As an oily skin type, I’ve been fighting sebum since forever. And I tried dozens of oil-control products in the attempt to manage shine and breakouts, some of which worked, others didn’t.
While sebum is great and has a key role in moisturizing the skin, its excess makes the skin look greasy and clogs pores, causing pimples and blackheads. The reason it made me want to find something to fight sebum back. To save you from the hard work and research, I’ve pulled out the best oil-control products, from cleansers, toners to serums, moisturizers, and masks; it’s all here. But before I go into it, some background.
- Murad Oil Control Clarifying Cleanser
- Olehenriksen Oil Control Cleanser
- First Aid Beauty Deep Cleanser
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Toner
- Obagi Oil-Balancing Toner
- La Mer Oil Absorbing Tonic
- Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum
- The INKEY List Oil Control Serum
- Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum
- Skinceuticals Daily Moisture
- PCA SKIN Clearskin Oil-Free Moisturizer
- Clinique Oil Control Moisturizer
- Origins Active Charcoal Mask
- Chantecaille Oil-Control Mask
- Tata Harper Clarifying AHA + BHA Mask
- The Ordinary Peeling Solution
- Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder
- Dennis Gross Daily Peel
What is sebum
Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the skin’s sebaceous glands, formed by a mix of fatty acids, sugars, and waxes. Sebum helps maintain skin flora, minimizes transepidermal water loss, and protects the skin’s surface to prevent external aggressors from penetrating through it. But when there’s an excess of it, it becomes trouble-y.
Causes of excess oil
Sebum overproduction is mostly caused by hormonal imbalance, genetics, medication, or lifestyle choices. You can balance sebum levels and reduce skin oiliness by using products containing oil-absorbing ingredients. Equally important, people with excess sebum should avoid oil-based products as they can cause even more sebum production.
What ingredients help control oil
A few ingredients are known to keep that shine at bay and help the skin regulate its sebum production:
- Clay – when you apply wet clay on the skin, as it dries, it binds to impurities and excess oil from the pores, absorbing them. For this reason, you’ll find clay as the main ingredient in masks for sebum control.
- Charcoal – has a huge ability to absorb oil and unclog pores, acting like a sponge thanks to its porous texture. Those tiny holes attract and trap oil, toxins, and impurities. Charcoal is mainly used in masks and cleansers that target excess oil.
- Corn starch powder – can soak the excess sebum from the skin, leaving it shine-free and fresh-looking. It also has soothing properties, making it great for sensitive and acne-prone skin types.
- Niacinamide – also known as vitamin B3, is a multi-tasker that does wonders for oil control while repairing skin damage and even skin tone.
- Salicylic acid – due to its small molecular size, this BHA goes deep underneath the dermis, where it sops up oil, unclogs pores, and encourages dead cells to shed away for brightener skin.
- Glycolic acid – an acid known to reduce excessive oil, exfoliates dead skin cells off the skin’s surface, and prevent pores from clogging.
- Green tea – the main antioxidant in green tea, EGCG, is a compound that reduces sebum production and fights inflammation.
- Hyaluronic acid – because it keeps skin hydrated, it hinders sebum glands from going into overproduction, and it’s non-comedogenic.
As an aside, bear in mind that most ingredients that aid in oil control have drying effects, so you shouldn’t go to the other extreme either. Dehydrated skin makes the sebaceous glands go into overdrive and produce more sebum. This is why, when you choose your oil balancing products, you must combine them with hydrating ones that yet won’t clog your pores.
What ingredients lead to excess sebum
Just as it is vital to know your allies, you must be aware of your enemies. A bunch of ingredients can increase sebum production and those you’d want to dodge in your skincare products. I’m speaking about beeswax, mineral oils, petroleum jelly, coconut oil, alcohol, and dimethicone.
Best products for sebum control
Without further ado, these are the best oil-control products to complete your skincare routine and manage that oily skin.
Best oil-control cleansers
Murad Oil Control Clarifying Cleanser
Murad products are always on the rise. This oil-control cleanser dissolves makeup and impurities while helps control excess oil, unclog pores and prevent breakouts. It is formulated with two types of salicylic acid and green tea to keep skin clear of pimples and excess sebum. The triple source of corn starch also helps with sebum control, leading to a shine-free appearance and radiant skin.
Olehenriksen Oil Control Cleanser
If you are looking for a non-comedogenic cleanser to control oil and breakouts apparition, Olehenriksen’s product is exactly what you need. It’ll get you a balanced, non-greasy skin by reducing oil production with green tea, eucalyptus, kelp, and other natural extracts. At the same time, glycolic and lactic acids cleanse pores in-depth and prevent excess sebum by exfoliating dead skin cells. It’s perfect for anyone who seeks to manage oily skin and leave behind that shiny and greasy look.
First Aid Beauty Deep Cleanser
This face wash has a red jelly texture given by the red clay that draws out impurities, absorbs sebum, and unclog pores. It prepares your complexion for the next steps by cleansing and soothing your skin without drying it out. More than that, the cleanser combines green tea, rosemary, and licorice root extracts that have antibacterial and antioxidant properties, being one of the best oil-control cleansers out there!
Best oil-control toners
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Toner
For an oil-control toner, this one is among the best of them. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Toner is boosted with salicylic and glycolic acids to unclog pores and reduce oil levels. The formula also encourages cell turnover to help improve skin texture and tone, leaving you with a healthy and glowing complexion. Plus, it contains a mix of natural extracts, thermal water, and castor oil to ensure the skin won’t dry out but stays smooth and refreshed.
Obagi Oil-Balancing Toner
Obagi made one of the best oil-balancing products containing glycolic acid and antioxidants sourced from natural extracts. This toner aids in minimizing pores look, regulating excess oil, as well as moisturizing and refreshing the skin. Not only it contains sebum-controlling ingredients such as witch hazel and glycolic acid, but it’s also rich in aloe polyphenols, broccoli extract, and bioflavonoids, which serve in defending the skin while keeping it hydrated.
La Mer Oil Absorbing Tonic
Created with oily skin in mind, this La Mer tonic is infused with shine-balancing ingredients, such as algae extract, zinc, and three sources of copper. It also works to shrink in large pores, leaving a matte skin after applying it, and it’s boosted with lots of skin-loving natural ingredients. Oh, and it smells like vacay: a marine, refreshing scent.
Best oil control serums
Caudalie Vinopure Skin Perfecting Serum
Using this oil-balancing serum twice daily will bring you closer to a shine-free look, minimize pores look, and improve acne thanks to natural-sourced salicylic acid and niacinamide. Plus, to prevent drying the skin, the formula contains rosewater, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and a mix of oils. Last but not least, Caudalie Vinopure Serum is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores and is 97% natural, also containing antioxidants and soothing ingredients.
The INKEY List Oil Control Serum
Here’s another best oil-control serum formulated with 10% niacinamide working very effectively in reducing excess sebum and blemishes. Since it’s also made with hyaluronic acid, glycerin and squalane, this serum will ensure your skin stays matte yet hydrated and plump all day. It’s lightweight, non-comedogenic, and oil-free, making it ideal for oily skin, acne, sebum-control, and reducing pores appearance.
Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum
Juice Beauty proves that sebum can be controlled and pores unclogged using full organic formulas. As one of the best oil-control products, this one contains salicylic acid naturally derived from willow bark to clear blocked pores and reduce sebum production. On top of that, it has green and white tea, which are also known to possess oil-controlling properties alongside their soothing and hydrating effects. Besides, using Juice Beauty’s serum will boost your skin’s antioxidant defence thanks to coenzyme Q10, vitamins C, E, and B5.
Best oil control moisturizers
Skinceuticals Daily Moisture
This moisturizer is perfect for balancing sebum. It was formulated for oily skin, it is lightweight as a feather and packed with ingredients that hydrate the skin without plugging the pores. Hydrated skin means less sebum. SkinCeuticals moisturizer is packed with red and brown algae to nourish the skin, plus rich botanical extracts that restore moisture and minimizes pores look.
PCA SKIN Clearskin Oil-Free Moisturizer
For sebum control, hydration, and nourishment in one moisturizer, check this one. It is packed with chamomile derivatives to calm the skin, plus vitamin A, hyaluronic acid, retinyl palmitate, aloe, and cucumber to retain moisture. The star ingredient is niacinamide that reduces excess oil and helps improve uneven tone.
Clinique Oil Control Moisturizer
This is one of those Clinique products addressing men. So what? We like its formula because it’s mattifying and hydrates the skin, minimizing excess sebum production. It combines cucumber with caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and a mix of natural plant extracts to soothe skin and calm breakouts. Also, Clinique Mattifying moisturizer it’s formulated without oil, making it one of the best moisturizers for sebum control.
Best oil control masks
Origins Active Charcoal Mask
If you want a vegan purifying mask to reduce oil and pores look and refine the skin, look no further. This mask has one of the best elements for sebum control: bamboo charcoal and white clay. Besides reducing excess oil, it draws impurities unclogging pores, leaving the skin smooth and clear.
Chantecaille Oil-Control Mask
Ten minutes twice weekly, and your skin gets that dose of ingredients it needs to minimize sebum production and pores look without causing dryness. The kaolin clay is the oil-absorbing hero in this sebum-control product, while honey, mushroom, orange peel, and rosemary purify and shrink the pores. As a bonus, this detox max uses a blend of flower waxes to soften the skin.
Tata Harper Clarifying AHA + BHA Mask
Another best oil control product comes from Tata Harper. Clarifying Mask is what you need to detox, control sebum, hydrate your skin and reduce blemishes look. The allure is in the ingredients. It is made with natural-derived AHAs, BHAs, and quartz micro-crystals to exfoliate the skin. Also, this mask fusions a lot of natural extracts to nourish, even, and soften the skin.
Best oil control exfoliants
The Ordinary Peeling Solution
I’ve already said it here this is my go-to peeling solution and that I love it because it helps control oil, improve skin texture and unclog pores. Besides exfoliants like glycolic, salicylic, lactic, tartaric acids, it uses plumping ingredients, such as aloe leaf water, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. Ten minutes twice a week (at PM!), and your skin will radiate. Not bad, huh?
Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder
Once activated with water, this powder transforms into an exfoliating creamy foam that sheds away impurities and dead cells. Japanese rice bran and papaya enzymes boost skin cell turnover, eliminating excess oil and all gunk revealing healthy glowing skin. Along with all of that, it’s packed with green tea, amino acids, and lactic acid that help resurface the skin while keeping it plump.
Dennis Gross Daily Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross created these peel pads pre-dosed with seven acids that work to reduce shine, pores look, scars, and wrinkles appearance. It’s a two-step treatment: step one uses AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate and smooth, and step two neutralizes aging signs and combats dryness with retinol, resveratrol, adenosine, and green tea extract.