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How to choose face wash for men with oily skin

Curology’s dermatology experts share their advice for managing oily skin with the right cleanser

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 20, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Laura Phelan, NP-C
Washing Oily Face
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 20, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Laura Phelan, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Oily skin is a source of frustration for many men. It can feel like a never-ending battle when you’re constantly combating excess oil, clogged pores, and breakouts that refuse to go away. The right face wash can be a powerful ally in the fight against oily skin, leaving oily and sensitive skin refreshed and balanced.

Here, Curology’s licensed dermatology providers will dive into the realm of face washes tailored specifically for men with oily skin to better equip you with the knowledge needed to make an informed choice that aligns with your skin’s unique needs. 

What causes oily skin?

The sebaceous glands found in the skin play a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. 

They are located all over the body, both in hair-covered and hairless areas, but are most prevalent on the face, upper chest, and back. The primary role of these glands is to secrete sebum, a substance similar to oil that protects the skin from external factors and prevents excessive water loss.¹

The production of sebum is influenced by various receptors, found in the sebaceous gland. These receptors act like switches that can be turned on to increase sebum production. An example of substances that turn the sebum switch on include substance P and corticotrophin-releasing hormone, which are associated with stress. Meaning: When stress levels increase, the sebaceous glands may produce excess sebum.²

The amount of sebum produced by different people can vary significantly. In addition to stress, there are several factors that have been identified and can help explain why some individuals may have oilier skin compared to others. These factors include hormonal fluctuations, climate, race, and sex. Generally, men tend to have higher sebum production due to higher levels of testosterone, although women may experience increased sebum production during ovulation, which is likely influenced by higher progesterone levels.³

What are the effects of oily skin?

Pores are tiny openings on the surface of the skin that have a white-looking coating due to a substance called keratin. Research shows sebum production is correlated with enlarged pores. This suggests that larger pore size is associated with increased sebum output.⁴

Another effect of oily skin may be an increase in open comedones. An open comedone, or blackhead, is a clogged pore on the skin that is filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. It has a dark appearance that is black or brown in color.⁵

When counting the number of open comedones, one study demonstrated that the nose area had the highest count compared to other areas studied. Additionally, the nose had the highest amount of oil in the pore opening, showing a connection between oily skin and the formation of comedones.⁶

Notably, excess sebum contributes to the development of acne.⁷

How can face wash help with oily skin?

Face wash, commonly referred to as cleanser, is a product specifically designed for facial care, intended to remove makeup, dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and other pollutants from the skin. 

Types of face washes

Using a suitable face wash can help control oily skin by effectively removing excess oil and impurities, leaving the skin feeling clean and refreshed. Cream-based face washes offer both cleansing and moisturizing properties. Gel facial cleansers, on the other hand, help maintain pH balance and can work for those with easily irritated and sensitive skin.⁸

While we will cover cream and gel cleansers in this article, there are other types of face washes available. Finding the kind that works right for you may take some trial and error, but we will share some information below on two common types to guide you. 

Cream

Cream-based face washes not only clean the skin but also provide moisture. Typically, this type of facial cleanser has a thick and creamy texture that may be enriched with nourishing elements like botanical oils. It can effectively remove dirt, sweat, makeup, and bacteria from the skin. Cream cleansers can effectively eliminate impurities without excessively stripping away essential natural oils.⁹

Gel

Gel face washes are water-based and often include flower extracts and essential oils as ingredients. They are designed to help maintain the pH balance of the skin. Gel facial cleansers are usually recommended for people with sensitive, easily irritated, or itchy skin types. While these face washes can effectively remove excess oil, they do not tend to strip away all the good natural oils from the skin. For a deep cleansing experience, a gel facial cleanser can be a good choice. Its gentle formula can minimize skin irritation while thoroughly cleansing pores.¹⁰

Treat your skin to a personalized routine

Managing oily skin can be a challenge for some men, as it may cause shiny skin, clogged pores, and stubborn breakouts that can impact one’s confidence and self-esteem. However, selecting the right face wash to include in your skincare routine can be a helpful step in managing oily skin. There is a misconception that people with oily skin need to use a strong face wash in order to dry out their skin. However, using a face wash that is too harsh or drying may actually irritate your skin and trigger more oil production.¹⁴ Instead, incorporating a gentle face wash into your skincare routine may help control oily skin. If you feel your cleanser doesn’t cut the oiliness, you may consider trying a benzoyl peroxide cleanser such as the Curology Acne Cleanser. Unlike heavy-duty acne cleansers, our Acne Cleanser is formulated with a gentle strength of benzoyl peroxide to treat and help prevent acne while still being gentle on your skin. 

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Regular use of a proper face wash helps you to eliminate excess oil, unclog pores, and maintain a balanced and refreshed complexion. With the use of a gentle face wash, whether cream or gel based, you can regain control over oily skin and enjoy the benefits of smoother skin and a clearer and healthier appearance.

One of the significant advantages of using a face wash for oily skin is its ability to maintain a balanced and refreshed complexion. These products are often infused with ingredients that help regulate sebum production, preventing the skin from becoming excessively oily or dehydrated. By striking the delicate balance between controlling oiliness and providing hydration, a proper face wash helps restore the skin’s natural equilibrium, leaving it feeling refreshed, nourished, and revitalized.

Take control of your skincare routine, give your skin the care it deserves, and experience the difference that Curology can make in achieving a healthier, more radiant complexion. Visit our online shop to explore our range of products.

FAQs

Does face wash help oily skin?

Using a gentle cleanser can help control oily skin by effectively removing excess oil and impurities, leaving the skin feeling clean and refreshed.¹¹

How to stop oily skin?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, people with oily skin should cleanse their face every morning, evening, and after exercising. It’s also important to avoid the urge to vigorously scrub your face, especially if you have sensitive skin, as this can cause irritation and potentially worsen the appearance of your skin.¹²

Why is my skin so oily?

There are a few reasons some people have oilier skin than others. These factors include genetics, hormonal changes, climate, race, and gender. Typically, men have higher sebum production due to elevated testosterone levels, while women may experience increased sebum production during ovulation, potentially influenced by higher progesterone levels.¹³

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don't have to!

  1. Oyewole, A.O. and Birch-Machin, M.A. Sebum, inflammasomes and the skin: current concepts and future perspective. Experimental Dermatology. (2015, May 27). 

  2. Dreno, B. What is new in the pathophysiology of acne, an overview. The Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. (2017, August 14).

  3. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (2017, August 1).

  4. Roh, M., et al. Sebum output as a factor contributing to the size of facial pores. British Journal of Dermatology. (2006, November 1). 

  5. Maia Campos, P.M.B.G., et al. Use of Advanced Imaging Techniques for the Characterization of Oily Skin. Frontiers in Physiology. (2019, March 26).

  6. Maia Campos, P.M.B.G., et al. Use of Advanced Imaging Techniques for the Characterization of Oily Skin. Frontiers in Physiology. Ibid..

  7. Oge, L.K., et al. Acne Vulgaris: Diagnosis and Treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians. (2019, October 15).

  8. Jaseer, J.J., et al. Formulation and Evaluation of Liquid Based Face Wash. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Applications. (2022, April 28).

  9. Jaseer, J.J., et al. Formulation and Evaluation of Liquid Based Face Wash. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Applications. Ibid.

  10. Jaseer, J.J., et al. Formulation and Evaluation of Liquid Based Face Wash. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Applications. Ibid.

  11. Jaseer, J.J., et al. Formulation and Evaluation of Liquid Based Face Wash. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Applications. Ibid.

  12. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Control Oily Skin. (n.d.).

  13. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  14. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Control Oily SkinIbid.

Laura Phelan is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Benedictine University and went on to get her post-master’s certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Cincinnati.

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• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Image of Laura Phelan Nurse Practitioner

Laura Phelan, NP-C

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