How to cure oily skin

Excessively oily skin, or seborrhea, is a common skin condition that can be triggered by one of many factors including hormonal fluctuations, genetics, climate and lifestyle.

Those with oily skin are prone to unwanted large pores, blemishes and a shiny complexion due to increased sebum production. Although there are many treatments available, it is best to opt for dermatologist-recommended treatments instead of home remedies, which may not be effective or scientifically supported.

Oily Skin Causes

Oily skin is a common condition affecting both men and women, typically between puberty and about 60 years of age. It is characterized by an excessive production of sebum.

Many factors play a role in the origin and development of oily skin. Hormones, genetics, climate, lifestyle and choice of skin care products are some of them. The following is a review of current effective treatment options to help combat your oily skin.

Effective Treatments for Oily Skin

To help control and treat oily skin, an effective action plan may include the following: mild cleansers that won’t trigger increased oil production, the use of topical retinol products after cleansing and applications of brush-on sunscreen throughout the day.

While some may be tempted by one of the many home remedies claiming to treat oily skin and acne, the products presented below are known to effectively treat oily skin.

Use These Products to Treat Oily Skin

Oily skin can be treated effectively with several options, using mild facial cleansers, topical retinol skin care products and brush-on sunscreens.

Mild facial cleansers

Cleansing is said to be the most important step in maintaining healthy skin. By gently washing away oil buildup, dirt and other unwanted substances such as dead skin cells, makeup and toxins, the skin is refreshed and prepared for the next steps of a good skin care routine.

It is important to use a mild cleanser. A harsh cleanser could cause skin irritation and dryness, and ultimately aggravate the situation by increasing sebum production. Mild foaming facial cleansers won’t lead to these negative effects, however, due to a more neutral pH that won’t damage skin’s proteins and lipids.

Using an oil-free and noncomedogenic mild cleanser that contains low levels of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, formulated to not cause blocked pores, is effective in treating oily skin.

Topical retinol products

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is available in many over-the-counter topical skin care products. Retinol works as a treatment for oily skin by unclogging pores, reducing oil production as well as pore size, and making skin appear brighter and shine-free.

Note that topical retinol products must be used with caution and in small quantities, as they may cause irritation. It is recommended to use them occasionally at the start, and to slowly increase frequency of applications to allow skin to build tolerance.

Brush-on sunscreens

As oil is produced throughout the day, using a brush-on broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen midday and then every 2 hours (indoors and out) will help avoid sun damage and also control shine.

Brush-on sunscreen is powdered and therefore a great option for oily skin because it is designed to rest on the surface of skin and not penetrate it. Brush-on’s provide the same protection as creams and lotions – without clogging pores.

When purchasing sunscreen look for the words oil-free and noncomedogenic, as they are not likely to cause comedones (or pore blockages). Also, make sure your sunscreen is SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum (for protection from both UVA and UVB rays) and water-resistant.

Some Products to Avoid

Although some may believe they are great oily skin treatment options, some skin care and cosmetic products, may in fact, cause adverse effects. Some makeup and many skin care products contain oil or other ingredients that can promote an unwanted production of sebum.


For those affected by oily skin, midday shine and a shiny T-zone are familiar occurrences. Makeup could be one of the many causes of these unwanted symptoms which is why it is important to choose your makeup carefully.

Using makeup designed for an oily skin type is key, as some cosmetics may trigger oily skin. Powder-based makeup is a popular choice for oily skin as it absorbs excess oil throughout the day and is also less likely to clog pores.

Avoid oil-based and fragrance-free cosmetics, including concealers and liquid foundations, and look for products that state they are noncomedogenic and won’t clog pores.

Facial masks

Despite many claims, there is no independent evidence that mud masks, clay masks, cream masks or sheet masks provide any long-lasting benefits for oily skin.

In reality, facial masks can cause inflammation and irritate skin because of their highly absorbent nature. Just like overscrubbing or excessive exfoliation, masks also cause inflammation and swelling.

Although some studies report that natural, raw honey has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, honey masks, because of their sticky nature, leave a film on the surface of the skin, leading to blocked pores and increased oil production.

Maintain These Lifestyle Habits to Treat Oily Skin

While there is no cure for oily skin, there are effective treatments. Adopting a healthy diet and staying hydrated can also aid in preventing and treating excess oil production.

A healthy diet

Diet may play a role in the development of oily skin. Some evidence suggests that consuming fewer foods with a high glycemic index may contribute to an decreased production of sebum.

Avoiding soy products is suggested as well, as they contain phytoestrogens, natural plant estrogens that mimic natural estrogen levels and cause a hormonal-type imbalance, leading to increased oiliness.

Lastly, any food that reduces inflammation will help with oily skin. Studies suggest following anti-inflammatory diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy oils, and which activates the immune system.

Stay hydrated

Hydration has multiple health benefits and influences many aspects of health. Proper water consumption has a direct impact on skin, affecting how a body maintains and regulates oil production.

When skin is dehydrated, it can become dry and cracked. The oil glands in the skin then start to overproduce oils to compensate for this lack of hydration, leading to oily skin.

To correct this overproduction, it is important to consume plenty of water throughout the day. Once skin is properly hydrated, the body will consequently slow down oil production in the skin to normal levels and skin will look and feel less oily.


To help improve skin’s appearance, a regular skin care regimen using products designed for oily skin types will gradually produce beneficial results.

Oily skin can be controlled and treated by using skin care products designed for oily skin (and avoiding those that aren’t) and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.

For those suffering from extremely oily or acne-prone skin, prescription medications, such as Isotretinoin and other prescribed topicals may be more beneficial.

Those who may have excess oil skin concerns are encouraged to make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.

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6 ways to get rid of oily skin! Learn more about oily skin: causes, symptoms and read our easy at-home treatments to reduce oily skin and prevent acne!

  1. What causes oily skin?
    Sebum—a.k.a. the oil on your skin—is a fatty, thick liquid produced by your sebaceous glands¹ to keep hair and skin moisturized. Excess sebum, however, can lead to acne breakouts in addition to unwanted shine and an oily complexion.

Both hormones and genes affect how much sebum your skin produces². During puberty, the skin’s oil glands mature and go into overdrive, creating an abundance of the androgen hormones that increase sebum production and eventually lead to acne.

What does oily skin do?
Beyond acne, an overproduction of sebum can cause greasy hair. Still, oil production is beneficial for skin’s health, so don’t try to over-wash oily skin. Always use a gentle cleanser and moisturize with a non-comedogenic product like Vaseline® Jelly to protect your skin barrier.

How to get rid of oily skin?
While there are no cure-all oily skin remedies, there are plenty of daily habits and preventative measures you can use to mitigate uncomfortably oily skin—regardless of stress or hormone levels. Ahead, seven ideas for how to stop oily skin.

• Stay hydrated
Dehydrated skin produces excess sebum in an attempt to keep itself moisturized, potentially creating an environment for increased acne breakouts.

• Keep your skin clean³
Many professionals recommend using a gentle cleanser twice a day to reduce sebum buildup and remove any dirt or pollutants from skin. Avoid washing more than twice a day or with overly hot water. Doing either can over-dry skin, which causes your body to overcompensate by actually increasing oil production in order to keep skin hydrated.

• Use an astringent
A gentle astringent³ toner is one of many oily skin remedies. Use once a day to remove excess oil and keep oily skin at bay. As with cleansers, be careful not to overuse astringent toners—doing so might cause skin to produce more oil as a result.

• Use a noncomedogenic moisturizer⁴
Avoid skin’s overcompensation response by applying a non-comedogenic product like Vaseline® Jelly to help prevent skin from drying out after cleansing and toning.

• Avoid pore-clogging ingredients
Certain ingredients found in everyday makeup can lead to acne when applied to oily skin. Always be sure to check ingredient labels when purchasing makeup.

• Always remove makeup before bed
One of the simplest ways to avoid an unwanted acne breakout is to remove makeup before going to sleep. Those who have oily but not acne-prone skin should consider using Vaseline® Jelly to easily remove makeup—even waterproof mascara—before bedtime.
Oily skin can be annoying at times, but sebum is crucial to maintaining healthy skin. Sebum keeps your skin moist, soft, and pliable, which slows down the aging process and prevents wrinkles as you age. Furthermore, it helps to protect skin’s barrier.

Expert Advice
The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice, it is solely available for information purposes.

This article was co-authored by Alicia Ramos. Alicia Ramos is a licensed aesthetician and the owner of Smoothe Denver in Denver, Colorado. She received her license at the School of Botanical & Medical Aesthetics, with training in lashes, dermaplaning, waxing, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels, and now provides skin care solutions to hundreds of clients.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 20 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 1,667,676 times.

Oily skin can give your skin an unwanted shine and clog your pores. This can lead to acne problems because the sebaceous glands which produce oil are larger and more concentrated in your face. But never fear, because there are simple and easy ways to prevent oily skin! Using the right health products and making small lifestyle changes can drastically improve your skin health.

How to cure oily skin

Alicia Ramos
Skincare Specialist Expert Interview. 12 June 2020. Dermatologists agree that using a basic face cleanser every morning and night is the best way to prevent oily skin. [2] X Research source

  • Choose a gentle face soap that cleans your face without drying out your skin. Don’t use a moisturizing soap that adds oils or moisturizers to your face.
  • Use warm water when washing your face. Hot water may dry out or irritate your face.
  • Dry your face thoroughly with a soft towel after washing.
  • Stay away from harsh soaps or facial cleansers designed to dry out skin. The purpose of washing the face is to physically remove oil and dead skin cells from your face and pores. If you choose a soap designed to dry oily skin, choose the mildest one you can find and only use it when needed.
  • If a basic cleanser doesn’t work, try a product that has acid like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These products are usually for acne, but they help to fight oily skin too.

How to cure oily skin

How to cure oily skin

How to cure oily skin

How to cure oily skin

Alicia Ramos
Skincare Specialist Expert Interview. 12 June 2020.

  • Don’t use cold creams or lotions for makeup removal if you have oily skin. These products are designed to moisturize dry skin and may leave a greasy film on the skin, contributing to clogged pores, oil buildup, and acne.
  • How to control oily skin

    There are many reasons for oily skin, including stress, humidity, genetics, and fluctuating hormones. To help reduce the oil, follow these do’s and don’ts from dermatologists.

    10 do’s and don’ts from dermatologists

    Although oily skin can clog pores and lead to increased acne breakouts, oily skin also has many benefits. Oil helps preserve the skin, and people with oily skin tend to have thicker skin and fewer wrinkles. The key is to strike a balance between having too much oil and maintaining your skin’s natural moisture.

    To help control oily skin, dermatologists recommend the following tips:

    DO wash your face every morning, evening, and after exercise. While washing, resist the temptation to scrub your skin, even to remove makeup. Scrubbing irritates your skin, which can make it look worse.

    DO choose skin care products that are labeled “oil free” and “noncomedogenic.” This means that products that have these labels — including cleansers, moisturizers and makeup — won’t clog your pores or cause acne.

    DO use a gentle, foaming face wash. Many people believe that they need to use a strong face wash for oily skin in order to dry out their skin. However, using a face wash that is too harsh can irritate your skin and trigger increased oil production. Instead, look for a mild, gentle face wash.

    DON’T use oil-based or alcohol-based cleansers. These can irritate your skin.

    DO apply moisturizer daily. Although you have oily skin, it is still important to apply moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. To save time and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, look for a moisturizer that also contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

    DO wear sunscreen outdoors. Sunscreen helps prevent sun damage that could lead to wrinkles, age spots and even skin cancer. To prevent acne breakouts, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and do not use sunscreens that contain fragrance or oils.

    DO choose oil-free, water-based makeup.

    DON’T sleep in your makeup. Always remove all makeup before going to sleep.

    DO use blotting papers throughout the day. Gently press the paper against your face and leave it on for a few seconds to absorb the oil. Don’t rub the paper on your face, as this will spread the oil to other areas.

    DON’T touch your face throughout the day. Although it’s tempting to touch your face, doing so can spread dirt, oil and bacteria from your hands to your face. Only touch your face when you’re cleansing, moisturizing or applying sunscreen or makeup, and make sure your hands are clean first.

    Every person’s skin is different, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to skin care. If you are concerned about the amount of oil your skin is producing or if you’re struggling with blackheads or acne, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

    All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

    The American Academy of Dermatology gratefully acknowledges the support from DermStore.

    Reproduction or republication strictly prohibited
    without prior written permission.