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NOW READING Oily Skin 101: How to Balance It, Get Glowing & Embrace the Shine
July 16, 2018

Oily Skin 101: How to Balance It, Get Glowing & Embrace the Shine

If your makeup seems to disappear by noon and you can fry an egg on your T-zone in the summertime, you just might have oily skin. Most people think you need to dry out those oils, but the contrary is true: You need hydration to balance it! Here, an oily skin expert gives us the 411 on how to embrace your oily skin!


There is one question I get asked more than anything else, and it’s this:


“What products can I use for my oily skin?”


If I had a dollar for every time I get asked that question, I’d be sitting on a pretty little stack right about now. It has taken me years to finally understand how to control and balance my oily skin, and I thought I’d pass my tried and true tips along to you. Sharing is caring!


But first, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way.


What is oily skin?


Oily skin is classified as skin that has an overproduction of oil. Genetics, hormones, certain medications, using products that dry out the skin, or even your diet can cause oily skin.



Note that having extra oil in your skin is different from the water content of your skin. You need a balance of both oils and water for healthy skin.


How do I know I have oily skin?


Oily skin is generally characterized by extreme shininess, especially in the T-zone (chin, nose, forehead). You most likely have enlarged pores and are more prone to breakouts. You will typically have a hard time keeping makeup on your face and you notice that it tends to “slide” off.


However, there are some positives to having oily skin. This skin type tends to be less wrinkled and also ages at a slower speed due to the extra oil content in the skin. Woo-hoo!


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how we can tame the beast.


oily skin


Don’t fight off oil — balance it


When I was younger, I thought that the way to get rid of my oil was to use a very harsh cleanser (Noxzema SHUDDER), witch hazel as a toner, and NO MOISTURIZER. Of course, my skin was still oily, if not oilier than it had been before. I’m sure this sounds all too familiar to some of you.


If you have oily skin, you don’t want to get rid of the oil. You want to BALANCE it. Especially if your oily skin is due to genetics, there’s no way you’re ever going to stop it from being oily. So instead of trying to fight it, you gotta work with it. Be the oil’s friend.


So how can I balance my oily skin?


The cleanser


First things first, take a look at your foaming cleanser. Notice how your skin feels right after you finish cleansing it. Does it feel tight and dry? If it does, stop using it. Your skin should feel “normal” after cleansing it — not too dry and not too oily.


oily skin



Try to look for a cleanser that has a pH level in the 5.5-6 range. Anything too high can potentially be too harsh on the skin and dry it out. Remember, we don’t want to dry our skin out; we want to balance it. The COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is a must-have staple for those with oily skin.


The hydrating layers


The next step is to look for hydrating, lightweight toners, essences, and moisturizers. Anything with the words “water,” “aqua,” “gel,” “lightweight,” “no-sebum,” “oil-free,” or “pore care” are all going to be products that will be your friends and the ones you should gravitate towards.


The key here is that instead of skipping steps like toning and moisturizing, we want to use lightweight products that pack a hefty dose of hydration. So instead of your skin being dried out and overproducing oil to try to make up for it, it keeps all that oil on lock.


own k-beauty routine reddit tips oily skin


Think of it like drinking a glass of water. You have one sip and you’re like, “eh, that’s fine, but I could use more, I’m still a little thirsty.” And then you have a few more sips, and then you finish the whole glass, and you’re like, “OH. I feel AWESOME.” That’s kinda what your skin feels like. It needs hydration and moisture to do its job.


If you’re looking for an entire skincare routine from the same brand, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the Laneige Water Bank line. I’ve tried nearly everything, and it’s all amazing. The Water Bank essence and hydrating gel moisturizer have been scraped clean to the bottom.


All the extras


oily skin


Instead of fighting my oily skin, I’ve learned to embrace it. This means I take extra steps to prime my skin before I do my makeup. I choose very lightweight and mattifying foundations. I set my makeup with a setting spray. And I carry a ridiculous amount of blotting papers with me at all times. The thing is, the oily isn’t going to go away, so all I can do is try to embrace it as much as I can.


For more ways to manage your oily skin, check out these articles:


Budget buys for oily skin


How oils for oily skin can get you glowing


Oil & acne-fighting products


Sunscreens for oily skin


4 steps to dealing with shiny skin


So how do you deal with the oil? Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!



Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




I have an oily skin but I don't have the budget that buys the most effective product for my skin any suggestion on what to do?


I'd say have a look at the article in the first link at the bottom, the "Budget buys for oily skin" one. And if those products are still too pricey, maybe try buying the bare essentials first and add other items later.


Very timely article for me having apparently oily acne prone skin with dehydration issues due to climate. It seems like I can’t get enough water in my skin or my body no matter how much I drink haha. When it’s over 100 degrees farm every day it’s hard to stay hydrated! But adding toner and doing 7 skin method has helped a lot even if n just two weeks of the toner. I’ve been trying to go makeup free as much as I can, too. I think that’s helping while I adjust to new products over the last several months. Read more


Gentler cleansers, cutting out alcohols everywhere I can in my skincare and using the appropriate oils for my skin (both day and night) have really helped balance things out. When summer rolls around I still inevitably get some congestion and my oils go into overdrive but I would much rather that and have my skin be healthy rather than stripping the crap out of it, still having shiny skin and having it feel like plastic wrap stretched across a watermelon lol


Great tips! I have combination skin, but my oily zones have looked a lot better since I stopped using harsh, dehydrating products.


Me too! No more drying, flaking, generally ugh-ness. I've also learned to embrace the "glow." Dry skinned folks envy our oiliness lol


Thank you! All of those harsh, oil-free products are just a recipe for disaster.


So that's why I looked oilier if I only put on toner and left the house without moisturizer! I'll have to stick to my normal full routine. Thanks for sharing!


I\'d love to know what your full routine is dianakim. Especially since you\'re from Korea!


Same here I feel like putting on moisturizer before anything else because it will make my skin feel oily or dry.


Ever since starting a multi-step routine and really embracing skincare, I've come to appreciate my more oily skin. I've definitely noticed a reduction in visible oil on my face come the end of the day! A solid routine paired with mattifying makeup products mean my face lasts all day!

...though not much can be done to combat the current face-melting humidity. Sometimes you can't win.


Haha, my skin does better in humidity than more arid climates, strangely enough. It was GLOWING (in a good way) in Korea.


Usually I can get an in between glow stage between fresh faced and oily, but humidity causes me to go right to oily. I just don't do well in heat and humidity!!


As much as I wish my skin wasn't as congestion prone, I can definitely say that I'm happy to be more on the oily side of the spectrum rather than the drier side. My skin balanced out a lot more too since delving more into skincare as well!

It wasn't until I started kbeauty that I really understood my skin type and how to handle my oily skin. I also thought I had combo/oily skin but really I have dehydrated, acne prone, oily skin which is super confusing. Adding hydrating layers has been such a game changer for me and allowed me to actually work on clearing up my acne, instead of just irritating my skin.


Me too! Even when I do have hormonal breakouts (nothing topical I can do about that — thought admittedly, spearmint supplements have REALLY helped), my skin still looks better than the peeling, drying, flaking mess it was before when I tried to "dry out" my pimples a la Western skincare mentality.