The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

When you have oily skin, it can often feel like finding products that work together to keep the glow alive—but the unwanted shine at bay—can be mission impossible. Sure, many products on the market target oily skin, but it's nailing down the exact routine that can be more difficult.

Fortunately, you don't have to go at it alone. We tapped experts—board-certified dermatologists Tess Mauricio, MD, FAAD, Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, and Lauren Penzi, MD, FAAD—and asked them to build the ultimate oily-skin skincare routine. Read on for what they had to share.

The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

Daytime Routine


The experts agree: The first step in your routine should always be cleansing. “Cleansers remove dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin’s surface,” explains Mauricio. “Alumier MD’s Acne Clarifying Cleanser ($55) is great for acne-prone skin and the Purifying Gel Cleanser ($45) is ideal if you do not have active acne but still experience oily skin.”

Continuing with recommendations, Murphy-Rose adds, “If your skin feels oily in the morning, clean with the Skincare Junkie Gentle Jelly Cleanser ($34), and if not, try a micellar water like Neutrogena or Bioderma” for a gentle refresh. Penzi recommends La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Foaming Facial Cleanser ($18) for a classic gentle cleanser.


Once your face is squeaky clean, the experts recommend using a toner on bare skin. “Toners balance the skin’s pH levels, tighten the skin, and gently exfoliate to allow active ingredients to absorb better,” says Mauricio.


Now it’s time to hydrate and plump the skin, feeding it its first barrier of protection and moisture. Penzi recommends “an antioxidant serum to protect from environmental free radical damage and promote a brighter complexion.” (She suggests SkinCeuticals’ Phloretin CF Serum, $182.)


“Moisturizers hydrate the skin and maintain its moisture balance,” explains Mauricio. “Even in acne-prone or oily skin, the right moisturizer is vital.” Murphy-Rose also recommends her Skincare Junkie Megadose Super Antioxidant Moisturizer ($68), which she tells us was formulated to provide antioxidant protection in a non-comedogenic formula balanced for oily skin.


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: SPF is your best friend. It’s your skin’s longevity, your built-in Botox, and more importantly, your skin’s protectant. A cloudy day spent inside? Still put on SPF. A sunny day spent outside? Reapply as directed.

“Sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays, preventing premature aging and sun damage,” says Mauricio. Murphy-Rose and Penzi suggest EltaMD’s UV Clear ($43); Penzi adds that Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen ($38) is another great option.

Nighttime Routine


After a long day—especially one that involves makeup, leaving the house, or any activity, for that matter—cleansing to prep the skin for a night routine is crucial. You'll want to remove any dirt and oil accumulated throughout the day. The experts recommend using the same suggested cleansers from the AM routine.


Once the face is cleansed, it’s time to exfoliate. “Exfoliate with a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid or beta-hydroxy acid exfoliant to break up dead skin cells, keep oil of sebum out of pores, and help better absorb skincare products,” shares Penzi. “I recommend the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Exfoliant or Mandelic + Lactic Acid Exfoliant ($37).” Mauricio suggests using AlumierMD’s Microderm Polish ($68) two to three times a week for mechanical exfoliation.

Note that exfoliation is not necessarily something you should be doing every night, and it’s important to consult your dermatologist for the best cadence.


To put it simply, Murphy-Rose says, retinol = overnight skin rejuvenation. “I love the Skinbetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($140), [which] combines a proprietary form of vitamin A derivative with alpha hydroxy acids and other skin-renewing ingredients to prevent and fight signs of aging overnight,” she says. She adds that, if used consistently, it can help “minimize the appearance of pores and make oil glands less productive.” The RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream is Penzi’s pick.


Post-retinol, it’s important to moisturize the skin. “CeraVe’s PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($15) is a well-balanced, non-comedogenic moisturizer for oily skin to lock in moisture and prevent overnight transepidermal water losses without clogging pores,” says Murphy-Rose.

Eye Cream

"Apply an overnight eye cream to help protect the thin layer of skin around the eye," says Murphy-Rose. "Even those with oily skin can often tolerate a heavier product in this area."

P.S.: Some derms don’t consider eye creams a must-have, but note that they can benefit those with concerns specific to the eye area, like dark circles, puffiness, and volume loss.

Lip Treatment

Like eye cream, a lip treatment is not necessarily a must-have. Still, Murphy-Rose recommends keeping "lips hydrated overnight with an occlusive lip product."

Overnight Treatment

Last but not least, for the nights you need a little extra "oomph," the experts recommend using an overnight treatment. "Treatments contain active ingredients to address specific skin issues," explains Mauricio. "They provide extra hydration or target specific concerns while you sleep."

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