The 9 Best Products and Treatments for Persistently Oily Skin

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Whether or not you have naturally oily skin is generally decided by your genes. However, there are steps you can take to dial down the oil and get a more matte complexion. There are a handful of products, ingredients, and treatments that work wonders at draining your skin of excess sebum. 

There are some general rules about picking out products when you have oily skin. For example, Saddle Brooke, NJ dermatologist Dr. Fredric Haberman advises people with this skin type to choose skin-care products labeled oil-free and noncomedogenic. A handful of dermatologists have given us recommendations for which products and treatments will do the most to dry up your skin.

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When shopping for a face wash, you may think you need something strong or harsh to dredge the oil, but Dr. Haberman warns against this—what you really need is a “gentle, foaming face wash,” he says. “Using a face wash that is too harsh can irritate your skin and trigger increased oil production. Instead, look for a mild, gentle face wash,” advises Dr. Haberman. You can try Caudalie Vinoclean Instant Foaming Cleanser ($28).

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You may be oil-free when leaving your house in the morning, but by midday, the grease is likely to make an unwanted appearance. To keep your complexion oil-free on the go, try carrying blotting papers with you, suggests Dr. Haberman. You can count on Tatcha Aburatorigami Blotting Papers ($12) to dry you out throughout the day as needed. “Gently press the paper against your face and leave it on for a few seconds to absorb the oil. Don’t rub the paper on your face, as this will spread the oil to other areas,” explains Dr. Haberman.

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Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby suggests using serums on oily skin. “Serums are the go-to products that work better with oily skin,” she said. “They tend to be alcohol-based, so there is no added oily residue.” A great serum for oily skin is The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum ($6).

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If you have oily skin, you may want to talk to your dermatologist about fruit acid or TCA peels. Dr. Allenby says these treatments “are excellent tools in reducing the excess oil and improve the pore refinement that seems more apparent with oily skin individuals.”

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Although your skin feels moisturized by the natural oils, it’s still important to hydrate your skin with moisturizer. Dr. Haberman suggests using a moisturizer that also contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. “To prevent acne breakouts, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and do not use sunscreens that contain fragrance or oils,” he advises. La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer With SPF ($20) checks all these boxes.

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Clay may be one of nature’s best-known beauty ingredients and green clay is heralded at the top of the complexion-perfecting apex as it draws out excess oil and impurities. Find it in Triumph & Disaster Roll & Roll Suicide Face Scrub ($33) to get skin looking spick and span with nary a drop of grease in sight. 

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Over-the-counter and prescription-strength skin-care products that boast salicylic or glycolic acid are a must, according to Beverly Hills dermatologist Rhonda Rand, MD. “I like microdermabrasion or light glycolic peels to clean out the oil. Treatments like these also prevent the pores from reflecting as much light, which can make them look larger,” says Dr. Rand. “And, if you are super oily, use a benzoyl-peroxide-based cleanser,” she says. 

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It’s a pretty well-known fact that oil is the antidote for oily skin—oil attracts oil, lifting it away without stripping skin. A light layer of Herbivore Lapis Facial Oil ($72) goes to work to clarify oily complexions and mitigate potential breakouts.

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They may be best known for their collagen-stimulating and wrinkle-reducing abilities, but prescription-strength retinoids like Retin-A, Differin and Tazorac act like a sponge of sorts to sop up oil. Use them nightly to keep oil production (and enlarged pores) during the day to a minimum. 

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