Derms first want you to know why your skin is oily. There are quite a few reasons, but board-certified dermatologist Lauren Penzi, MD, explains it perfectly. “Our skin naturally produces sebum/oil for beneficial reasons,” she says. “Oil helps preserve the skin, and people with oily skin tend to have thicker skin and fewer wrinkles. On the other hand, people with oily skin do tend to have larger pores and are more acne-prone. The key is to strike a balance between having too much oil and maintaining your skin’s natural moisture. Oil production is largely based on genetics, as well as hormones (think increase in oil production when going through puberty and decrease in oil production when going through menopause). Environment also dictates how much oil we make, with those in drier climates making less oil and those in warmer/humid climates making more oil. Our skincare practices also contribute to oil production. For example, if you over-wash or over-exfoliate your skin, it will actually increase oil production to compensate.”
Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, also has a few pointers for choosing a moisturizer if you have oily skin. “Those with oily skin should opt for lightweight moisturizers that are noncomedogenic and won’t clog the pores,” she says. “Some moisturizers for oily skin may contain a small amount of salicylic acid, as this may help to reduce excess oil.”
Penzi also says ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide are key. “Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids found in the outer skin barrier that help to retain moisture. They keep your skin moisturized and prevent overproduction of sebum and oil. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that helps absorb and maintain moisture in the skin. Similar to ceramides, it keeps your skin moisturized and prevents overproduction of sebum/oil. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, which has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help to calm skin. It has helps to strengthen the skin barrier, and also helps with hyperpigmentation and overall brightness. Topical formulations [with it] have been shown to decrease sebum/oil production,” she explains.
Both also agree that heavier, pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil should be avoided along with fragrance and alcohol. “Avoid harsh ingredients like fragrance or alcohol that can skin strip the skin of its natural oil and cause worsening oil production for compensation and breakouts,” says Penzi. “Also avoid products that do not say ‘noncomedogenic,’ as these can clog the pores and lead to breakouts. For example, products with mineral oil, coconut oil, etc., should not be used.”
With this in mind, find both of their moisturizer recommendations for oily skin below along with a few of my own favorites.