Oily Skin: What It Is, How to Cope, and the Best Facial Products for You

oily skin

Seems we always want what we don’t have. If we have straight hair, we wish it was more wavy or curly. If we have curly hair, we spend all kinds of time straightening it.

The same seems to apply to skin—those of us with dry skin wish only for more hydration, while those of us with oily skin get so fed up with the endless shininess!

“I have super oily skin with large pores,” says one of our blog readers, “we are talking shiny after an hour of my morning cleanse.”

This sums up the problem with oily skin very nicely—shininess and large pores. Is there anything you can do that will help? We have some solutions for you to try.

What is Oily Skin?

Some people think they have oily skin, when in truth, they have combination skin—oily only in the T-zone, or the forehead, nose, and chin areas. Truly oily skin typically has the following characteristics:

•     looks shiny or greasy everywhere
•     appears thick and coarse
•     has enlarged pores
•     occasional breakouts

One way to test your skin to see if it is truly oily is to wash it in the morning with a gentle cleanser, pat it dry, avoid applying any make-up or lotion, and wait an hour or two. When you look in the mirror, if your face is shiny and covered in oil, you have oily skin.

If your cheeks are dry but your forehead and nose are shiny, you have combination skin, which we cover here.

What Causes it?

Oily skin is caused by over-active sebaceous glands that produce excessive amounts of skin oil, called “sebum.” Typically it is hereditary, meaning that if one or both of your parents had oily skin, you may have it, too. In addition, exposing the skin to too many products that upset its own natural balance can also trigger the over-production of oil.

What Are the Problems Associated with Oily Skin?

If you have oily skin, you may also suffer from the following problems:

Clogged pores

Too much oil dirt and clogs pores resulting in blemishes and breakouts. You can check out our face mapping skin analysis to find out what your blemishes are trying to tell you.


Oily skin looks shiny and greasy.

Runny Cosmetics

You have a hard time keeping makeup in place, and often have to blot and reapply.

The good news is that oily skin ages more slowly than dry skin, so when you move into your 40s and beyond, you may actually be thankful for your oiliness!

“I’ve learned to love and embrace my oily skin,” says another one of our readers. “Look at all those poor women out there with dry skin who constantly have to replace what we already have in abundance!”

adaptogenic skin care

Daily Routine for Combatting Excess Oil

Even though your skin may age more slowly than other types, that’s little consolation when you’re looking at large pores and shine. When looking for ways to help control your oil production, start with some basic steps.

1. Wash only twice a day

Even though the oil crops back up within a couple hours, resist the urge to wash again. If you strip the oils too much, your skin will react by producing even more, which is definitely what you don’t want. If you wash off that excess oil more than that, use water alone.

2. Use a dissolving cleanser

You want your cleanser to gently dissolve the oils and deeply clean at the same time. Try our Citrus Mint Facial Cleanser, which is formulated specifically for oiliness. It will remove dirt, excess oil, and impurities without harsh chemicals, and will help unclog pores. Use warm water, and massage the cleanser into your skin for at least one minute before rinsing off.

3. Tone carefully

Again, the danger here is over-stripping your natural oils and causing a backfire in oil production. You want a toner that is gentle but effective. Try our Rosemary Toning Mist, which helps clean and give the skin a balanced appearance, plus it is a leave-on toner, which provides lasting benefits.

4. Balance the oils in your skin

This is critical in oily skin types, and the step that most people struggle with. You know the problem is too much oil, so you try to get rid of that oil, but oftentimes that means harsh products that just strip the skin, damage the outer layer, and lead to increased oil production in the long run, as well as accelerated aging.

Natural oils have an amazing ability to work with the body to balance the way your skin looks, which is why we're so sold on them and know you can find the best oil for your skin, too. You may think, “apply oils to oily skin?” But just try it—you’ll be amazed at the results, we're sure. Use the Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin, made especially for oily skin types. Apply it every day after cleansing and you’ll notice a more balanced look.

Eight Tips for Oily Types

Once you’ve got your daily routine down, it’s time to add in a few extra steps that will improve the appearance and behavior of your skin.

1. Use a mask 2-3 times a week.

Masks help reduce the oily appearance on the face for days at a time. Plus they can help pores appear smaller. Try our Purifying Mud Mask, which uses mineral-rich clays to give a toner and tighter appearance to the skin.

2. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week.

Try the Kaolin Micro Exfoliant, which leaves your skin looking smooth and clean. Just be careful not to over-exfoliate, because that can cause skin damage and may encourage your skin you produce more oil.

3. Consider your diet.

Foods high in fats, sugars, and unhealthy oils can cause a negative reaction in your skin. Choose healthy fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, and cut down on sugar-sweetened beverages.

4. Try witch hazel before applying makeup.

It’s a natural salicylic acid toner. Wiping your face before applying makeup will help soak up excess oil without stripping your skin.

5. Use a light moisturizer.

It can be a little counter-intuitive, but using a light moisturizer with infused ingredients that cleanse can help your skin balance out its own oils overtime so that you don't stay so oily.

6. Use oil-free cosmetics.

When choosing makeup products, always find oil-free or “non-comedogenic” products that won’t clog pores.

7. Don’t overdo powder.

You may think that more powder would help soak up excess oil, but it can actually get cakey and may encourage your skin to pump out more oil. Apply powder sparingly only on shiny areas, and use a matte translucent formula.

8. Remember sun protection.

No matter what kind of skin you have, you need to protect it from the sun, which is enemy #1 when it comes to aging! Look for zinc oxide formulas, like our Sun Love Natural Sunscreen.

Do you have oily skin? How do you cope? Share your wisdom in the comments below.


comments (36 and counting)


Reader Interactions


  1. Isa says

    So I have very oily and acne-prone skin and I’ve heard, from this article and different people, that adding certain oils to your skin can help calm my greasy face. I like the idea I just don’t know what type of oils to use?

  2. Carlos says

    I’ll be 40 this year and I have been struggling with oily skin and hair since I was a young teenager. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of, milk,honey,oat meal,alo vera,skin cleaners and the list goes on and on. It was embarrassing getting acne, black heads. I would shower in the morning and by noon my hair was oily. I would run my fingers through my hair and my hand would shine, and it had a funky smell.
    The one thing I had never tried was changing my diet. With in 1 week of changing my diet, I noticed my skin and hair were not as oily. With in 2 weeks I was oil free, skin and hair.
    What kind of diet did I use? I went on a all plant based diet. I cut out eating all meat, eggs, milk, all dairy.
    This is by far the best thing I have ever done. I’m not saying it was easy, by no means. Before I went on this diet, I would have to shower 2 a day. My wife would complain that my pillow stunk, and my over all body order was pretty strong.
    Since I’ve been on this plant based diet, I’ve gone through a complete body transformation. Try an all plant base diet and see for yourself, and plus its good for you.

  3. Jessica says

    I pretty much have oily skin because my entire face will get oily. Not only is my face oily, but I also have acne, my biggest concern is the cystic acne. I’m thinking it’s more hormonal because when it’s that time of the month my face FREAKS out especially around my jawline and under my chin. My dermatologist has recommended Accutane but I really do not want to get on Accutane because of the side effects. This has dramatically brought my self esteem down, but don’t know what else to try. I’ve done coconut oil as a cleanser since I was told to do the oil approach. It did make my face feel amazing, but I was starting to wonder if that clogged my pores because my breakouts started to get worse. Oh, I also forgot ro mention I have extremely sensitive skin with Rosacea. I’m extremely allergic to benzoyl peroxide. I’ve changed my diet started to include green smoothies every morning. I cut out dairy last week to see if that’ll help. As a face wash I use CeraVe in the morning and “Say Yes to tomatoes” facial cleanser for acne at night with a spin brush (I’ve seen a difference from my cheeks up with this approach). I also use a sea salt with water toner day and night along with witch hazel after I wash off the sea salt, in the morning I also use Aczone that my dermatologist gave me (I’ve only been using that for a week). For moisturizer I use the Cetaphil for acne prone skin with SPF. I know this is a long post, but maybe someone out there can relate and can give me some recommendations. I just really do not want to get on Accutane. I HATE acne by the way! Thanks in advance!

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      Hey Jessica,

      We’re sorry to hear that you’re experiencing something with you’re skin that you’re not happy with. We would suggest visiting with an esthetician to get an idea of exactly what’s going on with your skin and what your skin is really needing. If this is an internal issue, the skin care you use isn’t 100% the answer, but it’s good to check out the ingredients of what you are using. Those products do have chemical ingredients that may not be helping. We also suggest a visit with a holistic healer to get an idea of how the intersection of your internal body chemistry may be affecting your skin. Good luck!

    • kristina says

      oh wow! i feel your frustration! since this is a year old post I am responding to . I sincerely hope you were able to figure out what was going on?

    • Sandra says

      Hey Jessica,
      I know the feeling. As a teenager, I had very bad acne. The one thing that really worked for me was taking oral contraception. At the time, my gynecologist prescribed me DIANE 35. After a month my acne got better and after 3, it was gone! So maybe this could work for you. Ask your gynecologist about this option and decide if it’d work for you. I know it is a late reply but I hope it helps you.

  4. steff says

    hi im 14 and i have an oily skin..first, i had a scar on my face 3 years ago and its still there what could i do to remove it…and second, my eyes gets so puffy sometimes what can i do….third, my face skin has some dead cells what can i do..lastly, i have a big pimple what can i do to heal it fast?

  5. Dani says

    I tried using coconut oil for my oily (or rather, combination skin (I get a very oily t-zone but my cheeks are quite dry)), to no avail, then I discovered 100% aloe Vera gel, OMG my skin LOVES this stuff! I still use coconut oil maybe 2-3 times a week, as a coconut oil and baking soda scrub, but once a day is too much for me.. but aloe is my new god send! I use it on my hair too. It’s amazing stuff!

  6. Windows says

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  7. Aloysius says

    Hi , im suffering from acne for about 3years now . I have really oily skin and everyday after i wash my face, about 2 hours later ,there will be alot of oil on my face. i feel really insecure about it.i will start using a blotting paper to wipe of all the oil. i will use about 2 or 3 blotting papers a day. does using a moisturizer really work? I read that it helps to control the oil production on the face .please recommend some moisturizers for oily and acne prone skin ;(

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      For clogged pores, we recommend taking a holistic approach. It’s important to consider your environment, genes, hormones, stress, emotional wellness, hydration, and nutrition. Skin Care products can only do so much!

      Washing your face with a mild cleanser, like our Citrus Mint Cleanser, two times a day will be very beneficial. This product will help to unclog pores. It has great cleansing properties from the rosemary, witch hazel, and peppermint that help purify and balance skin.

      Using our Rosemary Toning Mist can also help to balance natural skin oils. Rosemary cleans impurities for a brightened appearance.

      Our Herbal Facial Oils are fantastic moisturizers, especially for those with clogged pores. Oils are more readily absorbed into the skin than lotions because our skin produces oils for moisturization naturally. It seems contrary to put a facial oil on skin with clogged pores, but by using an oil your skin will sense that moisture levels are more normalized which helps balance vital skin oils. Our best recommendation would be our Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin, but if you have sensitive, dry, or combination skin you may want to try either the Unscented Facial Oil, or the Herbal Facial Oil for Normal & Combination Skin.

      Once or twice a week, or even as a spot treatment, we recommend using the Purifying Mud Mask which deeply purifies and promotes skin’s natural mineral balance.

  8. Sophie Addison says

    Thanks for sharing amazing tips.
    I have oily skin and for that I am using a clarifying toner named as Maxatone. It keeps my face hydrated and lusciously soft without becoming oily or greasy looking. I am very much happy with the results. One can try this product.

  9. Lemon Face Wash And Cleanser For Oily Skin says

    Thanks for sharing amazing tips for oily skin. My sister has very oily skin. She keeps trying new products everyday to remove oily from her skin but all of them works for some time only. I will share your tips to her. I hope she will get permanent solution to get rid of oily skin.

  10. Annmarie Skin Care says

    Hi there,

    For oily skin, you might want to work with the Citrus Mint Cleanser and the Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin. Every Couple of days the Purifying Mud Mask can be great!
    I would also suggest seeing a holistic practitioner.

  11. pillar says

    I have suffered with a very oily T zone for years but the other areas of my face are very dry and because I use powder make up this has become a problem for me as I get older because these patches are becoming more noticeable.

    I have tried numerous moisturisers which claim to be for all skin types but the ONLY one that worked for me was the pH Equilibrium Moisturizer from Made from Earth. It balances out my face and does not irritate my sensitive skin. I bought mine online at the Made from Earth website.

  12. Amanda Atwell says

    Haha I thought mosquitoes never bit me because I wasn’t sweet enough, but it’s actually to do with genetics, too. They have preferential blood types lol.

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