Skin glow is all the rage right now, but if you have oily skin, you may be wishing some of that “glow” would just go away.
Don’t fret, we’re here to tell you all about how to deal with oily skin. We’re going to let you know what causes it, the best ingredients for oily skin, the ingredients you should avoid, and which products you should use for the ultimate skin care routine for oily skin.
What is oily skin? What causes it?
Oily skin occurs when your skin produces an excess amount of sebum (an oily, waxy substance produced by your sebaceous glands). Sebum is meant to hydrate and protect your skin, but when your body produces too much sebum, this oil gets mixed with dead skin cells and bacteria, which then gets trapped in pores causing breakouts.
Excess oil production is mostly genetic but can also be caused by stress, hormone changes, and environmental stressors.
Here are the most common signs of oily skin:
- Shiny skin
- Skin feels greasy
- Uneven texture
- Large pores
Luckily there are products and ingredients you can use to help balance your skin’s natural oils, keeping your skin healthy and hydrated, but not shiny.
Best ingredients for oily skin
When shopping for your products, it’s super important to pay attention to the main ingredients in a product. If you have oily skin, you want to look for products with the following ingredients:
- Squalane - It mimics the sebum your skin naturally produces, which you may think you don’t want, but it actually helps to balance your skin’s natural oils, which is exactly what you do want!
- Rosemary Extract - Rosemary helps to naturally cleanse your pores.
- Aloe Vera - One of the best natural hydrating ingredients, aloe adds moisture to your skin while also helping to remove buildup on your skin.
- Rose Oil - Used for centuries to help improve the look of skin, rose oil cleanses skin, minimizes the look of pores, and naturally hydrates!
- Clary Sage - Clary Sage acts as a natural toner and helps eliminate overly-dry or overly-oily skin.
- Activated Coconut Charcoal - It gives skin and pores a deep cleansing without stripping your skin of nutrients.
- Bentonite and Kaolin Clay - Clays are super beneficial for balancing oils, soothing skin, and improving texture.
- Tea Tree Oil - This essential oil helps to cleanse dirt and oil from pores and calm skin.
- Hyaluronic Acid - Hyaluronic acid helps to balance moisture in your skin.
- Retinol - Also known as vitamin A, retinol helps to cleanse skin of dead skin cells unclogging pores.
Ingredients to Avoid
There are also ingredients out there that you should avoid if you have oily skin. This doesn’t mean that these ingredients are bad for everyone, but they could make oily skin worse.
- Coconut oil - While coconut oil can be great for people with dry skin, it is considered comedogenic, meaning it is more likely to clog your pores, especially if you have oily skin.
- Vaseline - Vaseline is pure petroleum jelly, a mineral oil that creates a barrier on your skin potentially clogging your pores. It’s also a potential carcinogen.
- Beeswax - While it can be used to hydrate and protect your skin, the barrier it creates is likely to clog your pores.
- Lanolin - Lanolin is an oil that comes from sheep’s skin, and can lead to an overproduction of oil in already oily skin.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - This is a common ingredient in many soaps and cleansers. But, it can strip skin of too much moisture, leading to increased oil production.
Best skin care routine for oily skin
Managing your oily skin all comes down to your skincare routine. We’ve broken down the best morning and evening skin care routines for oily skin. We’ve also included our recommendations for the best products for oily skin.
Morning Routine for Oily Skin
If you have oily skin it’s important to wash your face twice a day. Your skin continues to produce oil at night, so even if you wash it before you go to bed, you need to wash it again. This will help keep your oils balanced. It may seem counter-intuitive, but oil based cleansers can actually be great for people with oily skin since they don’t completely strip your skin of it’s natural oils.
Best Face Wash for Oily Skin:
Olehenriksen Find your Balance Oil Control Cleanser. It uses glycolic and lactic acids to help clean away dead skin cells, and is non-comedogenic.
Runner Up: Biossance’s Squalane + Tea Tree Cleansing Gel. The tea tree oil helps to cleanse skin, while the squalane restores moisture.
2. Exfoliator (1-3 times per week)
Gently exfoliating can help to slough off dead skin cells and give your skin a deeper cleanse. However, over exfoliating can strip your skin of its natural oils which in turn would cause an increase in sebum production: the opposite of what you want. So, it’s important to only exfoliate 1-3 times a week.
Best Exfoliator for Oily Skin:
Fresh’s Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Exfoliator uses natural bamboo and olive exfoliants to gently exfoliate and balance oils.
Runner Up: Youth to the People’s Yerba Mate Resurfacing + Exfoliating Energy Facial with Enzymes. It uses bamboo and diatomaceous earth as natural exfoliants to purify and improve texture.
Toners can do wonders for your skin. A good natural toner will hydrate your skin while also cleansing, and minimizing the look of pores. A toner also helps prep your skin for the rest of your routine so that your other products are more effective.
Unfortunately alcohol is a common ingredient in many toners. You want to avoid toners with alcohol, because it tends to be a main ingredient and will overly dry your skin. You want to pay special attention to buying natural toners like witch hazel at the grocery store. It may seem like you’re getting pure witch hazel, but many generic brands will add alcohol.
Best Toner for Oily Skin:
Fleur & Bee’s Rose and Shine Rose Water Toner. Our toner only contains two ingredients: rose oil and water, so you know you’re not getting any nasty additives, and it will keep your skin clean, hydrated, and refreshed.
Runner Up: Herbivore’s Jasmine and Green Tea Oil Control Toner. This is a water based toner that uses jasmine, green tea, witch hazel, and aloe to cleanse and hydrate.
One result of oily skin can be uneven skin tone and texture. Improving your skin’s texture and tone is one of the many benefits of a good serum. Look for serums with natural toning ingredients like witch hazel or tea tree oil, and a concentration of hydrating ingredients like Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid.
Best Face Serum for Oily Skin:
The Inkey List’s Niacinamide Oil Control Serum. The mixture of Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid will bring much needed balance to your skin.
Runner Up: Tata Harper’s Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum. This light serum is designed for oily skin, and uses willow bark to cleanse and vitamin c to brighten and protect your skin.
You may think that because you have oily skin, you don’t need to moisturize, but you’re wrong. Adding moisture to your skin will keep your skin from thinking it's dry helping to balance your oils. You will probably want to stay away from heavier creams and moisturizers, but do look for water based moisturizers that have squalane, aloe, or hyaluronic acid.
Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin:
Youth to the People’s Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid. This is a super light moisturizer filled with antioxidants and hyaluronic acid that will allow your skin to breath, but also feel hydrated.
Runner Up: Fleur & Bee’s Crème de la Cream Face Cream. This is a water-based face cream that is lightweight and absorbs quickly, so your face doesn’t feel greasy afterwards.
6. Eye Cream
Even though you have oily skin, the skin around your eyes does not have its own oily glands, so it’s likely missing out on some much needed moisture. Also because it’s not producing its own oil, it’s not as important for you to find an eye cream that’s suited for oily skin. You more want to look for an eye cream that’s addressing a specific concern in your eye area like puffiness, dark circles, or fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Eye Cream for Oily Skin:
Tata Harper’s Restorative Eye Cream is a great overall eye cream. It uses lavender peptides for moisture and buckwheat to minimize the look of puffiness.
Runner Up: Fleur & Bee’s Eyes Eyes Baby. It’s another great option because it contains squalane which helps with fine lines and wrinkles (and is great for oily skin), plus caffeine and vitamin E which will help even skin and minimize the look of dark circles.
Sunscreen is an important step for all skin types. Sun exposure can dry out your skin, lead to accelerated signs of aging, and cause major skin damage. It’s best to use a mineral based sunscreen as opposed to a chemical sunscreen. Mineral or physical sunscreens actually create a barrier on your skin to protect it from sun damage, while chemical sunscreens can actually be absorbed into your skin. Look for sunscreens that use Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, or both. Those are the only two mineral ingredients approved by the FDA to protect your skin from the sun
Best Sunscreen for Oily Skin:
Bare Republic’s Mineral SPF 30 Face Sunscreen gel-lotion. It’s lightweight and oil free, while also protecting your skin.
Evening routine for Oily Skin
After you’ve been running around all day sweating, and exposing your skin to environmental stressors, it’s so important to wash your face. And if you wear makeup, it’s doubly important to make sure you take your makeup off before you go to bed. Leaving it on can clog your pores and make your skin issues worse. If you wear eye makeup, you may also want to invest in a gentle eye makeup remover as well. Most facial cleansers aren’t meant to take off eyeliner and mascara.
2. Detox Mask (1-3 times per week)
A detox mask 1-3 times a week will give your skin a deep cleansing ridding it of dirt and oil buildup. A mask can also help to improve your skin’s texture.
Best Mask for Oily Skin:
Fleur & Bee’s Fleur & Bee’s Prince Charcoal Detox Mask. It combines the cleansing power of activated coconut charcoal with the balancing power of bentonite and kaolin clay for a super deep clean.
Runner Up: Caudalie’s Instant Detox Mask which uses bentonite clay to cleanse and lavender oil to soothe and nourish.
Using a toner again at night will help to cleanse your skin from the day’s exposure to environmental stressors and it will prep it for the rest of your nightly routine.
A retinol serum or cream is one of the key products for people with oily skin. They can give your skin a nourishing cleanse, plus they help to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles. A retinol can make your skin sensitive to sunlight, so it’s best to use it at night.
Best Retinol Serum:
Biossance’s Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum. This water-based serum combines the moisturizing power of squalane with retinol for the ultimate skin boost.
Runner Up: Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni Retinol Cream. This is a gentle retinol cream that will help improve skin’s texture.
Yes, again! You should moisturize your face after you cleanse, everytime, even if you have oil skin. You want to have balanced skin, so you should replenish your skin’s nutrients that may be stripped after cleansing. But, you probably can skip out on a designated night cream. Night creams tend to be heavy, and likely won’t compliment your oily skin.
6. Eye cream
It’s especially important to moisturize your eye area after you’ve removed your makeup. Even if you use a gentle cleanser, the rubbing can irritate the thin skin around your eye, so be sure to give it some yummy nutrients before you go to sleep.
Other tips to get rid of oily skin
There are other things you can do outside of your AM and PM routines to help combat oily skin
- Use blotting papers - Carry these papers in your purse with you and gently blot if you feel any oiliness coming on.
- Use toner throughout the day - You can also carry a toner with you and use throughout the day for an extra refresh.
- Wash your face after exercising - Be sure to wash your face after you go to the gym. There is an excess of sweat and oil on your face which will lead to clogged pores if you don’t clean your skin right away. Be sure to follow up your cleanse with a moisturizer.
- Take Omega 3 fatty acid supplements - Omega 3 fatty acids can help to balance natural oils.
- Change your makeup - Your heavy foundation may be causing you more problems. Opt for a powder mineral foundation like BareMinerals Loose Powder Foundation, and avoid silicones.
- Don’t touch your face! - Your hands and fingers are touching everything, and touching your face will spread those germs and bacteria to your pores.
Frequently Asked Questions about an Oily Skin Routine
How do I keep my face from getting oily throughout the day?
Be sure to cleanse your face in the morning and at night to help keep your pores clean. If you feel extra oiliness coming on just use some blotting papers or spritz your face with a toner to cleanse any dirt and excess oil.
Should I use a moisturizer if I have oily skin?
Yes! Oily skin means your skin is overcompensating, and if it thinks your skin is too try, it will keep trying to moisturize it. Using a moisturizer will help to balance your skin’s natural oils.