“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 pimples at bay once and for all:
Salicylic Acid To Treat And Prevent Breakouts
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 your 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!
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboois Glycolic Night Serum: available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Resist BHA 9 For Stubborn Imperfections: available at Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% Bha Liquid ($29.00): available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges
Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is The Key To Spot-Free Skin
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes excess oil, blackheads, and pimples? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin” to get started (it includes product recommendations + right application order):
Hyaluronic Acid & Glycerin To Hydrate Skin
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.
- Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturiser ($38.00): Available at Anthropologie, Sephora, and Ulta
- Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel ($52.00): Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer ($29.00): Available at Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine
Oil-Absorbers To Get Rid Of Excess Shine
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.
- Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask ($25.50): available at Feel Unique and Ulta
- Niod Flavanone Mud (£29.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
- Paula’s Choice Skincare Clear Ultra-Light Daily Mattifying Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ ($33.00): available at Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
Related: What’s Bentonite Clay And What Does It Do For Skin?
Benzoyl Peroxide To Treat Acne
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 up with an antioxidants rich serum.
- La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment ($36.95): available at Dermstore and Feel Unique
- Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment With 5% benzoyl peroxide ($18.00): available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice
- Proactiv Emergency Blemish Relief ($20.00): available at Sephora and Ulta
Related: Benzoyl Peroxide: Friend Or Foe?
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 🙂
Monica, they are all very helpful, aren’t they? Her line is very good indeed. I have a few serums and love them. 🙂
Check, check, check and check!
Melissa, glad you’re using them all!
a quick thank you from a stick-of-butter-kind-of-skin-person
Ramona, my pleasure! Glad you found it useful.
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.
Seppo, thank you for your comment. They both sound wonderful, and a great addition to any oily skinned gal’s arsenal.
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.
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.
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?
Sneha, they leave a very obvious white cast but, apart from that, they’re good products.
I am trying the sample from Clinique and I seem to love it 🙂
That’s wonderful Sneha! 🙂
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?
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.