Skincare Routine for Oily Skin: 5 Steps

Do you feel like your skin stays oily no matter how much you cleanse? If so, you probably have an oily skin type. There are four main skin types: oily, combination, normal, and dry. Each skin type requires different products to maintain, and each one requires its own skincare routine. 

You’ll find that oily skin has a section of unique skincare products. These products are frequently labeled as “weightless,” “oil-free,” or “for oily skin.” 

But what products are truly the best to help tame oily skin? Read on to find out.

It’s a common misconception that moisturizer makes oily skin worse — moisturizer is crucial for healthy, balanced skin. 

  • Shani Darden, Celebrity Esthetician

What Is Oily Skin?

Your skin needs to stay hydrated to do its job, and oil is your body’s way of keeping it hydrated. Your skin’s oil, formally known as sebum, is produced in your sebaceous glands and acts as a natural lubricant for your skin. Ideally, your body should regulate its oil production to hydrate your skin without clogging it.

However, those with an oily skin type have sebaceous glands that overproduce sebum. While moderate sebum production contributes to healthy skin and helps prevent dry skin, overproduction can lead to clogged pores, blackheads, breakouts, and a slick skin texture. 

Skin type remains fairly consistent throughout life, so oily skin will probably stay oily. Oily skin is also relatively unaffected by diet. If you’re unsure whether or not you have oily skin, I am here to help.

How Can I Recognize Oily Skin?

Oily skin can present itself in a number of ways. One of the most telling signs of oily skin is shiny skin. If your skin is shiny in the light, that may be due to a layer of natural oil caused by overproductive sebaceous glands. You may find that your skin is especially oily along your T-zone, which is the area directly above your eyebrows combined with your nose. 

Another sure sign of oily skin is clogged pores. You can tell if a pore is clogged by checking its color and texture. If the pore is red and raised, then it is clogged. Clogged pores can also lead to other blemishes, which often require some extra product to treat.

One way to tell if your skin is oily is to conduct a wash test. You’ll start by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser. Once cleansed, let your face dry – do not apply any product or moisturizer. 

If your skin immediately becomes oily again, you likely have an oily skin type. If you are still unsure, schedule a consultation with your dermatologist.

If you observe these signs and think you may have oily skin, it may be time to adjust your skincare routine to help even your skin out. The good news is that I am here to help you build your new routine.

5 Step Routine for Oily Skin

To properly take care of your oily skin, you will need to invest in products that are designed to combat oil overproduction. It is also essential to follow a regular routine, as the skin takes time to adjust to new products. 

I know it may seem like a big commitment at first, but trust me – follow these five steps for oily skin, and it likely won’t be long before you can see the difference.

Step One: Time To Cleanse

Cleansing is a crucial part of every skincare routine. However, you will want to cleanse twice a day in order to tame your overactive glands. You should also cleanse every time you exercise. Start with a cleanse in the morning before you apply makeup, and end with a cleanse during your evening routine to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. 

Cleansing twice a day may seem excessive, but you may be surprised to learn that your skin even produces oil and buildup while you are sleeping. While this is true even for those with normal skin, your oily skin will generally require a morning cleanse in order to stay balanced. 

For oily skin, your best bet may be to cleanse with an oil-free and alcohol-free face wash. I recommend Cosmedix’s Clarify Salicylic Acid Foaming Cleanser. This cruelty-free facial cleanser provides gentle exfoliation while also calming irritation and promoting healthy oil production.

Another option is my Cleansing Serum, which contains concentrated ingredients that are still gentle enough to avoid causing irritation. 

Make sure to remove your cleanser with lukewarm water. Extreme temperatures can irritate oily skin, which will cause even more oil production. You’ll also want to pat your face dry gently — scrubbing motions and heavy buffing can irritate your skin.

Optional Inclusion: Mask it Up

Cosmedix’s Clear Deep Cleansing Mask perfectly complements any oily skin routine, and can be used on clean skin. This mask removes any extra oil that has managed to escape previous steps, and it also promotes healthy skin by reducing impurities and soothing irritation.

Use any mask alone as a treatment and wash it off, then follow with the rest of your routine. 

Step Two: Tone it Up

After cleansing, apply a toner to remove any excess oil that may be leftover. Toners can help dissolve extra oil and minimize the appearance of pores. To promote healthy skin, you may want to make toners an integral part of your routine.

I recommend Sake Toning Essence for the best skin care routine yet. This product is designed to melt away excess oil and mattify your face while delivering a gentle glow. This toner is also free of alcohol, helping to balance skin without causing irritation. 

Step Three: Try a Serum 

After applying toner, try incorporating a non-comedogenic serum designed to soothe your skin and further unclog pores. Serums will be a primary part of your nighttime routine, although you may want to start by using a serum every other night until your skin adjusts. 

Serums often contain chemicals that are healthy for your skin but require an adjustment period. Make sure you check your serum for instructions on how to taper up to regular use. If you are worried about sensitive skin, try starting with a patch test. 

For a serum, I recommend Lactic Acid Serum. This serum will gently exfoliate your skin, unclog your pores, and hydrate to restore healthy and glowing skin. 

My Retinol Reform is another great option that works hand in hand with once or twice weekly exfoliation using Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads. Retinol Reform is a gentler alternative to traditional retinoids, with all of the same benefits. 

Step Four: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Soothing oily skin requires quite a few exfoliating steps. Exfoliation can help remove oil and dead skin cells that clog up your pores while prepping your skin for hydration. To help soothe your skin and seal in the healthy ingredients in your serums, apply a hydrating moisturizer formulated for oily skin.

Moisturizers can come in a variety of textures, such as creams, gels, and mousses. For the best success, use a moisturizer that is oil-free and alcohol-free. Using the right moisturizer for your skin type is key to happy and healthy skin.

For oily skin, I recommend my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer. This moisturizer is vegan and cruelty-free and is specifically designed for oily skin. It also helps your skin retain moisture without causing congestion in the pores which can lead to breakouts. 

When applying moisturizer, make sure to apply it on damp skin and gently massage it into the skin with clean hands. You’ll want to do this in the morning and evening after each cleanse. 

Step Five: Get Your SPF On

The final step in any complete skin care regimen is sun protection. Sunscreen is vital for healthy skin of any type because sun damage will irritate your skin. Many serums and exfoliants also increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, so sunscreen is essential in your oily skin care routine. 

Many sunscreens are oily by nature and therefore have a much larger chance of irritating your oily skin. To best serve your skin, you’ll want to find something that is lightweight and oil-free. Your sunscreen also needs to have an SPF of at least 30, and it should provide broad-spectrum coverage.

I recommend Control Corrective’s Oil-Free Sunscreen for those with oily skin. This lightweight sunscreen is non-greasy and provides a light layer of moisture to hydrate and protect skin without causing any congestion. Once you’ve applied your morning sunscreen, your routine is complete!

What Should I Consider for Oily Skin?

Have you thought of a few ways to adjust your routine so far? Before you implement any changes, there are a few more ways to make sure your skin stays healthy.

  • Do your best to avoid touching your face except when necessary. Touching your face transfers oils onto your skin and can increase oil production and clogged pores.
  • Avoid irritants. Check every product in your routine for oils, alcohol, or fragrance. These are all ingredients that have a high chance of provoking your skin. Instead, look for products made for sensitive or oily skin.
  • Fourth, invest in oil-free makeup. Oil-based makeup may lead to breakouts and slow your results. It is generally also helpful to never fall asleep in your makeup, as leaving the makeup on your skin can aggravate your oil-producing glands.

The Takeaway

Oily skin is caused by overactive oil glands and can present as shiny or blemish-prone skin. To help soothe your skin and calm down that oil production, your daily routine should include cleansers, toners, serums, masks, moisturizers, and sunscreens. 

You’ll also want to make sure that your products are free of irritants and formulated for oily skin. Oily skin may seem like a pain, but this five-step routine is here to help!



How to Control Oily Skin | American Academy of Dermatology

Oily Skin | University of Florida Health

Seborrhoea. Oily skin | DermNet NZ