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We’ll give you the good news first: If you have oily skin, you’re less likely to see fine lines and wrinkles. As for the bad news, well, you have to deal with excess oil. Chances are if you have oily skin, you know it. “People with oily skin feel oily, especially around midday, and feel the need to blot their skin throughout the day to keep it feeling less oily,” says Tracy Evans, MD, MPH, board certified dermatologist and medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology.
Oily skin is caused by highly productive sebaceous glands, the glands that produce oils or sebum in the skin, explains Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. But, using products specifically designed for oily skin can help. “Skin-care products tailored for oily skin will cut down on oils, reduce shine and often will also help to prevent acne, since excess sebum can contribute to clogged pores and acne,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose.
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There are a few key things to look for when shopping for products and creating your skin-care routine for oily, acne-prone skin. “It’s important for patients who have oily skin to hydrate their skin but not add extra oil,” says Dr. Evans. “Products that are oil-free and have high levels of hyaluronic acid or other oil-free moisturizers can really make a difference to balance the oil and water in the skin. Exfoliating the skin can also help to remove the outer layer of the epidermidis and challenge the skin to replace those cells with healthier cells.” She recommends retinoids, such as Tretinoin, a prescription high dose vitamin A, since they’re the best at helping to moderate oil production in the skin and can also help with acne.
Alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids are great exfoliators for oily skin. “Hydroxy acids help to minimize the appearance of pores for all skin types,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Salicylic acid products are particularly well suited to oily skin, because they help to keep pores clean from deep inside and exfoliate the surface as well.”
Be sure to wash your face twice a day to keep excess oil under control and use products that reduce shine. “Use oil-free products and ingredients that mattify skin and keep pores clear,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Ingredients like kaolin clay and bentonite absorb oils and reduce shine. Avoid oil-containing products or rich emollients that will exacerbate oily skin.” Stick to face lotions, which tend to be lighter, and skip oils and balms. It’s also a good idea to seek out makeup products for oily skin, particularly foundations and concealers designed for your skin type.
Though it’s tempting to try to dry out your skin to stop excess oil in its tracks, that’s actually one of the worst things you can do, since it’ll put oil production into overdrive to compensate for a thirsty complexion. To avoid just that, Dr. Evans recommends washing with a gentle but cleansing face wash, such as one with a gel base. Skip the harsh toners and opt for one that will nourish oily skin. A few other no-nos? “Avoid applying oil, such as essential oils, to the skin,” says Dr. Evans. “There is a misconception that applying oil to the skin will help it become less oily, but this is really not the case. Keep your regimen simple. Too many ingredients can build up on the skin and cause you to have more oil production.”
These 12 best products for oily skin are a great place to start shopping.
SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF
Best Antioxidant Serum for Oily Skin
“SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF is an antioxidant serum designed for oily or acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “It contains silymarin, salicylic acid as well as powerful topical antioxidants vitamin C and ferulic acid.” That potent combo works to prevent breakouts, keep oil in check, refine skin texture and fight the signs of aging. Silymarin is a plant-based antioxidant sourced from milk thistle that safeguards skin from free radicals and prevents oil oxidation. Oily skin is prone to enlarged pores, and this helps to minimize their appearance over time.
Smashbox Photo Finish Minimize Pores Primer
Best Primer for Oily Skin
Ace your base with this primer that will keep your foundation in place all day by zapping excess oil. “Smashbox Photo Finish Minimize Pores Primer is excellent as a primer for oily skin,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “It creates a smooth base and controls face oils.” The waterproof and oil-free formula blurs imperfections without drying out the skin. Bonus: The soft matte finish flatters big time.
Smashbox Photo Finish Minimize Pores Primer$39$34Buy Now
Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer With Sunscreen – Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30
Best Sunscreen for Oily Skin
Those with oily skin may be hesitant to slather on sunscreen because of the shiny cast it sometimes leaves behind. But Differin’s formula will do no such thing, thanks to its micropearl technology that actually absorbs excess oil, leaving a matte finish. Additionally, it won’t clog pores. That’s what makes this one of the best skin-care products for oily skin. The incredibly lightweight formula is designed to work with even the most sensitive skin, which is why it’s fragrance-free. It delivers broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 protection.
Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with Sunscreen$11$9Buy Now
Peter Thomas Roth Max Anti-Shine Mattifying Gel
Best Mattifying Product for Oily Skin
Consider this Peter Thomas Roth gel the skin-care version of a pressed powder, sans any of the chalkiness that comes with covering up excess oil with makeup. You can apply it in the morning before makeup to keep skin matte, as it absorbs oil and shine while minimizing the appearance of pores. Best of all, it can be reapplied as needed throughout the day, even over makeup.
Peter Thomas Roth Max Anti-Shine Mattifying Gel$35$24Buy Now
Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser
Best Cleanser for Oily Skin
Finding just the right cleanser for oily skin can be tricky, because some of them go overboard to remove oil and end up completely stripping skin of it. But not this one from Hollywood’s star facialist. It’s tough on oil, acne and clogged pores, but gentle on skin. AHAs, including glycolic and lactic acids, exfoliate dead skin cells that can clog pores. The formula also spotlights Ole Henriksen’s Green Fusion Complex, a proprietary blend of active botanicals — including green tea, eucalyptus, algae and Irish moss extracts — to zap oil and shrink pores. Skin is left feeling and looking refreshed and balanced.
Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser$26.00Buy Now
Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Serum
Best Pore-Minimizing Serum
Serums tend to be overlooked in the battle against a shiny T-zone, but they can be one of the most important skin-care products for oily skin and pimples. Caudalie’s Vinopure Pore Minimizing serum has 100% pure, natural salicyclic acid to do everything from soaking up excess oil to fighting breakouts and blackheads to minimizing pores. The lightweight serum also has grapeseed antioxidants and essential oils to nourish.
Caudalie Vinopure Serum$49Buy Now
First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask With Red Clay
Best Face Mask for Oily Skin
A clay mask is key for mattifying oily skin, since it’s super adept at soaking up excess oil. In addition to doing just that, First Aid Beauty’s Skin Rescue Purifying mask with red clay also draws out impurities to unclog pores, preventing breakouts and providing a deep clean along the way. Red clay is packed with minerals, which tackles dark spots left behind by old breakouts. The peel-off mask leaves skin softer and smoother, with visibly smaller pores.
First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask$16$14Buy Now
Boscia Clear Complexion Blotting Linens
Best Blotter for Oily Skin
When your face looks like a disco ball in the middle of the day, washing it and redoing your makeup often isn’t an option. Boscia’s blotting linens are the next best thing, and they’re ideal for on-the-go. Made from 100% natural Abaca tree fiber, they can simply be used to blot off excess oil without messing up your makeup. Designed for acne-prone skin, the blotting linens are infused with sasa kurilensis bamboo water to neutralize the bacteria that triggers breakouts and help regulate sebum production, as well as willow bark to stop blemishes before they happen and erase dark marks left from previous spots.
Boscia Clear Complexion Blotting Linens$10Buy Now
Murad Oil And Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45
Best Mattifying Sunscreen for Oily Skin
One of the best skin-care products for oily skin, this twofer does double duty as a moisturizer and sunscreen. The oil-free formula from Murad keeps shine under control for a whopping 10 hours while delivering UVA/UVB SPF 45 protection, so it also makes a great primer for makeup. The lightweight lotion boasts oil-trapping microspheres that keep skin matte and smooth while blurring imperfections. Avocado and African yellow wood bark work to shrink the size of pores over time and control oil.
Murad Oil And Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45 $42Buy Now
Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner
Best Toner for Oily Skin
Toner is an underrated gem for treating oily skin, and Kiehl’s hydrating, alcohol-free Calendula Herbal-Extract toner has plenty of perks. Made with calendula flower petals handpicked in the Mediterranean, it tackles oiliness as well as redness, dullness and uneven texture. Great burdock helps with hydration, since oily skin can still be dry, while allatoin soothes. The cult classic toner leaves skin refreshed and prepped for serums and moisturizers.
Kiehl's Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner$40Buy Now
Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
Best Foaming Cleanser for Oily Skin
Non-comedogenic formulas are key for oily complexions, since they won’t clog pores — something that oily skin is already prone to. That’s why Aveeno’s Clear Complexion foaming cleanser is one of the best skin-care products for oily skin. Salicylic acid takes center stage on the ingredient list to prevent future breakouts and treat current ones. The formula is also infused with soy to even out skin tone. Safe for sensitive skin, the oil-free cleanser washes away impurities without overdrying, leaving skin soft and smooth.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser$11Buy Now
La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat Anti-Shine Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin
Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin
A top mattifying moisturizer, La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Anti-Shine moisturizer is one of the best skin-care products for oily skin. Oil-free and noncomedogenic, it has a matte finish to keep shine at bay. It uses sebulyse technology to reduce sebum while minimizing pores, all while hydrating skin. That power combo also makes it an excellent primer for makeup.
La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat Anti-Shine Moisturizer$31Buy Now