How to Get Rid of Oily Skin

Written by Michelle Rostamian — September 19, 2016

How to Get Rid of Oily Skin

Shine is a goal for many steps of our beauty routine (think: lustrous locks and glowing nails), but shine on the face? Not so much. Don’t get us wrong, a cunning highlight applied on the highest points of the cheekbones can add an element of youthfulness to any look (strobing, anyone?), but a greasy T-Zone can wreak havoc on the makeup you worked so hard to achieve. Sure, it’s nothing a few blotting sheets and oil-absorbing mattifiers can’t fix, but if you’re the owner of acne-prone skin, you know the frustrations that often arise from one too many midday grease-downs—blemishes being one of them. To help you navigate your oily skin woes (and reduce your risk of sporting acne-prone skin), we’ve rounded up six grease-busting tips below.

Keep scrolling to learn how to keep your shiny skin at bay.

Woman without oily skin

Why is My Face So Oily?

Oil can take up real estate anywhere on your skin, but the sebaceous glands responsible for over-producing oil tend to group together in certain parts of the face—hence why the T-Zone (the center of the face made up of the forehead, nose, and chin area) is a common target. That said, it’s important to know the cause of your oily face so you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Everything from seasonal conditions like humidity to hormonal imbalances around your menstrual cycle can contribute to slick skin, as can pore-clogging ingredients in beauty products and underlying skin conditions like rosacea. Oily skin can also be a result of genetics, and though this can’t be altered, there are steps you can take to regain control of your complexion.


How to Reduce Oily Skin

From revamping your skincare routine to switching up your diet, here are six tips for combatting the grease.


1. Use The Right Facial Cleanser

While stripping away the bulk of your skin’s oils will (temporarily) relieve you of blotting sheets, clearing your skin of all oil can leave you feeling dehydrated. Not to mention, this can cause your skin to overcompensate for the loss by producing more oil than what you started with. For this reason, steer clear from harsh, drying cleanser formulas that contain oil-stripping ingredients like alcohol, sodium and ammonium lauryl sulfate, and added fragrance.

Because many people with oily skin also tend to be acne-prone, opt for a mild cleanser that has a low amount of salicylic acid (2% is recommended to begin with)—this will help soak up excess oil without making the skin feel overly dry and will also give a matte finish while fending off pimples.

Woman using toner for oily skin

2. Tone Your Skin Daily

After removing excess sebum with an oily skin-friendly cleanser, try incorporating a toner into your daily routine. Unlike the ultra-drying, alcohol-laden toners of the past, the benefits of modern toners are threefold: they balance the skin’s pH post-cleansing, provide further cleansing on full makeup days, and contain antibacterial agents that can remove surface impurities and prevent breakouts. Those with oily skin tend to have larger-looking pores, so look for toners that list AHA’s (lactic or glycolic acid) as their MVP’s. These ingredients can help tighten skin, exfoliate dead skin cells, and keep your pores clear. Many toners come in spray form for easy application and should be applied both A.M. and P.M. after cleansing.


3. Don’t Skip Moisturizing Products

It may seem counterintuitive, but skimping on moisturizing products for fear of it exacerbating your greasiness can actually backfire and cause your sebaceous glands to go into overdrive. In fact, skin that’s oily doesn’t necessarily mean skin that’s hydrated. The key to ensuring you don’t end up with a slippery surface? Choosing products with the right formula. Look for lightweight serums that contain hyaluronic acid, balances sebum and water. 


4. Consider a Clay Mask

Clay masks work by drawing out excess oil from your pores. Many formulations are designed to help with other skin conditions that this skin type often experiences such as acne breakouts, enlarged pores, and blackheads. That said, not all clay masks are made equal. Look for a face mask that contains bentonite or green clay (versus kaolin), as these types can better absorb onto oily skin. Since clay masks tend to be drying, be sure to replenish your hydration levels by moisturizing afterward—this will ensure your skin looks fresh, hydrated, and oil-free.


Healthy food can be an oily skin treatment


5. Address Your Diet

While consuming oily foods doesn’t cause oily skin, indulging in sugar and dairy can. That’s because such foods can lead to a rise in insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which, when at its peak, can cause an overproduction of sebum. Alcohol is also a culprit for the same reasons listed above: it’s dehydrating and signals sebum production. If you’re really dedicated to looking for solutions, try swapping your happy hour cocktail with sparkling water and lime and switch to dairy-free alternatives.


6. Use Blotting Papers

Using a gentle cleanser in the morning and evening is a great way to get rid of excess oil. But what can you do between washes to prevent your afternoon grease? While dusting your skin with a mattifying powder is an option, this comes with its own set of drawbacks while you’re on the go (a dirty applicator, inconvenient packaging). Instead, carry a pack of blotting papers (sometimes called rice paper) with you for on-the-go touch-ups. These small sheets resemble tissue paper and work by absorbing oil and sweat without disrupting your makeup.


Starting A Healthy Routine To Prevent Oily Skin

Taken together, these six suggestions work together to form an effective daily routine that fights oiliness. A routine that includes an oily-skin friendly face wash, toner, and moisturizer in the morning is a great first step at combatting shine. Combine your regimen with a healthy diet and blotting papers throughout the day. And, finally, cleanse, tone, and moisturize again before bed. With this oil-fighting regimen, you can regain control of your complexion and find the smooth, glowing (not greasy) skin you want.



While you won’t be able to alter the type of skin you have, being on the right side of “glowing” is completely doable, no matter how difficult of a feat it may seem. If you're really struggling, your dermatologist may be able to give you insight on how to slow down oil production. And remember, this skin type is said to fend off fine lines and wrinkles better than dry skin, and skin naturally gets dryer as we age. Until then, follow these tips to make your oily skin a little more manageable.