November 30, 2023


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A Dermatologist-Approved Routine for Dealing With Oily Skin

While we all aspire to have a radiant, glowing complexion, there is definitely a line between glowy and greasy. If your skin produces too much oil, it can lead to a greasy look, clogged pores, and acne.

Keep in mind that oil isn’t a bad thing.  It’s what naturally hydrates your skin and plays an important role in your overall skin health. The key is finding a skincare routine that strikes the right balance. And if you have oily skin, you’ll need to customize your skin regimen accordingly. That’s why we found the best skincare routine for oily skin—here’s everything you need to know.

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Best skincare routine for oily skin

 Morning routine

Cleansing gel

La Roche Posay Effaclar Gel Facial Wash for Oily Skin allows you to start the day with purified and cleansed skin. “This product contains zinc pidolate, which rids the skin of dirt and oil and maintains the skin’s pH balance,” Dr. Annie Gonzalez, MD, board-certified Miami Dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology, explains.

Related: Healthy Skin Secrets from the Stars


Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner works to rid the skin of excess oil and provides the skin with antioxidants. “This toner contains White Willow Bark, high in salicylic acid, and exfoliates the skin to unclog pores,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “This product also includes Witch Hazel, which is a natural skin astringent.”

BHA Salicylic acid serum

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant eliminates pore-clogging agents from the skin such as dirt, sweat, and oil. “This serum uses BHA to provide the skin with natural exfoliation and leaves the skin hydrated and radiant,” Dr. Gonzalez states.

Lightweight moisturizer

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer leaves the skin glowing and moisturized. “It’s the perfect lightweight moisturizer easily layered under makeup. This moisturizer is oil-free and contains hyaluronic acid, which will not clog pores,” says Dr. Gonzalez.

Zinc oxide sunscreen

Dermalogica’s Oil-free Matte SPF 30 is great for sun protection and doesn’t make the skin look or feel greasy. “This broad-spectrum sunscreen provides incredible defense against UVA rays while preventing the skin from appearing oily and shiny with its matte consistency,” Dr. Gonzalez explains. “This lightweight sunscreen contains zinc gluconate, caffeine, niacinamide, and biotin, which help control oil production.”

Related: These 14 Spray Sunscreens Aren’t Just Easy to Apply—They’ll Keep You Protected from Those Harmful UV Rays Too

Evening routine

Oily skin cleanser

Similar to the morning, your nighttime skincare regimen should begin with a cleanser. “Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser is a cleanser that uses two types of clay to absorb oil,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “It also contains lemon extracts and cucumber to soothe any irritation.”

Oily skin toner

When looking for a toner, it’s important to look for ones that unclog and minimize pores. “Ole Henriksen makes a Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser that uses AHAs and BHAs to minimize pore appearance and unclog pores,” Dr. Gonzalez explains. “It also takes off any residual makeup or dirt from the environment for clean skin before applying the next products.”

Retinol serum

Riverchase Dermatology makes a Retinol Smoothing Serum 10x to increase cellular turnover, diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation, and help smooth texture. “Retinol should be applied at night because the sun can cause added irritation,” Dr. Gonzalez states. “Retinol can also make pores tighter which in turn impedes the collection of dead skin cells and oil within them (what gives oily skin its ‘shiny’ look).”

Lightweight moisturizer

Hyaluronic acid is an excellent moisturizing ingredient. “Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is an oil-free moisturizer perfect for oily skin. It melts into the skin, providing hydration but without leaving a greasy residue or clogging pores,” says Dr. Gonzalez.

Weekly routine

“Oily skin needs a routine that works to unclog pores and dry out skin that overproduces oil,” Dr. Stacy Chimento, MD, board-certified Miami dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology, explains.

Cleanser (AM/PM)

If acne is an issue for you due to oily skin, the PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash Benzoyl Peroxide 10% is an excellent choice. “Begin by removing any oil and dirt with a cleanser like PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash,” says Dr. Chimento. “This face wash helps clear existing acne as well as unclog pores filled with sebum, or oil.”

Toner (AM/PM)

After cleansing the skin, you’ll want to use a toner to balance pH levels. “A toner can remove the last traces of impurities and also balance the skin’s pH,” Dr. Chimento states. “Paula’s Choice Skin-balancing Pore Reducing Toner works to minimize the appearance of pores by using niacinamide to clear existing bacteria and sebum.”

Antioxidant Serum (AM)


Serums containing antioxidants are a crucial component of any skincare routine—not only effective when it comes to oily skin, but also to protect the skin and reduce the signs of aging. “Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum should be applied in the morning to neutralize free radicals and help with photo-aging and brightening the skin,” Dr. Chimento explains.

Retinol serum (PM)

Retinol not only helps with skin irritation caused during the day, but it can also make pores tighter. “Riverchase Dermatology’s Retinol Smoothing Serum 10x increases cellular turnover, diminishes the appearance of hyperpigmentation, and help smooth texture,” says Dr. Chimento.

Related: Intimidated by Retinol? These 10 Retinol Creams Are a Great Way to Ease Yourself In

 Lightweight moisturizer (AM/PM)

A lightweight, oil-free moisturizer like Cetaphil’s Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid, works to keep skin hydrated throughout the day but not clog pores. “It is imperative to keep even oily skin hydrated so it does not overproduce oil, Dr. Chimento states. “A lightweight moisturizer does just that”

Sunscreen (AM)

EltaMD makes a mineral sunscreen great for oily skin called the UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. “This sunscreen also contains niacinamide and lactic acid to keep excessive oil production and acne at bay,” says Dr. Chimento.

Clay mask (weekly)

Skinceuticals makes a Clarifying Clay Mask for Acne-Prone Skin that can be used once a week to decongest pores. “It includes acids to slough off dead skin cells and natural earth clay that draws out and absorbs oil from pores,” Dr. Chimento explains.

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