care routine. Start by removing excess oil and makeup with Stone Crop Cleansing Oil or Wildflower Cleansing Balm, then cleanse on a deeper scale with your favorite Eminence Organics cleanser. For oily skin, Allure recommends using a face wash formulated for problem skin – like Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser – that will help mattify the skin’s appearance.
- Exfoliate (Gently)
Exfoliation is one of the most important steps for oily skin – but don’t go overboard. Gentle exfoliation helps remove build up on the skin’s surface, as well as unclog and minimize pores. For gentle but effective exfoliation, Eminence Organics Product Support Representative and licensed esthetician Josie Barton recommends Almond & Mineral Treatment. The finely crushed almonds in this treatment softly exfoliate the skin, while ground ivy tones and tightens for a poreless-looking complexion.
- Use A Clay Or Charcoal-Based Face Mask
Beauty editors everywhere swear by clay and charcoal-based face masks to combat oily skin. Joshua Zeichner, MD tells Shape: “Both ingredients help to pull out and absorb excess oil in minutes, leaving skin more matte.” We advise masking with the Charcoal T-Zone Purifier side of Balancing Masque Duo. This deep-cleansing face mask is formulated with kaolin clay and charcoal to draw out the dirt, oil and bacteria caused by excess oil. A botanical active extracted from buchu leaves reduces oil and minimizes pores for a smooth, matte appearance.
- Moisturize (Yes, Really)
Adding moisture to already slick skin may be counterintuitive, but it is an important step in caring for oily skin. In fact, lack of hydration can cause skin to produce even more sebum in an effort to maintain moisture. Stanley Kovak, MD tells SELF: “Believe it or not, a moisturizer will add moisture to the skin, minimizing the skin’s perception that it is too dry. Adding moisture to the skin actually helps reduce the oiliness because it helps slow down sebum production.”
We recommend keeping oily skin hydrated and healthy by using a lightweight moisturizer that pulls double-duty to minimize pores and control oil. A few of our go-to moisturizers for oily skin:
- Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer, formulated with natural astringents like cucumber juice and willow bark extract.
- Stone Crop Hydrating Gel provides oil-free hydration via stone crop and green tea.
- Ultra-light Red Currant Protective Moisturizer SPF 30, infused with red currant, elderflower and tea tree oil to minimize the look of problem skin and tighten pores.
Use A Toner
Still feeling oily? Keep skin looking matte all day with Red Currant Mattifying Mist. This refreshing mist is infused with natural astringents red currant and elderflower to tighten pores, as well as a Youth Shield Antioxidant Complex that hydrates and protects skin against abuse of the elements.
Shannon says in her 5-star review: “I adore this toner! One spritz combats any shininess I might have and makes my moisturizer last twice as long. I use it in conjunction with the Red Currant Protective Moisturizer, and this really ups its game. My skin has never looked better! My skin is soothed, soft, matte, toned, and protected from the damaging city pollutants.”
For more insight on managing oily skin, watch the In The Mix video below, where Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer, Natalie Pergar shares her top rules.
Do you struggle with oily skin? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for keeping it under control. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media.
How to Build a Skincare Routine: Oily Skin
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This is the second post in the “How to Build a Skincare Routine” Series. If you have dry skin check out the first article on building a dry skin routine, because this one is for my oily skin girls. (If we haven’t covered your skin type yet, keep an eye out because I have two more articles in this series that will be up within the next few weeks.)
If you are looking for more clarification on what each product is for in a more general sense take a look at our guide to a basic skincare routine. And for tips and tricks on how to stick with your new skincare routine take a look at this article.
The goal of this article is to help you create a skincare routine for oily skin. I will be explaining which products oily skin needs, letting you know what to look for in a product, as well as sharing some of my tips for dealing with oily skin.
First off, you need to make sure you are taking off any makeup at night. Removing all of your makeup will ensure that you don’t have anything extra clogging up your pores. The great thing about oily skin is that often times (unless you have very sensitive skin) you don’t have to worry as much about the ingredients in products, as the excess oil on your skin tends to take the brunt of any harsher ingredients. So, even though most makeup wipes tend to contain alcohol which will can dry out skin, you should be fine because you have the extra oil on your skin for protection. Makeup wipes are great for travel but I don’t recommend using them daily because that gets pretty expensive.
My favorite type of makeup remover is an oil cleanser. As a person with oily skin you may be worried about putting more oil on your skin. But fear not, oil cleansers can actually work well for oily skin. Oil cleansers are great because they take off even the thickest of makeup and are the best way to ensure that you are removing your sunscreen as well.
Once you have removed your makeup, you want to make sure that you are cleansing your skin. By doing a double cleanse you ensure that you are getting all of the last remnants of makeup and dirt off of your face. With this step, choose a cleanser that is going to treat your oily skin issues. You can pick up an oil-free cleanser so that you can use it morning and night.
For a little bit more information on what each type of cleanser does for oily skin check out this article.
Makeup Removing Cleansers
A great balm cleanser is Farmacy’s Green Clean. This cleanser is a balm to oil product that melts away makeup and has the added bonus of being a certified clean product. As a drugstore option, the Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil is a great choice for all skin types.
FYI, there is a specific way that you should use oil cleansers. First, you want to apply the cleanser to dry skin and massage in. Next, add a small amount of water and massage again: it should turn a milky color this is a sign that the oil is emulsifying and this helps the makeup to break down. Finally, you can wash it off like normal. It’s a great way to get makeup off without leaving your skin feeling stripped.
For your double cleanser, an oil control product is a great option. The OleHenriksen oil control cleanser is part of a newer line and not only helps to control your oil but also deep cleanse your pores. Neutrogena also has a great option at the drugstore, their oil free daily scrub helps to control oil and blemishes as it contains salicylic acid which is a great ingredient for fighting breakouts. Both of these cleansers would work great as a double cleanse product and as a morning cleanser.
Toners are great multitaskers, they help to balance the ph of your skin, minimize pores, and they can include problem-specific ingredients. Balancing the ph of your skin is an important step in prepping your skin to absorb the products that are applied after.
The OleHenriksen Oil control toner is part of the same line as the cleanser mentioned above. It contains both BHA’s and AHA’s (both types of exfoliating acids) to help clean pores and keep you skin looking clear. It will keep you looking matte and clear all day long.
If you find that your skin is both oily and feels dry it’s probably because your skin is not hydrated enough. Moisture and hydration are different, moisture reflects the oil content and hydration reflects the water content of skin. The Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner is a great extra hydrating toner to stop that dry feeling.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and a bit easier any of the Thayers alcohol-free toners are a great option. The one shown above includes both witch hazel and rose, both of which have natural toning properties. The rose will help to hydrate your skin while the witch hazel will help control oil and blemishes. And it’s in a super convenient spray bottle.
Serums are a great way to treat specific skin issues. They contain concentrated ingredients so that they pack a punch when it comes to treating your skin. You can pick up a serum that will help to minimize your oily skin or you can find something that deals with another skin issue that you may have. Say you want brighter skin or you have a problem with redness, a serum is a great way to deal with these other skin issues.
But you’re not limited to one serum, you can layer serums to target different problems. You can treat various skin issues, just make sure that you are using serums that work well together by asking a consultant for help or doing lots of research. Because of the concentrated ingredients, you do not want to cause any chemical interactions on your skin. If in doubt, start with one. When layering serums, make sure that you are starting with the thinnest formula and working your way to the thickest one so that everything absorbs properly.
Oil Control Serums
These oil control serums are great because they take care of several problems all at once. The Caudalie Vinopure serum helps to take care of oil and blemishes, tightens pores, evens skin texture, and makes your skin glow. This is because it contains natural salicylic acid, antioxidants, and a bunch of other good-for-your-skin ingredients.
At a lower price point, there is The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1% serum. The Ordinary is great because you know exactly what the active ingredients are and how much you are getting. Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 and helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes and congestion. And the Zinc helps to control sebum production.
These hydrating serums will help to alleviate the feeling of dry skin due to lack of hydration. The B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum from Drunk Elephant is a great lightweight hydration serum. It is formulated with B vitamins and pineapple ceramides to help attract and retain hydration. It also helps to illuminate your skin and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. When using this product make sure to seal it in with a moisturizer or oil so that the water that has been pulled into the skin has a more difficult time evaporating out.
At a lower price point The Ordinary’s Buffet serum is exactly what it sounds like, it contains a whole bunch of great ingredients with the goal of hydrating your skin and preventing the signs of aging. This product contains various hyaluronic acids, peptides, and amino acids to keep your skin looking great.
Moisturizers are one of the most important parts of a skincare routine. You want to make sure that your skin is well hydrated and moisturized. There are some great options out there for oily skin that will not add an oily film or make skin even shinier.
The third step in the OleHenriksen line mentioned previously is their Oil Control Hydrator. This moisturizer is formulated to mattify the skin and reduce the appearance of pores, plus it’s non-comedogenic which means that it will not clog your pores.
The drugstore option I recommend most is Clean and Clear’s Acne Control Moisturizer — it’s an oil-free moisturizer that contains salicylic acid to help heal your skin and prevent future breakouts. And because it’s oil-free, the formula isn’t greasy!
Another great drugstore option is the Cetaphil Oil Control Moisturizer. This one is awesome because it also has an SPF of 30 so it’s a great double duty daytime moisturizer. It will give you a matte finish and protect you from the sun. Make sure you are only using this moisturizer for the daytime because you do not want to put SPF on when you do not need it.
And if you want a very light feeling moisturizer I suggest the Boscia Cactus Water Moisturizer. It is a gel formula so it’ll feel very light on the skin. More like a drink of water than a moisturizer! But it will still give you the same amount of hydration as a thicker cream without the heaviness.
Under eye cream is important because the skin under your eye is very sensitive and needs a lighter formula. Here I will be highlighting some great hydrating under eye creams. To see my recommendations for eye creams that treat dark circles, check out my first article in this series.
The Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream gets straight to the point. It uses hyaluronic acid to draw water into the skin. Not only does this hydrate your skin but it also visibly plumps it up. At the drugstore you can pick up the Neutrogena Hydro Boost gel cream which also includes hyaluronic acid and is very comparable to the Mario Badescu cream. (Note that the Mario Badescu cream is actually cheaper than the drugstore gel in this case!)
Now that you have your everyday skincare routine you can take it to the next step!
Clay masks are great for taking care of oily skin and blackheads. There are a lot of great clay masks so check out this list to find one to help you. For one example, Glossier makes a mask that contains a gentle form of clay that’s great for almost all skin types. You can use these a couple times a week and you can use a sheet mask after to make sure that the clay is not over drying your face.
If you find your scalp is very oily it can be contributing to excess facial oil as well. Make sure you are taking care of your scalp as well. You can find out more information here.
If pores are your problem check out the Silver Powder from Mario Badescu. It has some really amazing reviews and is a super easy product to use.
Still have questions? Let me know below!
Have you tried any of these products? How did they work for you? Or do you have your own holy grail skincare items?
Nailing a skincare routine for oily skin can be like trying to get through an episode of Stranger Things without Googling what the hell is going on. Because, plot twist: face oils can ease oily complexions.
But there is a bounty of mattifying, cleansing and purifying labels all promising to clear up your complexion, so where do you begin? And why is it that you’re cursed with a greasy forehead and a nose plagued by clogged, open pores, blackheads and pimples, but your co-workers stay shine-free from 9-5?
‘Unfortunately your skin type tends to be genetic and some skins have a tendency to naturally be more oily whilst others are prone to dryness,’ says Dr Paul Ellis, Research and Development Director for Walgreens Boots Alliance.
‘Sebum produced on the face can cause an oily shiny look to the skin and reactions with UV, pollution and certain cosmetics may lead to blocked pores and further exacerbate oily-looking skin. Harsh cleansing, poor sleep quality and certain aspects of the diet have been linked to excessive oiliness.’
So if it’s in your genes adopting a skincare routine for oily skin is not something you could do but something to start now.
To get you started, WH has tapped up the experts to fill you in on the routine for AM and PM, as well as the products to use. But first, here’s two things to do that can help to ease your oily skin woes.
To deal with oily skin: sort your stress
‘The first step to better skin is to ensure you’re finding time to relax, exercise and even meditate to support your skin,’ explains Dr Langdon of Berkshire Aesthetics. ‘Stress causes hormones to become unbalanced which can affect skin health.’
To deal with oily skin: sort your diet
Two litres of water + plant-based food + quitting sugar = good skin. Not exactly revolutionary – we get that. But do take a moment to understand why.
‘Eating a diet high in antioxidants and low in animal products has been shown to reduce inflammation and sebum production,’ says aesthetic doctor Dr David Jack.
‘By reducing your intake of simple sugars and eating higher levels of plant-based products you could reduce oiliness of the skin.’
Plus, a more alkaline diet with plenty of greens can also help balance hormone levels, as well as delivering essential nutrients to the skin.’
Your morning oily skincare routine
Moisturiser is arguably one of the most important products for good skin but it’s only part of the picture. A clear complexion starts with a cleansing.
Try this simple routine shared by Dr Preema Vig, an aesthetic doctor and GP:
Use a gentle cleanser to clean your face using warm water to open the pores, before wiping with a clean face cloth.
Before reaching for products splash your skin with cold water to help close your pores.
Use a hyaluronic acid-based serum (keep scrolling for our recco).
Gently smooth on a light moisturiser – this nourishes your skin and helps protect it from producing excess oil.
Keep reading for the best skincare products for oily skin.
The best moisturiser for oily skin
Don’t fall into the trap of not moisturising because you think you don’t need any more hydration. ‘Hydration and reducing transepidermal (water loss through the skin) moisture loss is key to rebalancing and ‘normalising’ skin,’ says Dr Vig.
Using this lightweight moisturiser to minimise the appearance of pores and leave you with a matte finish.
Original Skin™ origins.co.uk £54.00
Best serum for oily skin
Again, hydration is key in a skincare routine for oily skin. Hyaluronic acid seeps into the skin to hydrate it from underneath and encourage the production of new skin cells, rather than excess oils.
And for city dwellers, this serum will create a barrier over your skin to protect it from the toxins that come from pollution.
La-Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum 30ml la roche posay boots.com £38.00
Best sunscreen for oily skin
Daily SPF might seem like a chore but cut this from your bathroom routine and you run the risk of bed level sun damage.
Apply a water-gel based product and it’ll absorb into the skin in a flash.
REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 Mattifying Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen 50ml REN Clean Skincare lookfantastic.com £30.00
Best primer for oily skin
Don’t be fooled by the shimmer of this primer. It blends the original product’s pore-minimising features with a killer glow that will blend into your skin and boost radiance.
And if you’re wary of using highlighter with your shiny skin for fear of it leaving you looking like a KKW beauty ad, this will do a two-in-one job so you won’t need any. No golden noses here.
Benefit The POREfessional Pearl Primer Benefit johnlewis.com £29.00
Best foundation for oily skin
Move over Fenty Beauty. YSL has created a 24 hour liquid foundation that comes in nearly as many shades.
It’s full of fine pigments so will leave you with a full-coverage matte finish without being caked on. It even contains SPF for a double hit of protection.
Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Foundation yves saint laurent boots.com £35.00
Your evening oily skincare routine
‘Night time skin preparation is important, as it is the time when the cells renew themselves’ says Dr Langdon.
‘We can help this by using products with key ingredients like the best retinol and anti-inflammatory agents such as botanicals.
‘Cleansing before bed is also essential for keeping your skin healthy, as during the day the oils on your skin react with dirt and debris such as pollutants.’
Use a gentle cleanser to clean your face using warm water to open the pores, before wiping with a clean face cloth.
Before reaching for products splash your skin with cold water to help close your pores.
Use a retinol, to encourage cell renewel (keep scrolling for our recco).
Layer on a light night cream.
Best cleanser for oily skin and large pores
Skin as greasy as your George Foreman after cooking Sunday brunch? Now’s the time to use a pore-minimising cleanser to target build up. Use this wash on the daily to clear out oil and dirt that accumulates through the day.
‘After washing, it is best to pat skin dry and leave skin slightly damp to dry naturally,’ says Dr Langdon. ‘Beware of over-washing or harsh scrubbing as this can encourage the skin’s natural oil production.’
Top tip for using this cleanser? Apply it on dry skin, as it turns from gel to oil for some at-home pampering.
Purifying Cleanser Tata Harper cultbeauty.co.uk £66.00
Best exfoliator for oily skin
With the microbead ban, scrubs are out and tonics are in. Lactic acid reduces sebum production to stop excess oil on your skin.
‘It also has an exfoliating effect on the skin,’ says Dr Jack, ‘together with potent antioxidant, reparative effects.’
REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic 250ml ren feelunique.com £20.00
Best mask for oily skin
First it was bananas, then it was avocado, now it’s pomegranate.
Polylactic acid beads (they’re biodegradable, so scrub away) exfoliate the skin to get rid of the grime that’s built up in your KOBOX workout, while the pomegranate reduces the appearance of pores and protects skin against the environmental factors that can cause oiliness.
Murad Pore Extractor Pomegranate Mask 50g Murad feelunique.com £24.00
Best night cream for oily skin
Using retinol in a night cream or night oil can help limit sebum production, exfoliate dead skin cells and minimise the appearance of pores, so slather this on at bedtime.
‘Topical retinoids do definitely reduce facial pore size,’ says Dr Natalia Spierings, Consultant Dermatologist at Dermatica.
‘This is actually important because there is a direct relationship between large pores and lots of oil production. So it is definitely worth using a topical retinoid for at least three months to see if it can help reduce your oily skin.’
REN Bio Retinoid™ Anti-Ageing Cream REN Clean Skincare lookfantastic.com £45.00
Get your skincare routine down do a tee with the best face moisturisers and embrace the best face oil for all types of skin.
How I Finally Found the Perfect Routine for My Oily Skin
by Faith Choi
I’m haunted. Wherever I go, in all the pictures I’m in, there is a familiar, unwanted glow, like a halo that rests on my cheeks and forehead. And while my mom and my friends try to console me by saying that my oily skin just means that I’ll have fewer wrinkles in the future, that doesn’t change the fact that having oily skin is bothersome on a day-to-day basis — and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
So to all of my Oily Friends™ out there, I’ve compiled a list of tried and true tips to help make your days a little matte-er, along with a few tricks from Dr. Karen Hammerman of New York’s Schweiger Dermatology Group, and our very own Sara Wren, Milk Makeup’s talented studio artist.
Oils are actually your best friend.
I know. It’s the exact opposite of what you thought you’d hear, right? The natural instinct many people (including myself) with oily skin types have is to constantly strip our faces of any and all traces of oil. While it might look good for a hot second, in the long run, it could end up making your skin freak out, leading it to produce even more oil to compensate for the lost moisture. So, try integrating various oils into your skincare routine instead (especially for my fellow oily, acne-prone friends!). It will benefit your skin in the long run, and certain oils like jojoba help dissolve makeup (!!), excess sebum, and grease. It might feel strange at first, but trust me, your skin’s going to thank you for it.
New York-based dermatologist Dr. Karen Hammerman recommends geranium oil, which can help control your skin’s oil production. “Tea tree oil (which is antibacterial) and argan oil (which reduces oil production over time) are also good bets,” she says. “Other oils for lightweight hydration are jojoba and squalene.”
“I love oils and I think everyone can benefit from incorporating them into their skincare/beauty routine,” says Studio Artist Sara Wren. Her favorite is grapeseed oil; it’s rich in vitamin E and linoleic acid to prevent clogged pores, while the light consistency makes it friendly for those with both oily and dry skin. “My holy grail all-purpose oil is Milk Makeup Sunshine Oil… not only does it contain grapeseed oil but it has avocado, grapefruit, lemon, and mandarin peel oils to brighten skin tone and reduce oil production.”
I personally opted for rosehip oil in hopes of getting rid of some acne scars, and jojoba oil to control sebum production and acne. With nightly application, my acne scars faded a lot more rapidly, and I always woke up in the morning with hydrated, supple skin.
Essential oils and carrier oils (plant-derived vegetable oils) such as jojoba, avocado, lavender, rosehip, and hemp seed oils are some crowd favorites, each with their own benefits. All-purpose oils, like the Sunshine Oil that Sara mentioned, are great options, too, if you want your favorite compatible oils in one bottle. Ultimately, however, it’s all about finding the right oil for your skin type.
For most oils, apply 2-3 drops after cleansing and toning your face, and gently pat it into your skin. Do you hear that? It’s your skin singing hallelujah.
Moisturizer is friend, not foe.
There was a point in my life where I would sometimes wash my face and skip the moisturizer step entirely. My theory was that I would let the oil my face produced be the natural moisturizer (I know. I’m cringing too.) And while putting any kind of lotion or moisturizer on, especially during summertime, may feel like too much, it’s a necessary step in anyone’s routine, especially if your skin feels tight or dry in any areas. “The reality is that there are a host of benefits to using a daily moisturizer if your skin is oily or pimple-prone,” advises Dr. Hammerman. “Many people confuse oil with hydration, but the role of moisturizer is to improve skin’s hydration by adding water to it.”
For the summer, ditch the heavy cream you were using for the colder seasons and opt for light, water-based moisturizers. Anything lightweight but hydrating will be ideal. My personal favorite are the non-comedogenic gel-types — they feel light, but really sink into your skin, making it feel ~supremely hydrated~.
Antioxidants and hyaluronic acid are also great ingredients to look for in a moisturizer. According to Dr. Hammerman, “Antioxidants protect skin by limiting the production of free radicals, which can damage skin cells.” As for hyaluronic acid, Dr. Hammerman explained that “The moisture-retaining properties of hyaluronic acid, along with its powerful antioxidant effects, can help to clear up any irritation, dry skin, or inflammation you may be experiencing.”
I knew I’d found a great gel moisturizer when, after application, my skin felt deeply hydrated without feeling like anything was sitting on my face. This makes gel moisturizers an especially good candidate for the summer months, and for anyone who doesn’t like the sticky sensation of putting on a face lotion. Sheet masks also work wonders on summer skin in need of extra hydration. I like to do at least one sheet mask every week, but you can do as many as one every night if you really wanna live your hydration dreams to the fullest.
Don’t skip out on sunscreen!
If I had a dime for every time my dermatologist and my mother told me off for not putting on sunscreen, I’d be as rich and “self-made” as Kylie Jenner. Dr. Hammerman also warned against going without SPF: “We all know that too much sun is dangerous, but it can also be bad for your skin’s appearance, drying it out and damaging cells.” I know many sunscreens get a bad rap as being thick, greasy, and weird-smelling, but it truly is a necessary step that you need to integrate into your skincare right now. A 2016 study of 32 participants by dermatologists showed that, in a span of 52 weeks, daily use of sunscreen improved overall skin tone, crow’s feet, fine lines, mottled pigmentation, discrete pigmentation, evenness of skin tone, clarity, and texture. Woah.
Plus, there are some pretty good options out there. “So many brands are making great sunscreens that are mattifying and meant to last during these hot summer days,” Sara pointed out. With myriad options, ranging from drugstore to high-end, none of us really have an excuse not to wear it.
When asked about how she incorporates sunscreen into her makeup routine, Sara told me that she applies it “before a mattifying primer to lock everything in and make sure makeup doesn’t move.” Her favorite sunscreen? “Supergoop sunscreen because of how light it is, and Skinceuticals makes an excellent mattifying SPF 50.”
Blot all you damn want.
One day after class, I casually pulled out an oil blotting sheet and dabbed it all over my face. A friend looked over in part fascination, part curiosity, and part disgust to ask me, “What the hell is that? What did you just do?” To be fair, I had just conjured, seemingly out of nowhere, a questionably thin sheet of paper that I proceeded to rub all over my face, (#JustOilyPeopleThings) so I understood where the question came from. But ever since this incident, I’ve always felt extra self-conscious about using blotting sheets in public.
Well, I’m here to say, no more blot shaming! Blot all you want, my friends. Blot before class, after class, during class, in the morning, at night, waiting in line for coffee, on the train — wherever you want to, and however many times your skin needs it. I always keep blotting sheets within arm’s reach, and Sara agrees: “I have them in my glove box, purse, everywhere to remove shine throughout the day.”
And, for that extra-preventative measure in your makeup routine, you can also blot your face right after you put on foundation, and before setting powder. Sara also pointed out how applying setting powder in general can be helpful for oily skin types: “It’s an important step to keep my concealer in place and shine at bay.”
Oily skin + makeup = ?
Now that we’ve covered skincare, you’re probably wondering, “Cool… But what about my makeup?” Fear not. We’ve thought of everything.
“Keep it light! Use concealer selectively instead of full coverage foundation.” Sara advises. She recommends the Blur family for those seeking mattifying product.
“Use a mattifying primer always. Blur Stick is a savior to oily skin, especially in the summer months… I am a huge fan of Blur Stick (Luminous and OG) for keeping the oil down and locking makeup in place. I like to use Blur Liquid Matte Foundation as a concealer by using my fingers to blend away darkness or imperfections. Lastly, I set it all with Blur Spray to lock everything in place and keep me matte. Throughout the day I will do an extra spritz or two to refresh and mattify my skin midday.”
Need the mattifying products for your oily skin, but still want your skin to look dewy? I asked Sara for some tips, and she emphasized that finding “the right balance” between the two is the crucial part:
“I prefer keeping the center of my face matte while leaving my cheeks dewy for the perfect balance. With our Highlighter in Lit makes it so easy to add dew on top of a mattified skin. My favorite trick to make a SUPER dewy and hydrated base is to mix Sunshine Oil with Lit. Since I have a drier skin type, this gives me a super-luminous base and a warm golden tone that makes a great base under powders or a more matte foundation.”
The Best Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
If you find yourself reaching for oil-blotting papers multiple times throughout the day, you might want to take a look at your skin-care routine. Finding the best products for oily skin — that is, products that actually help keep oil production and shine under control — can be difficult. Products that are too heavy will only make the skin look greasier, while products too lightweight may not be hydrating enough. Although oily skin can be difficult to care for, the right skin-care routine, can be life-changing. Ahead, find step-by-step instructions for a morning and evening skin-care routines, designed specifically for people with oily skin types.
Morning Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
For oily skin in particular, a morning skin-care routine is a great way to remove any oils that may have piled up on the skin’s surface while you were sleeping. Just a few extra steps — with a little help from mattifying products — can help combat a greasy complexion.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #1: Cleanse Your Skin
Wash your face every morning to remove any impurities or excess oil that built up over night. The longer dirt and bacteria lingers on your skin, the greater the chance a breakout can occur. Steer clear of harsh soaps, though, and reach for a gentle face wash that won’t strip your skin of too much oil. We like SkinCeuticals Foaming Cleanser because it is formulated with gentle foaming agents that lift debris off skin’s surface.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #2: Tone Your Skin
Toning your skin is a great way to help ensure that every last trace of debris buildup is washed away after cleansing. Some toners can even help normalize your skin’s pH level, as well as smooth skin’s texture. Reach for a formula that’s non-drying and recommended for oily skin, like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Toner. Soak a cotton pad with the liquid and gently sweep it around your face, avoiding the eye area.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #3: Apply a Serum
Applying an oil-based serum on top of your excessively oily complexion can help cut some of the excess sebum on your skin’s surface to reveal a balanced, radiant-looking complexion. We like using Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate as it’s a calmative, non-comedogenic facial oil formulated for problem skin.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #4: Use an Oil-Free Moisturizer
Oily skin still needs additional hydration in the form of a daily moisturizer. In fact, depriving your oily skin of moisture can actually lead to even more oil being produced to compensate for the loss. A good pick for your oily complexion is a non-comedogenic oil-free moisturizer that absorbs quickly, dries matte and feels light on the skin. Give La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat a try if you’re looking to refine the look of pores and reduce excess shine under your makeup.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #5: Add More Moisture
If your skin isn’t adequately hydrated, it could trick your sebaceous glands into producing even more surface oil. Treat this loss of moisture by incorporating additional hydrating skin-care products into your routine as needed. We like using L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra Nutrition Manuka Honey All Over Balm to lock in moisture and leave skin feeling plump and nourished.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #6: Apply Eye Cream
The delicate skin around the eyes is much thinner than that on the rest of your face, making it more susceptible to damage. To give your eye area a little extra TLC, use an eye cream. SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 protects and enhances your entire eye area with a brightening effect.
Morning Skin-Care Routine Step #7: Apply Broad-Spectrum SPF
Apply sunscreen to your complexion every day as a final step of your routine before heading outdoors. This will help protect your skin from harmful UV rays that can prematurely age your skin. Reach for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that boasts an ultra-light, matte finish like Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+ as it’s non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores.
Evening Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
So, you’ve gotten through your day and now you’re getting ready to unwind and head to bed. Before you rest, it’s essential to follow a nightly skin-care routine to ensure you don’t wake up with breakouts.
Evening Skin-Care Routine Step #1: Cleanse Your Skin
Following the same order as you do for your morning routine, start by cleansing your face. You can opt to use the same cleanser or reach for a new one. However, if you’re a heavy makeup-wearer, we recommend starting with a micellar water that will lift makeup, dirt, pollution and grime off the surface. Vichy Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 One Step Solution works as a cleansing water, soothing toner and eye makeup remover, all in one.
Evening Skin-Care Routine Step #2: Tone Your Skin
Toning your skin after you cleanse is essential at night, too. Try Lancôme Tonique Pure Focus to minimize sebum production while reducing the appearance of pores. It’s formulated with zinc gluconate, an ingredient that works wonders on oily skin types.
Evening Skin-Care Routine Step #3: Use a Clay-Based Mask
Incorporating a clay mask into your routine a couple of times a week can help deep-clean your pores. Look for formulas with kaolin or bentonite as they can help to absorb excess oil and mattify the appearance of the skin. L’Oréal Paris Purify & Mattify Treatment Mask helps keep shine at bay while also treating blemishes that have yet to pop up.
Evening Skin-Care Routine Step #4: Apply Retinol
Retinol is a great ingredient to incorporate into your evening skin-care routine as it can help fight signs of skin aging. Becausee retinol is extremely powerful, it’s important to start off slow and use a low dosage, like SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5, until you build up your tolerance. If your night cream is formulated with retinol or any AHAs, think twice before applying additional retinol onto your skin. Also know that retinol can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, making it even more important to wear SPF during the day.
Evening Skin-Care Routine Step #5: Hydrate Your Skin
Instead of moisturizing your skin with the same day cream from your morning routine, reach for a night cream that’s formulated to target additional skin concerns. Most night creams are formulated with higher concentrations of anti-aging ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, LHA and hyaluronic acid to address dark spots, wrinkles and loss of firmness. SkinCeuticals Renew Overnight Oily is formulated with a gentle hydroxy acid blend to hydrate and exfoliate dead skin cells to reveal a more radiant-looking complexion.
Evening Skin-Care Routine Step #6: Apply Eye Cream
As the final step to your nighttime routine, hydrate your delicate eye area with a nourishing eye cream. However, instead of applying your daytime SPF eye cream, reach for a nighttime formula. La Roche-Posay Redermic R Retinol Eye Cream addresses under-eye circles, fine lines and other signs of fatigue while you sleep.
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It is important to cleanse your skin twice a day – morning and evening. This can be in the form of a rinse off cleanser or micellar water. Choose a cleanser specially formulated for blemishes or oily skin, like those in the Normaderm range (my favourite is the Cleansing Gel as it makes my skin feel squeaky clean afterwards).
After cleansing, use a light gel-based moisturiser that is “non-comedogenic” i.e. prevents the formation of blackheads. Even oily skin needs moisturising as oils do not equate to hydration. Moisturising the skin will maintain the integrity of the barrier function of the skin and is vital for good skin health.
Don’t pick or squeeze your spots as your skin will take longer to clear and you may end up with acne scars.
Should I exfoliate?
It is a good idea to gently exfoliate once a week if you have oily skin. This will immediately remove dead skin cells from the skin surface resulting in a brighter appearance. Longer term, it will reduce the development of blackheads. Be careful not to overdo this otherwise you will end up irritating the skin and making things worse not better.
Will wearing make-up make my acne worse?
It is important to choose the right products for oily, blemish prone skin. If you wear make-up, then opt for an oil-free foundation or BB cream.
I’m going on holiday and sunscreen makes my skin break out – what shall I do?
It is vitally important to wear sunscreen to reduce the aging effects of the sun. Many people with oily skin find that sunscreens can block their pores resulting in spots.
Choose a mattifying sunscreen designed specifically for oily or combination skin.