*This post may contain affiliate links. You can read our Affiliate Policy here.
oily skin must haves
Because your skin reacts negatively to so many products, creating a skin care routine for oily skin involves a lot of research into an endless sea of complex ingredients.
Creating a routine for any skin type without proper research is like taking potluck with your skin. But, trying to choose the best skin care products for oily skin —especially if you suffer from acne, can feel a bit like a minefield!
But, it doesn't have to. Because we've done the work for you. Here's a list of products that you can safely add to your regime to help control excess oil, deep cleanse your pores and hydrate your skin.
You can jump straight to the product you need from the list below:
the best products for oily, acne-prone skin
1. EXFOLIATION FOR OILY SKIN
Regular exfoliation is a skin care foundation for oily and acne-prone skin. AHA and BHA are a must!
Benefits of AHA:
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugars in particular plants and fruit. It is suitable for oily and dry skin types, and also damaged and mature skin.
EXFOLIATION: Resurfaces, smooths and brightens by sloughing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
ANTI-AGING: Has a regenerative effect —meaning it speeds up cell renewal and stimulates collagen production.
HYDRATING: It’s a hydrophilic (water-loving) molecule, which gives it humectant properties. This means it attracts and retains water (think Hyaluronic Acid!) giving it a unique ability to hold moisture in the deeper layers of your skin.
WRINKLES: This extra boost of collagen and hydration plumps the skin reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Facetheory Clarifying Cleanser will exfoliate your skin without stripping it. This is one of my favourite cleansers that I use three or four times a week, suitable for all skin types, especially oily and acne-prone. Check out my full review here.
An AHA/BHA resurfacing cleansing cream specially formulated for oily and congested skin. A powerful trifecta of alpha and beta hydroxy acids clarify and purify the skin while gently exfoliating. It can also be used as a glycolic face peel.
Benefits of BHA:
Salicylic acid is a Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA) derived from willow bark. It is commonly used to treat oily and acne-prone skin.
UNCLOGS PORES: Unlike AHA, this exfoliating acid is lipophilic (oil-loving), which means it dissolves pore-clogging oil and debris that cause blackheads and breakouts.
DEEP CLEANSING: Is the smallest acid in molecular size and weight, giving it the unique ability to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. Studies show BHA to have an extremely deep cleansing effect for acne-prone skin.
ANTIBACTERIAL: Kills acne causing bacteria.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY: Helps to heal and calm inflammatory skin conditions.
BALANCING: BHA can help to control excess oil production.
2. BEST TONER FOR OILY SKIN
Toner is an important step in your skincare routine as it can improve your skin by;
CLEANSING: Removes excess cleanser, grease and dirt from pores.
HYDRATING: Toners can contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe vera.
EXFOLIATING: Some toners contain exfoliating acids like glycolic acid and salicylic acid that help clear up blackheads and balance excess oil production.
PORE MINIMISING: Toners that contain natural astringents like witch hazel have skin and pore tightening effects.
pH BALANCING: An alteration in the pH levels of skin is one of the main causes of acne. The optimal pH value for skin is around 5.5 in order to fight off bacterial and fungal infections. Bad face wash and also tap water can raise the pH of your skin, so it’s helpful to use a balancing toner in your daily routine.
*Look for 'alcohol-free' formulas. Most toners contain high levels of harsh alcohols that strip your skin of its natural oils damaging the skin barrier and leading to dehydration. This also confuses your skin into producing even more oil.
These are two of my favourite Clean Beauty toners that I use regularly and recommend to my clients because of the clean ingredient list. They are the best products for oily skin and large pores:
This toner has a unique blend of witch hazel to tighten pores, aloe vera to hydrate, and rose water to calm and soften your skin. Thayers certified organic witch hazel is grown exclusively on a family farm in Fairfield County, Connecticut. This toner suits all skin types, especially oily.
Infused with AHA, BHA, PHA, tea tree and witch hazel this toner gently exfoliates the skin leaving it clear and glowing. AHAs remove dead skin cells and improve skin cell turnover, BHA remove impurities built up in pores, and PHA prevents moisture loss protecting the skin barrier. It helps to control oil production preventing clogged pores.
3. SERUM FOR OILY SKIN
All skin types can suffer from dehydration, including oily ones. Therefore, a good quality hydrating serum is just as important to a skin care routine for oily skin, as it is for dry ones!
Humectants are very common ingredients used in serums to hydrate the skin. Scientifically known as hydrophilic (water-loving), humectants hydrate the skin by attracting water like a magnet. Some, like hyaluronic acid (HA) can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!
Hyaluronic acid has some pretty impressive and proven anti-aging benefits. It is known to instantly hydrate the deeper layers of your skin which has a plumping effect on your face, smoothing fine lines and deep wrinkles, improving the overall health of your skin.
Find out more about hyaluronic acid here.
LOOK FOR THESE HUMECTANTS IN A SERUM;
AVOID THESE ONES;
My number one pick due to the fact that it is affordable and contains all three forms of hyaluronic acid. This 98% natural serum is suitable for dry and sensitive skin types thanks to Aloe vera, Chamomile water and Yarrow which soothe sore, irritated skin while also reducing redness.
The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Microneedling
A step-by-step guide for beginners looking for the best treatment for hyperpigmentation, melasma, acne scars and sun damage. Microneedling is an at-home treatment proven in studies to reduce pigmentation marks, stimulate collagen synthesis, and improve the overall health of your skin.
4. BEST OIL FOR OILY SKIN
If you suffer from acne you might think that oil-free products are the best option for your skin. But, not all oils are pore-clogging.
We now have more and more evidence that plant oils high in certain essential fatty acids —linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) can dramatically improve the condition of acne-prone skin.
This is because these skin types have an imbalance of essential fatty acids in their physiological makeup. Which means they have less linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, and too much oleic acid (omega-9).
This imbalance makes the sebum thick and sticky, blocking pores and causing acne. It also causes excess oil production.
NON COMEDOGENIC FACIAL OILS TO HELP BALANCE YOUR SKIN:
Hemp Seed Oil
Prickly Pear Seed Oil
Apricot seed oil
Evening Primrose Oil
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Rosehip Seed Oil
Walnut seed oil
Wheat germ oil
AVOID THESE COMEDOGENIC OILS:
Brazil Nut Oil
Camellia Seed Oil
Sweet Almond Oil
Shea Nut Oil
Buriti Fruit Oil
Apricot Kernel Oil
Macadamia Nut Oil
Sea Buckthorn Oil
100% pure, organic prickly pear seed oil is packed full of antioxidants including polyphenols and phytosterols to protect from free radicals and environmental stressors helping to prevent premature skin cell ageing and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Prickly pear seed oil is a powerful emollient and very effective at preventing moisture loss and balancing excess oil production. It's also soothes and calms redness and irritation.
5. BEST MOISTURIZER FOR OILY SKIN
Moisturiser can be hazardous if you have an oily skin type due to the fact that they contain emollients, which tend to be highly comedogenic (pore-clogging).
But, your skin still needs emollients! Some create a barrier on top of the skin sealing in moisture and preventing water loss (occlusives), while others attract and hold moisture within the skin (humectants).
The key to finding the best moisturiser for oily skin is to choose non comedogenic emollients. This type of moisturiser will prevent your skin from becoming dehydrated while nourishing, moisturising and repairing your skin.
Look for these ingredients in your moisturiser:
Evening Primrose Oil
Rosehip Seed Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Coconut Fatty Acids
AVOID THESE ONES:
Clean beauty picks: Best moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin
A lightweight lotion for oil-control, hydration and protection from pollution. This is my number one moisturiser for oily and combination skin because its a weightless, refined texture contains hyaluronic acid to help with collagen production for younger looking skin.
One of the best night cream for oily skin, this cream is formulated with a complex blend of peptides, echinacea, vitamins and hyaluronic acid that hydrate and regenerate the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Works to neutralise the effects of pollution by detoxing the skin and improving skin texture for a more radiant and youthful appearance.
Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Aug 26;8:455-61. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S84765. PMID: 26347269; PMCID: PMC4554394.
Lee YJ, Kim HT, Lee WJ, Chang SE, Lee MW, Choi JH, Won CH. Anti-aging and hydration efficacy of a cross-linked hyaluronic acid microstructure patch. Dermatol Ther. 2019 May;32(3):e12888. doi: 10.1111/dth.12888. Epub 2019 Apr 17. Erratum in: Dermatol Ther. 2019 Sep;32(5):e13068. PMID: 30942947.
Lodén M. Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(11):771-88. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200304110-00005. PMID: 14572299.
Masaki H. Role of antioxidants in the skin: anti-aging effects. J Dermatol Sci. 2010 May;58(2):85-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Mar 17. PMID: 20399614.