Build Your Perfect Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin

Key Takeaways

It's not a lot of fun to duck into the bathroom only to realize your forehead is shining like a bright holiday light.

But a little excess oil isn't the permanent end of a flawless look. The right products and a tailor-made skin care routine for your oily skin can make all the difference.

 With a little trial and error, patience, and some consistency, you can build something that works for you and possibly avoid (or at least cut back on) oil-fuelled breakouts. 

What causes oily skin?

The sebaceous glands produce the oil that appears on your skin. 

At the same time, your skin requires some oil to ensure it stays in tip-top shape. 

If your skin seems excessively oily, it's likely because your sebaceous glands work a little longer before punching that daily clock. 

Over-production from your sebaceous glands isn't the only contributing factor to oily skin. Your hormones and genetic makeup also play a role.

This doesn't mean anything is wrong — oily skin is relatively common and can be tamed with a skincare routine built for you. 

That said, if you legitimately think your body's oil production is off the charts, you'll want to chat with a healthcare practitioner who can refer you to a dermatologist (a healthcare practitioner that specializes in skin, hair, and nails).

How to build a skincare routine to combat oily skin

Many don't realize it, but your skin is an organ. It's the largest organ in (or on) the human body and does a lot more than simply making us look good. 

Besides ensuring we don't look like the cursed scallywags from Pirates of the Caribbean, skin:

  • Controls your body temperature
  • Protects you from the elements (like heat, sunlight and injury)
  • Removes waste (via sweat)
  • Provides a sense of touch
  • Helps make vitamin D
  • Prevents the loss of fluids

You need skin to live, so taking care of it is important.

But there is no one-size fits all skincare solution — What will work best for your skin will vary from someone else's, and it's essential to test a few things out to find out what fits you best.

1. Identify your skin type

Not all skin is the same. 

This is why the first step in building any skincare routine is determining the type of skin you have. 

Now we’re specifically addressing how to deal with oily skin here. 

So, let’s assume you have a natural shine and see oily patches on your face throughout the day.

That said, a second possibility might lead you to develop a skincare routine specifically for oily skin. 

If you have combination skin — you see an oily “T zone” or find that oil accumulates across your forehead and down your nose, but the rest of your face tends to stay dry — you might be looking for a routine that pays a little more attention to controlling oil.

Either of these skin types could leave you more prone to acne breakouts and unwanted mid-day shine. 

So, it makes sense to address the problem areas with a specific routine that caters to them.

2. Find the right products

When you build your oily skin routine, you want to find the right products for your skin type that cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize your skin. 

But specifically, you'll want to find products that help fight the overproduction of your skin's natural oils.

But you don't want to go crazy. 

Some products touted as the best contain ingredients you'll want to avoid. 

Specifically, avoid products that include:

  • Alcohol
  • Hydroxy acid
  • Heavy oils
  • Fragrance (even mild ones)

These ingredients could trigger breakouts, rendering your new skin care routine ineffective.

While all the products you're going to use are important, your cleanser needs special attention since it performs the vital task of actually cleaning your skin. 

Here's what you want to consider when picking one:

  • If you wear heavy makeup look for removal targeted products
  • If you have allergies, try "natural" products (and read the ingredient list)
  • If you produce a lot of sweat look for something that targets clogged pores
  • Use a mild or gentle product to avoid irritated and dry skin
  • Balanced PH products can help maintain your natural skin health
  • Gels or foam cleansers tend to be better for oily skin

3. Cleanse

Cleansing is often touted as the most important step in your skincare routine. Strong cleansers break down dirt, grime, dead skin cells, and oil production, allowing you to wipe it all away.

You'll most likely want to cleanse your skin twice per day for oily skin. Washing in the morning helps give you a clean slate to start your day. 

Then, your evening routine serves to get rid of any gunk so you're not going to bed with oil or bacteria on your face that can clog your pores.

Most importantly, you want to be gentle. Skin is sensitive. 

Going at it like a carpenter trying to smooth a table could damage your skin. Instead of having oily skin concerns, you could find that it's cracked and dry.

When you go to wash your face, you'll want to ensure you:

  • Don't scrub
  • Use lukewarm water
  • Clean around your eyes with a cotton pad or tissue
  • Use a washcloth for the rest of your face
  • Gently pat it dry

4. Exfoliate

Once you cleanse your face, it's time to exfoliate. 

Exfoliating removes dead skin cells that leave your skin looking dull. 

But you don't want to exfoliate every day. Instead, add it to your skincare routine two or three times per week.

Exfoliating helps to remove the dead skin cells that leave your face looking dull and lifeless. 

It's important to find the right exfoliant for your skin. 

If you have acne-prone skin, you should be extra careful not to use an exfoliant that could potentially clog pores and leave your skin looking irritated.

Exfoliating after your morning cleanse can leave your skin smooth and fresh, perfect if you plan to apply makeup.

5. Moisturize

Those developing a skin care routine for oily skin tend to avoid moisturizing. 

Doesn't it just contribute to the problem? But it's quite the opposite if you find the right product.

The right moisturizer can help keep your oily skin in check. 

Moisturizer isn't a magical cure. It won't stop the sebum production. 

But it might reduce the appearance of oil on your skin and possibly even delay its production.

Like all products, moisturizer comes in many different forms. 

If you're trying to keep your skin in check, it's probably best to add an oil-free moisturizer to your skin routine. As with other products, you might have to test a few to find the best fit.

Are there medical products that could help my oily skin?

If revamping your skincare routine doesn't give you the oil-controlled result you're looking for, speaking to a healthcare practitioner who can help come up with the best treatment for you might be the best option. 

While the average person has access to oil-free products, a healthcare practitioner could prescribe something that could help tackle the problem at the source.

While your treatment will be unique to you, some prescription treatments might be able to assist your body in combating oil production. 

These treatments may include:

  • Spironolactone: can reduce sebum production if dosed correctly 
  • Oral contraceptives: can decrease androgens and stimulate the production globulin
  • Isotretinoin: can decrease both the size of the sebaceous glands along with how much sebum it produces

If you think you need something a little more heavy-duty, talk to a healthcare practitioner who can help point you in the right direction.

Is sunscreen bad for oily skin?

It doesn't matter how hot or cold it is outside. You should wear sunscreen on a daily basis. 

Wearing sunscreen might seem counterintuitive if you're trying to cut back on the natural oils, but it's an essential part of protecting your skin.

Sunscreen is important because it absorbs or reflects harmful UV rays, which ultimately:

  • Cuts back on your risk of getting a sunburn
  • Prevents damage
  • Helps prevent skin cancer

You don’t have to go all out with the sunscreen and lather up with a bottle of SPF 50 — daily use could call for anything from SPF 15 to 30, though if you’re planning on spending time outdoors, you’ll want to consider higher.

But sunscreen isn’t an arm, legs, and back only product. 

Your face needs to be protected too. 

The good news is that you don’t have to use something greasy. There are plenty of oil-free options on the market.

Before starting a new sunscreen, you should probably give it a small 24 to 48-hour test run to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction. 

This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. 

Sunscreen can also get a handy assist by the clothing and accessories you choose to wear. 

Long sleeves and pants can help keep the sun off those areas, while a wide-brimmed hat can help keep it off your head, neck, and ears.

You also don’t want to miss protecting your lips — lip cancer is a common form of skin cancer. 

While you probably don’t want to slather on a dollop of Hawaiian Tropic on them (yuck), there are lip balm options with sunscreen built right in to help you protect yourself.

Get started with your new skincare routine today!

It's never too late to start taking better care of your skin. 

Your skin cells are constantly rejuvenating and replacing themselves. 

Getting set up with the proper routine can help keep your skin healthy and possibly even help get your oil production under control.

You deserve to feel comfortable in your skin. 

If you find that the oil on your skin is contributing to breakouts and bouts of acne, talking to a healthcare practitioner about the best way to deal with it might be the best option for you. 

Felix can help you get in touch with a healthcare practitioner to talk about your acne and even deliver any medication they prescribe right to your door!

Medically reviewed by


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