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Here’s How Your Skincare Routine Should Look If You Have Oily Skin

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It takes effort to keep oily skin under control (from someone who’s been through the struggle), but it is possible. With a constant tendency to break out, oily skin is probably the toughest to deal with. But you are here now, where all tips for taking care of oily skin are.

Why is my skin oily?

Genetics, lifestyle, age, skipping moisturizer — many could be the causes of oily skin. Under your pores are located the sebaceous glands, which produce natural oil (sebum) to keep skin moist and defend its protective barrier. Oil gives that plump, dewy look to the skin. Just that some people’s glands secrete more oil than needed, hence the excess sebum and a little extra shine. When the sebum mixes with dead cells and gets stuck in the pores, breakouts arise. 

Oily skin is just another skin type, and while you can’t get rid of it, you can learn how to control it. And hey, you wouldn’t even want to get rid of it! That is because, on the flip side, oily skin ages slower. Yes, oil works as an occlusive moisturizer that softens wrinkles and creates a film on the surface to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) while acting as a protective shield against external foes. Do you still want to escape oily skin? I thought so.

But fear not. Here are the most important rules to follow for a perfect skincare routine for oily skin.

Morning routine for oily skin

Your morning skincare regimen is one hell of a critical piece of the puzzle. The dirt, excess oils, and impurities built up on the skin during the night can clog pores if are not removed. So, the best way to kick off a fabulous day is to start with a rigorous routine your skin will love you for.


The ideal cleansers for oily skin are foamy ones. That’s because they help get rid of oil better than gels or liquid formulas. A great face wash for oily skin should balance sebum without ripping off the essential oil or unbalancing the skin’s pH. For the best, pick one that addresses oily skin type, is made without oil, and is non-comedogenic. 

Murad Clarifying Cleanser - Acne Face Wash

Murad Clarifying Cleanser


You’ve probably heard that oily skin should use an astringent toner, but that’s not true. This will only dry out skin, compromise the barrier, leading to breakouts, irritations, and even more oil.

A good toner for oily skin should increase cells turnover, prepping skin for what you’re applying after. For that to happen, your toner should include glycolicsalicyliclactic acids; they clear pores, regulate sebum and exfoliate the skin. So that the toner won’t dry your skin, besides these oil-fighters, it would be good if they’d include calming ingredients, such as niacinamide, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera. 

bareMinerals Poreless Exfoliating Toner

bareMinerals Poreless Exfoliating Toner

Eye cream

No matter the skin type, the eye area is sensitive for everyone. Your most delicate skin is prone to damage since it’s so thin. To give it a little boost, apply a nourishing eye cream, maybe infused with vitamins A, C, E, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides.

Lancôme Rénergie Ultra Dark Circle Correcting Eye Cream

Lancôme Rénergie Ultra Correcting Eye Cream

Antioxidant serum

You need a product filled with antioxidants to neutralize free radical damage, like UV, pollutants, and smoke. All these destroy the skin barrier, and a broken barrier has higher chances of irritations and pimples. By using an antioxidant-rich serum, your skin stays shielded against external aggressors. Tip: always look for amber bottle serums that don’t let light in. Otherwise, the antioxidants in it oxidize fast, making the product useless.


SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

Moisturizer with SPF

Oily skin needs hydration as much as the rest of the skin types. If you skip this step, your skin feels it and, in an attempt to replenish the moisture loss, will secrete more sebum, so yeah, you don’t want that.

And since SPF is non-negotiable, a moisturizer with SPF for oily skin might come in handy.

Aveda Daily Light Guard Defense

Aveda Daily Light Guard Defense Fluid SPF 30


Makeup also should be picked along with the skin type. Oily skin should turn head to powder foundations as they can absorb excess oil, leave a matte finish, without the greasy look. However, if you fancy liquid foundations, pick one with a matte finish, oil-free and non-comedogenic. And if you don’t strive for full coverage, a CC cream formulated for oily skin will give you also skincare benefits, not only sheer coverage. Also, you can add a mattifying gel to your makeup bag, and don’t forget about setting powder. Or better, an organic setting powder.

Evening routine for oily skin

Cleanse, remove makeup is not to mention. And then use the toner. 


At night, you can opt for a serum with retinol or one with zinc. 

Retinoids — vitamin A derivatives — are widely used to address anti-aging concerns, but also oily skin. The small molecules that make up retinol go beneath the outer skin’s layer, reaching the epidermis. This is where it helps boosts collagen and elastin. In turn, this creates a plump effect and fills up large pores. Shrinked pores mean fewer chances for excess oil to get stuck and clog pores.

On top of that, retinol has exfoliating benefits, improving skin tone and texture. Lastly, retinol balances hydration in the skin and is a key ingredient in reducing sebum. Go figure how good this active is for oily skin. It makes you want to add one of these retinol serums to your forever expanding skincare routine.

Another oil-fighter is zinc. This mineral has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory effects while regulating oil production and protecting the barrier. It also has been shown that zinc protects the skin and helps it regenerate. So you can take your daily quota of zinc from a serum meant to go deep into the skin layers and bring skin to its best condition.

Pai Copaiba & Zinc Blemish Serum

Pai Copaiba & Zinc Blemish Serum


Rather than using the same moisturizer as you do at AM, you need a formula made to nourish your skin more, yet it shouldn’t be heavy. When sleeping, the skin produces less sebum, leading to TEWL. If you don’t keep it moisturized during the night, it secretes even more oil during the day. So, a night cream made for oily skin is not to be skipped.

SkinCeuticals 10% Glycolic Renew Overnight

SkinCeuticals 10% Glycolic Renew Overnight

Weekly routine

Exfoliation/ Scrubs/ Peeling

Without exfoliation, dead skin cell build-up lead to a dull look, more oil, and increased chances of breakouts. A scrub or exfoliator for oily skin removes the dirt that clogs pores while diminishing the apparition of dark spots, scars, and blackheads. Plus, what you apply after exfoliation gets better absorbed into the skin; hence more benefits from your products.

The Ordinary AHA

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution


A mask once or twice a week is mandatory, especially for oily skin with a tendency to break out. And who’s a hero for excess sebum in a mask? You may have guessed it… clay! You can either buy a mask that targets excess oil, or you can do one yourself.

I’ll now reveal my secret mask, one that I use for my forever-oily skin, which I’ve created under my cosmetician’s guidance. For this, you’ll need a tablespoon of clay powder, three drops of organic tea tree essential oil, the gel from an aloe vera leaf, and a tablespoon of honey. Mix everything, apply on clean and dry skin and let it work for 20 minutes. I promise your skin will literally love this!

Monthly routine

This is not imperative, but it would help a lot if you’d do it: go for a monthly facial. You get a deep cleaning, blackheads and pimples extractions, a mask or peel, and a relaxing massage — all performed by an expert with professional-grade products and devices, who also give you advice and hints. So, don’t underestimate the power of a monthly facial. 

P.S.: As long as oily skin is prone to break out, the scars left by pimples are a real concern. What can you do about it? Either you can opt for a dermaroller or a microneedling pen to use at home. Add any of these tools to your monthly skincare regimen to get rid of scars left by acne. But don’t use them if you have active breakouts or irritations — you risk worsening the situation. 


No doubt you already are aware of the strong correlation between sport and skin condition. Exercising reduces stress hormones in the body. Yep, the sebaceous glands that produce oil are influenced by stress hormones, so exercising might reduce excess sebum.

Also, by its very nature, exercising makes you sweat, and this has a substantial positive outcome: pores open up, and excess sebum and dirt are naturally removed. Plus you get a natural glow!

To end

Now you’ve got all you need to control oily skin, prevent blemishes from appearing and get rid of scars. Before you go, stay patient and follow your skincare routine diligently because great skin is one thing that doesn’t come easy. It takes time and effort, but it’s all worth it!

Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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