Remedies for Oily Skin

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 14, 2020

Everybody’s skin produces oil. Your sebaceous glands produce sebum, an oily or waxy substance that moisturizes and protects your skin and hair. Oily skin happens when your glands produce too much sebum, which can lead to a greasy surface, clogged pores, and acne.

Oily skin is perfectly normal. There are several things to keep in mind when caring for oily skin, but most cases can be managed at home with over-the-counter remedies and proper skincare. 

Remedies and Treatments for Oily Skin

Skincare for oily skin consists of a few basic principles. You should avoid some product ingredients, seek out others, and follow a daily regimen appropriate to your skin type.

Washing Regularly

To care for oily skin, you need to clear it of excess oil. You should wash your face in the morning, at night, and after you exercise. 

Be careful to avoid overly harsh cleansers, which can irritate skin and trigger oil production. Use a gentle, foaming wash instead. For the same reason, you shouldn’t scrub your face too roughly. 

Your cleanser should be non-comedogenic, non-irritating, and non-allergenic. It should also rinse off easily. Gels or bars are more likely to work for oily skin than cream or oil washes.

Exfoliating Every Few Days

Don’t neglect exfoliation. Use a gentle, exfoliating wash several times a week. Doing so will help rid your skin of dead skin cells, which can trap sebum. When sebum gets caught in dead skin cells, acne could form.


Oily skin needs moisturizer, too, particularly if using products designed to remove oil from the skin. Choose something lightweight and non-comedogenic that won’t clog your pores. In the morning, you might skip the moisturizer and apply a sunscreen instead.

Blotting as Needed

Use blotting papers throughout the day to get rid of build-up and control shine. You can find this product in most big-box stores and other smaller establishments. Hold the paper against your face without rubbing, which can spread the oil.

Removing Makeup Before Bed

Look for non-comedogenic cosmetics that won’t block your pores, and be sure to remove all makeup before bedtime. 

Use an effective product that doesn’t require you to scrub and irritate your face. Recent micellar water makeup removers have proven effective at removing water-based cosmetics. If they are not strong enough on their own, they can also help remove an oily film left behind by an oil-based makeup remover.

Avoiding Certain Ingredients

You can find skincare products at a range of prices. Pay attention to product labels and ingredients instead of relying on brand recognition. The following ingredients will clog oily skin:

  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Silicone

Alcohol-based products should also be avoided as they tend to irritate the skin.

Choosing the Right Products 

Look for ingredient lists that contain ingredients with proven oil-fighting capabilities. The following ingredients have succeeded in reducing oil in clinical trials: 

Licochalcone A, a phenol extracted from licorice root, may prove useful to fight acne and manage oily skin. Also, clay facial masks have proven to help control excess oil.

When using products, follow label directions. If you’re trying something new, use it sparingly to start to make sure that it doesn’t irritate your skin and make conditions worse.

Not Touching Your Face

Try not to touch your face throughout the day. Doing so can spread bacteria, dirt, and more oil to areas prone to developing acne and other irritations.

When to See a Doctor

While oily skin is unlikely to lead to serious health complications, it can cause embarrassment or decrease confidence. If oily skin is a concern, you should ask your primary care physician or seek out a dermatologist, particularly if the above remedies fail to produce the results you want.

Show Sources


Complementary Medicine Research: “Clay Jojoba Oil Facial Mask for Lesioned Skin and Mild Acne.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Acne.”


Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: “Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents?”

Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: “Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options.”

Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: “The science behind skincare: Cleansers.”

Mayo Clinic: “Moisturizers: Options for softer skin.”

MedlinePlus: “Oily Skin.”

The American Academy of Dermatology: “How to control oily skin.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info