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How To Manage an Oily T-Zone

The T-Zone is an area of the face that can be prone to excessive shine. Here at Kiehl’s, discover 7 tips for managing an oily T-zone.

Greasy, shiny, oily—these aren’t adjectives you’d typically want to use to describe your skin. But given that the skin naturally produces oil, some shine is to be expected, even if you don’t have an oily skin type. The face’s T-zone is especially prone to shine, which is why many people develop a shiny-looking forehead or nose toward the end of the day. Thankfully, tweaking your skincare routine can help keep an oily T-zone under control.

Here, we’ll clue you in on what, exactly, the facial T-zone is and explain why your T-zone may appear more oily or congested than other parts of your face (yep, there’s an actual answer). We’ll also arm you with our top tips for keeping your skin looking balanced and fresh, not greasy. Read on for the Kiehl’s guide to managing oily T-zone skin.

What Is The T-Zone On Your Face?

The term “T-zone” refers to an area of your face encompassing the forehead, nose, and chin—it’s named such because of the area’s resemblance to a capital letter “T.” If you have combination or oily skin, you’re likely to find that these areas tend to appear oilier than, say, your cheeks. In fact, T-zone shine is a super common concern: Type “why is my T-zone so oily” into your favorite search engine, and you’ll be inundated with thousands of results offering explanations for why your nose, forehead, and chin look greasy.

The answer, though, is pretty straightforward: The area of the T-zone tends to have more sebaceous glands, or oil glands, than the other parts of your face. This can make your skin appear greasy and may also contribute to related concerns like clogged pores, congestion, and T-zone acne breakouts.

What Can You Do To Manage an Oily T-Zone?

While there’s not a magic way to get rid of an oily T-zone, there are things you can do to help keep visible shine to a minimum. Here, find seven of our top tips for managing an oily T-zone.


Tip #1:

Use a Kiehl’s Cleanser For Oily Skin

If you’re looking to control a shiny T-zone, your first order of business should be to find a cleanser formulated for oily skin. While you want a formula that helps remove excess oil, it’s important to not use anything too drying—it’s all about balance. We suggest Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser, which is made with fairly-traded Amazonian white clay and aloe vera. The foaming cleanser provides gentle exfoliation and helps remove excess oil, dirt, and toxins without stripping the skin. It helps visibly minimize enlarged pores and leaves the skin soft, fresh, and healthy-looking. Another great option is Rare Earth Deep Pore Purifying Concentrated Facial Cleansing Bar. The facial bar soap cleanses the skin while helping to reduce excess oil. The travel-friendly cleanser is suitable for normal and oily skin types and can be used morning and night for purified, balanced-feeling skin.

For guys—who, on average, tend to have oilier, thicker skin—we recommend using a cleanser specifically formulated for men’s oily skin, like Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash. This exfoliating cleanser helps slough away dead skin, debris, and surface oil without leaving the skin feeling dry. The non-comedogenic formula has a unique gel texture that rinses away easily, leaving the skin smooth and shine-free.

Tip #2:

Tone To Help Remove Excess Oil

Toning after you wash your face can help remove any debris left behind after cleansing, as well as help prepare your skin for the rest of your routine. For those with an oily T-zone, mattifying toners, like Rare Earth Pore Refining Tonic, can also help minimize unwanted shine. You can pat this lightweight toner directly onto your skin after washing your face, or use a clean cotton pad to swipe the formula over areas prone to excess shine, like your nose, forehead, and chin.

Tip #3:

Use a Vitamin C Serum

If you have an oily T-zone, chances are good that you may also struggle with large, visible pores in this area. While you can’t actually shrink your pores, some skincare products can help reduce the appearance of pores, so your skin looks smoother. One such product is our customer-favorite Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and 12.5% vitamin C, this potent serum boosts radiance while helping to smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. It also helps firm the skin and visibly minimizes fine lines and wrinkles over time. We recommend using this powerful serum twice daily, after toning, as part of your regular skincare routine.

Tip #4:

Moisturize Thoughtfully

Oftentimes, the last thing people with an oily T-zone want to do is moisturize: The assumption is that moisturizing may make the area look greasier than not moisturizing at all. This, however, is a misconception. Neglecting to moisturize effectively can lead to dehydrated skin, and when your skin is dehydrated, it may produce more oil in an effort to compensate for the lack of moisture. The result: Greasy, shiny-looking skin, a congested T-zone, and blemishes. Moisturizer is, therefore, essential if you want to keep unwanted shine to a minimum.

That being said, it’s important to use a moisturizer that won’t weigh down your skin or clog your pores. We suggest looking for a lightweight gel-cream moisturizer, such as Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer. The refreshing formula instantly sinks into the skin, providing up to 24-hour hydration without leaving behind a greasy residue. In addition to helping maintain skin’s moisture balance, the non-comedogenic moisturizer helps minimize the appearance of enlarged pores and visibly reduces shine. It’s suitable for normal and oily skin types and can be used morning and night to help keep the skin fresh-feeling and shine-free.

For men with an oily T-zone, we recommend Oil Eliminator 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer For Men. Formulated specifically for men’s oily skin, this ultra-light moisturizer helps absorb sweat and surface oil, leaving the skin smooth and shine-free for up to 24 hours. With continued use over time, it also helps reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. Use this moisturizer morning and night to help keep your skin hydrated and free from unwanted shine.

Kiehl’s Tip: It’s important to hydrate not just with skincare products but also by drinking plenty of water. Keep a water bottle handy and drink up!

Tip #5:

Keep Blotting Papers On Hand

You can control your skincare routine, but some factors that can contribute to an oily T-zone (like humidity and hot weather) are out of your control. As such, you may find that even with a dedicated routine, your nose, forehead, and chin can sometimes appear shinier than you’d like. In those instances, blotting papers are your friend—consider them your on-the-go oily nose fix. These papers, also known as blotting sheets, help absorb surface oil to reduce the appearance of unwanted shine. Some blotting sheets also contain powder that helps give the skin a more matte appearance. And yes, you can use blotting papers even if you’re wearing makeup—just be sure to press, rather than rub, the sheet onto oily areas to avoid disrupting your makeup or spreading your skin’s oils around.

Tip #6:

Mask Weekly To Reduce Congestion

Rare Earth Deep Pore Purifying Cleansing Clay Mask

With oiliness often comes congestion—in other words, clogged pores. If you frequently have a congested T-zone, it’s worth taking the time to deep-clean your skin once a week or so. We recommend using a clay mask, such as Rare Earth Deep Pore Purifying Cleansing Clay Mask, for this purpose. This cult-classic face mask contains two types of clay—kaolin and bentonite clay—and it helps draw out impurities that lead to congested skin. The award-winning formula is clinically-demonstrated to reduce clogged pores by up to 37% in a single application, while continued use over time helps further reduce blackheads and excess shine.* We recommend using this mask once a week or as needed to help reveal a smoother, more refined appearance.

*Results based on expert grading in a two-week clinical test on 54 subjects.

Tip #7:

Spot-Treat Breakouts As Needed

While not strictly related to managing oiliness, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of keeping a spot treatment handy—because, as you may know, oily skin and blemishes often go hand-in-hand. When blemishes pop up, we suggest reaching for Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment. The effective formula with sulfur and niacinamide is clinically-demonstrated to help rapidly reduce the appearance of acne blemishes.* It also helps prevent new breakouts from forming. Plus, the concentrated formula blends quickly and evenly into the skin, making it suitable for use day or night.

*Tested in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.

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