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

Never underestimate the power of details when it comes to your skincare routine!
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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. The shine, large pores, and tendency to break out makes oily skin probably the toughest to deal with. But you are here now, where all tips for taking care of oily complexion are — read on to find out the best routine for oily skin that’ll help you keep shine and breakouts at bay.

Why is my skin oily?

Genetics, lifestyle, hormones, or skipping moisturizer are all causes of oily skin. Under your pores are located the sebaceous glands, which produce natural oil (sebum) to keep skin moist and a robust protective barrier. Sebum gives that plump, dewy look to the skin and helps it preserve its elasticity. So we all need it, just that some people’s glands secrete more than needed, hence the excess sebum and extra shine.

Oily skin is just another skin type, and while you can’t get rid of it, you can learn how to control it with the proper skincare and oil-controlling products. And hey, you wouldn’t even want to get rid of it because there are a lot of benefits of having oily skin, including that it ages slower. Yes, sebum 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.

That being said, your routine should focus on balancing sebum production, keeping pores clear, maintaining proper skin hydration, and reducing shine.

Morning routine for oily skin

Your morning skincare regimen is a critical piece of the puzzle. The dirt, excess oil, and impurities built up on the skin during the night and can clog pores if not removed. When the oil mixes with dead cells and gets stuck in the pores, breakouts arise. So, the best way to kick off a fabulous day is to start with a rigorous routine.

Cleanser

The best cleansers for oily skin are foamy ones because they are more effective at dissolving oil and better degrease the complexion. Ideally, it should balance sebum without stripping off the essential oil or disturbing the skin’s pH. For the best, pick a gentle cleanser, non-comedogenic, that contains ingredients that aim to regulate sebum, like salicylic acid, and eliminate the buildup of dead cells from the surface.

Toner

You’ve probably heard that oily skin should use an astringent toner, but that’s not necessarily true. An astringent toner will only dry out the skin and compromise the barrier, leading to breakouts, irritations, and even more oil. On the other hand, a good toner for oily skin should increase cell turnover, prepping skin for what you’re applying after. For that to happen, your toner should include glycolic or lactic acids — they help clear pores of excess oil and gently exfoliate the skin, sloughing off dead cells and preventing buildup that may lead to pimples.

Treat

Right after toner comes the treatment, and for that, niacinamide is one of the best to address the root causes of oily skin. It aids in regulating sebum production, strengthening the skin’s barrier, as well as providing antioxidant protection, and increasing hydration. As such, using a serum rich in niacinamide will most likely help prevent the sebaceous glands go into overdrive and produce too much sebum.

Also, since excess oil skin can be a consequence of dehydrated skin, you want to make sure your skin is properly hydrated, and your barrier is strong enough to not let moisture evaporate. So, look out for humectants to add water to the skin (like glycerin and hyaluronic acid) and occlusives to hinder water loss (such as shea butter and squalane).

Moisturizer

Oily skin needs moisture as much as the rest of the skin types. If you skip this step, your skin has more chance of getting dehydrated, and the sebaceous glands will secrete more oil to make up for the loss. If you don’t know how you should moisturize oily skin, here’s the gist: in your AM routine use a lightweight, non-comedogenic formula that aims to hydrate and prevent moisture loss at the same time.

Sunscreen

And since sunscreen is non-negotiable every day, a tinted sunscreen for oily skin might come in handy. Layer sunscreen as the last step of your morning skincare routine to prevent dehydration and UV damage.

Makeup

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

Nighttime routine for oily skin

The first step of your nighttime skincare routine starts with the cleanser to remove makeup, pollution, and dust. Then, follow with the toner to make sure no residues are left on your complexion, and you’ve got the perfect canvas for your PM regimen.

Serum

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 excess oil. Due to its ability to encourage cell turnover, retinol balances sebum and clears pores of oil and dead cells that may lead to pimples. Additionally, retinol helps shrink pores thanks to its collagen-inducing benefits — smaller pores, fewer chances of excess oil. Go figure out 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 asap.

Another oil fighter is zinc. This mineral has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects while it regulates oil production and protects the barrier. By reinforcing the barrier, zinc helps prevent moisture loss, which in turn may balance sebum production.

Moisturizer

Instead of using the same AM moisturizer, you need a formula made to nourish your skin more, yet it shouldn’t be heavy — like these repairing moisturizers. When sleeping, the skin is more likely to lose water, leading to what is known as transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which may cause excess oil production the next day. Thus, a night cream made for oily skin should be on your radar.

Weekly routine

Exfoliation

Without exfoliation, dead cells build up, leading to a dull look, more oil, and increased chances of breakouts. A chemical peel for oily skin removes the dirt and oil that clogs pores while diminishing the look of dark spots, evens tone, and helps smooth the texture. Plus, what you apply after exfoliation gets better absorbed into the skin; hence more benefits from your products.

Mask

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 oil, the gel from an aloe vera leaf, and a tablespoon of honey. Mix everything, apply on clean and dry skin and let it act for 20 minutes. I promise your skin will literally love this!

Monthly routine

This is not imperative, but it helps: go for a monthly facial. You get a deep cleaning, blackheads and pimple 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. 

Exercise

No doubt you are already aware of the strong link between sport and skin health. 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 and prevent blemishes and blackheads. Before you go, be 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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