Dealing with oily skin can be exasperating. And it’s not just an adolescent issue—for some people, oily skin crops up again in their thirties or forties. Fortunately, excess oil in adulthood is both common and treatable. All you need is a little knowledge about what products to use and why excess oil occurs in the first place. Once you understand the issues behind oily skin, you’ll be well on your way to skin that looks younger—without the acne to go with it.
First, let’s take a look at the causes behind oily skin and acne. If the oil glands in your skin are overactive, they’ll simply produce too much oil. The problem is worsened when this excess oil mixes with dirt and debris from accumulated dead cells on your skin. This mixture causes clogged pores, breakouts, greasiness, and sometimes even discoloration. You end up with shiny-looking skin that’s prone to acne, especially in the T-zone.
Thankfully, Dr. Schultz is here to provide the expert knowledge and practical advice you need to deal with oily skin at any age. As a leading NYC dermatologist, Dr. Schultz has over 35 years of experience and has treated over 150,000 patients at his Park Avenue Skin Care practice. Keep reading if you’re ready to get your oily skin under control and finally achieve skin that’s balanced, healthy, and glowing.
Tips for Oily Skin
One of the most important things you can do if you have oily skin or acne is to use products that are labeled oil-free. Although acne has several different causes, one of them is overactive oil glands. You therefore want to avoid any products that will increase the amount of oil on your skin. Not only does excess oil contribute to clogged pores and breakouts, but it also mixes with accumulated dead cells in the lining of the pores to form pore sludge. Many of the oils used in topical skincare products are oils that can enter the pore (which is also known as the hair follicle) and exacerbate the clogs and breakouts. So, remember: products labeled “oil free” are best for acne-prone skin.
Another thing that contributes to breakouts and blemishes in oily skin is something that we all experience from time to time—stress. When your adrenal gland secretes the stress hormone cortisol, it also releases other hormones that can wreak havoc on your complexion by causing acne and impacting the color of your skin. If you can find ways to routinely reduce the amount of stress you experience, not only will your general well-being improve, but your skin will improve too.
Dr. Schultz’s next tip for preventing oily skin from breaking out? Stop touching your face. Anything that touches or rubs against your face can contribute to the clogging of your pores, which ultimately leads to blemishes. This includes hands, cellphones, sweatbands, bangs, sports equipment, you name it—anything that makes contact with the surface of your skin could potentially push oil back down into the hair follicle (where it came from) and increase the chance of a clog. And it’s not just the oil being pushed back into your skin, but it’s also the opening of the pore being squeezed, narrowed, or thickened by constant rubbing or contact. All of these things contribute to increased acne breakouts. The bottom line is: hands off!
You’ll probably be surprised to find out that it’s actually more important to cleanse your face before you work out in order to prevent acne breakouts from exercise. Sweat is simply water and salt, but it’s actually the wiping away of sweat with your hand that grinds makeup, dirt, debris, and oil into the pores. To prevent this, make sure that before you exercise, you take off your makeup, thoroughly wash your face with cleanser, and follow with toner.
Clear Skin Tips for Oily Skin
Exfoliation is key to unclogging pores and removing excess oil from oily skin because it gets rid of accumulating, dead skin cells. Glycolic acid in particular has the smallest molecules of the active exfoliating compounds known as alpha hydroxy acids—therefore, it penetrates the skin more deeply and easily, making it the most effective exfoliant for treating not only acne, blackheads, dullness, excess oil, but also fine lines and tired, older-looking skin. Glycolic acid is potent enough to dissolve dead skin cells while also providing consistent and predictable results. Dr. Schultz explains in this video all the reasons why glycolic acid is his favorite:
As we mentioned, touching your face with your hands can contribute to clogged pores and breakouts. But it’s also important to be aware of these other things that constantly come into contact with your face: makeup brushes, makeup sponges, pillowcases, and cellphones. Makeup brushes must be cleaned routinely with warm, soapy water. Sponges need to be replaced, otherwise they turn into harbors for bacteria. Make sure your pillowcase is regularly laundered with unscented detergent, and be sure to wipe down your cell phone once in a while.
If you’re considering the oil cleansing method, proceed cautiously. While it may work for some, Dr. Schultz does not recommend it for anyone with oily skin. Usually, extra oiliness wreaks havoc on your skin when it combines with the dead cells building up on your skin’s surface. The combination of oil and debris can clog your pores, leading to discoloration and dullness. Instead of trying to dissolve “oil with oil,” practice daily exfoliation—it’s the best way to put a stop to the mixing of dead skin cells with excess oil.
Skin Care Tips for Oily Skin During Winter
Chilly winter winds combined with the dry heat found inside homes and buildings can leave your skin feeling stripped and dehydrated. While most people will be trying to preserve their level of natural skin oils during the winter, if you have oily skin, your job will be a little easier. Just make sure you’re moisturizing without adding any extra oil to your skin.
Skin Care Tips for Oily Skin During Summer
Toner is your friend during the day. Use toner after cleansing: it picks up any oil, dirt, and debris that your cleanser missed, and it also removes residual cleanser. You can also use toner as a midday refresh. As the toner evaporates, it cools your skin—and you can do it on the go with just a cotton pad. Lastly, use toner before working out. Dr. Schultz says, "The toner will remove the acne-causing debris on your skin before you sweat and rub it into your pores, causing clogs and pimples.” Of course, you can use toner after working out to remove built-up sweat and excess oil too.
Acne Tips for Oily Skin
Although some people outgrow acne, the majority of adults must continue to deal with blemishes and breakouts. The first approach for treating acne should be at-home, dermatologist-approved products since they're a lot less expensive than a visit to the dermatologist.
For those with acne-prone skin, all products you use must be labeled as "oil-free" or "non-comedogenic" (which means products that are shown not to create whiteheads or blackheads, aka, comedones). Again, excess oil is one of the primary causes of acne, so it’s wise not to add any extra oil if you already have oily skin. In addition to oil-free and non-comedogenic products, keep an eye out for water-based products, which contain mostly water and only a small amount of oil, if any.
Everyone’s skincare routine should start with an effective cleanser to lift away dirt, oil, and makeup. This prepares your skin for other acne-treating products. After using cleanser, Dr. Schultz always recommends using a facial toner. Toner is key to completing the cleansing process, and it can be used any time during the day for a quick refresh.
Since dead cells can clog pores and lead to breakouts, an exfoliant is another key acne-fighting product. As with all products in an acne regimen, make sure your exfoliants are oil-free or non-comedogenic, such as the BeautyRx Essential 8% Exfoliating Serum. Keep scrolling down to find even more recommendations for the best products for oily skin.
Lastly, acne-fighting products can sometimes cause dryness in even the oilest skin. If this occurs, rehydrate your skin with an oil-free moisturizer. Generally speaking, the amount of oil on your skin doesn't directly affect the amount of water your skin is holding—so just because you're oily doesn't mean you don't need hydration.
If your at-home products just aren’t effectively treating your acne, a dermatologist may be able to help.
Best Products for Oily Skin
Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin
The best moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin is our Light Rehydrating Lotion. This formula does not clog pores, and it is designed to maximize hydration with natural humectants, emollients, and other hydrophilic compounds.
Best Toner for Oily Skin
BeautyRx’s Purifying Toner is specifically formulated for very oily skin. This toner effectively eliminates residual dirt, oils, and makeup from even the oiliest skin. It contains cypress extract, an astringent ingredient that thoroughly cleanses your skin and restores balance.
Best Sunscreen for Oily Skin
A lightweight sunscreen is best for oily skin. Our Solar Defense Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50 provides optimal protection without the heavy, greasy feeling of some other sunscreens on the market. It also absorbs well and makes a great primer under makeup.
Best Cleanser for Oily Skin
For a cleanser that harnesses the oil-eliminating power of Dr. Schultz’s proprietary ingredient, Tetrafoliant®, use our Balancing Glycolic Cleanser. It removes makeup, dirt, debris, and excess oil. This cleanser helps you avoid overdrying your skin.
Your At-Home Regimen
You can finally equip yourself with the tools you need to get rid of excess oil quickly and easily. Remember to choose products that are suitable for oily skin, and take the following daily steps to reduce the amount of oil on your skin and minimize the chance of pore clogs.
- Use a toner throughout the day.
- Wear sunscreen that’s lightweight enough for daily use without creating excess oil.
You May Also Like
Your Guide to Melasma
Melasma is a skin condition characterized by hyperpigmentation and brown spots. It is underdiagnosed, but... Read more >
The Guide to Making Your Eyes Look Younger
When you’re ready to get serious about your anti-aging routine, you want the quickest transformation... Read more >
Vitamin C Serum: A Superhero Ingredient for Anti-Aging
Good skin care doesn’t start with gimmicks, it starts with good ingredients. Having a little... Read more >
Three Surprising Ways Exfoliation Helps Your Skin
To get beautiful, radiant skin, one of the main skin care methods you need to use is... Read more >