How to Treat Oily Skin

Oily skin is a really common problem, but it can easily be managed. It’s caused by a number of things, but contrary to popular belief, eating chocolate won’t give you oily skin – the same goes for junk food! Grease does not necessarily equal greasy skin. Read on to learn about some of the causes of oily skin, how to combat it, and how to fake it.

Causes of Oily Skin

There are a number of causes of oily skin. If your mum or dad has oily skin, you’ll be more likely to have it. It might be unfair, but that’s the way it goes! If you use too much cleanser, exfoliator or moisturizer, it can also lead to oily skin – over-doing it messes with your skin’s natural balance of oils and sebums and can actually increase oiliness, even if you’re using oil-busting products.

Likewise, most of us experience oilier skin through the summer months as temperatures and humidity increase. However, you might also experience oiliness in the winter, especially if you don’t moisturize frequently enough, as your skin will release more oils to try and compensate for what it’s missing. Stress, hormonal changes, using the wrong skincare products and tools and tanning can also cause oily skin.

How to Treat Oily Skin

Oily skin can be treated. The first thing you need to do, really, is to use moisturizer. It might sound counterintuitive, but using moisturizer helps to replace lost moisture. Using it twice a day, once in the morning, once before you go to bed, will restore the natural oils within skin and will keep it soft and smooth. If you don’t use moisturizer, your skin will try to compensate for the fact that there isn’t enough moisture in the skin by releasing oils – which is why your skin will have an oily or greasy appearance.


One of the most effective ways to treat oily skin is with cleansers. They help to strip some of the oils from skin, so that your skin is clean and smooth, rather than oily and greasy. Just make sure that you don’t over-do it. To begin with, use a very gentle cleanser twice a day. Anything too harsh will stimulate oil secretion, and if you use exfoliators or a rough wash cloth, your skin will still be oily. Rub the cleanser into your skin using your fingertips, then wash off. Pat dry very gently with a clean cotton towel, then follow up with moisturizer. If your skin is particularly oily, use an oil-reducing moisturizer – it’ll hydrate the skin without making it oily.

If a gentle cleanser doesn’t do the trick, switch to a product that contains acid, such as benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid or beta-hydroxy acid. Generally, these products are marketed as anti-acne products, but they’re really good for people with oily skin, too. Use them once a day or a few times a week at first – use them too often and you could end up causing more damage.


Some dermatologists recommend using toners, and others don’t. If your skin is particularly oily, it’s worth giving them a go – if you find they make your skin too dry, stop using them. If they sort out the oiliness without causing any dryness, you can keep using them. Apply them on only the oily areas of skin, like on the forehead, the nose, and the chin, rather than all over the face. Instead of using an astringent toner, look for a nourishing toner instead. Gently dab onto your face using cotton pads instead of your fingers and follow instructions on the bottle as to whether you need to follow it up with a moisturizer or whether you can just leave it as it is.

Masks and Clays

On top of your usual skin regime, it might also be worth trying some masks and clays. Use them only occasionally, and only on the parts of your face that need attention – not all over. They can draw out oils and other impurities, improving the appearance of your skin and reducing oiliness. Again, they can be fairly drying, so make sure that you limit your use of them. Experiment with formulas until you find something that works for you.

Faking It

If you’re still struggling with oily skin, despite your best efforts, there are a few ways you can fake matte, shine-free skin. You could use medicated pads, which you can carry around in your bag and simply dab onto your face throughout the day to treat oily skin. Blotting papers are used in a similar way – they look like greaseproof paper and are impregnated with blotting powder. Simply dab onto skin when you’re on the go to touch up oily patches of skin, without ruining the rest of your makeup. You can also use blotting powder, although you need to make sure that your skin is well moisturized – if it’s a little bit oily and a little bit dry, the powder will combine with the flakes of your dry skin to make your skin look even drier and flakier.

Smooth, blemish-free and oil-free skin can be yours – just experiment with formulas and try not to use too much in the way of products and tools so that your skin doesn’t get worse. Look for things like oil-reducing formulations, especially in your moisturizer, and make sure that you don’t go for a super-hydrating product or a product used for dry skin as it’ll just make your skin even oilier and greasier.

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