If your skin appears slick soon after cleansing, or you’re constantly battling that midday T-zone shine, chances are good you have oily skin. This skin type is characterized by an excess production of sebum, our skin’s natural oil. An overabundance of oil can result in enlarged pores, shiny-looking skin, and blackheads. On the upside, oily skin often has a natural-looking glow—but finding the balance between “glowy” and “shiny” requires knowing how to take proper care of your oily skin.
To help, we’ve compiled a simple seven-step skincare routine for oily skin. Ahead, you’ll learn how to manage oily skin, as well as the best ways to deal with related issues, like clogged pores. Plus, we’ll provide recommendations on the best products for oily skin you can find at Kiehl’s. Read on for your all-in-one guide to caring for oily skin.
Cleanse and Exfoliate
Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser
All skin produces sebum to a degree. Those with oily skin have an excess of this natural moisturizing substance, which results in a shiny or greasy-looking appearance. Cleansing helps remove this excess oil, along with the dirt and pollutants that accumulate throughout the day. Exfoliating, meanwhile, helps slough off dead skin cells to keep the skin free of pore-clogging buildup. Incorporating an exfoliating cleanser into your daily skincare routine can help keep pores clear for smoother, healthier-looking skin.
For your daily cleansing needs, we recommend Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser. This effective exfoliating face wash stars Amazonian white clay to help remove surface oil and dirt. It also contains diatomaceous earth, a mild natural exfoliant that helps slough off dead skin cells for fresh, healthy-looking skin. It’s suitable for normal and oily skin types and is gentle enough for daily use.
No matter your skin type, it’s vital to reach for formulas made for your skin. For men, who tend to have oilier skin and larger pores than women, that means reaching for cleansers designed with these characteristics in mind. We recommend Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash, which contains salicylic acid and gentle crushed apricot kernels. These effective ingredients exfoliate the skin to remove dead cells and sweat without stripping the skin’s natural moisture barrier. This top-rated men’s cleanser also helps minimize the appearance of enlarged pores for a smoother, shine-free finish.
Tone and Balance
Rare Earth Pore-Refining Tonic
After cleansing, reach for a toner to remove any remaining dirt or impurities from the skin’s surface. For oily skin, we recommend Rare Earth Pore-Refining Tonic. This pore-minimizing toner is formulated with Amazonian white clay and allantoin to balance and refine the skin. It also provides lightweight moisture while simultaneously mattifying the skin for a healthy-looking appearance.
If your oiliness is accompanied by acne—the two often go hand-in-hand—try our iconic Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion. This best-selling formula (a Kiehl’s staple since the 1960s) contains menthol, camphor, and witch hazel to tone oily, blemish-prone skin. The unique formula has a refreshing, cooling effect on the skin, making it equally useful as a men’s aftershave. Use it as an all-over toner or apply only to problem areas for soothed, balanced-looking skin.
Address Enlarged Pores
Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum
Research shows that sebum production is one of the primary determinants of pore size. In other words, the more oil your skin produces, the more prominent your pores are likely to appear.I To help minimize the appearance of large pores, reach for the best-selling Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. This water-free formula contains hyaluronic acid and 12.5% vitamin C to brighten dull, tired-looking skin. It instantly provides the skin with a boost of radiance while helping reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, fine lines, and wrinkles over time. Apply it to your clean, dry face daily after toning for smoother, glowing skin.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: To learn more about the benefits of incorporating a serum into your daily routine, check out our comprehensive guide in All of Your Face Serum Questions, Answered.
Hydrate The Area Around Your Eyes
Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum
While your eye area is less likely to be oily or shiny than, say, your T-zone, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to care for it. Treat your eye area to lightweight hydration with Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum. It’s formulated with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and tripeptides to instantly smooth and refresh the under-eye area. Additionally, this effective eye serum is clinically-demonstrated to reduce the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s feet for visibly brighter, fresher-looking eyes.* Wear it alone or layer it under a richer eye cream to help keep the delicate skin around your eyes nourished and hydrated.
Restore Healthy Hydration
Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream
If you have oily skin, it can be tempting to skip moisturizer; after all, it seems pretty counterintuitive to put more moisture on already-slick skin. But we’d caution against that. Research shows that dehydrated skin—that is, skin that lacks water—can actually over-produce oil to make up for the lack of natural moisture.II This, in turn, can lead to an excessively oily appearance, clogged pores, and blemishes.
While moisturizing is essential, even for those with oily skin, it’s also crucial to pick a formula that won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. We recommend Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, which boasts a blend of lightweight hydrating ingredients, including desert plant extract and glacial glycoprotein. The non-comedogenic formula provides lasting, 24-hour hydration without a heavy or greasy feel, making it perfect for those with oily skin types. The unique gel texture sinks into the skin quickly for a fresh, shine-free appearance.
For men, a mattifying formula can help keep midday shine at bay. Try Oil Eliminator 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer for Men, which stars glycerin and totara wood extract to moisturize skin with an ultra-lightweight finish. The unique formula uses high-tech Aerolite Technology to absorb sweat and surface oil, giving the skin a clean, shine-free appearance for up to 24 hours. With regular use, this daily moisturizer also helps reduce the appearance of pores for a smoother, more balanced appearance.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: Moisturizer isn’t the only thing that can help hydrate oily skin. Face oils can be beneficial, too. Learn more about using facial oils in our article Can You Use a Face Oil On Oily Skin?
Protect With SPF
Super Fluid Daily Mineral Defense
Whether you live in the tropics or the arctic, sunscreen is a must. But if you have oily skin, finding a formula that doesn’t give your skin a greasy appearance (or worse, lead to breakouts) can be challenging. For oily and acne-prone skin types, non-comedogenic mineral sunscreens are ideal. Try Super Fluid Daily Mineral Defense, which contains titanium oxide for lasting, broad-spectrum UV protection. This ultra-lightweight formula also contains vitamin E to help neutralize free radicals and keep your skin protected from the damaging effects of environmental aggressors. Apply a generous amount to your face and neck daily for lasting defense with a sheer, matte finish.
Detox Your Skin
Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask
Last but not least, incorporate an absorbent face mask into your skincare routine. An at-home facial serves as an extra relaxing step that you can turn to whenever your skin feels especially oily or congested. We recommend the best-selling Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask, made with ultra-absorbent Amazonian white clay and soothing aloe vera. This top-rated formula draws out dirt, oil, and other impurities from within the pores to thoroughly cleanse and detoxify your skin. It’s clinically-demonstrated to reduce skin’s surface oil production by 46.7% for smaller-looking pores.** Use it once to three times weekly to refine and purify your skin.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: Learn how to apply your face mask properly in our article How To Apply a Face Mask The Right Way.
**Clinical grading of the full panel tested in an 8-week study. **Based on results two hours after use vs. untreated skin.
I.Roh, M et al. “Sebum output as a factor contributing to the size of facial pores.” The British journal of dermatology vol. 155,5 (2006): 890-4. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2006.07465.x
II.“Moisturizer: Why you may need it if you have acne.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/moisturizer