Skincare Routine For Oily Skin (with product recommendations!)

Written by: Swati on:

I've had oily skin till my mid 20s & I can completely understand the struggles associated with it - not wanting to use a moisturizer or any thing on the face for that matter, feeling so oily that it makes you want to wash your face several times a day. I was there, I felt this too. And for the longest time I did not use anything on my face, even if I tried to, I wanted to wash it off in 5 minutes. 

But this was back in the early 2000s when there was a lack of skincare products in the Indian market and we only had a few things to choose from. With time the Indian beauty market got more products and I slowly started to discover things I could use. In the present time, we have so many options, there is something for everyone. Which is so good! 

So here's a simple skincare routine for oily skin which has worked well for me in the past.

I had shared a short video of this on our Instagram page a while back, check it out if you can.

Before I begin there are 3 things that every oily skinned person needs to remember is that :

a) Even oily skin needs to use a moisturizer. Not using any will make the sebaceous glands produce more oil/sebum. Putting on a moisturizer will slowly train the glands to produce less sebum and help to balance out your skin.

b) Washing the face 2 times a day is more than enough for most people. Add in a 3rd time after a workout (if you do one). The more we wash our face, the more the oil production to compensate for the natural oils washed away. 

c) Stay away from heavy duty cleansers/face washes. You know the ones that leave your skin squeaky clean, a tad bit dry and stretched? Yes, those aren't the best to use. They strip the skin way too much. And the cycle of the glands producing more oil to compensate continues. 

Okay, now that we have these points cleared out, let's get into the routine. Click the on the product names to read detailed reviews :)

1. Gentle Cleanser

Any non stripping, low foaming cleanser. I would recommend going sls free. 
Always double cleanse in the evening, if you are wearing makeup or many layers of sunscreen. 
Choose a cleansing balm or a cleansing oil depending on your preference. 

2. Toner/Face Mist - Optional ⠀
But it does feel refreshing to use one. It also gives light hydration. Use an alcohol free one. 
3. Moisturizer
Look for ones that have a light gel texture, they work better for oily skin. Most will have names that include "gel, water, hydro" 
etc. and almost all brands make a version. Of course there are always exceptions, so if you prefer a slightly richer texture, then use that. 
  • Lacto Calamine Lotion (used & loved)
  • I'm From Mugwort Cream (love!)
  • Klairs Fundamental Water Gel Cream (love!)
  • Laneige Water Sleeping Mask (used & liked)
  • Dot & Key Water Sleep Mask (used & liked)
  • Cipla Excela 
  • Dot & Key Hydrating Gel
  • Neutrogena Hydroboost Water Gel
  • Clinique Moisture Surge
4. Sunscreen
Don't skip sunscreen in the morning. Use any formula you prefer - chemical or physical. Both are fine and do not let brands make you think that chemical sunscreens are bad. In fact chemical sunscreens are more cosmetically elegant, have thinner textures, do not give a white cast and do not feel heavy on the skin. 

5. Face Oil - Optional⠀
There are face oils available that are light & almost like dry oils. Usually only 2-3 drops are required & they don't feel too heavy. They can be used in the night if & when the skin needs some extra nourishment. ⠀
* When I was in college and couldn't find a moisturizer I loved, I used to use just facial oil in the night. 2-3 drops of the Clarins Lotus Oil on damp skin would be enough for my oily skin. 


Once you have this above Cleansing-Moisturising-Sunscreen routine in place, you can star to add things according to your skin concerns & needs. 

6. Exfoliant 
You can consider adding a BHA (Salicylic Acid) to you routine. BHA works better for oily skin usually since it is oil soluble, goes deeper into the pores and helps with congestion, blackheads, whiteheads and occasional breakouts. 
Use 1-2 times a week after cleansing (preferably in the evening). You do not need to use an acid exfoliant everyday. Read our Basics of Chemical Exfoliation post here to understand more. 

Beginners can consider starting out with a cleanser that has salicylic acid instead of a leave on product 

Once your skin is accustomed to BHA, you can step it up a notch and get into leave on treatments

7. Masks - Optional ⠀
Though these are not a must have in you skincare routine, they can be used occasionally for an added boost and for some self-care sessions. A clay mask is a good addition to the stash, especially for oily skin. It helps to clean deeper & in decongesting the pores. 

Or you can use ubtans (premade/homemade) as long as the powder is finely milled.
Get some clay powder - Bentonite clay or Fuller's Earth (Multani Mitti) and mix it at home yourself with some rosewater or curd. Your clay mask is ready! 

  • Blend It Raw Apothecary Bentonite Clay, Kaolin Clay, Multani Mitti/Fuller's Earth

8) Serums

A serum to target your specific concerns can be added once you have the basic routine in place.
Vit C serum - for brightening & antioxidant boost or a Hyaluronic Acid serum - to target dehydration and so on. Try and target one concern at a time. 

So how would a Basic Skincare Routine for Oily Skin be like? 
  • AM / Morning
Cleansing - Toning (optional) - Serum (optional) - Moisturizing - Sunscreen

  • PM / Evening
Cleansing / Double Cleansing - Toning (optional) - Serum (optional) - Moisturizing
                      "                              -         BHA 1-2 times a week            -        "
                      "                              -     Mask 1/week or 1 in 10 days     -         "

That's about it. Skincare doesn't need to be complicated. Just follow the basics and do what works for you. Happy skincare! 

** I would strongly recommend you to visit a dermatologist if you have any concerns especially if they have been long term. Professional advice & treatment is always better than self experimentation. 

** You do not need to use the exact products mentioned here. This is an approximate guide & you can choose your products accordingly. You can also pick and eliminate steps to suit your needs - Keep Cleansing, Moisturising & Sunscreen constant.

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