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How to develop the ideal skincare routine for oily-prone skin

Take a look at some of the best ingredients and an example of a skincare routine that can help you manage your oily-prone skin.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
Person with oily skin
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
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.

In this article

Why is my skin so oily?
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The battle against oily skin may seem endless, but when armed with the right ingredients, you can get your excess oil production under control. So where do you even begin?

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the top scientifically backed ingredients that may help combat oily skin. That way, you can develop a skincare routine to help reduce excess sebum!

Why is my skin so oily?

While the exact cause of oily skin is not fully understood, several factors may contribute to its development. One major player is the overproduction of sebum (oil) by enlarged sebaceous glands on your skin.¹ Hormones, specifically one called 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), can influence the growth and activity of these sebaceous glands—ultimately increasing sebum production. Changes in hormone levels, like the ones that can occur during puberty, are linked to the emergence of oily skin.²

Genetics may also contribute to oily skin.³ Environmental factors, like humidity, can contribute to oily skin as well.⁴ 

Although oily skin may develop for a number of reasons, recognizing these factors can help you to manage and treat the condition more effectively.

Finding the right products for oily skin

When selecting the right products for oily skin, the key is to look for ingredients that have been scientifically supported to help reduce oil production.

Research-backed key ingredients include:

Salicylic acid: This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) is a star player for helping manage oiliness. Not only does it help reduce the secretion of sebum, but it also clears out pore-clogging impurities. Look for products containing salicylic acid to help keep excess oil at bay.⁵

Niacinamide: A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide can help with managing oil production. Research has demonstrated that using products with 2% niacinamide can lower sebum excretion rates, potentially leading to a more balanced complexion.⁶

Clay: Clays like smectites and kaolin minerals have remarkable properties that can make them ideal for oily skin. They absorb excess oils, toxins, and contaminants from your skin, leaving it with a fresh and clean feel. These clays also assist in healing blemishes, making them a sought-after ingredient in many skincare products.⁷

Retinoids: These vitamin A derivatives interact with specific receptors in your skin, triggering actions that can help suppress sebum production. They're also known to minimize the appearance of facial pores.⁸

Green tea extract: Green tea is a promising cosmeceutical ingredient. Small studies have shown reduced sebum production after using products with green tea extract. So incorporating such products into your skincare routine may be particularly beneficial for managing oily skin.⁹

Witch hazel: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel acts as a natural astringent, gently removing excess oil from the skin’s surface. It’s a botanical option that can help keep your skin’s oiliness in check.¹⁰

Before diving into any new skincare routine, patch test new products to ensure your skin reacts positively to their ingredients. It’s also wise to seek personalized advice from a dermatology provider. They can offer tailored recommendations based on your unique skin needs, ensuring your journey toward a balanced complexion is smooth and effective.

Daily three-step routine for oily skin 

Maintaining a daily skincare routine tailored to oily skin is important for effective management. And it doesn’t have to be complicated! Follow this simple three-step routine to help keep your skin balanced and glowing:

Cleanse

Start your day and wind down your evening with a mild cleanser. Look for a product that can remove dirt and excess oil without depriving your skin of its natural moisture. Cleansing twice daily—morning and night—helps keep your skin refreshed. Consider the Curology cleanser for a gentle yet effective option. Optionally, you can use a toner with witch hazel after cleansing to help remove excess oil on the surface of the skin.¹¹ Be sure to use an alcohol-free toner. 

Treat

At night, use a product with active ingredients to target your specific skin concerns, such as excess oiliness. Products with over-the-counter ingredients such as salicylic acid may be beneficial, but if that’s not cutting it, a dermatology provider can prescribe other ingredients, such as topical retinoids like tretinoin. Your Curology dermatology provider can even prescribe a blend of beneficial active ingredients, each selected for your unique skin, in a Custom Formulaᴿˣ.

Moisturize

Hydration is vital, even for oily skin. Seek oil-free and non-comedogenic moisturizers that provide hydration without blocking your pores. Consider moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid, such as the Curology moisturizer, for ample hydration without adding extra oil.¹² 

Protect

Sunscreen is an important part of every skincare routine! Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 in the morning, and reapply as needed throughout the day (in general, every 2 hours).

Remember, personalized care matters. To make the most of your routine, consult a dermatology provider. They can offer tailored advice based on your skin needs, providing tips to ensure your daily regimen promotes a healthy, balanced complexion.

Taking care of oily skin

To effectively care for oily skin, adopt a holistic approach. 

Begin by establishing a routine that involves gentle face cleansing in the morning, evening, and post-exercise, being mindful to avoid vigorous scrubbing that could lead to skin irritation.¹³ When selecting skincare products, prioritize those labeled "oil-free" and "noncomedogenic" to help prevent the possibility of clogged pores and acne breakouts.¹⁴ Opt for a gentle face wash, like Curology’s Gentle Cleanser.

Hydration is essential, so make it a habit of applying moisturizer daily to maintain your skin’s moisture balance. For added protection, especially when spending time outdoors, choose sunscreen products with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. If makeup is part of your routine, choose oil-free, water-based options. Before retiring for the night, make sure to gently cleanse your face well.¹⁵

During the day, you can manage excess oil by using blotting papers and gently pressing them against your face without rubbing. Equally important is to minimize touching your face throughout the day to prevent transferring dirt, oil, and bacteria from your hands.¹⁶ 

Adhering to these guidelines can contribute to a more balanced and healthy care routine for your oily skin.

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Regain control over your skin with Curology! Our personalized skincare solutions are designed to address your specific needs. By using our skincare products, we can help you achieve a healthier, more balanced complexion. 

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FAQs

How do I develop a skincare routine for oily skin?

Developing an effective skincare routine for oily skin may involve using products that manage oil without over-drying. Begin with a gentle cleanser, then consider using a toner to help remove excess oil. At night, treat your skin with targeted ingredients with Curology’s Custom FormulaRx.

Hydrate your skin with a moisturizer, and during the day, follow with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Monitor your skin’s response and adjust your routine accordingly. For personalized advice, consult a dermatology provider to create a custom routine for your needs.

What are three tips for oily skin?

Based on recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), here are three tips for managing oily skin:¹⁷

1. Establish a consistent cleansing routine: Wash your face every morning, evening, and post-exercise using a gentle face wash. It’s important to avoid harsh cleansers and excessive scrubbing, which can trigger more oil production.

2. Be selective with your products: Choose skincare products labeled “oil-free” and “noncomedogenic,” apply a daily moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher, and use oil-free, water-based makeup. If wearing makeup, always remember to remove it before bedtime.

3. Practice good skin hygiene: Use blotting papers to absorb excess oil daily, pressing gently without rubbing. Avoid touching your face unless your hands are clean and you’re applying skincare or makeup.

Always consult a dermatology provider if you have any questions or concerns regarding your skin.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework, so you don’t have to:

1. Sakuma, TH. and Maibach, HI. Oily skin: an overview. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. (2012)

2. Endly, DC. and Miller, RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (August, 2017)

3. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Oily Skin. (n.d)

4. Endly, DC. and Miller, RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (Ibid.)

5. Arif, T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. (2015, August 26)

6. Endly, DC. and Miller, RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (Ibid.)

7. Williams, LB. and Haydel, SE. Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents. Int Geol Rev. (2010, July 1)

8. Endly, DC. and Miller, RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (August, 2017)

9. Endly, DC. and Miller, RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (August, 2017)

10. Rodan, K., et al.Efficacy of a twice-daily, 3-step, over-the-counter skincare regimen for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. (2017, January 4)

11. Rodan, K., et al.Efficacy of a twice-daily, 3-step, over-the-counter skincare regimen for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. (Ibid.)

12. Jegasothy, SM., et al. Efficacy of a New Topical Nano-hyaluronic Acid in Humans. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (March, 2014)

13. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Oily Skin. (n.d)

14. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Oily Skin. (n.d)

15. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Oily Skin. (n.d)

16. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Oily Skin. (n.d)

17. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Oily Skin. (n.d)

Jessica Lee is a certified Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She received her Master in Nursing from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary. 

• • •
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

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Jessica Mefford, NP

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