Help for Oily Skin


In This Article:

If you struggle with the daily annoyance of a face that resembles an oil slick (something Paula has struggled with herself for years), you know how difficult it is to get oily skin under control. Adding to the frustration, whether you know it or not, is the fact that that many of the products claiming to get rid of oil actually make matters worse because they contain ingredients that aggravate skin and trigger more oily shine! We’re here to help—armed with the research-backed facts for what really works.

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Recommended Products for Oily Skin

Understanding Oily Skin

Oily skin is hard to control because it's something we’re born with, kicking in sometime in our teen years or randomly as we age. Having oily skin is the same as being born with the predisposition for having thick hair or how tall you will be; you can’t stop those things any more than you can stop oily skin.

For those of us with super oily skin, it may be hard to believe a normal balanced oil flow from the pore does good things for skin. For example, it relieves dryness, maintain a healthy skin surface, and keeps skin pliable.

Oily skin obviously becomes maddening when too much oil is produced. This causes pores to become enlarged as they’re stretched beyond capacity to handle the amounts of oil being generated. It gets worse as the pore lining thickens, which blocks oil from getting to skin’s surface, resulting in blackheads and white bumps.

One myth to bust: Oily skin does not age less than dry skin. Oily skin may look less wrinkled because it is often less dry, but the cause of wrinkles is not something oily skin can stop or change.

Caring for Oily Skin

The first step in caring for oily skin is to assess your current skincare routine. Using products with drying or harsh ingredients may make your skin feel less oily, at least initially, but in the long run, using such ingredients only makes matters worse. Here’s what you need to kick out of your skincare routine.

Avoid harsh, drying ingredients because they actually trigger more oil! SD alcohol and denatured alcohol are common culprits, and you can find out which other ingredients everyone should avoid here.

Products that make your skin tingle (such as menthol, mint, and eucalyptus) actually upset skin. Tingling is just one way your skin is telling you it is hurting, and that cumulative damage will end up causing more problems.

Products that contain pore-clogging or emollient ingredients can exacerbate oiliness. As a general rule, ingredients that keep bar products in solid form (such as bar soaps or stick foundations), or that are present in emollient lotions and creams are likely to clog pores and look greasy on your skin. Instead of using creams or thick formulas, consider using only liquids, weightless serums, fluid lotions, or feather light gels.

Step-by-Step Routine for Oily Skin

The following essential skincare guidelines will help you take control of your skin so you'll see less oil, pores that appear minimized, and fewer bumps.

1. Cleanse

Use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser twice daily. Ideally, the cleanser should rinse without leaving a hint of residue, be fragrance free (fragrance is always a problem) and not contain drying cleansing ingredients. (Drying up skin doesn't help anything). For extra cleansing, please avoid skin-aggravating scrubs or cleansing brushes with stiff bristles. A soft washcloth or cleansing brush with ultra-soft bristles can be helpful—being rough on your skin is not!

2. Tone

An alcohol-free toner loaded with antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients is an incredibly important step for oily skin. Toners that contain these ingredients help skin renew and recharge, minimize the appearance of enlarged pores, and remove the last traces of makeup that can lead to clogged pores. For some this can be the only "moisturizer" they need for daytime.

3. Exfoliate

Exfoliation is one of the most important skincare steps for oily skin. Oily skin tends to have an extra-thick coat of built-up dead skin on the surface, along with a thickened pore lining. Gently exfoliating is the only way to remove that build up and diminish clogged pores and bumps, while making skin feel smoother and less oily.

The best exfoliating ingredient for oily skin is salicylic acid (BHA). Salicylic acid exfoliates not only the surface of your skin but also inside the pore lining, thus allowing oil to flow easily to the surface, so it doesn't get backed up and plug the pore.

Try our CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid for impressive results. It is a completely non-abrasive, hydrating, skin soothing leave-on liquid exfoliant that helps skin naturally shed as it did when we were young before oily skin began taking its toll. We think you will love us once you’ve tried it!

4. A.M. Sun Protection

A sunscreen is essential for reducing the risk of early signs of aging (and skin cancer) and keeping everything about skin from getting worse. If you've avoided sunscreens in the past because the ones you tried were too greasy or too occlusive, we have some options that will change your impression f sunscreens for good. Case in point, our RESIST Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 provides weightless protection that helps keep your skin matte.

5. P.M. Hydration

At night, choose a feather light but exceptionally effective hydrating and skin-renewing gel or serum that is free of pore-clogging ingredients while giving your skin the essential antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients it needs to look as healthy and revived as possible.

6. Absorb Excess Oil

Try an oil-absorbing primer like our SHINE STOPPER Instant Matte Finish With MICROSPONGE® Technology to help control oil, minimize the appearance of pores. (Wears beautifully, by itself or under makeup all day long.) Our SKIN BALANCING Oil-Absorbing Mask may also offer temporary help for oily skin. Both of these are optional but beneficial steps for anyone with oily skin!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Products for Oily Skin.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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