What Are The Best Ingredients For Oily Skin?

by Gio
best skincare ingredients for oily skin

“I’ve tried everything to keep my oily skin under control but nothing works. Help!”

Sometimes, dealing with oily skin seems like a hopeless battle. No matter what you try, your face keeps shining brighter than a frying pan, your pores refuse to shrink and those pimples won’t budge from your face. Argh!

It’s not your skin playing tricks on you. It’s the skincare products you’re using. Truth is, most skincare products marketed to oily skin DON’T contain anything that can really deal with excess shine, large pores and breakouts. To add insult to injury, sometimes they have ingredients that can make things way worse!

So what works? Here are the best ingredients scientifically proven to keep oily skin under control and keep pimples at bay once and for all:

the ordinary salicylic acid 2 solution

Salicylic Acid

What it is: a member of the beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) family. It’s the only BHA used in skincare.

What it does: it’s an oil soluble exfoliant. This means it can penetrate deep inside the pores, removing all the excess oil and other crap that’s clogging them from within. Plus, it dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together on the surface of the skin . This dual exfoliating action prevents and remove blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, roughness and dark spots. Like that weren’t enough, salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and irritations.

Side effects: if you’re allergic to salicylicate, including aspirin, stay away!

Best picks:

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is The Key To Spot-Free Skin

niod multi-molecular hyaluronic complex

Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin

What are they: humectants that attract water from the environment into the skin.

What they do: they infuse your skin with a waterfall of moisture, keeping it hydrated without adding more oil to it (that’s the last thing your skin needs). Hyaluronic acid is particularly good at this: it holds up to 1000 times its weight in water!

Side effects: if there’s not enough water in the atmosphere, humectants can steal it from the deepest layers of your skin, drying it out. Hyaluronic acid puts up better with lack of water than other humectants.

Best picks:

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine 


What are they: ingredients that feast on sebum. They eat it all up, getting rid of the grease and shine on your face. A few examples include bentonite clay, kaolin clay, silica, magnesium aluminium silicate and sulphur.

What they do: they have oil-absorbing properties that soak up excess oil, keeping excess shine and breakouts at bay.

Side effects: if your skin is dry, soaking sebum will dry it out even more. But for your oily skin type, they’re a godsend.

Best picks:

Related: What’s Bentonite Clay And What Does It Do For Skin?

Benzoyl Peroxide

What it is: a peroxide, i.e. an unstable bond of two oxygen atoms that can generate free radicals.

What it does: it has a peeling action that prevents and treats breakouts. Plus, it kills P.Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. The best part? Bacteria don’t grow resistant to it.

Side effects: it can dry out and irritate skin. It also generates free radicals. That’s why it’s best to use it only on pimples and follow it with an antioxidants rich serum.

Best picks:

Related: Benzoyl Peroxide: Friend Or Foe?

Do you have oily skin? Which ingredients are you using to deal with it? What’s working well for you?



MonicaP April 28, 2015 - 2:35 pm

As an oily skin gal, I use all these ingredients. I’m going to purchase a few Paula’s Choice products as soon as I finish up my current products, her line looks quite good 🙂


Gio April 28, 2015 - 3:10 pm

Monica, they are all very helpful, aren’t they? Her line is very good indeed. I have a few serums and love them. 🙂

Kiss & Make-up April 29, 2015 - 11:57 am

Check, check, check and check!

Gio April 29, 2015 - 1:34 pm

Melissa, glad you’re using them all!

Ramona May 3, 2015 - 4:50 pm

a quick thank you from a stick-of-butter-kind-of-skin-person

Gio May 4, 2015 - 1:12 pm

Ramona, my pleasure! Glad you found it useful.

Seppo May 18, 2015 - 3:14 am

Haven’t checked my feeds in a while, so I’m late to the party. Anyway, you should add 5-alpha reductase blockers to the list. 5-AR is an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT in the skin (DHT stimulates sebum production much more than T). Blocking the enzyme reduces the effect hormones have on the skin, one of them being stimulation of sebum production.

There are a handful of studies (not very rigorous, though) that show 5-AR blockers can reduce sebum production. Green tea, or the catechin EGCG, is the best known. Some fatty acids also have the same effect.

L-carnatine can also help. It’s been shown to increase metabolism of fatty acids in skin cells, in effect causing the skin cells to burn more fat. One study (again, not very rigorous) showed a nice reduction in skin oiliness with topical l-carnatine.

Gio May 24, 2015 - 1:59 pm

Seppo, thank you for your comment. They both sound wonderful, and a great addition to any oily skinned gal’s arsenal.

Sneha February 11, 2017 - 8:31 am

A great post indeed. I have extremely oily skin which is very rare in India and humidity makes it worse!
Could you plase suggest a mineral sunscreen as all other chemical sundcreens break me out.

Gio February 12, 2017 - 5:25 pm

Sneha, have you tried Sunumbra SPF40? You can only buy it online but it’s one of the best I’ve found. Skinceuticals makes a mineral sunscreen too that’s very lightweight and perfect for oily skin.

sneha February 13, 2017 - 2:14 pm

thanks for your help. We do not get the ones above in India. I will order them when I have frnds coming over from States.
BTW what are your reviews about Clinique mineral sunscreens?

Gio February 28, 2017 - 8:57 pm

Sneha, they leave a very obvious white cast but, apart from that, they’re good products.

sneha March 1, 2017 - 9:06 pm

I am trying the sample from Clinique and I seem to love it 🙂

Gio March 3, 2017 - 8:19 pm

That’s wonderful Sneha! 🙂

Blessinglab May 1, 2018 - 9:10 am

Thank you for this, I have so much of acne induced dark spots on my face. Could you please name some products containing these ingredients in Nigeria?

Gio May 4, 2018 - 7:43 pm

Blessinglab, glad you find this helpful but unfortunately I don’t know what brands are available in Nigeria. Just look for salicylic acid or BHA on the ingredient list.


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