treat oily skin

How to treat oily skin?

Written by: Ayesha Khan, MBBS

In a Nutshell

  • Oily skin is the result of overproduction of sebum that leads to greasy skin, clogged pores, acne, blackheads, and other cosmetic issues
  • Keep your skin clean with periodic washing using soap and water
  • Use water-based cosmetics and skin care products

Why does skin become oily?

Many find oily skin to be challenging, and frustrating. Besides giving skin a constant greasy look, people with oily skin are also more prone to experience acne, enlarged/open pores, blackheads, and other skin issues. Oily skin is a cosmetic concern that occurs due to the excessive production of sebum from sebaceous gland. Sebaceous glands are located inside the skin and are responsible for producing oily and lubricating sebum to hydrate and moisturize the skin and hairs.

Causes of excessive sebum production includes

- Genetics

- Environment factors

- Lifestyle choices

- Stress

- Hormonal imbalance

Simple Home Treatment Regimen

Improve your oily skin with these simple home remedies:

Adopt a good skin care routine

Oily skin requires periodic washing to remove excessive oil from the skin. Improper cleansing of skin leads to entrapment of oil and dirt in the pores that causes breakouts and acne.

It is important to maintain a balance as frequent face-washing can lead to dryness, which further facilitates the production of sebum to restore the moisture of skin.

It is recommended to:

- Wash face with mild chemical free soups as harsh products can further irritate the skin.

- Try medicated products that are available in the market to treat oily skin such as soaps and facewash that contains

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Glycolic acid
  • Beta- hydroxyl acid
  • Salicylic acid

- You can also use facial cleansers that are specifically designed to treat oily skin such as cleansers that contain Sodium Laureth Carboxylate and Alkyl Carboxylate.

- Warm water and fragrance-free glycerin soaps are also helpful.


There are some toners that are effective and soothing to oily skin types such as those that contains witch hazel. With hazel is an anti-inflammatory natural astringent. It helps in removing excessive dirt and cosmetic remnants that clogs up the pores.

Do not use towel or rough washcloth

Rubbing the face with rough cloth or towel after washing can further increases sebum production. It is therefore recommended to gently pat your face dry.

Face Masks

Homemade face masks are good for oily skin such as:

Oatmeal: Oatmeal absorbs excessive oil and soothes skin inflammation with its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Honey: Honey has antibacterial and antiseptic abilities that make it one of the best ingredients for treating oily and inflamed skin.

Clay: Clays like smectite or bentonite are beneficial for absorbing excessive skin oils, diminishing sebum levels, and treating other skin related issues. French green clay is also helpful in treating oily skin.

Blotting Papers and Medicated Pads

Blotting papers can also be used to absorb excessive skin oil. You can keep it in your bag and use it frequently to remove excess oil from the skin.

Medicated pads are also helpful as they contain ingredients like salicylic acid and glycolic acid that helps in reducing excessive oil and cleansing dirt and grease particles from skin pores.

Nuances/ Safety

- Every skin is different, it is ideally recommended to seek help from a dermatologist if symptoms are severe or if you have other skin related issues as well.

- Test out one product at a time to see how your skin reacts to it.

Strength of Evidence: B

The recommended management regimen for oily skin care presented in this article is based on usual practices suggested by American Academy of Dermatology.

Our Ruling

Oily skin is frustrating as it causes a lot of cosmetic concerns such as acne, comedones, blackheads, greasy skin to name a few. Fortunately, with some simple skin care techniques, you can control the sebum production from your skin. The key principle to keep in mind is to avoid oil-based skin-care products and cosmetics. Also, make sure to wash or wipe your face at intervals and use a water-based toner to maintain oil-free healthy skin.

Our Sources:

  1. Medline Plus - Oily skin
  2. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology - Oily skin: A review of management options
  3. Journal of Dermatological Treatment - Benzoyl peroxide & moisturizer
  4. NHS - Acne treatment
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