Full Guide to The Best Skin Care Routine For Oily Skin

skin care for oily skin

Couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how you can determine your own skin type and start building your own skin care routine.

In this post I will be focusing in depth on skin care routine for oily skin.

Oily skin could be a very big inconvenience for those who has oily skin type. 

People leave the house with beautiful matte skin and in few hours skin becomes shiny and greasy.  It really seems unfair that other people do not have such a problem and continue with their day without having to worry about this annoying shine.

Oily skin also has some other major issues besides shine: it attracts more dirt, prone to acne and usually has enlarged pores.

So it is not a surprised that people are trying their best to fight oily appearance, enlarged pores and embarrassing acne.

Skin care routine for oily skin enlarged pores

(Disclaimer: this blog post contains affiliated links.  That means that if you make a purchase, I might receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Why Our Skin Produces Oil?

The right name of skin oil is sebum.  Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands (located in each skin pore along hair shaft).  Sebum is mainly made of lipids and its function is to protect our skin from harmful bacteria and keep skin moist.    In the same hair shaft there is a sweat gland that produces sweat.  Sebum production is triggered by hormones.  People with oily skin produce more sebum than people with other skin types.

Skin care routine for oily skin

Why Some People Produce More Skin Oil Than Others?

There are many known reasons why some people have oil skin, some of them are:

  • genetics predisposition 
  • diet
  • hormons
  • stress

What Excessive Oil Production Does to Your Skin?

Excessive sebum clogs skin pores, which results in pimples, acne and blackheads formation.    And, of course, greasy and shiny skin does not really look and feel that good.

what is your skin type

Can Oily Skin Be Dehydrated?

Oily skin feels greasy and overwhelmed; sometimes it even feels as if skin does not breath.  It is very understandable that so many people try their best to wash off that nasty oil with soap until skin becomes squicky clean.

Skin does feel good for a moment, however, it starts feeling dry and tight shortly after being washed.   People rush to apply something moisturizing immediately and the cycle of shine starts again.

Thus, the answer to the question above it YES, oily skin could be very much dehydrated.

By vigorously washing skin with harsh soaps, you strip off skin oil completely; and you need skin oil to keep your skin moisturized and lubricated. 

When your skin gets stripped off all oil it becomes dehydrated and inflamed and as a result starts producing even more oil, so over time your skin becomes oilier and oilier.

dehydrated oily skin

So increased amount of shine and grease can actually be an indicator that your skin needs more moisturizers and creams.

You should not skip on moisturizers and creams even though it might seem that your oily skin does not need them; trust me, it does.  You just need to find the right skin care product for your skin type.

Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin

The basic aim of oily skin care is removal of excessive sebum from the skin while not stripping off completely all protective oil.  

As I mentioned earlier, stripping of too much oil will trigger your oil glands to produce more oil.

There are the most common mistakes people make that cause too much sebum production:

  • washing your face more than twice a day using harsh foamy cleansers
  • skipping on serums and moisturizers
  • using pore-clogging products (for example, products with mineral oil will clog your pores)
  • using harsh scrubs and cleansing brushes – too much rubbing and scrubbing removes skin oil and damages outer protective barrier
  • overusing products with salicylic acid – this acid is excellent for removing excessive skin oil, however, if you overuse the products with it, you will remove too much oil.  Also, salicylic acid causes thining of protective skin barrier (please, read about outer protective skin barrier, it is really important to understand its function)
  • using products that contain alcohol – alcohol dries skin and removes skin oil.

Please, keep in mind above points.  They are crucial in skin care routine for any skin type, including the oily one.

skin care routine for oily skin

Morning Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin

I have oily skin type (winter times) to combination skin type (summer time), so I will be speaking a lot from my own experience.

1.  Cleansing oily skin

I found that double-cleansing method works wonderful for my skin: start with cleansing oil and follow with water-based cleansers.  My skin does not feel dry or tight after I wash my face any more.

Cleansing oil will dissolve all dead skin cells and impurities  while water-based cleanser gently washes everything away without stripping protective layer of skin oil.

innisfree double cleansing method cleansing oil

Skin cleansers for oily skin

Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil – a non-greasy cleansing oil with botanical extracts.

Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Cleansing Oil  – A cleansing oil for all skin types with Carbonated Lemon water and Vitamin C that dissolves surface impurities and makeup, leaving skin balanced and soft.

Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing oil – one step cleanser and makeup remover, rich in antioxidants and Omega-3, locks in moisture.

Avene Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil – Its core ingredient, Avène Thermal Spring Water, soothes and helps minimize skin sensitivity.  It is a very gentle cleansing oil.

oily dehydrated skin

The Saem See and Saw A.C. Control Deep Cleansing Foam – gentle cleanser containing BHA

Benton Honest Cleansing Foam – contains snail mucin for hydration and bee propolis for anti-inflammation

Mizon Black Clean Up Pore Deep Cleanser   – sebum control gentle cleanser.

2. Exfoliating oily skin

Oily skin type needs exfoliation as it is prone to blackheads, dead skin build up, acne and clogged pores.  All these build up combined with environmental pollution, dust, dirt could lead to dull, uneven, dehydrated skin appearance.  We already learned that washing skin vigorously with harsh soaps and cleansers are not a good solution for oily skin

This is when exfoliants come into play.

Chemical exfoliants such as AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acid) are quite gentle and suitable for regular use (2-3 times a week).   Such exfoliators are great to brighten skin by removing the layer of dead cells; they also clear clogged pores and prevent blackheads formation. 

There are also physical exfoliants (aka scrubs) which refine skin texture and remove dead cells and clear out pores.  These exfoliants contain some sort of ground down natural products (coffee, nuts, stones, plants etc).  Nowadays the shift is towards chemical exfoliants as they do not damage outer layer of the skin, do not strip it off healthy skin oil, and work on deeper skin layers than physical exfoliants.

Exfoliators for oily skin enlarged pores

I strongly suggest to skip this step in the morning and move it to the evening routine as you would want to use AHA’s and BHAs in the morning before sun exposure.  If you really must exfoliate in the morning, apply the strongest SPF you have to avoid burning and pigmentation.

Exfoliants for Oily Skin

COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid –  gets rid of dead skin cell and blackhead within the pores and prevents oxidized sebum from turning into blackheads.

Paulas Choice–SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant – unclog and diminish enlarged pores, remove dead cells, smooth wrinkles and brighten the skin (the price on ebay is cheaper than on amazon)

COSRX Two In One Poreless Power Liquid  – contains salicylic acid (natural BHA) extracted from white willow barks and tannin which helps your skin pore to shrink

One of the best ways to exfoliate skin is to use CLAYS.  You can make your own clay mask at home and use it once or twice a week.  Clay masks absorb extra oil, remove dirt from pores, regulate oil products.  And the best part is that they do not damage protective skin barrier.  The only thing you have to watch with clays is that you do not let clay mask completely dry on your face.  You have to wash it off within 5 minutes after application, when mask starts drying but not dry completely.

pink clay benefits

3. Toner for oily skin

Toners do not “tone” anythings as your might think from the name (they do not make your skin firmer or stronger).

However, toner is an essential step in skin care.  Toner is applied right after cleansing and drying skin with a towel.

Well-formulated toner is designed to further remove  residual dirt and makeup.  Toners sooth and moisturize skin after cleansing and prevent it from drying out.  Good toner also reduces inflammation, infuses skin with antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients and prepares your skin for the next steps in  your skin care routine.

Look for lightweight toners that moisturize skin, have sebum control properties and minimize pores.  Many toners also contain small amounts for AHAs or BHAs for gentle exfoliation and brightening.  Avoid toners that contain alcohols.

  Bottle Dear Klairs subtle toner

Toners for Oily Skin

SOME By Mi AHA-BHA-PHA 30 day Miracle Toner – contains 3 types of chemical exfoliating acids (in very small doses, gentle enough for daily use), niacinamide 2% and tea tree oil.  I used this toner and really loved it.  It really brightened up my skin. And it is very gentle and mild.

Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Balancing Toner – non-drying, pH balanced toner which minimizes appearance of pores and makes skin to look smooth and healthy.

Humane BHA Pore Minimizer Clarifying Toner Salicylic Acid 2% – contains 2% salicylic acid, removes dead skin, unclogs pores and removes blackheads.

Nuskin Nu Skin pH Balance Mattefying Toner – reduces shine and helps control oil production.

skin care routine for oily skin

Michael Todd Organic Lemon Aha + DMAE Toner – Organic Lemon Toner wipes away any residual impurities left behind by your cleanser and infuses freshly cleaned pores with exfoliants and anti-aging actives while balancing oil production.

4.  Face serums for oily skin (also essences and ampoules)

Serums or Essences are infused with concentrated amount of ingredients that are designed to target specific issues: dehydration, clogged pores, fine lines and wrinkles, dull and sagging skin, age spots etc. 

For oily skin type choose lightweight treatments that absorb fast and do not cause your skin to feel overwhelmed and “heavy”.

Serums and Essences for Oily Skin

InstaNatural Niacinamide 5% Face Serum – anti-aging skin moisturizer, diminishes wrinkles and fine lines, age spots and hyperpigmentation.

Huxley Essence: Grab Water  – moisturizes skin and locks in moisture for extra hydration. 

serum for oily skin

Blithe Vital Treatment 9 Essential Seeds  – contains the extracts of 9 seeds with rich niacinamide and vitamins that restrain the generation of melanin cells and brighten the skin tone.  It balances sebum production and moisturizes skin.

HoneyLab Skin Rescue Face Serum with Manuka Honey, Hyaluronic Acid and peptides – amazing cruelty-free serum that erases fine lines, minimizes wrinkles, age spots and sun damage.

Neogen Pore Refine Serum  – this serum provides an intensive pore treatment delivering pore clarifying, peeling, tightening and balancing benefits for a firming pore-less skin.

Skin care routine for oily skin, routine skin care for oily skin

5.  Moisturizers and Creams for oily skin

Both toner and serum are lightweight and need to be sealed with either moisturizer or cream or both depending on how dehydrated your skin is and if it is really oily. 

Aim for lightweight oil-free, wax-free and lipid free moisturizers and creams.

E-RA Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cream – For Oily, Acne Prone Skin – this amazing cream  is formulated to sooth, nourish and hydrate oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin. It uses 7 powerful natural and organic ingredients proven to give the nutrition, balance and environment required to heal and even out your skin.

Whamisa Organic Flowers Water Cream  – formulated with 95% of organic ingredients; this cream is a blend of moisturizing ingredients and antioxidants, including Natto Gum, Organic Rice Extract, Organic Aloe Vera Extract and Organic Olive Oil to help rehydrate and calm dry, depleted skin.

Dr. G. Barrier Activator Cream (oily and sensitive skin) – contains ceramides  for providing moisture to skin.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin – oil-free, non-comedogenic (does not clog pores) moisturizer that provides a dual-targeting action on excess oil to mattify and visibly tighten pores.

how to care for oily skin

Formula Ten O Six Seriously Shine-Free Moisturizer – recommended for oily skin, non-greasy, shine free moisturizer.  Contains  aloe vera that softens skin and bamboo extract that absorbs excess oil from your skin. 

Skinmiso Pore Zero Night Cream  – night cream that effectively tightens and minimizes pores while whitening and brightening the skin.  It is made with all-natural ingredients to replenish skin with pure antioxidants.

Missha Super Aqua Oil Clear Gel Cream  – hydrating gel cream to help control sebum and provides moisture to maintain the skin’s balance of oil and hydration.  I have it and I love it.  It is super lightweight and moisturizing. 

skin care routine for oily skin

6. Eye Cream

Under eye skin care is extremely important as our eyes can reveal our age much faster than the rest of the face.  I made an extensive post about the best under eye care not long ago, please read it, so you can understand why skin around eyes is different from the rest of the face and how to take care of it.

The 3 most important things to ensure the best under eye care are: moisturizing, anti-aging and sun protection.  Your eye cream choice does not really depend on your skin type.

Pure Biology Total Eye – reduces the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and crows feet.

Shiseido/Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream – ant-aging and moisturizing (ebay is cheaper than amazon).

7.   Sunscreen for Oily Skin

People with oily skin often omit sunscreen because if feels too greasy on their face.  However, you need sun protection from harmful UV and UA rays.  UVA rays cause premature skin aging, skin dehydration burns and skin cancer (to say the least).  So if you are anticipating to be exposed to sun for  more than 5 minutes, you need sun screen.

Remember, that you cannot just apply sun screen in the morning and hope that it will last through the day.  You will need to refresh your sun protection before going outdoors.

For oily skin choose water-based light products that won’t clog your pores.

sunscreen for oily skin

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Facial Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin with Suncreen SPF 30 – controls oil, hydrates, and provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

Missha All Around Safe Block Waterproof Sun Milk SPF50 – fresh and clear water based sebum control sunscreen.  It is waterproof, does not leave any residue, perfect for swimming, working out and outdoor activities.

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin, Broad Spectrum SPF 55 – oil free and fragrance lightweight sunscreen.

La Roche-Posay Melt-in Sunscreen Milk SPF 60 – oil-free, water resistant, easy to apply, protects from UVA/UVB rays.

8. Lip Care

As with skin care for any type, do not forget to take care of your lips.  Our lips to not have sebaceous glands and might need help to stay moisturized.  I always have a lip balm handy in case I need it.

This is the basic example of morning skin care routine for oily skin.  Believe me, it took you much longer to read it then it actually takes.  Especially once you get a hang of it.   Thus do not be discouraged reading about so many steps and things to remember.  As with eye skin care, your lip care does not depend on your skin type.

Tips for the best winter skin care dry lips

And, now here is an example of evening skin care routine for oily skin.  Just because the morning routine did not scare you enough lol 🙂

Night Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin

1.  PM Cleansing for oily skin

Evening cleansing is one of the most crucial part of your skin care routine.   As it was mentioned few times, oily skin attracts dirt, environmental pollution as well as constantly secreted oil causes blackhead and/or acne.

It is very important to remove all your day leftovers and impurities.  Double-cleansing method is the key here.  First, remove debris, seat, dirt and makeup with cleansing oil; second wash everything off with water-based cleanser.

Skin care routine for oily skin

2.  PM Exfoliating for oily skin

I strongly suggest to do perform exfoliation during night routine to give your skin the whole night ahead to recover away from UVA rays.   Even though you do exfoliation at night, always apply sun screen during the day.

Remember, exfoliate 2 or 3 times a week, it is not a daily thing (unless you have a product that specifically requires daily application).

skin care for oily skin

3.  PM Toner

This step is the same as your morning routine one.

4.  Sheet masks for oily skin

Sheet masks are excellent for providing your skin with moisturizing, nourishing, anti-aging, brightening and other useful ingredients.  I try to use sheet masks daily, as I really love how they make my skin feel.  Plus, it is a part of my evening self-care routine when I tell my family not to bother me for 20 minutes and lye down in bad enjoying my peace and quite, meditating and shedding day stress away.

However, there are 3 minute sheet masks that are designed to deliver good ingredients to your skin in just 3-10 minutes.

3 minute sheet masks

5.  PM Serums or Essences/Ampoules

Enrich ingredients from your sheet mask with serums or essences of your choice in the same way as for the morning routine.

6.  Moisturizer or Night Cream or Overnight Mask

Depending on how oily your skin is, you could choose either one to lock in moisturizing and nourishing ingredients from your serums/essences.   

sleeping mask

Overnight masks are different from night creams as overnight masks are infused with a very high concentration of amazing ingredients.  Overnight masks should be used 1 or 2 times a week as an extra booster for your skin.  For more information on overnight sleeping masks and night creams, please, read my post by following this link.

7.  Eye cream

Apply eye cream the same way as in the morning routine.

8.   Lip care

floral overnight sleeping mask
Mamonde Lip Sleeping Mask

Overnight sleeping masks are a wonderful way to provide a boost to you skin.  Most of those masks are full of strong moisturizing, hydrating and nourishing ingredients.  Sleeping packs are an excellent addition to your lip care routine.

CARENEL Korean Cosmetics Lip Sleeping Mask – berry flavoured sleeping mask that works during night; excellent mask to moisturize, nourish your lips and infuse them with anti-aging ingredients.

Aquaphor Lip Repair – proven to relieve dryness and soothe chapped, cracked lips, seals in moisture, infused with shea butter and chammomile essence.

overnight sleeping mask berry flavor

LANEIGE LIP SLEEPING MASK Berry – overnight lip sleeping therapy infused with Vitamin C and other amazing ingredients to moisturize and nourish lips.

This concludes the example of skin care routine for oily skin.  Please, remember this post is only and recommendation and you could change things as you wish.  I mention products in this post only as an example of products out there that are suitable for oily skin.  I go through extensive list of products, check reviews and recommendations and post the best on my blog.  Also, I recommend products from my own experience.  Please, do not feel pressured that you have to buy exactly the same ; feel free to pick your own.   If you could recommend any great products that work for you, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Stay beautiful!!!!!!!!

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