Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/29/2021
So you’ve noticed that your skin often appears shiny, and is greasy to the touch. Here’s the deal: You probably have oily skin.
This guide will walk you through the steps you can take to keep your skin healthy, as well as ingredients to look for in order to reduce the appearance of oil on your skin.
When you walk down the skincare aisle in a drugstore, or search for skin care products online, you may notice labels that designate products for specific skin types, such as dry skin, sensitive skin, normal skin, oily skin or some combination of them.
So how do you go about choosing the right products for your skin? First, you need to understand the different skin types.
Dry skin will feel dry or rough to the touch, and may flake as well. Itchiness can sometimes be observed, and this skin type is also prone to eczema.
Oily skin types will feel greasy to the touch and have a shiny appearance. Individuals with this skin type have excess oil production, meaning that their skin produces a higher than normal amount of sebum, an oily substance naturally produced by skin.
Oily or greasy skin is more prone to acne due to the higher production of sebum and the opportunity for it to combine with bacteria and dead skin cells, leading to clogged pores. As a result, it can be more prone to breakouts, as well.
Combination skin will be a combination of the two above skin types, greasy in some areas and dry in others.
Skin will usually be dry at the cheeks, and oily in the “T-zone” — the T-shaped area of your face encompassing your nose, chin and forehead.
With sensitive skin, you may notice a burning or stinging sensation after the use of certain products. You may also be more prone to irritation from the elements, like wind.
Regardless of your skin type, there are some basic steps everyone should have as part of a skin care routine to support skin health.
As a baseline, you’ll want to make sure that the products you use are formulated for your skin type.
While you may feel inclined to wash your face when you wake up in the morning to get rid of your sleepy eyes and maybe even that drool on the side of your mouth, you may not know that it’s equally important to wash your face before you go to bed at night.
As we go through the day, our faces are exposed to the elements, and the last thing we want to do is allow any bacteria or dirt that may have gotten on our skin to just sit there while we sleep.
Washing your face at night is also a great way to prep your skin before applying skin care products specifically meant for overnight use.
How? Wash your face like you (should) brush your teeth — twice a day. Use warm water plus a gentle facial cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type.
Once your face is nice and clean, make sure you stay hands off as you go through your day.
Wearing sunscreen is an important preventative tool for a litany of skin care concerns, from hyperpigmentation to aging.
Beyond the aesthetic effects of sun exposure, sunscreen is also a critical tool in the prevention of skin cancer.
Sunscreen should be worn every day, even in the winter and on cloudy days — everywhere on the body that isn’t covered.
You’ll want to choose a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, at least 30 SPF, and waterproof. Also, don’t forget to apply it to your lips as well.
You’ll come across a broad variety of skin products that include sunscreen in them, like moisturizers, eye creams and serums.
Just remember that SPF protection should be reapplied every two hours for the highest level of protection.
Serums, moisturizers, cleansers, creams, exfoliants, oh my!
One of the best things you can do for your skin (and your wallet) is to keep your skin care routine simple. (It’s like everything in life, right?)
While there are some additional products you may want for specific skin conditions like acne or aging, you’ll keep your skin healthy by avoiding slapping too many things onto it at once.
Stick with a gentle facial cleanser, moisturizer for men and sunscreen. A serum can also be used right after your cleanser if you so choose.
Our skin care line offers a set of products formulated to work together and simplify the care of your skin.
A simple skin care routine is a great way to know if the products you’ve chosen are actually working, or if something is having a negative effect on your skin.
We have an article on the best skin care products for men of 2015 if you'd like to learn more.
According to a 2017 study on the subject of oily skin, the causes of this condition are difficult to pin down.
In general, our skin produces a high amount of oil from our sebaceous glands at birth, with that process slowing down soon after birth, and picking back up during puberty.
Men will then see production start to slow down again in their sixties or seventies.
The top causes of oilier skin noted in the study are:
Being of the male sex or having a condition that causes higher levels of androgens, also known as male hormones
Time of year, specifically the spring and summer months
Living in a humid climate
There are a number of topical skin care products that can be used to either remove oil from the skin, or help it produce less oil over time. These include:
Regardless of the products you choose to use, when you have oily skin you’ll want to look for those that are non-comedogenic or oil free.
These products are specifically formulated with ingredients that will not clog your pores and will therefore not add additional greasiness to your already oily skin.
Even with oily skin, however, you’ll still want to make sure your skin is moisturized. An oil-free moisturizer like hyaluronic acid can be a great option for oily skin.
Salicylic acid is a common treatment for acne, and is also effective at reducing oil on the skin.
Acne occurs when pores become clogged by a combination of sebum, dead skin and bacteria. Salicylic acid works to dissolve sebum and dead skin cells, effectively “peeling” the top layer of the skin. These oil-combatting properties can help reduce oil on the skin over time.
Retinoids are a form of vitamin A and are commonly used for the treatment of acne as well as to combat aging through collagen-boosting properties.
Retinoids can be an effective treatment for oily skin due to the way they tend to dry out the skin.
There are a number of options available to you when it comes to reducing the oiliness of your skin.
The first step is to establish a strong, basic skin care routine. Next, you’ll want to choose products that do not clog your pores, and which contain oil-combatting ingredients.
A consultation with your healthcare provider can help you figure out what combination of skin care products will work best for you to keep your skin happy and healthy.