How To Choose the Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin

Everyone’s skin is different. Some people have naturally glossy, hydrated skin, while others suffer from a bit of thickness and dryness. Some people have silky skin that’s smooth to the touch, while others might feel a bit greasy and oily.

If you’re part of the latter group and you have particularly oily skin, it can be difficult to find the right set of skincare products to suit your needs. Face washes remove excess oil on the skin, but this might leave you feeling flaky and dry. You can moisturize, but most moisturizers are oil based, so you’ll just get back to that uncomfortable feeling right away.

If you have oily skin, don’t worry! Lots of people are having the same issues as you, and there are ways that you can combat oily skin without worrying about excessive dryness. Here’s how to choose the best moisturizer for oily skin.

What Causes Oily Skin?

Everyone has oil on their skin. Oils in small amounts are necessary for keeping your skin glowing and looking rejuvenated. It’s necessary for keeping your skin hydrated and healthy. But in some people, oil build up can become excessive, leading to pimples and breakouts.

Oil on the skin is caused by something called sebum, which is produced from the sebaceous glands. These glands can be found all over the body, though they are largest on the forehead and chin. This is why facial breakouts are more common than most other areas of the body.

Sebum reduces water loss on the surface and protects the skin against bacterial or fungal infection. However, in abundance, sebum can clog the pores and lead to whiteheads, blackheads, or other blemishes.

Excess sebum production can be a byproduct of a number of things. Genetics can play a large role, but so can your age. Sebum production is under the control of androgens, or sex hormones. During puberty when androgen production is rapidly increased, sebum production may follow. This is why acne and breakouts are much more common in young adults under the age of 18.

As you age, you’ll start to notice that breakouts and oily skin becomes less prominent. This is because aging skin loses protein, such as collagen, and the sebaceous glands slow down their production of sebum. 

While it’s important to continually re-evaluate your skincare routine as your skin type changes, having oily skin might actually be beneficial compared to those with drier skin. Since dry skin and loss of collagen lead to wrinkles and age spots, these might be less prominent if you continue to have more active sebaceous glands into adulthood.

With that said, getting oily skin under control is important in preventing breakouts and keeping your skin feeling healthy.

What To Look For in a Moisturizer for Oily Skin

You might notice that your skin feels extra oily even after going through your nightly skincare routine. There’s a chance that this is because you’re using a cleanser that is not meant for your skin type. Not all cleansers and moisturizers are made alike, so it is important to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Look for Oil-Free Options

It might seem obvious, but make sure your moisturizer does not contain any oil, or contains very little oil as its inactive ingredient. Since oil naturally hydrates the skin, it might seem natural to pick a moisturizer that contains this substance. However, if you already have oily skin, you don’t need to be contributing to its production.

Instead, look for moisturizers that use water as the main ingredient. Water won’t contribute to oil build up in your pores like an oil-based product will, so these are the best alternatives if you have an oily skin type. 

These are often referred to as non-comedogenic moisturizers, which just means that they won’t clog your pores and cause pimples.

Research the Active Ingredients

Moisturizers and cleansers contain inactive ingredients and active ingredients. Inactive ingredients, such as water or fragrances, do not actually contribute to the proposed effects of the product itself. In contrast, an active ingredient will directly work to do what the product is intended. In the case of moisturizers, an active ingredient will provide the effect of hydrating the skin.

Many brands often use a chemical active called salicylic acid in moisturizers for oily skin. This is because salicylic acid can unclog pores and bind to oil compounds, removing them from the skin’s surface. While it does its job, salicylic acid can be intense, leading to irritation or excessive dryness in those who have sensitive skin.

Instead, it’s a good idea to lean towards more natural and sustainable ingredients within your moisturizers and cleansers in general. These will likely be less intense than chemical alternatives. This is especially true for marine actives.

Since marine microorganisms, like kelp and algae, live in extreme environments, they develop survival properties that protect themselves against things like UV radiation and physical damage. This makes marine active ingredients perfect for use in moisturizers and other skincare products, as they are clinically proven and targeted to achieve specific wellness results.

Not to mention, these are natural and sustainable resources when compared to harsher chemical alternatives. Natural moisturizers often work in unison with your skin rather than disrupting it.

How To Moisturize Oily Skin

Choosing the right moisturizer is important, but using it properly is equally imperative. For starters, be sure to incorporate moisturizing into your daily skincare rituals in the same way that you would a face wash. This will ensure that your skin continually stays hydrated and healthy, even if you miss a day or two.

Also, always moisturize after washing your face. Since facial cleansers have a tendency to dry out the skin and wash away excess compounds on the surface, moisturizing before washing your face will just cancel each other out. 

You also won’t need too much product at one time. Use just enough moisturizer to coat the skin on your face and jaw. This will make sure you don’t clog your pores while also extending the lifespan of your product.

Choosing the Best Face Wash for Oily Skin

In addition to moisturizing, it’s also great to make sure that your face wash will coincide well with your skin type too.

When browsing your options online or in-store, be on the lookout for cleansers that specifically say they are targeted for normal to oily skin. These will likely contain active ingredients that will bind to oil on the skin and remove it easily. Keep in mind that you may experience some dryness, especially when using a face wash for the first few times.

You will also want a lighter facial cleanser, such as a purifying mist or spray. These will lift makeup and impurities without stripping the skin, decreasing the likelihood of irritation or excessive dryness. They’ll also help in reducing the appearance of pores for a more uniform and firm complexion.

General Tips

When it comes to oily skin, there are few things to watch out for outside of your normal skincare regimen. 

It’s tempting to use heavy cosmetics to conceal the appearance of oily skin, but they can clog the pores and make sebum production even more excessive. Cut back on the use of makeup as much as possible, and when you do use it, be sure to clean it off before bed.

Also, unhealthy foods such as fried foods and foods that are high in sugar may contribute to increased oil excretion. Try to maintain a healthy diet whenever possible, being sure to include healthy fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

Finally, if you notice that your skincare routine is worsening your symptoms, consider consulting a dermatologist before moving any further. You may have misjudged your skin type, so get a professional opinion before proceeding.

In Conclusion

Oily skin is a common skin type that’s caused by overactive sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum at an accelerated rate, which is a natural oil that can clog the pores and lead to breakouts.

Since oil is naturally hydrating, many moisturizers are oil-based. However, it is important to use natural, water-based moisturizers if you have oily skin to ensure that you aren’t contributing to its excess oil production. On top of that, look for active ingredients that are less harsh than just the typical salicylic acid solutions.

When moisturizing, be sure to do so after cleansing your face with a proper facial soap. Lighter products like mists and sprays tend to be less irritating and may keep the skin more hydrated compared to heavier liquid and bar soaps.

The bottom line is that oily skin is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you might have healthier skin later down the line! Just take a few steps each day to get your oil under control and you’ll be feeling great in no time at all.



Sebum - DermNet NZ

Serum levels of androgens in acne & their role in acne severity - National Institutes of Health

Salicylic Acid Topical - MedlinePlus