Oily skin: treatment and prevention


Whether you’re trying to get rid of oily skin because your face is still shiny or because the oil clogs your pores and causes pimples, one thing is true: it’s a challenge. This is in part because often oily skin is inherited or the result of your hormones. You can’t control your genes, and usually there isn’t much you can do about hormonal changes either.

You can, however, adjust the way you take care of your skin. Simple changes can reduce the amount of oil on your skin and give you a healthier complexion.

This article explains how you can treat oily skin by properly cleaning your face, choosing the right products, and paying attention to things that can affect your skin.

Very good / Brianna Gilmartin

Follow the right skin care routine

Regularly washing your skin and using the right skin care products will not cure your oily skin, but it can reduce the sebum on your face day in and day out.

Cleanse your skin twice a day

Washing your face morning and evening is essential. Add an extra wash after exercise or on a hot day.

The goal is to eliminate sebum, the fatty substance released by the glands under the skin. Your facial cleanser should also remove dirt, dry, dead skin cells, and sweat.

For oily skin and more prone to rashes, you will need a cleanser:

  • Non-comedogenic: The product will not clog your pores.
  • Non acnegenic: It will not aggravate existing pimples or cause new ones.
  • Not irritating: It won’t cause itching, rash, or redness.
  • Non allergenic: It is not expected to cause a skin allergy. It’s a little different from hypoallergenic, which means that the risk of allergic reaction is less but not completely gone.

Choose a foaming soap or facial cleansers, which remove excess oil better than creamy or lotion cleansers. The cleanser should leave your skin feeling fresh and clean.

Gentle cleansing twice a day or after sweating is good. Cleansing your skin more often or rubbing your skin harshly is not. Cleansing the face too much can make oily skin worse and worse.

If the rash is a problem, wash your body with an appropriate cleanser as well. It can help you avoid mechanical acne, pimples on the face or body caused by sweating.

Can’t access soap after a workout? Instead, use pre-moistened cloths.

Using an astringent

Another good way to control oil is an astringent. Astringents, like facial toners, help remove dirt and makeup left behind after cleansing. Astringents also remove excess oil and tighten your pores.

Witch hazel is a common and effective astringent for oily skin. This solution is made from a flowering plant and has been shown to be effective against acne and other skin problems. Some use it as is, while others may opt for products that mix witch hazel with other ingredients.

In addition to witch hazel, astringent ingredients that effectively treat oily skin include:

  • Alcohol (avoid if you have dry skin, however)
  • Citric acid, which comes from citrus fruits
  • Salicylic acid, a compound found in plants that is also known to help treat acne

If you have rosacea, do not use an alcohol-based astringent. It can irritate your skin.

To use an astringent, wash your face first. Apply the liquid astringent to a cotton ball or cotton pad. Then wipe the entire face and neck with the cotton.

If needed, you can use an astringent between washes. It will remove the oil and get rid of that shine that sometimes appears during the day.

to summarize

Regularly and gently cleansing your skin with a foam cleanser will help you control oily skin and reduce breakouts. Using an astringent afterwards can help remove the impurities your cleanser is missing.


After washing and applying an astringent, you need to hydrate your skin. It may seem like oily skin is lubricated enough, but the oil is not the same as the hydration you need to maintain healthy skin. In fact, you can have a lot of sebum while having dehydrated and overly dry skin.

When the skin is dehydrated, water is not absorbed by the layers of the skin. This means that your skin will lack elasticity and plumpness. Without these, the skin looks red, inflamed and wrinkled.

The oil is a natural barrier that traps the moisturizer. Removing excess oil can dry out the skin, so it is very important to moisturize your face after using a cleanser and an astringent.

Moisturizers for oily skin should do three things:

  1. Seal in moisture: Products that do this are sometimes called occlusive. They form a barrier that prevents your skin from drying out. Lanolin and Vaseline are occlusive products, but they are too oily for your oily skin. Instead, look for moisturizers that have dimethicone Where cyclomethicone as an ingredient. These help to balance your skin.
  2. Raise water to the surface of the lower layers: Lotions that do this are humectants. They have a special chemical structure that creates bonds with water molecules. This allows them to attract water molecules to the surface of the skin like a magnet.
  3. Smooth and soften the skin: Moisturizers for oily skin should have emollients, which are chemicals that can prevent the skin from becoming scaly or wrinkled.


Exfoliation involves removing dead cells from the outer layer of your skin. It can make your skin smoother and healthier. It can also help with two common oily skin problems: clogged pores and large pores.

There are many over-the-counter exfoliation products you can choose from. Popular types include scrubs and grainy face creams, which are not recommended for oily skin. Instead, look for a chemical exfoliant made specifically for oily skin. These include at-home peels, which are solutions that you smear all over your face, let them solidify slightly, and then peel them off.

If you have darker or discolored skin after insect bites and burns, use a mild chemical exfoliant. Otherwise, you might end up with dark spots on your skin.

to summarize

Removing dead skin cells through exfoliation can keep sebum from clogging your pores. Although it seems counterintuitive, hydrating your skin is important in combating dehydrated skin that can result from your cleansing routine.

Use oil-free and water-based products

Obviously, you don’t want to put oil on your skin anymore. Look for skin care products with “oil free” on the label. This is especially important for products that you leave on your skin like moisturizers, sunscreen, and makeup.

Another great option for oily skin is water-based products. These have a gel base, virtually feel weightless and leave no heavy residue on the skin.

You can find water-based moisturizers, sunscreens, and foundations. Check the labels. Many of them are marketed to people with oily skin prone to rashes.

If you’re using topical acne medications, look for water-based options as well. Differin, Retin-A, Onexon and others all come in gel form. If your current acne medication is too heavy or too oily, ask your dermatologist if there is a gel option.

Many acne medications shrink large pores while removing breakouts, which can help your skin appear smoother while stopping breakouts. Talk to your doctor about the different medications that could help with these and other problems related to oily skin.


Dealing with oily skin can seem like a daily struggle until you get consistent in your skin care routine and get it right.

Wash your skin twice a day and apply products designed for oily skin. Look for gentle cleansers, exfoliators, and astringents, and don’t scrub too hard or wash too often.

If you are unsuccessful in your efforts, consider seeking help from a dermatologist.

A word from Verywell

Remember, it takes time to see results. Whether you are looking to eliminate rashes or just reduce the amount of oily shine on your skin, you can’t expect perfect results overnight.

Be patient with your routine and be kind to yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the causes of oily skin?

    Oily skin is caused by the overproduction of sebum in your sebaceous glands. It increases dramatically during your teenage years as hormones fluctuate and tends to decrease as you get older. Other factors that can increase oily skin include ovulation, humid climates, and genetics.

  • How do you know if you have oily skin?

    You will likely notice larger pores and a dull or shiny complexion. You might be more likely to get pimples and blackheads.

  • What’s the best moisturizer for oily, acne-prone skin?

    Look for an oil-free, pore-clog, or comedogenic moisturizer. Use it after washing your face and whenever your face is dry.

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