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10 Tips to Keep Oily Skin Shine-Free


While we can all appreciate a dewy glow, if you’re naturally prone to oily skin, you know how tricky it can be to get your shine situation under control. Once you throw in external factors (like the weather and products you use on a daily basis), you can really kick your oil production into overdrive. “Oily skin is caused by a combination of factors, mainly genetics,” says Joshua Ross, celebrity aesthetician and founder of SkinLab in Los Angeles. “Environmentally, the weather is a huge factor, as is your location and seasonal changes.”

Even if you’ve never experienced serious shine, it doesn’t mean you’re immune to encountering a slick situation on your face in the future. “No person has one skin type,” says Ross. “At any given time, throughout the year, life, age, and season, your skin type can constantly change.”

Think it’s impossible to get rid of oily skin? Guess again. We turned to the experts for a list of tips and tricks to help you get your shine under control once and for all.

ORIGINS Zero Oil™: Deep Pore Cleanser with Saw Palmetto & Mint

1. Use an oil-free cleanser.

Keeping shine under control starts at the sink, which is why it’s so important to use a cleanser for oily skin that will leave you with soft, clean skin without over-drying (more on that later). This first step in your skincare routine will help you achieve a deep clean and ensure you properly remove excess oil, makeup, and dirt that can clog pores and lead to bad breakouts.

We especially love the ORIGINS Zero Oil™: Deep Pore Cleanser with Saw Palmetto & Mint. While salicylic acid minimizes pores and controls excess oil, saw palmetto treats hormonal acne, making it a powerful yet gentle cleanser for oily skin. It’s also free of parabens and phtalates, making it a safe choice for even the most sensitive skin.

FIRST AID BEAUTY Skin Rescue Oil-Free Mattifying Gel

2. Use a moisturizer (really).

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to treating oily skin is that you need to “dry it out” and skip out on moisturizing, but doing so has the reverse effect. When you starve your skin of hydration you’re simply kicking your sebum (AKA oil) glands into overdrive, leading them to produce even more oil that’ll show up on the surface of your skin.

“Many clients actually contribute to their oiliness by trying to dry out their skin,” explains Adriana Martino, aesthetician and founder of SKINNEY MedSpa in New York. “When the skin is dry it actually produces more moisture. Using a daily oil free moisturizer helps to keep the skin balanced.”

If you aren’t sure which product is right for your skin, a good place to start is with the FIRST AID BEAUTY Skin Rescue Oil-Free Mattifying Gel. This non-comedogenic moisturizer is ideal for oily and acne-prone skin and provides hydration while also keeping oil production under control. Zinc PCA and Lecithin decrease sebum on the skin’s surface while Salicornia Herbacea boosts skin’s hydration levels, keeping your complexion balanced and refined. You can also check out our list of the best moisturizers for oily skin for more options.


3. Look for salicylic acid.

The magic ingredient when it comes to treating oily skin? Salicylic acid. “Salicylic acid is an excellent pore-clearing ingredient because it exfoliates the surface of the skin and penetrates into pores to remove oil. This helps to prevent pores from becoming clogged and can help remove clogs that have already formed,” says Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based dermatologist. Not only is it ideal for people with oily and acne-prone skin, but it’s especially beneficial at “treating and preventing comedonal acne [blackheads and whiteheads].”

If you have oily and acne-prone skin you’ve probably heard of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Salicylic acid falls in the latter category. The beta hydroxy acid is used for chemical exfoliation, as it clears out dead skin cells on the surface to reveal a smoother, brighter complexion underneath, giving you a good, deep clean in the process. “While AHAs are water soluble and work on the surface of the skin, BHAs are oil soluble so they can penetrate into pores and are able to work on the surface of the skin as well as inside the pore,” says Dr. King.

For a refresher on all of salicylic acid’s benefits, check out our guide on salicylic acid.

WAY OF WILL Oily Skin Face Toner

4. Try out toner.

If you’re trying to get oil under control, it’s crucial to balance out your skin’s PH levels–and that’s where toner comes in. A toner for oily skin will work as an astringent and an exfoliant, clearing out pores and keeping breakouts at bay, all while hydrating to ensure you don’t over-dry your complexion. 

The WAY OF WILL Oily Skin Face Toner works wonders on oily skin. It’s alcohol-free and crafted from all-natural ingredients, ensuring you won’t wind up over-drying or clogging your pores. It employs witch hazel to calm and heal the skin which works as a natural astringent thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

It’s important to remember that not all toners are created equal, so in order to achieve the best results, you have to find the right product for your skin type. Our guide on all things toner is a good refresher if you aren’t sure what to reach for.

TARTE COSMETICS Amazonian clay full coverage foundation SPF 15

5. Use oil-free foundation.

Although makeup helps reduce the appearance of shine and evens out your complexion, a pore-clogging product can actually leave you looking shinier than when you started. Be sure to use a foundation for oily skin if you want to achieve a flawless, shine-free finish. You’ll want to reach for a non-comedogenic formula to ensure your makeup isn’t the culprit behind a bad breakout and excess sebum production. 

If you’re looking for matte coverage that lasts, look no further than TARTE COSMETICS Amazonian clay full coverage foundation SPF 15. The hypoallergenic formula is oil-free and provides full coverage without caking or creasing. While Vitamin E works as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant to soothe the skin, Amazonian clay delivers the long-wear coverage you need.

TARTE Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder

6. Don’t skimp on powder.

You can follow a diligent skincare routine, use the best foundation for oily skin, and still wind up with a shiny T-zone by lunch time. Why? Because you forgot to apply a mattifying powder. Believe it or not, there is a difference between setting and finishing powder -- and if you’re prone to oily skin, using powder should be a non-negotiable step in your makeup routine. The secret to a set-it-and-forget-it finish all comes down to using a translucent powder

When it comes to controlling shine, the TARTE Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder is the MVP in our makeup case. Not only do Ipsters rave about the way it keeps their complexion shine-free, but it’s composed of finely-milled powders made of Amazonian clay which control oil production. Bonus: you can use it as both a setting and finishing powder.

ELIZABETH MOTT Thank Me Later Face Primer - Matte Primer

7. Use primer.

Set your makeup up for success by first applying a primer. This simple step in your morning routine not only keeps makeup in place, but it also controls shine throughout the day, all while reducing the appearance of pores to ensure your makeup goes on smoothly and evenly. 

The ELIZABETH MOTT Thank Me Later Matte Face Primer offers a matte finish and controls shine. Apply it after moisturizer and before foundation to lock in hydration and create a smooth canvas for your makeup. 

Even if you don’t typically suffer from oily skin you might find your makeup sliding off your face as the seasons change. Be proactive as the humidity rises and ensure your flawless face stays put with one of the best primers for oily skin. It’s also great to pack one in your beach bag before your next vacation.

GLAMGLOW TROPICALCLEANSE™ Daily Exfoliating Cleanser

8. Exfoliate (but not every day).

In order to control oil production and balance your complexion you’ll want to ensure dead skin, dirt, and excess sebum isn’t clogging your pores, because then all of the products you’re applying to keep your shine in check won’t be able to penetrate your skin and work their magic. 

That’s where exfoliating comes in. This crucial step can leave you with a smooth, balanced complexion, but be careful not to overdo it. If you have oily skin you can exfoliate 2-3 times a week, but it’s best to incorporate the process into your routine gradually and select a product to target your individual skincare needs. Aren’t sure where to start? Check out our list of the best exfoliators.

The GLAMGLOW TROPICALCLEANSE™ Daily Exfoliating Cleanser takes a one-two approach to exfoliating, as it’s a physical and chemical exfoliator in one and employs pomegranate seeds as a physical exfoliator and fruit enzymes as a chemical exfoliator to slough off dead skin cells, leaving you with a smoother, brighter complexion.

PACIFICA BEAUTY Mattify Prep Pineapple & Hyaluronic Facial Mask

9. Try a face mask.

Using a face mask is basically like treating yourself to a facial in the comfort of your own home. If you have oily skin, the benefits are two-fold. Not only can you hydrate and balance out your complexion, but you’ll also draw out excess sebum and temporarily decrease oil production in the skin.

The PACIFICA BEAUTY Mattify Prep Pineapple & Hyaluronic Facial Mask employs papaya, green tea, and Vitamin C to prep, treat, and nourish the skin while hyaluronic acid provides oil-free moisture.

10. Stick to a routine.

While you may be desperate to try every new oil-eliminating product you hear about, doing so can wreak havoc on your complexion and kick your oil-producing glands into overdrive. Just like a temperamental toddler, your skin craves routine and will benefit from a uniform approach. Our final piece of advice? Build a skincare routine unique to your skin, stick with it, and have a little patience. In time you’ll find your oily skin looking more matte than ever before.


Although it may seem impossible to get rid of oil, you can bid adieu to your shiny T-zone once and for all. It’s all about finding the perfect balance for your complexion. Want in on all the Glam Bag fun? Take the beauty quiz now to get started. And don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

About the author
Katrina Mitzeliotis Lanza
Katrina is a freelance writer and on-air correspondent with over a decade of experience covering beauty, fashion, and entertainment. When she isn't freelancing, you can catch her on QVC or chasing after her two-year-old son.
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Article Last Updated February 5, 2020 12:00 AM