Skincare is a complex issue. Especially if you have oily skin, it is pertinent that you select the right skin care routine for your specific skin needs and challenges. Here is all that you need to know to make the best decisions for the health of your skin.

How to Develop a Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

  • Diligence - The most important thing to remember when developing your skincare routine is to be consistent and diligent. Results will only come if you stick with the process. Simply doing the routine for two days per week will not deliver the results that you need.
  • Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize, Apply Sunscreen - These four components are essential in the proper care of oily skin.
  • Spot Treatment - Spot treatment products such as vitamin C serums and hyaluronic acid are an ideal addition to the routine. Although they are not always necessary, these spot treatments are a good boost.
  • Cleansing Frequency - While you do not have to cleanse every morning and night, taking the time to thoroughly wash oil-prone skin at night is a necessity.
  • Know Your Type - Before you begin any treatment regimen, it is important to know your skin type. Choosing products that are specifically formulated for your individual skin type will yield the best results.

What a Daily Skincare Routine Looks Like

Step 1: Cleansing

The first line of defense of any skincare routine is daily cleansing. While a morning cleansing is optional, it is absolutely necessary to cleanse each night. This will ensure that dirt and excess sebum does not sit on the skin overnight and clog pores.

Step 2: Exfoliating

Like cleansing, exfoliation is optional in the morning but necessary at night. Leave-on exfoliators work best in the overnight hours while keeping you out of the sun.

Step 3: Serums (Optional)

While not a core element of most skin care routines, the use of serums is a good idea when looking to prevent acne, minimize wrinkles and fine lines, promote even skin tone and texture, and deliver overall anti-aging benefits.

Step 4: Spot Treatments (Optional)

A nightly spot treatment can prove to be beneficial when looking to beat stubborn acne that does not respond to simple cleaning and exfoliation.

Step 5: Moisturizing

A morning and nightly moisturizing routine provides critical hydration to the skin, making it a necessary component of any skincare routine.

Step 6: Sunscreen

Even if you do not plan on spending much time in the sun, getting into the habit of applying a daily facial sunscreen each morning can pay off big dividends down the road. Daily sunscreen use is necessary to prevent skin damage and negate uneven skin tone.

Best Daily Sky Care Routine for Oily Skin

Oily skin requires a different treatment regimen than skin that is normal, dry, or combination. Because everyone has a unique skin profile, you may need to tweak the frequency in which you use each product in order to see the maximum results.

Step 1: Cleanse Your Skin

It is important to completely clean the surface of the skin before applying any treatments. A thorough cleaning routine will remove dirt, excess sebum, and other environmental impurities. Cleansing will also remove excess sunscreen and makeup. This crucial first step needs to be a serious process in every skin care routine.

How to Properly Cleanse Your Face

Using lukewarm water, wet your face, and then apply a quarter-size amount of your favorite cleanser. Using circular motions, gently work the cleanser into a lather. Lukewarm water will ensure that that the skin is not shocked or dried out by water that is too cold or too hot. Once the cleanser has been completely removed, gently pat the skin dry with a clean towel.

When to cleanse your skin: While washing in the morning is optional, it is a good practice if your skin feels particularly oily. Nightly cleansing is absolutely necessary. This is the time to wash away makeup, sunscreen, and other impurities that have built up throughout the course of the day.

Best Cleansers for Oily Skin

1. SebaMed Clear Face Cleansing Foam

This gentle foaming cleanser works hard to remove the oil and dirt that can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts. The moisturizing properties provide maximum hydration and do not cause excessive drying out of the skin. A host of antibacterial elements protects against breakouts. The mild ingredients in this cleanser make it a good choice for those with sensitive skin. The product contains no harmful dyes, parabens, or alcohol. The vitamin B5 helps to regenerate dead skin cells, promoting a faster turnover and healthier skin overall.

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2. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

It is no wonder that this product has such a loyal following. This cleanser goes deep to remove dirt and oil without drying out the skin and causing flaking. The gentle ingredients do not disrupt the natural protective barrier of the skin. Ingredients such as niacinamide, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid work as a team to deliver critical moisture as it cleans the skin. The non-comedogenic foaming cleanser does not contain harmful fragrances or irritants, making it a good choice for nearly any type of skin.

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Step 2: Exfoliate

Exfoliation is an important piece of any skincare routine, regardless of skin type. This process sloughs away dead skin cells to encourage the production of healthy and unblemished skin. Adding an exfoliant to your routine can help to negate the natural slowing down of skin cell turnover that happens as you age. Also known as beta hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid is the preferred chemical exfoliant for oily skin. Because salicylic acid is oil-soluble, it is able to penetrate through oil to reach into the pores and exfoliate the skin.

It is important to take care to not over-exfoliate the skin as this will lead to excess dryness. If you are just beginning your foray into exfoliation and are looking to get a jump start on ridding the skin of excess buildup of dead cells and blackheads, it is fine to exfoliate in the morning and again at night.

When to exfoliate: Nightly exfoliation is sufficient once your routine is established. Exfoliation should happen after you have properly cleansed the skin with a recommended cleanser. To use a chemical exfoliant, simply apply the treatment to a cotton pad and rub all over the face. Leave-on exfoliants should remain on the skin.

Best Exfoliants for Oily Skin

1. Stridex Maximum Strength Pads

Containing an ideal formulation of two percent salicylic acid, these exfoliating pads are specially textured to lift away dirt and grime while also delivering exfoliation. Because the pads are alcohol-free, you do not need to worry about the skin burning. The level of exfoliant-rich salicylic acid is the highest concentration available without a prescription, making these pads an ideal choice for those people with acne-prone skin.

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2. Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Considered to be the gold standard in salicylic acid exfoliation, this popular product enjoys a loyal following of users thanks to its supreme effectiveness. The BHA glides on smoothly to unclog pores and clear up blemishes. The anti-aging properties of the treatment also minimize the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines while simultaneously evening out skin tone. Enlarged pores will appear smaller after consistent use of this product. The leave-on formula works hard long after application. Feel free to use this product once or twice per day.

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Step 3: Apply Treatment Serums (Optional)

Although this step in the skincare process is optional, serums provide a great way to deliver bonus ingredients to your skin. These additional ingredients can improve the texture of the skin, even out skin tone, and help to prevent the visible signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. The results that you see will ultimately depend on the type of serum that you select for your needs.

Notable Serum Ingredients

Two of the most popular serum choices are vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.

Vitamin C

As a powerful naturally-occurring antioxidant, vitamin C provides a myriad of anti-aging benefits. A topical vitamin C serum delivers the power of the antioxidant directly to the skin. Vitamin C features a host of benefits such as hydration delivery, brightening abilities, and collagen production boosting. Serums containing this ingredient also treat a variety of inflammatory conditions and can help to fade hyperpigmentation or other skin trauma.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is another popular serum treatment. Although the substance is naturally produced by the body, using it as a topical treatment can increase the hydration levels of the skin. This increase in moisture will help the skin to feel and appear more supple. By regulating levels of inflammation in the skin, hyaluronic acid helps to restore cell production and minimize the appearance of scarring.

When to apply: apply serums during the morning and again at night. Use serums after you have finished the cleansing and exfoliation process. Because serums are meant to be left on, it is important to not rinse the skin after application. After using the serum, you can apply your preferred moisturizer. Alternatively, you can mix a few drops of your favorite serum with your moisturizer and apply together.

Best Serums for Oily Skin

1. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This unique serum contains a blend of vitamin C, konjac root, hyaluronic acid, and ferulic acid to deliver a bevy of benefits. The vitamin C serum reduces skin inflammation and scarring left behind by blemishes and other wounds. The stabilization process ensures that the product features the full benefits of the powerful antioxidant. The all-natural formula is vegan and cruelty-free so that you feel good about what you put on your face.

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2. Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

This innovative product features a concentrated hyaluronic acid booster designed to deliver moisture to the skin. The ceramides and panthenol work in tandem to lock in hydration so that skin appears fresher and brighter. Skin will immediately appear smoother and more hydrated. Fine lines and wrinkles will also diminish in appearance once the hyaluronic acid gets to work.

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Step 4: Spot Treatments

Spot treatments are ideal for those people who need a little extra boost to combat acne. The most commonly used spot treatment is benzoyl peroxide.

When to apply: because benzoyl peroxide will stain clothes, do not use it in the morning. The treatment will also mix with sweat and drip onto clothes if used early in the day. It is a better idea to use the treatment at night. Spot treatments are for use after the washing and exfoliation process is complete. Apply the treatment directly on the blemish for the best results.

Best Spot Treatments for Oily Skin

As discussed above, these spot treatments are optional. However, they can be beneficial if you do have acne and pimples.

1. 8-ounce Treatment

Boasting a concentration of 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, this spot treatment delivers a powerful punch in the battle against acne. The gel-based formula goes on clear for easy and smooth application. The formula is pharmaceutical grade and is free of irritating dyes and fragrances. Although there are treatments that contain a higher amount of benzoyl peroxide, these have not shown to be any more effective at beating acne. The 2.5 percent concentration delivers lasting results without the side effects of drying and irritation to the skin.

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2. Paula's Choice CLEAR Skin Clearing Treatment

This spot treatment zaps existing acne while preventing new blemishes from forming. With a concentration of 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, this product works on contact. The inclusion of soothing plant extracts ensures that skin irritation and redness is kept to a minimum. This product can also be used to treat cystic acne. The light-weight treatment is oil-free and goes on with a smooth matte finish.

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Step 5: Moisturize

Although it may seem counter-productive to slather on moisturizer if you suffer from oily skin, taking the time to properly moisturize pays off big dividends. Skin that is hydrated is healthier and less likely to experience breakouts. The key to effective moisturizing is to make sure that you select an oil-free moisturizer so that the acne is not amplified. Moisturizers are especially important if you are using acne-fighting products that are likely to dry out the skin. Non-comedogenic products will not clog pores and lead to more breakouts.

When to apply: moisturizers should be applied both in the morning and at night. A moisturizer is the last step in any skincare regimen. In the morning, apply the moisturizer after cleansing and serum treatment. At night, apply the moisturizer after cleansing, exfoliation, serum, and spot treatment application.

Best Moisturizers for Oily Skin

These moisturizers are perfectly for adding in moisture and helping to prevent skin from dehydration. 

1. CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

This moisturizer is a value-driven product that provides exceptional results. The product is specially designed for nighttime use, locking in moisture and hydrating the skin overnight. The light-weight and oil-free formula will not clog pores and cause acne flare-ups. The non-comedogenic moisturizer is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. The ceramides protect the skin's natural barrier while improving the outward appearance of the skin.

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2. Paula's Choice SKIN BALANCING Invisible Finish Moisture Gel

This lightweight moisturizer is ideal for those people with an oily skin profile. The gel formula delivers moisture to refresh skin. The premium ingredients work together to minimize the appearance of pores and leave behind a dewy complexion. The mix of antioxidants protects the skin from environmental impurities.

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Step 6: Sunscreen

When it comes to healthy skin, sunscreen is the ultimate preventative measure. A quality sunscreen will boast antioxidants and hydrating ingredients that protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays while also delivering moisture. While other elements of your skincare routine provide their own specific benefits, only sunscreen can fully protect you from the damage of the sun. You need to be diligent about sunscreen application even if the sun is not shining.

When to apply: apply a broad-based sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30 every morning after your normal cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing routine. If you are out in the sun for an extended period of time, it is necessary to reapply as needed. However, sunscreen does not need to be a part of the evening routine.

Best Sunscreen for Oily Skin

While finding a suitable sunscreen for oily skin can be tricky, there certainly are options.

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen

This broad-spectrum sunscreen boasts an SPF rating of 46, delivering maximum protection. The mineral-based zinc oxide formula is ideal for sensitive skin that is prone to acne and other skin sensitivities such as rosacea. The lightweight formula will not clog pores and will not leave behind a greasy residue.

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Step 7: Optional Masks

A facial mask is the optional finishing touch on a thorough skincare routine. Although this step is optional, it can provide results for those people with especially stubborn acne.

When to use a face mask: it is not a good idea to use a mask in the morning unless you have extra time on your hands. A mask is best suited for evening application before you start your regular skincare routine. If you do it prior to this, you will just strip your face of your normal treatments and the benefits provided by exfoliation, moisturizing, and spot treatments.

Best Face Masks for Oily Skin

As mentioned, these are totally optional. But face masks can be a great boost to dealing with oily skin.

1. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

This innovative facial mask dives deep into pores to clear up clogged follicles with its 100 percent calcium bentonite clay formulation. Mix the unique clay with your choice of either water or apple cider vinegar. Then apply the mixture to the face in a thin layer. After waiting for about 5-15 minutes, wash the mask away to reveal a rejuvenated face and brighter skin.

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Other Tips for Dealing With Oily Skin

  1. Although it is important to wash your face each evening and after exercise, resist the urge to aggressively scrub. Too much scrubbing will rob the skin of moisture and lead to irritation.
  2. Choose skin care products that are noncomedogenic and free of oil. These types of products will not clog pores and cause more acne flareups.
  3. Use a gentle foaming facial wash for best results. A mild wash will not irritate the skin and trigger excess oil production.
  4. Do not use oil-based cleansers or those with alcohol.
  5. Apply moisturizer to your skin daily even if you suffer from oily skin. An effective moisturizer is crucial to healthy skin.
  6. Make a daily sunscreen part of your everyday routine so that you prevent premature aging in the skin. Those prone to acne should choose a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  7. Choose cosmetics that are free of oil and that are water-based. These products will be less likely to aggravate the skin and spur breakouts.
  8. Remove all makeup before going to sleep.
  9. Use blotting papers throughout the day to remove excess oil and dirt. Resist the urge to rub the paper on the face, as this will spread the oil to other parts of the face.
  10. While it may be tempting, do not touch your face and pick at it. Doing so will introduce dirt, oil, and other impurities to your skin. Only touch the face with clean hands when going through the motions of your skincare routine.


Why do I have oily skin?

The body producing too much sebum is the root cause of oily skin. There are a variety of factors that lead to this excess production of oil. These factors include genetics, age, the surge of hormones attributed to puberty, enlarged pores, and seasonal and environmental elements. Contrary to what many people think, oily skin is not a hygiene issue.

Does oily skin ever go away?

Oily skin can dissipate over time. Some people have dry skin that eventually becomes more oily in nature. Using the right products for your skin, moving to a different climate, and age can also alleviate the issue.

Do more expensive products work better?

More money will not always buy you better products. There is an abundance of high-quality products that are available over the counter and at budget prices. The important thing is to find the best products for your specific skincare needs.