How to Care for Oily Skin - Tips & Tricks

Makeup & Beauty Tips on How to Care for Oily Skin

Share your best tips and tricks for caring for oily skin! Feel free to share your experiences, how you mastered techniques, or what you struggle with.

My Tips

  1. This is all readers!  I don’t have oily skin, so I don’t have any TRIED and true tips.  Ones I’ve heard often are: don’t skip moisturizer, just use one that’s appropriate for your skin type; mattifying powders and primers help; keep blotting powder or papers handy.
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1. Don’t try to strip the oil from you face. Sadly, most product marked for oily skin are too harsh, will dry your skin out which leads to you producing MORE oil to compensate.

2. The two main causes of oilyness are hormones and dehydration. Dehydrated skin is when your skin lacks water so makes up for it by producing too much oil. If you treat your skin with a hydrating product (there are plenty that are oil free, e.g. Clinique Moisture Surge) you will see an improvement. If your oiliness is down to hormones then you can see a doctor, maybe changes in your birth control can help. Changes in your diet and exercise and lifestyle can also help.

3. Primer and setting powders can help with helping make up stay.

4. Remember, oily doesn’t mean dirty, so you don’t have to scrub/over exfoliate your skin.

This is exactly what I was going to say. Gentle cleanser is must! Foaming cleansers contain ingredients in them that strip the skin of its natural oils. After changing my cleanser from foaming to gentle I have noticed that I only have to blot maybe once a day instead of two to three times a day.

I have pretty oily skin and I don’t use regular blotting papers. May sound gross but when I go to the bathroom I split the toilet tissue in half. I then use that to blot. Your skin looks like skin afterwards and not chalky like with most regular blotting sheets I’ve found. Free and no gross powdery skin!

I do that too, sometimes! But i also have some great blotting sheets from Clean&Clear. They don’t leave me chalky at all, because they don’t have any kind of powder, it’s just a bluish sheet of some material (no idea what, but it’s not paper), that really absorbs the oil in your face. I like them a lot, because they’re cheap and don’t take any of my foundation off, which tissues do.

I have true combo/oily skin and I never found anything that worked until I started using coconut oil as my face wash/scrub/moisturizer – and then used Revlon Colorstay foundation. My skin does not get oily, it stays comfortable through out the day!

The usuals like you mentioned…don’t skip moisturizing (it will make your skin oiler), use appropriate products for your skin. I’ve recently started using Nurturing Force Blot Off Offensive Shine + Oil Control Cream and it it’s worked amazingly under makeup. You can use it alone also but I haven’t. It’s labeled as a HD primer primer for makeup. Not sure of the regular retail price since I got it at TMS Orlando and would reorder it via Nigel’s with pro discount but I think it’s around $20 for .5 oz. It only takes a tiny bit so I don’t anticipate going through it quickly at all. And I only apply it on the t-zone.

I’ve also been using MUFE HD Primer and it’s been working great. Along with their Super Matte powder in 00. Again, I don’t know the regular prices on those items (just the Backstage Card prices) but I’m sure you can find those on Sephora or other retailers easily. Nothing works all day if you’re truly oily but these items have worked the longest on me and given me the least amount of touch up needs through out the day (1-2 tops).

I have super oily skin. The most important thing I’ve learned so far is too many products(especially for skincare) could really bad for oily skin. My fave moisturizer is Kiehl oil-free jel cream and La Rosch Posay EFFACLAR MAT. and for make-up foundation, anything with oil-free and silicone based products are really good.

I must say that the only way I was to finally control my oily skin (I have the annoying oily/dry combo skin) by switching my skin care routinue to Paula’s Choice products. I’ve tried pretty much everything known to beauty world and everything seemed to relieve it for a bit but my face came back oilier with additional break outs and dry spots. The things that work wonders for my skin and have become permanent staples in my skin care routine are: (all Paula’s Choice) CLEAR regular strength cleanser, which is completely mild and clears out the pores (I also began using the Bioderma cleanser for oily/combo skin and I noticed that it cleanses my skin from makeup without drying it out). CLEAR regular strength pore-refining and redness reducing 2% BHA. This stuff is magic you guys. First of all, it does not dry out the skin, it feels very nice and quite soothing. It clears your pores like nothing else (I call it the vacuum cleaner for the pores!), it also exfoliates your skin without the use of scrubby particles. You can also try their regular 2%BHA (not from the CLEAR line) and it works even better, but more potent so be careful and don’t over use it. A light serum from their RESIST line and a Hydralight moisturizer for the night time. I wake with such nice skin every morning, without shine and with clear pores. I now rarely have any break outs and if I do during the hormonal imbalance, these products really help with clearing it up almost immediately.
The bottom line is, no primers, no mattifying foundations or powders will fix the problem. It all begins with your skin care regiment that controls the sebum production. I still use some powders and blotting papers, but only once per day (instead of multiple times a day) and I can now even wear some “natural” finish products like BB creams and foundations without being scared of horrible shine in the T-zone.

THIS!!! I agree with everything state above. I use the Paula’s Choice Hydralight system and my skin is basically normal now. Before, I used to be oily within about an hour and would be covered in a thick greasy oil within 4 if I didn’t blot. Similar to what others have said, make sure to use a gentle cleanser, use an oily skin-appropriate moisturizer (see Paula’s Choice!), and use a BHA exfoliator (it really is a miracle worker!). I’m also in the process of doing an experiment with silicone primers. So far, it seems like they may also be a culprit in the cause of my oily skin. I might be ditching primers completely, since I’ve had far less oil without them and haven’t had great experiences with non-silicone primers. The Paula’s Choice website also does reviews for products based on skin type (see Beautypedia). This is how is pick my products now, from skincare to foundation. Having enlarged pores, I am acutely aware of how bad foundation can look if it settles into pores or melts away after an hour or two. Paula’s Choice directed me to Mac Matchmaster, which I LOVE.

In summary: Find the underlying cause of your oil. Use products that work towards fixing the root cause, instead of reacting to the manifestations of the problem (i.e. blotting the oil away doesn’t solve the problem!).

I was planning on trying Paula’s Choice products, but found the starter acne kit from Peter Thomas Roth for $35 and I had a 20% off coupon for Ulta, so I bought it a couple of days ago. So far, so good. If it doesn’t suit me, I will definitely set money aside to invest in Paula’s Choice line. I’ve heard tons of good things from the brand.

For my oily skin (now leaning towards combo skin since I live in a dry climate area) I have learned that dehydration and not using the proper or any moisturizer at all are the biggest factors that I can control to keeping my face looking like a swimming pool by midday.
I have been off of birth control for a few years and have noticed my hormones are the true underlying cause for my acne, even with major lifestyle changes. *sigh*

P.S. I LOVE Urban Decay’s De-Slick setting spray!

In the mean time you can e-mail a customer service person for the Paula’s Choice and they may send you free samples of their products if you ask! Before I purchased full size products I ordered a few samples to try and then e-mailed a representative and they offered to send me even more samples of other products for free. They are so nice!

i have very oily skin. i have been using the cera ve normal to oily skin face wash that contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid and then moisturize with elizabeth arden visibly different. I just treat my skin like it has no issue, though i do have acne. It has been getting a lot better. I do believe the ceramides keep my skin hydrated, so definitely moisturize.

makeup wise i just hourglass mineral veil primer and the immaculate liquid powder foundation, mac prolongwear concealer or the dermablend smooth indulgence concealer, set everything with tarte smooth operator powder and im oil free fro the rest of the day!

if i do use another foundation (MUFE mat velvet +) then i used the urban decay de slick setting spray.

The Josie Maran Argan Oil and SPF are complete holy grails in my skin care. As a person who has dealt with extremely oily skin for years, this stuff has completely changed my skin around. You may find it weird to put oil on your skin but it really does help with controlling oiliness! I use the argan oil before bedtime and then I use the SPF as my daily moisturizer. I don’t look like a complete oil slick by the end of the day! Great stuff. 🙂

I’ve just started using the Argan Oil. Total game changer for me. I’ve been using the DHC Oil Cleanser for about a year with great results in cleansing my skin, but adding the Josie Maran Argan Oil as my moisturizer has normalized my once very oily skin. I went from having to basically reapply ALL my makeup after 6 hours to now being able to go 8 hours without even having to reapply powder! I highly suggest the using the Argan Oil for ALL SKIN TYPES, especially those with oily skin. Fantastic stuff.

Yes! Most people find it counterintuitive to put oil on oily skin, but it helps so much! I personally like marajuca oil, but there are many options. Also it’s important not to use a drying cleanser. I actually oil-cleanse my skin and that combined with bha exfoliation has made a huge difference for me. And helped with blackheads.

1. It’s definitely important to moisturize, and I actually like to use an oil-based moisturizer at night (argan oil, or maracuja oil). I dunno, I feel like if you give your skin a little oil, it doesn’t feel the need to produce so much on it’s own. During the day I use a super-lightweight moisturizer (Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel).
2. Foundation primer is a must. Not all primers are intended for oily skin, though (some actually have shimmer–horror), so be sure to get a mattifying one. On days when I stay home I just do skincare and no makeup, and I’ve noticed that my skin gets oily way faster than when I have my full face on–I see significant shine after an hour, where I usually have 2 or 3 good hours with mattifying foundation+powder, and if I add primer I can get all the way to lunch.
3. I like blotting linens as opposed to blotting sheets. They are more expensive, but they are also more absorbent. I can usually get away with 1 or 2 blotting linens for my lunchtime touchup, where I would need 6 sheets of blotting paper.

Use oil-free moisturizer instead of moisturizer targeted at oily skin. Most of those contain a high amount of alcohol, which you do not want on your skin, because it will cause dehydration and therefore more oil. You want to make sure your skin is well hydrated (not greasy!) so it does not react with producing excess oil. I like lotions and serums for dehydrated skin, instead of regular cream moistrúrizers.
Refrain from too much exfoliation (I mean the scrubbing kind), as the massaging/scrubbing motions may increase oil production in the skin.
Let your moisturizer set for a couple of minutes before you do your makeup and try foundations with more matte finishes, which will help absorbing excess oil.
I find it helps to blott my face with a regular tissue after my foundation and concealer set, but before I put on any powder. It will keep the pigments on the skin, but take away any oil that may be in the foundation/concealer.
Last but not least keep a blotting powder and/or some blotting linens at hand. I like a combination of both (first linens, then powder) to stop me from overpowdering and keeping my skin look fresh.
Last but not least, don’t forget that oily skin does have its perks: statistically people with oily skin get fewer/smaller wrinkles as they age, than people with dry skin.

I have oily skin and really transitioned it to a more normal feel by:

– Using a hydrating cream cleanser. (Like another poster said, oiliness is often caused by dehydration and can be exacerbated by stripping cleansers.) I have had success with: Yes to Carrots Nourishing Cleanser (not the exfoliating one!), CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, and Andalou Naturals Apricot Cleansing Milk.

– Using natural oils to supplement a good moisturizer. I’ve had success with evening primrose oil and tamanu oil. I put a few drops over my moisturizer at night, and it seems to help regulate my oil production.

– Oil cleansing method. I do this every week or so to get my face back on track if it gets screwed up. I love OCM, though I don’t do it but once in a while.

– Using a great moisturizer has helped a lot too. I use Korres balancing pomegranate gel cream. I’m not in love with it, but it works fine. Looking for my HG moisturizer still!

My HG moisturizer is Clinique’s Moisture surge relief… it even fixes raw flaky spots when I over use my salicylic acid treatments.

Great tips … I often struggle with my skin because it is combination. At one point in the day, it will be really dry (like after the shower) then during the day (say mid afternoon) it becomes oily and shiny as if you could slide off the make-up!!

I have oily skin, and I’ve been really loving the Boots No. 7 Beautifully Matte face primer. I used to get oily within a couple of hours of putting makeup on, now with this primer paired with my MAC Studio Fix Fluid, and I’m not shiny for 8 hours. I used to switch foundations and primers all the time, but after wearing these two together I haven’t even tried anything else!

I’ve also been much more rigorous with my skincare regimen than I was just a few years ago. Lately I’ve been using Andalou Naturals, DDF and Glamglow. Now, I’m super interested in trying Paula’s Choice products after hearing so many great things from Temptalia readers!

My skin is very oily. The only time it was ever normal was when I was on roaccutane 🙁 But sadly, all the oil (and acne) has come back. Mattifying powder is really essential to keep my skin looking nice throughout the day. If I don’t reapply powder every few hours my skin gets seriously shiny and my pores start looking like moon craters.

I have really oily skin and I’ve NEVER used any moisturizers on my skin. However, I use strong AHA, BHA cleansers and enzyme masks every day. Also I always wear finish powders such as NARS Lights Reflecting Powder or MUFE HD. I rarely use primers (but eye primers, YESSSS), I use foundations that give silky and velvet finish, though. 😀

Man, I’ve been struggling with oily skin for god knows how long.

I’ve gone through countless scrubs, cleansers, and primers/powders to control the oil slick of a face I have. My face always seems to regularly become oily after maybe 2-3 hours. Currently, I exfoliate with St. Ive’s apricot scrub and cleanse with Cetaphil’s Oil Control Foam Wash. My moisturizer is Clean & Clear’s Dual Action Moisturizer. I’m beginning to think my issue is my primer (or maybe I shouldn’t exfoliate?)- I’ve tried a weird haphazard combination of Bare Escentuals Prime Time primer and a tube of OC Eight (which was recommended by my dermatologist). I use Bare Escentuals READY foundation and Palladio’s Rice Powder. I’m considering on trying the natural oil method you guys talked about, or try Smashbox’s Photo Finish Light primer.

I’m sort of at a loss because I’m not really sure what is exactly causing my problem…I’ve gone to my dermatologist but she wasn’t very helpful, and assumed my main problem is my acne. She ended up giving me a prescription for Differin that I’m not really intending on trying. Is there something wrong with my skincare (other than my weird primer situation)? What are some sure-fire methods to keep things under control?

@ Tara J — The one sure-fire method is to use the prescription Differn. It is the only product you mentioned in your post that will affect how much oil your skin produces. I use it, and it makes my face stop producing as much oil and makes my pores small. Why you don’t want to try it?
Also, Google search Paula’s Choice Help for Oily Skin for additional tips. She has a very helpful article about it.
(FYI, if your derm did not diagnose your face as having an acne problem, your insurance probably would not cover any of the cost of Differn.)
Best of luck! 🙂

Thanks for the reply Elizabeth! I guess Differin has a bad name in my book because I was prescribed it waaaaaaaaaay back in the day when my acne was at its peak. It didn’t really help at the time, unfortunately.

My dermatologist basically went with the acne problem as my diagnosis and included a coupon for Differin, so you may be right on that. I’ll definitely try it though since I’m being so stubborn about it, lol. Thank you!!

What works for me is a mild cleanser (I use Cetaphil, but not the oily skin version), exfoliating 1-2 times a week, and the Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion morning and night. It’s truly the only moisturizer that feels light on my skin, absorbs fast, doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy, yet moisturizes enough that my face doesn’t get all oily right away. Still, when I do my make-up I always use a primer (look up Monistat Chafing Gel on makeupalley!), a foundation for normal-oily skin, and set with powder (Nars Light Reflecting Loose Powder works great, but most translucent powders will do). If you don’t have oily cheeks or any other part of your face you don’t have to put any powder there, it’ll help make your skin look fresh while keeping the oily parts of your face controlled with the powder!

I know when I exercise more & eat healthier, my skin is in better shape…but I’ll admit, I’m lazy & weak-willed…so here’s everything else that has been keeping my oily skin from being crazy oily:

Hydration! Supplements! Every morning I take a multi-vitamin (yay, pre-natal) & I force (yes, force) myself to drink at least 40 oz. of caffeine-free, low sugar liquids a day. I like to mix seltzer with no sugar add cranberry juice & mix it up with herbal teas & water with lemon or mint. I also try to drink a cup of green tea every morning.

Like many other lovely posters have stated, moisturize! Remember that not all moisturizers are going to react the same way with your skin. Keep testing them out until you find one that works. You’ll know you’ve found it when your skin is less oily & less prone to breakout with use. I’m currently using Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel, immediately followed with Triple Lanolin Aloe Vera Hand & Body on my face at night, which is working wonders. Yes, it’s a hand cream…who knew?

Watch out for SPF overload. I notice that if I load up on products with SPF (face moisturizer + foundation + Becca Skin Perfector) I end up looking like an oil slick by noon. If I stick to just 1 product, my face seems to fare better. Again, different SPF products are going to react differently with your skin. Keep trying until you find one that with the least amount of side effects. Currently I’m using Elta MD UV Clear.

Finally, I try to stay far, far away from anything with oil control properties. They only make my skin oiler & angrier over time. And then they stop working for me all together (I’m talking about you Jack Black Oil Control!). I figure the oil is coming from the the inside, not the outside. Which means, I have to fix the inside…did I mention I’m lazy & weak-willed?

don’t use those harsh, oil-stripping foaming cleansers – they just dry you out and cause you to produce even more oil. i used to make that mistake. use natural, gentle products that balance your skin, i love liz earle cleanse & polish & lush vanishing cream. it makes a big difference!
makeup-wise, clarins everlasting is the best foundation I’ve tried. it looks fresh all day. don’t use those creamy type concealers = greasy mess. estee lauder double wear concealer is great, it’s matte & high coverage. MAC powder’s are great – prep + prime loose, mineralize natural, blot. use a blotting sheet before retouching, otherwise the makeup will cake. & avoid silicone primers!

I’ve had really oily skin for years and years and have tried dozens of different products that never worked. I recently started using pure aloe (right from the plant) and it is AMAZING. I initially tried it hoping to combat redness (which didn’t work) but discovered it was amazing at dealing with oiliness. I apply the gel at night and don’t rinse it off and then I’ll be oil free for 4-5 days.

I’ve tried a million things over the years, but so far what works best is just straight castor oil (cold-pressed, like from a health food store rather than the drugstore). I just massage it in to my skin — it feels goopy at first, but after a while my skin just feels nice and soft. I don’t worry too much about oil or shine as long as my skin is clear and not irritated.

1/ Topical retinoids. I love Environ products. 2/ AHAs and BHAs. 3/Double cleansing with a gentle cleanser, followed up by a moisturiser light on emollients and occlusive agents but high on humectants — gels work really well for me! And of course, sunscreen, always.

Combo skin here in a near perfect gradient from a super dry forehead to a very oily chin. I’d like to give a shout out to Silk Naturals’s oily skin blur/finishing/primers, all of them. They keep the oily parts of my face (around my mouth mostly) perfectly matte but aren’t uncomfortable on the normal parts (cheek bones). I can’t wear them on my forehead (which is a pity because they make my pores basically disappear) but since they don’t bother my cheeks they’re much easier to apply then some other products I’ve tried where I had to sorta paint a shape.

Oh, and try Date Bait. Minor oil control. Major blurring/perfecting magic.

Also, if you do want a true mattifyer that can be applied over makeup, I have two suggestions:
Paula’s Choice shine reducing liquid that has a sponge-like particles in it that soak up the access oil and can be used of a matte foundation. It minimizes pores completely and makes your skin appear less dry as well (since some matte products can make you look chalky).
Another great product is Becca’s mattifying primer. If you prefer a feel of a silicon primer minus the problems that it can potentially cause, then try the Becca one! It is fantastic, but Paula’s Choice product is also cheaper 🙂

Lots of great suggestions… but don’t forget your pillowcase! If you have oily skin, changing your pillowcase more frequently is a must! If you notice pimples on the side you sleep on especially…

I also wash morning and night with a gentle cleanser and it really helps keep my skin clear.

I have oily skin, what I’ve found works best is minimal products and moisturising straight after showering (so it absorbs easily). I use a product called Renew (mainly because my aunt was selling it) it worked okay for my oily skin and my son’s very dry skin, I also sometimes use apricot kernel oil as a nighttime moisturiser. The only foundation I’ve found that can hold up to my skin’s oiliness is the Hourglass Immaculate one, of the dozen or so I’ve tried it is the only one that hasn’t broken me out or turned into an oil-slick after a few hours of wear (the price is cringe worthy though). I’m not a big face primer fan, I wear it sometimes, but I find that my skin seems to take it as a challenge and get even oilier.

The only real positive of oily skin is that my mother and grandfather (who’s 90 this week) both look younger than their age and I think it is down to having oily skin that hasn’t wrinkled much. So I’ll be reaping the benefits when I’m in my 80s…

I second Sprironolactone. It drastically reduced oil production and my pores look so much smaller without all of that oil magnifying them.

I use Cetaphil gentle cleanser and a gentle moisturizer and Retin A at bedtime every other night. This has helped my skin dramatically in combination with the Spironolactone.

The best thing for my oily and dehydrated skin has been Kate Somerville’s “Oil Free Duo” (it’s her Oil Free Quench Serum and Oil Free Moisturizer–if you order the duo on her website, there’s a cost savings). They really hydrate my skin and give it a velvet-y feel, without any grease. Also make you “glow-y.”

I also absolutely need a toner both day and night to control the oil, one without alcohol is ideal. I use Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment toner. Her products have helped my skin significantly.

Regularly using masks made from finely ground oats, raw honey & clays will go a long way towards balancing your skin. Avoid all ‘toners’ and stripping cleansers like the plague (foaming type, as well as those with mineral oils, petroleum byproducts, fragrances; not referring to essential oils here as they are NOT fragrances). I have oily skin & have found that my skin is in much better shape, and far less oily, since I started cleansing with hazelnut oil & moisturizing with evening primrose oil or a glycolic acid moisturizer made with plant based oils (no crap like silicones, mineral oil, petrolatum), or a custom made clay cleanser I mix together myself, in addition to masking approximately 3 times per week (in addition to my period time; hormonal breakouts). I also treat any small scars with a mix of calendula oil, meadowfoam oil & comfrey oil – which is stellar for getting completely rid of them.

People with oily skin need to ignore the dopes in stores/magazines/on the internet who tell them to use ‘oil free’ products. Worst advice ever. I got sucked into that garbage when my grandmother took me to a Clinique counter 30 odd yearş ago when I was in the midst of horrible teenaged breakouts. They even swore that I should be using an alcohol laden foundation, along with an equally terrible toner and oil free moisturizer. It all made my oily skin far worse and exacerbated my breakouts to a point that my face was red, swollen, raw and cracked – in addition to my nasty breakouts.

​i’m cursed with oily skin and working with food doesn’t help. I started using Citrus Clear products 3 weeks ago and I noticed a difference within 2-3 days. . . .I have had little to no break outs since using them – you should try them – we have similar skin types

The comments here have already said what I want to say. But let me add one more thing. If you are a teenager and have oily skin, don’t use a lot of crap (products) to get rid of the oil. When you’re young, you need oil on your skin. It might seem like a curse now but when you get older you will miss the oil, trust me. (And if you have pimples, don’t pop them. You will get scarring and regret having popped them. Just conceal them as much as possible, preferably with a powder, and let them go away on their own.) Do a very basic routine, with minimal products and no overwashing – twice a day is enough.

I used to have extremely oily skin as a teenager and now that I’m in my late twenties, I feel like it’s calmed down a lot – to the point that it is normal or slightly oily. I’ve embraced my oily skin, though, because it keeps you looking youthful for longer, and anyway, everyone is trying to get the “dewy” look nowadays. Remember that dewy is just a euphemism for oily (dewy is to oily as curvy is to fat), so try to embrace it. I’ve got a million highlighters in my collection and I keep buying more but what I’ve noticed is that when I don’t powder my cheeks, the natural oiliness looks like the most amazing highlight ever. 🙂

Another thing I recommend is to moisturise with oil. Don’t go for oil-free products because they generally replace the oil with silicones or petroleum jelly other artifical stuff. Oils, butters and other lipids are what “moisturiser” means. They are hydrophobic so they create a barrier on your skin to trap in the moisture that’s there. So drink a LOT of water, eat fruits and vegetables, and use oils as moisturisers after washing your face or showering to trap in the moisture that you’ve taken in. No topical product works without intake of food and water. In the daytime use a light moisturiser and in the night-time, use a natural oil or butter all over your face – applied thickly – and watch as you wake up glowing with perfect skin. It seems counterintuitive but it definitely works for me.

When I say butter, I mean shea butter or cocoa butter – things like that, not actual butter, though I wonder if anyone’s ever tried that. It might be great. 😉

I know it’s super bad for your skin, but I use 99% rubbing alcohol every morning on a cotton ball and it makes a world of difference. I use my clarisonic when I get home from work to get all the dust and crud out of my pores before I rest. It’s literally the first thing I do when I walk in the door. Shoes off, face washed. I can’t relax otherwise.

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