The perfect skincare routine if you have oily skin

Vanessa Gibbs

Skincare routines are difficult to get right at the best of times. There are hundreds of products, thousands of ingredients and even more combinations to choose from. But they can be even harder when you have oily skin to think about, too, as you need to find products tough enough to break down oil, but gentle enough to not aggravate the skin. Not sure where to start? That’s where we can help. 

Here at Face Dr, our team of experts has decades of experience helping people get clear, glowing skin. Even those with oily skin can find products that can reduce the oil and control the shine, leaving them with a glowing complexion. 

Here, we’re going to cover the perfect routine for oily skin including our top product recommendations. Interested in the best routines for other skin types and concerns? We’ve covered routines for sensitive skin and dull skin here. 

Here’s what we’ll cover: 

  • What to include in an oily skincare routine 
  • What to avoid in an oily skincare routine
  • Products to use daily  
  • Products to use weekly 
  • How much an oily skincare routine costs  


What is oily skin? 

 woman looking at face

Before we dive into the perfect skincare routine for oily skin, let’s talk about what this skin type actual is. Everyone’s skin produces oil—or sebum—but some of us simply produce more than others. This can leave the surface of the skin looking shiny and lead to clogged pores, blackheads and acne. 

Most people are simply born with oily skin, but it can also be caused by poor diet, stress, hormones, age, over washing or even using the wrong skincare products. That’s why finding the perfect routine is so important. 


How to choose a skincare routine for oily skin 


What to look out for 

Look out for any products that say they’re designed with oily skin in mind. Whenever possible, opt for lightweight or gel products over heavy creams and thick lotions which can clogs the pores. 

Salicylic acid is a key ingredient for those with oily skin. It can help to deep clean the pores, break down excess oil and control shiny looking complexions. 

AHAs like glycolic acid or lactic acid can help to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells and oil build-up on the skin. They can also help to revive tired, greasy looking skin revealing a brighter healthier looking complexion. 

Clay is another key ingredient to look out for. It absorbs oil and other impurities in the skin helping to reduce blemishes and shiny patches.  

What to avoid 

Alcohol can be a triggering ingredient for many people. For those of us with oily skin, alcohol can dry out the skin. Even though that sounds like a good thing, it can be overly drying which causes the skin to make even more oil in response. 

You should also avoid thick pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil or petroleum jelly. These block the pores and can cause breakouts, acne and even more oil build-up. 

Be wary of harsh physical scrubs. It may be tempting to scrub away excess oil, but just like how over drying the skin doesn’t work, over scrubbing doesn’t either. Use physical scrubs with caution and reduce the amount you use them—or stop completely—if you notice your oily skin is getting worse or it’s causing breakouts. 

woman using skincare product for oily skin

Products to use every day 



Just like with other skin types, those with oily skin should cleanse twice a day. It may be tempting to wash your face more often than this, especially if it feels greasy, but this can actually make the problem worse. Cleansing morning and night with a high-grade cleanser should be enough to remove dirt, make-up and—most importantly—excess oil. 

You can also opt for an exfoliating cleanser that can help to keep the pores clear and remove the build-up of oil and dead skin cells.


ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Cleanser


Face Dr top pick: ZO Exfoliating Cleanser 

You could also try: AllSkin Med Purifying Cleansing Foam


After cleansing, consider adding a toner to your routine. Not only will this help to remove excess product and any lingering dirt and oil, but the best toners can also help to rebalance the skin and leave it clean and clear ready for the next skincare step. 



Face Dr top pick: ZO Oil Control Pads 

You could also try: ZO Calming Toner 


After cleansing, it’s time to add a serum or a moisturising product. If you have any other skincare concerns—like hyperpigmentation or ageing—now is where you can add a targeted treatment for those too. 

In the mornings, niacinamide or hyaluronic acid serums can help to boost moisture, without making the skin too oily. In the evenings, retinol can help treat blackheads and acne or AHA serums like glycolic acid can help to break down dead skin cells and keep the complexion clear and bright.

If you’re looking for a moisturiser, opt for a lightweight solution that won’t clog the pores. 


ZO Skin health Daily Power Defense


Face Dr top pick: ZO Daily Power Defence 

You could also try: 


The final step of your morning skincare routine should always be sunscreen. Although the thought of adding a thick sunscreen can seem counterintuitive for oily skin, SPF protection is just as important as it is for other skin types. Opt for mineral sunscreens, like those with zinc oxide, which are less likely to clog your pores. 

Face Dr top pick: AllSkin Med Mineral Fluid SPF 50 

You could also try: ZO Skin Health Sunscreen + Primer 

Products to use every week 


Man using face mask for oily skin


Once a week you can include a mask in your skincare routine. Clay masks in particular are great for oily skin as the ingredient soaks up excess oil and rebalances the skin. You can also try exfoliating masks with AHAs or physical particles. These can remove dead skin cells and excess oil to leave the complexion looking brighter and healthier. 

Face Dr top pick: ZO Complexion Clearing Masque 

You could also try: SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque 

How much does the perfect skincare routine for oily skin cost? 


You may be wondering about the price tag of the perfect oily skincare routine. This obviously depends on how many extra steps you want to add—like whether you’ll use a mask or other targeted treatments. But the price will also vary a lot depending on which brands you decide to go for. 

Face Dr top tip: while it can be tempting to go for high street brands as they’re cheaper, they can actually work out more expensive than cosmeceuticals in the long run. That’s because many high street products simply don’t work as well as they contain weak percentages of active ingredients. Opt for high-grade products with a slightly higher price tag, and you may find you get results much faster. 

ZO Skin Health’s policy says stockists are not able to share prices. But you can create an account with Face Dr to see them, or sign up to our newsletter where you can find them, too. 

How to get started 


 Skincare consultation with Face Dr


We’ve detailed the perfect skincare routine for oily skin. But, of course, we all have different skincare needs, so the perfect skincare routine may look a little different for each of us. The best way of finding the most ideal routine for you is by speaking to a skin expert. 

Here at Face Dr, we offer free online skincare consultations. In a 30-minute video call, one of our skincare experts can analyse your skin and recommend the best products to help control oily skin. Plus, if you have any other concerns—like dark spots or sensitive skin—they can build a routine to tackle these, too. 

We only ever recommend products we know and trust ourselves, and there’s never any obligation to buy. You can simply get the friendly skincare advice and start controlling oily skin straight away. 

Find the best facial masks to try in the comfort of your own home. Facial masks are an excellent way to target skin concerns and add a little more TLC to your skin routine. Discover our top mask recommendations from ZO Skin Health, Obagi and other brands on the market.
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