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A Complete Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

Treating oily skin is all about finding balance. See our fool-proof guide for keeping your complexion looking calm, clear, and truly radiant.

Updated May 26, 2021 by Amanda Dixon

A Complete Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

There are many reasons for oily skin—fluctuating hormones, stress, genetics, and even humid climates can all increase oil production, resulting in greasier, shinier skin. And while oily skin can lead to increased breakouts, blackheads, and blemishes—oil isn't entirely bad.

Skin oil, called sebum, is produced by our sebaceous glands to help protect and moisturize skin. Of course, higher levels of sebum production can be difficult to manage. The key is to strike a balance between having too much sebum and maintaining your skin's natural moisture. Read on for our step-by-step skincare guide for keeping oily complexions looking clear, calmed, and radiant. 

Step 1. Oil Cleansing
our pick: Clarins Total Cleansing Oil

This lightweight, easy-to-rinse cleansing oil activates in water creating a silky milk that immediately dissolves long-wear makeup, impurities, and pollutants. The plant-infused formula helps preserve the skin's microbiota—the normal level of bacteria in healthy skin, while moringa extract helps detoxify skin by eliminating excess oil.

CLARINS Total Cleansing Oil

Why It's Important

It's just like chemistry 101 taught: like dissolves like. In this case, this gentle oil-based cleanser works to eliminate excess oil without stripping or overdrying skin. The silky, lightweight formula effortlessly whisks away dirt, makeup, and sebum buildup—for skin that feels clean, soft, and balanced.

When to Use It

We recommend using this cleansing oil as the first step in your skincare routine, morning and night, but especially in the evening to remove makeup, accumulated dirt, and excess oil. It's gentle enough to use twice a day, and it's the perfect way to kick-start your new routine.

Step 2. Cleansing
our pick: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

This purifying cleansing gel that exfoliates and tones with the power of hydroxy acids for a deep cleanse. The soap-free formula provides a deep clean that unclogs pores instantly. Willow bark, farnesol, and barosma betulina wash away dirt, oil, and makeup leaving skinfree of any impurities.

DR. DENNIS GROSS Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

Why It's Important

Cleansing is a crucial component of any skincare routine. Using the wrong face wash can easily set you up for oiliness, breakouts, dryness, and more. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel is a universal favorite of ours for many reasons. The non-stripping Alpha Beta® powered formula features willow bark and glycolic acid to unclog congested pores and refine skin.

When to Use It

This refreshing gel cleanser provides an optimal, pore-clearing clean that works as the perfect pre-mask or pre-treatment step in your skincare routine. Use when excess oil creates clogged pores, or black heads begin to appear for clearer, cleaner skin in no time.

Step 3. Toning
our pick: ReVive Skincare Balancing Toner Soothing Skin Refresher

Not all toners are created equal. This multi-tasking formula purifies, soothes, and provides weightless moisture without leaving skin tight, dry, or irritated. Witch hazel and castor oil gently exfoliate skin's surface while soothing lavender and aloe leaf extract provide lightweight hydration and lasting comfort.

Why It's Important

Toners have experienced a major glow-up in recent years. In fact, today's toners are nothing like the skin-stinging, ultra-drying, alcohol-based toners of the ‘90s and early aughts. These days, toners are formulated to do just the opposite—nourish, soothe, and hydrate skin. This refreshing formula purifies, primes, and conditions skin in a single swipe.

When to Use It

Use this toner after cleansing and before using moisturizers, serums, or makeup. This skin-balancing toner works to eliminate any last trace of dirt and oil, creating perfectly primed, makeup-ready skin. Toner also prepares skin for moisturizers and serums, allowing them to be fully absorbed for maximum results. 

Step 4. Moisturizing
our pick: MALIN+GOETZ Vitamin E Face Moisturizer

Treat skin to a healthy dose of hydrating vitamin E! A combination of hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and chamomile provide a veil of lightweight moisture that nourishes, reduces inflammation, and absorbs quickly leaving skin soothed and soft.

MALIN + GOETZ Vitamin E Face Moisturizer

Why It's Important

While removing excess sebum from skin is important, it's just as important to restore essential nutrients and moisture. When skin becomes stripped or overdried, our sebum production ramps up in an effort to compensate. Using this vitamin-rich, lightweight cream restores skin's natural moisture barrier without clogging pores or feeling sticky. Win, win!

When to Use It

This is the perfect moisturizer for both oily and sensitive skin types. Use each morning after toner, before applying SPF or makeup. Apply each evening after cleansing and toner as a final step to your PM routine or before applying a face oil.

Step 5. Blackhead Control
our pick: Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor Face Mask

When it's time for a little R&R, treat skin to a purifying, pore refining mask. This creamy clay treatment mask is specially formulated with kaolin clay and salicylic acid to treat blemishes and dissolve blackheads. Gentle, natural exfoliants rid skin of dirt and oil while working to leave you with a brighter complexion.

Why It's Important

Clay face masks are a favorite among those with oily and acne prone skin for their ability to remove impurities, minimize the appearance of pores, and absorb excess oil. And this Philosophy Pore Extractor clay mask is no exception. This ultra-rich creamy clay mask acts like a magnet, drawing impurities out to unclog pores. Skin is left looking refreshed, glowing and appears virtually blackhead‑free.

When to Use It

Use twice a week by gently massaging onto clean, dry skin focusing on your t-zone and oily areas. Simply leave on skin for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the clay is completely dry. Rinse with warm water and reveal brighter, healthier, crystal clear skin. Or, use it as a spot treatment as needed.

Lifestyle Factors to Help With Oily Skin

Our #1 tip is to avoid stripping or over-drying skin. Not using moisturizers or products that contain oils entirely usually has the opposite effect—triggering sebum production to make-up for inadequate moisture levels. By finding nourishing ingredients that work for your skin—like squalene, rosehip seed oil, and hyaluronic acid (to name a few)—your skin will create a healthy moisture barrier that leaves your complexion clear and healthy.

Lastly, take into account your diet and hygiene. Drinking lots of water is always recommended, along with avoiding salty foods that can cause dehydration. You can also try using a Slip Silk Pillowcase at night. The ultra-soft fabric won't absorb face oil or moisture, prompting skin to overproduce sebum. Now that's what we call beauty sleep!

Interested in discovering more skincare solutions we can’t get enough of? Shop our entire skincare category.

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