Your Step-by-Step Guide to Skin Care for Oily Skin

Dealing with excessive shine, blackheads, and sometimes acne can be pretty overwhelming at times. So, here's a simple skincare routine for oily skin and some ingredient recommendations to follow.

November 28, 2022 6 minutes read
Two women with oily skin wearing cosmetic masks

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Having an oily skin type sure does come with its unique challenges. From dealing with the constant face shine (definitely not the glow-up we signed up for) to the frequent breakouts, enlarged pores, blackheads, and a likely rough skin texture, to name a few.

Dealing with these can not only be frustrating but can also take a toll on your self-confidence. In addition, establishing a skincare routine that tackles each challenge the oily skin type entails can be a bit of a hassle.

Surely, who wouldn't want a magical wonder product that can wipe out the greasy shine, minimize pores, prevent breakouts and give perfect radiant skin all at once?

While that would be too good to be true, how about we stick to something more achievable? So instead, we break it down into simple steps to follow, more like a guide to creating a good skincare regimen that will work for your oily skin.

Morning Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

A well-curated skincare routine implemented with ingredients super beneficial to your oily skin is a great start! Here's a simple routine for your mornings:

#1: Cleanse

woman using a face cleanser

Oil breeds bacteria. Thus, cleansing your skin should undoubtedly be the first step in your skincare routine to ward off impurities such as dirt and excess oil accumulated at night—no debate on that. However, washing your face multiple times a day may seem like a sure way to get rid of excess oil on your skin, but in reality, it could do you more harm than good. How?

Excessive cleansing can cause a drying effect on your skin, which nudges the oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) on your face to go into overdrive mode and produce more oil. So it's advisable to cleanse your face twice daily (morning and night), and you'll be good to go.

Extra tip: When purchasing cleansers, you should opt for those with ingredients beneficial for oily skin. For example, ingredients like salicylic acid, azelaic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are known for fighting acne-causing germs and excessive oil control.

#2: Toner

To tone or not to tone... Toners have many skincare benefits to offer, especially for oily skin. They can help control sebum (oil) production, remove dirt, balance your skin's pH level, and exfoliate, amongst other benefits.

On your exfoliating days, using an exfoliating toner containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHA/BHA) is your best bet for your acne-prone skin, as they help dissolve dead skin cells and unclog pores. Simply apply a few drops to a cotton pad and gently swipe over on cleansed skin.

Extra tip: Remember to exfoliate 2-3 times a week, and on days when you're not exfoliating, you can switch to hydrating toner.

#3: Apply Serum

woman applying a face serum

Serums are result-driven and formulated to penetrate the deep layers of your skin to target skin-specific issues.

A serum targeted explicitly for oily skin can be helpful to battle concerns like excessive oil production and reduce the appearance of pores and inflammations such as acne. One of the ingredients you should be looking for in serums is niacinamide, a top-notch ingredient beneficial to oily, acne-prone skin, as it helps to minimize pores, regulate oil production, and contains anti-inflammatory properties.

You can also go for serums containing licorice root extract or alpha arbutin to help brighten dark spots or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by acne.

#4: Moisturize

Now, the common question is – do I really need to moisturize my oily skin? This dilemma is understandable, as your face already produces so much oil. So, is it really necessary? Well, it is.

Here us out, skincare ingredients for oily, acne-prone skin tend to be drying. So, don't skip your moisturizer but switch to gel, water-based products – the best option for that needed moisture and hydration without the feeling of heavy, greasy skin.

Note: You should also avoid highly comedogenic moisturizers altogether. Instead, stick to ones with a comedogenic rating of 0-1 to be on the safer side.

#5: Sunscreen

woman applying sunscreen to her face

Ah, yes, sunscreen. This might be one of the dreaded steps in your skincare routine because, with the already existing oil drip on your face, you aren't looking to add more, as some sunscreens honestly do give an icky, heavy feel when applied.

Well, not to worry, we've got a few pointers that may help. But first, it's important to note that sunscreen is an absolute requirement, irrespective of your skin type. It's your first line of defense and protection against skin cancer and skin-damaging UV radiation.

As they say, if you were to do nothing else for your skin, protecting it from the sun is crucial! So sunscreen should be the last step in your morning skincare routine. Now, for some pointers, as promised:

Extra tip: Remember to apply your sunscreen liberally, extending to your ears and neck. And always cover the back of your hands and décolleté.

Nighttime Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

Evenings are just the perfect time to treat your skin. This is the time your skin absorbs products and gets into replenishment mode. Think of it as a repairing process.

What's not to love about your skin potentially improving while getting a good night's sleep? But before you start your beauty sleep, here's a simple night routine to follow:

#1: Cleanse (Again)

By now, your skin has picked up a lot of dirt, grime, pollutants, and makeup. The whole (uninvited) crew is just out there mingling, having fun, and thinking of a thousand ways to clog your pores (the audacity!). You would have to agree that washing your face in the evenings shouldn't be a step to skip, no matter what.

Most experts recommend double cleansing at night, and trust – your skin will love you for it. You can start with hydrating micellar water first to dissolve your makeup and the rest of the crew, then follow up with a gentle cleanser to back up your micellar water in prepping your skin for the next few steps.

Extra tip: You can try the 60-second rule when cleansing your face! It's pretty straightforward – wet your face with lukewarm water, then apply a gentle face cleanser and massage your face with your fingertips for about a minute.

#2: Toner

woman applying face toner

Using a toner at night can again be incredibly beneficial for your oily skin. A toner's job is basically to remove any last traces of dirt stuck in your pores after cleansing, restore your skin's pH level, hydrate your skin, and even exfoliate!

If you want to use a toner at nighttime, go for one that will hydrate your skin without stripping it of its natural moisture.

#3: Use Retinol

One of the best things you can do for your skin is to implement retinol into your nighttime routine or any other form of retinoid. Retinol is one of those ingredients highly recommended for oily, acne-prone skin for its amazing benefits.

It's a form of vitamin A known for increasing the rate of skin cell turnover and production of collagen, which helps diminish the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles over time. It also helps exfoliate the skin and unclog pores, which is excellent for dealing with open comedones and preventing new ones from occurring.

Retinol should be slowly implemented into your skincare regimen, starting from the lowest dosage. One to two times a week should be a great start, as topical retinoids can cause skin drying, peeling, purging, and irritation.

Note: It's recommended to consult your dermatologist to find a retinol dose suitable for you. With a dermatologist's prescription, you may even get tretinoin, the strongest form of vitamin A in skincare.

#4: Moisturize

woman applying moisturizer to her face

Yes, it's still important to use a moisturizer on your skin at night! Following the use of active ingredients like retinol or tretinoin, your skin may be left looking dry and flaky. However, you really don't have to do too much at this point. Simply apply your lightweight, water-based moisturizer 10 to 20 minutes after applying your retinol to keep your skin hydrated and reduce the risk of skin irritation, and that's about it!


When you create a skincare routine that caters to the needs of your oily skin type, you are taking a major step in controlling excessive sebum production and decreasing other challenges it may bring along. With this step-by-step guide, caring for your oily skin shouldn't be much of a hassle.

Don't forget to be patient and kind to your skin; and with time, you'll get the results you desire! However, if you do notice your skin still getting worse without any improvements, don't hesitate to visit your dermatologist.


What's a good skin routine for oily skin?

If you have oily skin, you should cleanse your face in the morning and evening. Then, follow up with a toner or exfoliator, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen in your morning routine. If it's nighttime, you can introduce retinol into your skincare routine.

Dos and don'ts for oily skin?

Avoid over-washing and over-exfoliating your skin, as it can trigger your skin to produce more oil and make it more prone to acne. Instead, use gentle cleansers and water-based moisturizers in the gel or fluid form, and wear sunscreen every day.

What should we apply on oily skin at night?

Your nighttime skincare routine should start with removing makeup, followed by a gentle cleanser. Then apply your hydrating toner and retinol serum. Seal the deal with a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer.

What should oily skin avoid?

Try to avoid skincare ingredients that can clog your pores, the so-called comedogenic ingredients, such as coconut oil, dyes, lanolin, and cocoa butter, to name a few.

Is Vitamin C good for oily skin?

Yes, vitamin C is an excellent skincare ingredient for almost any skin type and concern. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping with acne and acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and protecting it from pollution and other irritants.

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