Products for Oily Skin

Blame your parents and grandparents for giving you oily skin — your skin type is programmed into your genes. However, finding the right skin products can help you care for your complexion. You can help rein in oil, shine, and acne — all potential problems for those with oily skin — by choosing products wisely.

Fran E. Cook-Bolden, MD, a dermatologist and director of the Skin Specialty Group and the Ethnic Skin Specialty Group in New York City, and Kim Nichols, MD, also a dermatologist at the practice, share the skin cleansers and lotions they recommend for patients with oily skin.

Choosing an Oily Skin Cleanser

People with oily skin have a tendency to think more is better when it comes to cleansing, but that can dry out the skin’s surface — and over-cleaning has no effect on oil production. Choose the right products, however, and you can keep skin clean without harsh effects or repeated trips to the sink:

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash. Both Dr. Cook-Bolden and Dr. Nichols offer this pick for a basic and effective oily skin cleanser that won't break the bank. This is a tried-and-true salicylic acid cleanser for oily and acne-prone patients, say the doctors. Limit use to once a day to avoid over-drying skin. You can pick up a bottle of the oily skin cleanser at your local drugstore for about $6. Since you should wash your face twice daily, use a mild cleanser during your second wash of the day.

Choosing an Oily Skin Lotion

After cleansing, you need to protect your skin and keep it comfortable. Our dermatologists like the following products:

Cosmedicine Medi-Matte oil control lotion with SPF 20. Nichols recommends this light moisturizer with sunscreen for oily skin because most oily patients complain that many SPF moisturizers are too greasy. You can get it at Sephora cosmetic stores, or through Web sites that sell beauty products, for about $45. It’s on the pricey side, but Nichols says that it's "great for people with oily and shine-prone skin."

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3. This light lotion clears pores of debris and leaves your skin feeling refreshed, not stripped, say both doctors. A 13-ounce bottle costs about $20 at Clinique counters at department stores or online.

Dermalogica Skin Renewal Booster. Use this hydroxy acid complex to get rid of excess oil, reduce shine, and help to keep skin clear of acne. It's best to use it at night to exfoliate rough, acne-affected skin, say the doctors. Find it at specialty beauty stores and salons for around $45.

Cosmetics for Oily Skin

The wrong foundation will feel like it’s sliding right off your face, but the right product will help counteract oil’s effects and give you a flawless finish:

Sheer Cover. Try this line of light cosmetics designed for oily skin. Browse the selection at and pick up a kit of essentials for about $45. It's the doctors' top pick for mineral makeup for oily skin because it offers great coverage without giving a thick finish.

Prescriptives Virtual Matte. Now available only online at, this oil control foundation with SPF 15 provides light coverage in a wide variety of shades and costs $32.

Shine Control for Oily Skin

Oily skin tends to develop a glow that can quickly look greasy. Rather than repeated washings, papers that blot oil and leave makeup intact are a convenient solution:

Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets. You can purchase a pad of 50 blotting papers at most drugstores for about $6. Both Cook-Bolden and Nichols highly recommend them because they're effective at soaking up excess oil on the skin — rather than frequently reapplying powder that will end up caking — and patients love them.

Boscia Blotting Linens. These oil-absorbing sheets are preservative-free and made of natural linen. You can pick up a 100-sheet pack at Sephora or a beauty Web site for about $10 to $15.

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