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Skincare 101: Should I use face wipes for oily skin?

They may be convenient, but face wipes can have some downsides. Here’s what you should know.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Dec 29, 2023 • 12 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
Person Removing Face Wipe from Pack
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Dec 29, 2023 • 12 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
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

What causes oily skin?
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Summary

  • Oily skin is caused by excessive sebum production from sebaceous glands, especially in areas like your face and scalp. 

  • While face wipes provide convenience, they shouldn’t be the primary method for cleansing. Ingredients in face wipes can potentially irritate your skin or exacerbate oil production. It’s essential to scrutinize their ingredients list before use.

  • Some face wipes for oily skin contain beneficial ingredients like salicylic acidhyaluronic acidniacinamide, and L-carnitine. These can help regulate sebum production and hydrate your skin.

  • Our product recommendations include: Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes, Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes, and Blum Naturals Daily Combination/Oily Skin Towelettes, Tea Tree Oil.

  • There’s a broad range of treatments for oily skin, from topical applications like retinoids and cosmeceuticals to systemic therapies like isotretinoin and spironolactone. Advanced treatments such as botulinum toxin injections, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), and specific lasers can also be considered.

  • Every person’s skin is distinct, and while there’s an array of treatments available, it’s vital to find what’s most suitable for one’s unique skin type by speaking to a dermatology provider.

In the fast-paced world of skincare, convenience is essential! While we generally don’t recommend face wipes to our patients due to concerns about their potential irritation, we can understand their appeal in on-the-go scenarios.

If you have oily skin, choosing the right products is crucial. So, should face wipes be part of your arsenal if you have this skin type? 

Let’s look at the pros and cons to give you a clear picture!

Feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of skincare options? Discover the difference personalized skincare can make. Try Curology’s custom products and let your unique skin glow!

What causes oily skin?

Oily skin results from your sebaceous glands producing an excess of sebum, particularly in areas with a high concentration of these glands, such as your face, upper chest, and back.¹ This excess sebum can give your face a shiny or greasy appearance and is often associated with larger facial pores. If you have oily skin, you’re also more prone to acne due to the likelihood of your pores getting clogged by the surplus sebum.² 

Various factors might influence whether you have oily skin, including your genetics, race, gender, climate, and changes in your hormone levels.³

Washing your face with a good cleanser is a great way to ensure your pores stay clean, but what about using facial wipes?

The downside of using face wipes for oily skin

While face wipes can be a convenient solution for a quick cleanse, especially when you’re on the go, it’s essential to approach them with caution. We generally don’t recommend relying on them as your primary cleansing method because of their ingredients. Most facial wipes contain standard components that can trigger allergic reactions, including fragrance.⁴

On the bright side, facial wipes can be formulated with beneficial ingredients for oily skin. When chosen wisely, they can offer you some benefits!

Always check the ingredients if you decide to use face wipes, especially for oily skin. Ensure they don’t contain substances that might irritate your skin or increase your skin’s oil production. 

The benefits of face wipes

Some face wipes designed for oily skin contain beneficial ingredients like salicylic acid, L-carnitine, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients can potentially help regulate sebum production and control excess oils. 

Here’s a deeper dive into these ingredients:

  • Salicylic acidThis is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that can penetrate oily skin and exfoliate inside the pore. It’s especially effective for reducing acne as it helps clear the buildup of dead skin cells and sebum.⁵

  • Hyaluronic acidThough it’s renowned for its moisturizing properties, it’s equally adept at managing oily skin. One study indicated that it can help reduce the production of excess oil.⁶

  • NiacinamideAlso known as vitamin B3, niacinamide has multiple benefits. For people with oily skin concerns, it is known to help reduce the production of sebum.⁷ 

  • L-carnitine: This amino acid derivative aids in regulating sebum production. By doing so, it can help reduce the oiliness of your skin.⁸

Apart from the ingredients, it’s essential to opt for hypoallergenic and non-irritating face wipes, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Such skin types are more susceptible to irritation as their skin barrier might be compromised.⁹

Also, given that face wipes are often used on the go, it’s beneficial to choose brands with resealable packaging, ensuring that the wipes remain moist and effective.

Facial wipes can do more than just clean; some can help your skin absorb good ingredients better. Experts looked at special microfiber wipes that can better administer niacinamide to your skin. They found that these wipes added a good amount of niacinamide to the skin and cleansed it well by soaking up the skin’s extra oil. This shows that specific microfiber wipes can be especially beneficial for your skin.¹⁰

Face wipes for oily skin you may want to try

There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare. What works for one person may not necessarily have the same results for someone else. But it’s only natural to want the best, so our team of licensed dermatology providers reviews and assesses countless products on the market to offer product recommendations. So here, you’ll find the products that hold up to our rigorous standards.

If you’ve decided to try using face wipes because of their convenience, be sure to choose the right ones! Selecting the right face wipes is important when you have oily skin, should you use them. 

Here’s a look at three different facial wipe products with promising ingredients:

Yes To Cucumbers Facial Wipes

These facial wipes are pre-moistened and tailored for sensitive skin. They provide a gentle cleanse containing 96% natural ingredients like cucumbers to calm the skin, green tea for its soothing benefits, and aloe for hydration. 

These wipes stand out not just for their skin benefits but also for their eco-friendly approach: they’re made from compostable plant-based fibers. Additionally, they’re dermatologist-tested, vegan, cruelty-free, and steer clear of parabens, SLS, and silicones.

Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes

These facial wipes cater to all skin types. They offer a one-step cleaning process, helping to eliminate impurities without needing water. A standout ingredient is white tea extract, lauded for its antioxidant properties.¹¹ These wipes are not only practical but environmentally responsible, too. They’re crafted from upcycled cotton and are home-compostable. Additionally, they avoid fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and SLS and have undergone dermatologist and ophthalmologist testing.

Blum Naturals Daily Combination/Oily Skin Towelettes, Tea Tree Oil

These wipes are formulated for combination or oily skin. They aim to gently eradicate eye and face makeup. A key ingredient here is tea tree oil. These towelettes avoid synthetic preservatives, fragrances, parabens, SLS, and alcohol. Plus, they're hypo-allergenic, pH-balanced, and cruelty-free.

While face wipes offer undeniable convenience, especially if you’re constantly on the move, it’s paramount to pick products that resonate with your skin needs. Always scrutinize the ingredient list to ensure it aligns with your skin type and needs!

Other treatments for oily skin 

Aside from facial wipes, numerous treatments are available to help regulate sebum production. These treatments range from topical applications to systemic therapies, each with its unique mechanism of action and potential benefits.

Let’s take a closer look:

Topical treatments for oily skin:

You’ve probably heard of retinoidswhich come from vitamin A.¹² They may be considered for oily skin and are typically used for acne. Some people even notice a reduction in the appearance of their pore size after using them. But keep in mind they can potentially dry out your skin.¹³

Then there are cosmeceuticals like niacinamide, green tea, and L-carnitine. They’re options that can help manage oily skin. For instance, using a product with 2% niacinamide may help reduce the amount of oil your skin produces.¹⁴ Some people also find that products with green tea help in cutting down the oiliness.¹⁵

Systemic treatments:

Isotretinoin is a known powerhouse when it comes to reducing oil.¹⁶ It’s especially recommended for people with severe acne. But be cautious: It can make your skin really dry, and you need to be closely monitored while using it.

Spironolactone is another option. It acts on your hormones to decrease oil production.¹⁷

Oral contraceptives can also help. They work by adjusting your hormonal balance to control oil production.¹⁸

Advanced options:

Fancy trying something new? How about injections of botulinum toxin? They can help reduce both skin oiliness and the size of your pores by acting on certain signals in your skin.¹⁹

Techniques like Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) and specific lasers may also help.²⁰ But results can vary, so it’s good to be informed and have realistic expectations.

In the end, remember that everyone’s skin is unique: What works wonders for someone else may not do the same for you. 

While there are numerous treatments out there, it’s essential to find what suits you best. And, with research continuously evolving, more tailored solutions for oily skin are on the horizon. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s always a good idea to speak to a dermatology provider. They can guide you to solutions for your skin.

Take the guesswork out of your skincare routine 

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Curology can help you ditch the guesswork and build a complete skincare routine with clinically proven ingredients. Our licensed dermatology providers will work with you to create personalized prescription skincare for your oily skin. Snap a few selfies and answer a few questions to sign up today!*

FAQs

Can face wipes help prevent acne breakouts on oily skin?

Some face wipes can help prevent acne breakouts on oily skin, especially if they contain ingredients beneficial for oily skin like salicylic acid, niacinamide, or L-carnitine. These ingredients can help regulate sebum production and minimize pore clogging

However, it’s crucial to choose the right wipes and check for ingredients that might irritate your skin or increase oiliness. It’s also important to remember that while face wipes can provide a quick cleanse, they shouldn’t replace your regular deep-cleaning routine.

How often should I use face wipes for oily skin?

Face wipes can be used as needed, especially when you’re on the go or need a quick cleanse. However, for oily skin, it’s still essential to maintain a daily cleansing routine using a proper face cleanser. Face wipes can be a supplementary tool, especially during the day when you feel excessive oiliness or after workouts. Always follow up with a good moisturizer to keep your skin balanced.

Can face wipes cause oily skin?

Face wipes themselves do not cause oily skin. However, some wipes might contain ingredients that can irritate the skin or disrupt its natural barrier. Always check the ingredient list and opt for products specifically designed for oily skin. If you notice an increase in oiliness after using a particular product, it might be best to switch to another or consult a dermatology provider.

Are there any eco-friendly face wipes suitable for oily skin?

Yes, some face wipes are made with eco-friendly considerations. For instance, Yes To Cucumbers Facial Wipes are crafted from compostable plant-based fibers. Similarly, Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes are made from 100% plant-based cloth with upcycled cotton and are home-compostable. Always check the product details to ensure that your choice aligns with both your skin needs and environmental concerns.

Besides face wipes, what other on-the-go solutions are there for oily skin?

While face wipes offer convenience, there are other on-the-go solutions such as blotting papers, which can absorb excess oil without disturbing makeup. Additionally, carrying a small bottle of a mattifying toner or a travel-sized version of your preferred cleanser can help refresh your skin during the day. Remember, the key is to manage excess oil without stripping your skin of its natural moisture.

• • •

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

  1. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2017, August 1).

  2. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  3. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  4. Aschenbeck, K.A. and Warshaw, E.M. Allergenic Ingredients in Facial Wet Wipes. Dermatitis. (November-December 2017).

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

  6. Jung, Y.R., et al. Hyaluronic Acid Decreases Lipid Synthesis in Sebaceous Glands. J Invest Dermatol. (June 2017).

  7. Zhen, A.X., et al. Niacinamide Protects Skin Cells from Oxidative Stress Induced by Particulate Matter. Biomol Ther (Seoul). (November 2019).

  8. Peirano, R.I., et al. Topically applied L-carnitine effectively reduces sebum secretion in human skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. (March 2012).

  9. Thiboutot, D. and Del Rosso, J.Q. Acne Vulgaris and the Epidermal Barrier: Is Acne Vulgaris Associated with Inherent Epidermal Abnormalities that Cause Impairment of Barrier Functions? Do Any Topical Acne Therapies Alter the Structural and/or Functional Integrity of the Epidermal Barrier?. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (February 2013).

  10. Kaegi, M., et al. A Novel Microfiber Wipe for Delivery of Active Substances to Human Skin: Clinical Proof of Concept. Polymers (Basel). (2020, November 17).

  11. Kouhihabibidehkordi, G., et al. Effect of White Tea (Camellia sinensis) Extract on Skin Wound Healing Process in Rats. World J Plast Surg. (January 2021).

  12. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  13. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  14. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  15. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  16. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  17. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  18. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  19. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  20. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

*Subject to consultation. Subscription required. Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information. 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.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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