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 pimples at bay once and for all:

drunk elephant tlc framboos glycolic night serum

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!

Best Picks:

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):

drunk elephant b-hydra hydration serum

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.

Best Picks:

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

niod flavanone mud

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.

Best Picks:

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.

Best Picks:

  • 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?