Must-Have AM Skincare for Oily Skin

skin care products for oily skin

Key Takeaways

  • Cleanse gently with gel or foaming cleansers to prep skin without over-drying. Cerave, Eucerin and Simple Kind to Skin are great options.
  • Use oil-control or brightening toners before cleansing if they contain potentially irritating ingredients like witch hazel. The Inkey List PHA Toner is very gentle.
  • Exfoliate 1-2 times per week with AHA/BHA peels to prevent clogged pores and acne. Start with lower concentrations if you have sensitive skin.
  • Serums with niacinamide, zinc and antioxidants help regulate oil and improve skin texture. Try Allies of Skin and Skinceuticals serums.
  • Light, gel eye creams hydrate without heaviness. Versed has great affordable options for oily skin.
  • Look for lotions and gels without occlusive ingredients. Cerave PM, Vanicream and The Ordinary have lightweight moisturizers.
  • Sunscreen is non-negotiable. Try alcohol-free Japanese and Korean formulas for oil control without dryness.


Oily skin can be frustrating to manage, but having the right skincare routine makes a big difference. This article shares the best practices and product recommendations for an AM skincare routine optimized for oily skin. Read on to learn how to care for oily skin in a way that leaves it clean, balanced and healthy.

Best Cleansers for Oily Skin

The first step in any AM routine is cleansing, which preps and balances oily skin. Gel, foaming and oil-free cleansers are great choices since they provide a deep clean without over-drying the skin.

A top recommendation is the Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser. This contains niacinamide to help control oil production, as well as ceramides and hyaluronic acid for gentle hydration. The Cerave Renewing SA Cleanser with salicylic acid is another good choice for exfoliation, but avoid if you have very sensitive skin.

For those who find Cerave irritating, the Eucerin Redness Relief Cleansing Gel is a good alternative. It has a lightweight gel texture perfect for oily skin. The Simple Kind to Skin Foaming Cleanser is another great drugstore option with a creamy foam and glycerin for light hydration.

Best Toners for Oily Skin

Toners are optional, but can benefit oily skin by removing residues, controlling oil and exfoliating.

Look for brightening or clarifying toners with ingredients like niacinamide, glycolic acid and witch hazel. The First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads add gentle exfoliation.

If toners contain potentially drying ingredients like witch hazel, use them before cleansing and rinse off after 1-2 minutes. The Thayers Witch Hazel Facial Toner works well this way.

For a super gentle toner safe to leave on all day, try The Inkey List Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) Toner. It exfoliates without irritation.

Best Exfoliating Peels for Oily Skin

Using a chemical exfoliating peel 1-2 times per week helps keep pores clear and prevents acne. AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid are best for oily skin.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution packs a punch, but start slow if you have sensitive skin. Lower percentages of glycolic or lactic acid around 5-10% are good alternatives.

Rinse off peels after maximum 10 minutes and follow up with hydrating products. Only use them once skin is used to daily exfoliation.

Best Serums for Oily Skin

Serums deliver concentrated doses of active ingredients to target specific concerns like oil control and acne. They absorb quickly so won’t overload oily skin.

Look for oil-regulating ingredients like niacinamide, zinc and antioxidants. The Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial has niacinamide, salicylic acid and zinc to unclog pores and calm breakouts.

Vitamin C brightens dullness and improves skin texture. The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum has a lightweight, oil-free texture that won’t exacerbate oily skin.

Best Eye Creams for Oily Skin

The thin skin under the eyes needs hydration but heavy creams can be too much. Gel eye creams are perfect for oily skin and won’t cause milia or puffiness.

The Versed Vacation Eyes Brightening Eye Gel provides lightweight moisture and cooling. For more intense hydration, the Versed Fix Emergency Eye Mask soothes eyes overnight.

A little bit goes a long way with these creams, so pat gently around the orbital bone without tugging at the delicate skin.

Best Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Contrary to popular belief, even oily skin needs hydration to stay balanced. The key is choosing an oil-free moisturizer with a lightweight gel or lotion texture.

The Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion contains niacinamide to control oil production throughout the day. The formula absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue.

The Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer provides sensitive skin relief with a lightweight lotion texture. Another nice surface hydrator is The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA which acts as a protective barrier.

If your skin is extremely oily, you may be able to get by with just a moisturizing sunscreen. But be cautious of dehydration and irritation from skipping moisturizer completely.

Best Sunscreens for Oily Skin

Sun protection is non-negotiable, even for oily complexions. Look for oil-free formulas with a matte finish.

The Dermatology Universal Tinted Moisturizer SPF 46 contains niacinamide for oil control and a hint of coverage.

For lightweight protection, try Japanese and Korean sunscreen formulas like the Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Gel. Many are alcohol-free while still controlling shine.

The Australian Gold Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50 provides a matte, tinted finish that blurs imperfections. Avoid if you are sensitive to added fragrance.


Caring for oily skin requires being gentle while properly cleansing, hydrating and protecting. Using the right AM skincare products leaves skin balanced, clear and healthy. Focus on lightweight gels and oil-free formulas that regulate oil without over-drying. Protecting with SPF and hydrating moisturizers ensures the hydrolipidic barrier stays intact. With the tips and products above, you can take control of oily skin.


Q: Should I use toner if I have oily skin?

A: Toners are optional but can benefit oily skin by removing residue and oil, as well as exfoliating. Look for brightening or clarifying formulas with niacinamide, glycolic acid and witch hazel. Rinse off any potentially drying toners after 1-2 minutes.

Q: Can I skip moisturizer if my skin is very oily?

A: You may be able to get by with just an SPF, but be cautious of dehydration and irritation from skipping moisturizer completely. Even oily skin needs light hydration to stay balanced. Opt for oil-free gel moisturizers that absorb quickly without greasiness.

Q: How often should I exfoliate oily skin?

A: Using a chemical exfoliating peel 1-2 times per week can prevent clogged pores and acne. AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid are best for oily skin types. Start with lower concentrations and monitor skin tolerance if you have sensitivity.

Q: Are foaming cleansers too harsh for oily skin?

A: Foaming cleansers are great for oily skin as long as they are free of irritating ingredients like added fragrance. Focus on gentle gel or foam cleansers that cleanse deeply but without over-drying the skin. Rinse thoroughly.


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