Oily Skin

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Oily Skin: Causes and Treatments

Oily skin is caused by the sebaceous glands overproducing sebum, AKA your skin’s natural oils. Typically, oily skin is caused by genetics – if your parents have oily skin, you likely have oily skin, as well. Using the wrong skincare products (or not using any products at all) can also exacerbate oily skin issues. We’ll talk more about that below. Oily skin does tend to be more intense in younger years, since the skin produces less oil as we age. 

If you have oily skin, the key to keeping shine in check is using the right products. Below, we’ll talk about what you should look for when shopping for new skincare products. 

Best Products for Oily Skin

In general, people with oily skin should seek out skincare products that are free of oils and are specifically formulated for oily skin. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking to add new skincare products to your routine.

Face Washes

People with oily skin need a face wash that adequately cleanses without stripping the skin, as this can actually trigger the skin to produce even more oil. Foaming cleansers are great for oily skin, as they are well suited for cleansing away excess oil. For those with acne-prone oily skin, a salicylic acid cleanser is a great choice, as this exfoliant can help dissolve pore-clogging debris. There are also cleansers formulated for oily skin that contain ingredients that can help absorb excess oil to minimize shine, like zinc pidolate.


Oily skin still needs to be moisturized twice a day, as it helps balance hydration. If you neglect to moisturize your oily skin, the skin may actually end up producing even more oil to try to overcompensate. A lightweight and oil-free gel moisturizer is particularly great for this skin type. Those with oily skin may also look for a mattifying moisturizer to help keep shine in check. 


Serums can help people with oily skin address a wide variety of skin concerns, such as large pores, excess oil production, uneven skin tone, and more. When looking for a serum for oily skin, you’ll likely prefer a lightweight and oil-free formula that will target concerns without making the skin feel greasy. 


Oily skin can greatly benefit from using an exfoliant. Exfoliants containing salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) are particularly well-suited for oily skin. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble and works deep in the pores to dissolve excess sebum and debris. This helps keep breakouts at bay, minimize the appearance of large pores, and promote a more even skin tone and texture.  


Finding a sunscreen that is suitable for oily skin can be tricky, but there are some great options available on the market. When looking for a sunscreen, be sure to look for a product that is specifically formulated with oily skin in mind. Oil-free formulas are typically best for oily skin. You’ll find plenty of great recommendations for oily skin sunscreens (and other skincare products) here on Skincare Hero.

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