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These 7 Ingredients Are All You Need to Control Oily Skin

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Dealing with oily skin can sometimes seem like a battle too great to overcome, with your face always shining brighter than a frying pan no matter how hard you try to get rid of the excess oil! If you have oily skin, you’d know too well how annoying it can be to have your make up done only for your face to appear like an oily mess moments later. Skin woes like blackheads, visible pores, and acne are a package that comes with oily skin, they naturally occur, and you just have to deal with it.

What causes oily skin

So what causes oily skin? Oily skin is the result of excess sebum in your pores. Everyone has a natural oil in their skin, which is produced by the sebaceous gland. This oil helps keep the skin healthy and properly hydrated. However, in some cases, the sebaceous gland produces excess oil, leading to oily skin. Although oily skin can be a beauty problem, research has shown that it’s not all bad news as it also has its benefits! Sebum contains vitamin E, which fights free radicals. Oil also keeps your skin hydrated and protects it from developing premature signs of aging. The trick is to choose the best skincare ingredients that regulate the oil in your skin instead of getting rid of the oil altogether.

The best ingredients for oily skin

That’s why we came up with seven thoroughly researched and scientifically proven skincare ingredients for oily skin to help you banish your greasy skin woes once and for all. Take a peep:


This vitamin A derivative is often used in anti-aging products to tackle problems like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles, but it is equally effective for oily skin. Retinol is a hero ingredient for oily skin because it facilitates skin cell turnover (i.e., getting rid of old, dead cells and bringing fresh, new ones to the skin’s surface).

New York-based, board-certified dermatologist Jason Miller, MD. says, “cell turnover helps unclog pores since a lot of what’s clogging pores is old, dead skin.” According to him, dermatologists often prescribe Retin-A and other topical vitamin A derivatives to clear the gunk in the skin pores by getting rid of the dead skin cell. Studies have shown that topical application of retinol can reduce the amount of oil in the skin, as seen in the dryness that occurs after its use. It has also been proven that some prescription retinoids like tazarotene and tretinoin can reduce pore size.

Side effects: people with sensitive skin can experience skin irritations and redness when they use retinol. It’s always safer to apply a moisturizer after using retinol to reduce the risk of skin irritations.

SkinMedica Retinol

Retinol Product: SkinMedica Retinol 1.0 Complex

This product contains 1% pure retinol. It helps control oil production and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid belongs to the beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). It is a powerful exfoliant that prevents and removes blackheads, acne, roughness, and dark spots by penetrating the deepest parts of the skin pores to remove excess oil that’s clogging the pores from within. Many people with oily skins make the mistake of washing frequently to get rid of the extra shine. However, instead of preventing oily skin, over-cleansing exposes you to breakouts. According to New York-based dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross MD, excessive washing causes overproduction of oil. What you should do is cleanse twice a day with a product that contains salicylic acid. 

Salicylic acid penetrates the skin pores and sucks out the oil clogging it, says Dr. Dianne Berson, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. In addition to regulating oil production in the skin, salicylic acid also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which help to soothe redness and irritations. 

Side effect: it is not suitable for people who are allergic to salicylate. 

Paulas Choice Salicylic Acid Exfoliant

Salicylic Acid Product: Paulas Choice BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that attracts water from the environment into your skin and keeps it locked in to help your skin stay hydrated. It helps your skin retain moisture without adding more oil to it; it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. This is why this ingredient is a top pick for most dermatologists and beauticians. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need a moisturizer simply because you have oily skin. Oil and moisture are two different things, and if you don’t properly hydrate your skin, it can produce too much oil in an attempt to hydrate itself. A study shows that hyaluronic acid’s topical application improves skin appearance, hydrates the skin, and soothes acne and fine lines.

Side Effects: humectants can sometimes steal water from the deepest parts of your skin if they don’t get enough water from the atmosphere. As a result, they could dry out your skin. However, compared to other humectants, hyaluronic acid adapts better to lack water.  

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel-Cream

HA Product: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream

Daily hydrating face moisturizer features a non-comedogenic formula that is oil-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free, perfect for oily skin.

Glycolic Acid

This is a powerhouse ingredient that you need to include in your skincare regimen if you’re dealing with oily skin. Using a toner that contains glycolic acid will help give your skin a smooth and balanced appearance by keeping the top layer of your skin exfoliated. Robert Anolik, MD, medical director for, says, “many patients with oily skin benefits from lotions that contain glycolic acid to help reduce excessive oil.” Glycolic acid also helps prevent and reduce breakouts by preventing pores’ clogging, which causes acne and breakouts. Research reveals that glycolic acid contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties, highly beneficial for oily skin types. 

Side Effects: Glycolic acid isn’t suitable for everyone. People can experience a burning sensation, irritations, or dryness after using glycolic acid. Glycolic acid also makes the skin more sensitive to the sun, so you should follow up with sunscreen to reduce any risk of sun damage.

Peter Thomas 8% Glycolic Solutions Toner

Glycolic Acid Product: Peter Thomas 8% Glycolic Acid Toner

It exfoliates to help brighten, clarify, and smooth skin’s appearance while effectively removing excess oil, dirt, and impurities.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is a well-known ingredient for treating acne, a common problem for oily skin types. It helps to tackle whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples straight at the root by getting rid of bacteria and dead skin cells, which clog the skin pores. These bacteria are responsible for the breakouts most people with oily skin so frequently experience. Benzoyl peroxide can be found in different over-the-counter cleansers and lotions. It is best when used together with a moisturizer.

Side Effects:  It’s not suitable for people with sensitive skin as it can dry out and irritate your skin. It’s best to use it only on acne and together with an antioxidant-rich serum since benzoyl peroxide generates free radicals.

La Roche-Posay Cream with Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide Product: La Roche-Posay Cream

Oil-free formula with benzoyl peroxide and micro-exfoliating LHA to penetrate clogged pores and clear blackheads & whiteheads.


Niacinamide is an all-time favorite for skincare and beauty experts because of its numerous benefits, including sebum absorption. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide strengthens the skin’s outer layer, improves skin barrier function, and stimulates natural collagen production. Dr. Berson says, “Evidence shows that niacinamide absorbs sebum.” By absorbing sebum, it helps to reduce the amount of oil in the skin. Niacinamide also reduces the appearance of premature signs of aging, such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. A small study where separate clinical trials were conducted on both Japanese and USA citizens revealed that 2% of niacinamide products help reduce the sebum production rate.

Side Effects: It can sometimes cause mild itching, burning sensation, or redness. It’s better to use it on a small part of your first and observe how you react to it before proceeding to full application.

Olay Total Effects CC Cream Tone Correcting Moisturizer

Niacinamide Product: Olay Total Effects CC Cream Tone Correcting Moisturizer

This formula absorbs fast and won’t leave you feeling greasy

Grapeseed oil

Naturally obtained from the pressed seeds of grapes, grapeseed oil is a popular, topical skin treatment. You might be thinking how safe it is to apply oil to your already oily skin, but this oil is nothing like your regular oil. It contains certain anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that effectively treat breakouts and other common skin problems associated with oily skin. When tested and some other herbal ingredients, grapeseed oil was shown to improve the skin’s moisture, softness, and elasticity. It also boosts the effectiveness of vitamins E and C in your skin, in addition to protecting the skin from sun damage.

You can use pure grapeseed oil as a serum on your skin before bedtime, or you can mix it with essential oils to make your skin extra soft. You can also use grapeseed oil extracts and take them orally.

Side Effects: grapeseed oil may be unsafe for you if you have blood conditions or are about to take surgery.

The takeaway

Contrary to popular opinion, having oily skin is more of a blessing than a curse. Many people pay a lot of money to get a little of that oil in their skin. All you need is the right skincare ingredients and products to help regulate the rate of oil produced by your skin and keep those annoying breakouts at bay. With the above-listed ingredients and a proper routine, you’re all set to rock that oily skin and show your skin who is the boss!

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