Caring for Oily Skin

Published in: Beauty Tips, Skin Care

Caring for oily skin

It’s ironic how something so valuable — oil — can be such a nuisance sometimes. I have combination dry/oily skin now, but in my early-20s it was more oily than dry. Halfway through the day my skin would look shinier than Mr. Clean’s bald head!


Flash forward to 2009. Now, I have the worst best of both worlds, LOL! One week I’ll be wrestling with dry skin, and the next it’s a struggle against oil.

If you’re trying to deal with oily skin, keep your chin up. There’s a silver lining, albeit an oily one. They say oily skin tends to age better, with less dryness and fewer wrinkles over time. 🙂

Caring for oily skin

  1. One challenge with oily skin is avoiding the urge to over-cleanse, which can confuse the heck out of skin, making it either crank up the oil production or swing between oily and excessively dry. Experts recommend avoiding alcohol-based cleansers, which can strip the skin. Instead, reach for gel cleaners and wash no more than twice a day. I may also use a gentle exfoliating product, but not more than once a week.
  2. Even though moisturizer might seem like the last thing oily skin needs, think twice about skipping it. Oily skin gets thirsty, too. Don’t forget to moisturize your neck and decollete, as these areas show the first signs of aging. When my skin was uber-oily a few years ago, I liked light oil-free moisturizers without rich mineral oils and cocoa butter.
  3. I’ve always been pretty good about wearing sunscreen, but many are oil-based and can worsen oily skin. I opt for non-greasy, broad spectrum sunscreens with a minimum SPF 15.
  4. When my skin’s all about the oil, I reach for oil-free makeup, particularly foundations and powder. I like to use a makeup primer under my foundation, and if I’m using a cream blush, then I’ll top them off with a similar shade of powder blush. Same goes for my eyeshadows, too.
  5. When I get breakouts with oily skin, I’ll use cleansers and toners with salicylic acid. My skin tolerates SA better than any other topical acne treatment.

Oily skin can still be dehydrated


Some oily skin products to consider

Over the years I’ve tried gazillions of products for oily skin. Here are some of my favorites.


  1. Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash, $5
  2. Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, $30
  3. Clean and Clear In-Shower Facial, $7


  1. Dermalogica Active Moist, $35
  2. DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew, $38
  3. Oil of Olay Complete UV Protective Moisture SPF, $10

Salicylic acid products

  1. Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion, $11
  2. Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, $7
  3. My Blend Accelerated Acne Antidote, $75


  1. MAC Blot Powder Pressed Powder, $21
  2. Shiseido Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Paper, $17
  3. Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer, $42

Oily-skinned ladies, would you care to share your favorite treatments or products? Help your oil-slicked homies out!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Caring for Dry Skin, 18 MAC to School Makeup Tips and 10 Fantastic Smokey Eye Tutorials.

P.P.S. If you’re new here, thank you for visiting. Makeup and Beauty Blog is a makeup blog with daily product reviews, beauty tips, giveaways and the random shenanigans of a crazy cat lady/makeup enthusiast named Karen (that’s me!). 🙂


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So far, 31 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. p. potter says:

    I love Dermalogica products, they’re definitely worth the investment.

    The best thing are oil blotting sheets–but Clean & Clear charges an arm and a leg for a small pack. However, I’ve just recently found that my local Daiso (Japanese chain store) carries a packet of 100 oil-blotting sheets for $1.50. And it comes in a leopard package to boot!

    p. potter´s last blog post..pepperpotter: my walking sticks and hot dog grabbers are so sore right now.

  2. Sarahc says:

    Great article Karen. My skin is super oily and I hate it. I’m only 24 and still break out sometimes though. I think it’s par for the course at this age.

    When I drink a ton of water it helps keep my skin less oily. I know you wouldn’t think so because water is moisture but it does.

  3. Kate says:

    Have you tried using cleansers aimed at combination skin? I know Dove makes one. I have combo skin as well and I find that Aveeno cleansers work very well. You can’t just treat one condition at a time and that’s the tricky part of combo skin. I abstain from oily cosmetics completely as there’s no way I want to deal with oily skin. I’m very much addicted to Aveeno products since oats are incredibly good for the skin (“Wonderful, wonderful oats!” name the movie where that quote is from).

    When my skin and hair is oily, I feel as if OPEC is coming over to lay claim to my skin and hair for oil production. I, thankfully, haven’t had that problem since switching to Aveeno cleansers.

  4. Audrey says:

    I was a victim of adult acne… yep, from age 21-30, I had horrible skin that was always super oily. I lived off those blotting sheets and would use 2 at a time.

    Another thing that I liked was Lancone’s mattifying gel which I thought worked the best compared to similar products. It has the same feeling as those Smashbox primers.

    I’ve since gone on Accutane and wow does that stuff work wonders. (But I would only recommend for serious face conditions.)

    Audrey´s last blog post..Product Review: Urban Decay Deluxe Shadow Box

  5. Catherine says:

    I used to have a big problem with oily yet dry skin where I’d be totally shiny ~3 hours after washing my face in the morning but since I changed up my routine last April, my skin has totally changed! It took a long time to figure out though, since I’m allergic to lots of things as well, but I’m so much happier now that I’ve found my HG routine.

    I wash my face with hand-poured, cold-process soap, then tone with Ole Henriksen’s Pick Me Up Tonic and moisturize with a mixture of 1/2 jojoba oil and 1/2 olive squalane. It’s done WONDERS for my skin. I love the soap (from soapalayasoaps on because it really doesn’t leave anything on my skin. I used to use products from Biore and Neutrogena and I’d get a black residue on my toner cotton pad, but this soap leaves absolutely nothing, AND doesn’t strip my face. I like the toner for dealing with the few acne scars I get every once in a while. The moisturizer is the star though. My skin isn’t nearly as dry or oily as it once was. My nose got flaky for all of two days this winter and I’m no longer very oily at all! If I remember to blot my face ~4-5pm, I won’t even need to use a whole sheet anymore whereas before I was going through 2-3 a day. 😀

  6. Candice says:

    DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew, is the cat’s meow. I was undergoing super duper treatments for adult acne and my derm recommended this and it was like putting some magical soothing lotion on my face. Amazing.

  7. Karen says:

    Hi P. Potter,

    Yes, I agree. Have you tried their Microfoliant? It’s heaven in a jar.

    That leopard-spotted pack of blotters sounds RAD. I want, I want!

  8. Karen says:

    Hi Sarac,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

    Super oily skin can be such a pain, can’t it? Maybe your skin will change and become less oily as you get older. I didn’t expect that to happen with me, but it did. 🙂

  9. Karen says:

    Hi Kate,

    Oh, ya got me! What movie is that quote from?

    I haven’t tried combo cleansers — I usually end up going for the dry skin ones. That’s a good idea, though. I’ll probably try a few when the weather gets warmer, which is when my skin feels less dry. I’ll look for the Aveeno one. 🙂

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Audrey,

    Thank you for your recommendation. I will have to try that on my forehead (aka the oily no-man’s land).

    My skin went NUTS when I was 19, and I did a round of Accutane. It worked wonders for me, too.

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks for sharing your routine. The toner looks promising, so I’ll put it on my list.

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Candice,

    I agree! Finding it was like finding *gold*. I can’t even begin to count how many bottles I went through when my skin was at the height of its oiliness.

  13. Kate says:


    The oats quote is from the movie Black Beauty. It’s the scene where Beauty is getting his first pair of horseshoes and the owner is giving him oats.

  14. Amber says:

    Ponds Cold Cream. No lie. I have been IPLed, lasered, peeled, you name it — cleaning with cold cream every day has *drastically* reduced my oiliness.

    I have tried a lot of expensive primers and mattifiers, and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunblock works as well as any of them. I also keep Boscia blotting linens on hand, because sheet for sheet, they are one of the best values in blotting sheets.

  15. Kell says:

    Thanks for sharing. I am almost 40 and still dealing with an oil-slick face. I have yet to find foundation and primer that delivers. So, I’ll try what you recommend. I do use MAC Blotting powder, but not necessarily as foundation. I also carry Clean ‘n Clear Blotting papers with me and use it a lot trhoughout the day. The only product that works to keep my makeup from disappering because of my oil-problem is eyeshadow primers, specifically Too Faced Insurance and UDPP. Without these, I would not be able to enjoy powder eyeshadows. And because of these, I am now a MAC addict and have almost all their eyeshadows. Thank you for the product recommendations for oily skin. I was curious about Dermalogica, and might try it. Hey, why not, it really is all about trial and error anyway.

  16. Greta says:

    Hi Girls,

    My name is Greta and I am enjoying the blog from Switzerland. I have had oily-combination skin forever.Over the years I have tried many products. None has worked.
    I was recommended Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil after my firs Clarins facial. I use the oil instead of a night cream. It not only normalizes sebaceous secretions, nourishes the skin too, it tightens the pores and it is extremly good for pimples and blackheads. My skin is oil free in the morning. The other products I can not live without is Clarins Cleansing Milk with Gentian and The Toning Lotion with Iris( alcohol-free)for Combination or Oily skin. Problem is solved, I am happy.

  17. Ve says:

    I have very oily skin which is also acne prone even at 28! I finally buckled down and did the proactiv 3 step system and not only is my acne now under control ( I hardly have those monthly breakouts!), an added bonus is that it has taken me from an oily face to a normal face! And whenever I start to feel like the shine and oil are coming back (usually in the evening), I just use the repairing lotion and it mattifies the skin instantly. It has really helped, though it kind be pricey.

  18. Kate says:

    Ha ha, I only remember it because I own the movie on DVD.

  19. Nadrah says:

    Thanks for these tips Karen!

  20. pietra says:

    Amber–I have just spent a week recovering from a nasty chemical burn courtesy of Neutrogena Dry-Touch Sunblock. I used it twice and loved the way it made my skin look… until it made my skin look red, flaky, and dry. So sad!

  21. Dao says:

    Hi Karen,

    Finally, something clicked inside of me. My skin is much clearer than usual and I am very happy! My favorite oily skincare products are:

    1. Olay Complete moisturizer: it’s the “just-enough” moisturizer for me.
    2. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser: it calms my skin a whole lot ever since I started using it.
    3. Neutrogena 3-in-1 anti acne lotion (the one in a green tube): it’s a lot better and cheaper than the stuff from Clinique.

    Dao´s last blog post..A Sale Announcement and an Update

  22. Bravadora says:

    I too love the Dermalogica products. They are great for lots of skin types. Have you checked out Mario Badescu? They have some great products for oily skin. I’ve done an online skin analysis and then they send you samples. Also, I love the tinted moisturizer by Laura Mercier, but I generally use this in the winter when my skin is dryer. I use Bare Escentials during summer when my skin is oilier and it helps to absorb the excess oil.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bravadora,

      I haven’t tried Mario Badescu — I’ve wanted to but just haven’t gotten around to it. I have a friend who swears by the drying lotion.

      Isn’t the LM Tinted Moisturizer the best? Do you use the oil-free Primer as well?

  23. Tanya says:

    My #1 tool for combating shine during the day are….wait for it….STARBUCKS NAPKINS. I’ve tried other blotting sheets over and over but ‘Bucks napkins are a million times better. Why? I have no idea. For one, they’re free 😀 I just grab a handful when I pick up a vanilla latte. I throw some in my purse, in my glove compartment in my car, and in my desk at work. I just tear off a square whenever I feel some shine. Call me crazy if you want, but, believe me, they WORK!

    Tanya´s last blog post..Taupe Tuesdays (Better Late Than Never)! – Cargo Yukon

  24. julianna says:

    I´ve a problem: oily and dehydrated skin (is different to combination skin type), because the dehydration and the oil is in my whole face, so I started to search and I found The Korres Yoghurt Regimen at Sephora and it really works! Now my skin feels and looks better.

    I´ve tried everything and only that regimen help me. I found another brands but they are very expensive for me and this is more affordable.

  25. Ketty says:

    Hi karen , I am 23 .my skin is super oily, & when I sit in AC room I get more sweat & oiliness on my face comparatively. I’ve consulted to the doctor he said it is due to hormonal changes. he has given some tablets but are of no use.
    what do you think ?

  26. Cherry says:

    Hi Karen. I am 39 have oily skin and acne. My problem is I’m worried about wrinkles and I don’t know what to use to stop getting wrinkles without causing more breakouts is there a product for oily acne aging skin. Because all the wrinkle products I’ve tried are greasy and cause more acne. Please help

  27. Muthoni says:

    I have extremely oily skin and acne prone. So all my products have to be oil free, non comedogenic, and for sensitive skin.

    I’ve tried several mattifier’s at sephora and the best one is peter thomas roth mattifying gel ($35). Its a small bottle and the gel is thick, so a little goes a loooong way, My bottle lasts at least 3 months. Just take a LITTLE and rub it in your fingers for 3 seconds to warm it up, then press it in your oily areas. It instantly mattifies, makes you pores much smaller and lasts most of the day.

    Best oil blotting sheets are from Shiseido ($18). I’ve tried clean and clear for years but i used at least 4 sheets at a time. But i only need to use one with Shiseido because its lightly powdered with oil absorbing clay powders. Goes well over makeup, no white residue at all, its perfect. Ill never switch blotting shets!

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