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, that aforementioned shine, and blackheads. On the upside, oily skin often has a natural-looking glow (and it typically shows the signs of aging slower than dry skin). Still, having a dedicated skincare routine for oily skin is a must—especially if you’re trying to keep it feeling balanced and fresh.
To help, we’ve compiled a simple five-step skincare routine for oily skin. Ahead, you’ll learn how to manage oily skin without leaving it feeling dry or stripped. Plus, we’ll provide recommendations on the best products for oily skin that you can find at Kiehl’s. Read on for our daily oily skin routine.
What Is a Good Skincare Routine For Oily Skin?
Though everyone’s skin is different, most routines should include the same basic steps. Here, we’ll take you through what those steps are and reveal Kiehl’s best skincare routine for oily skin.
Cleanse To Remove Oil and Debris
As the skin’s natural moisturizer, sebum plays an important role in keeping your skin moisturized and healthy-looking. Too much sebum, however, can leave you with shiny or greasy-looking skin. To help remove excess sebum without stripping the skin, you’ll want to reach for a cleanser specifically designed for oilier skin, like Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser. Made with fairly-traded Amazonian white clay, this gentle face wash removes excess oil, dirt, and other debris without over-drying the skin. It also provides gentle exfoliation and helps minimize the appearance of enlarged pores (a common oily skin concern) over time. It’s suitable for both oily and normal skin types and can be used morning and night. If you’re traveling and don’t want to tote around a full-sized cleanser, try Rare Earth Deep Pore Purifying Concentrated Facial Cleansing Bar instead—it can easily be stashed in a toiletry bag while you’re on the road. The concentrated cleansing bar helps absorb excess oil, leaving the skin feeling balanced. Plus, the dual-action formula with bamboo powder is 99% biodegradable, making it a great option for those looking to minimize their environmental footprint.*
*As per OECD test 301 or equivalents
For guys, who tend to have oilier skin and larger pores, we recommend Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash. The non-comedogenic cleanser for oily skin deeply cleanses to remove excess oil, sweat, and other impurities without over-drying the skin. It also provides gentle exfoliation to slough away dead skin cells, leaving the skin smoother and visibly less shiny. We advise guys with oily skin to use this cleanser morning and night as the first step in their oily skin routine.
Finally, while it’s true that some oil can be beneficial for your skin (even if you’re naturally oily), those with skin that tends to be on the greasy side may sometimes prefer to use oil-free skincare products. If you fall into this category, we suggest reaching for Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser. Made specifically for oily skin, this foaming cleanser provides a thorough clean and visibly reduces oil on the skin’s surface. It’s gentle and non-stripping and can be used daily for balanced, fresh-feeling skin.
Reach For a Kiehl’s Balancing Toner
Using a toner after washing your face helps remove any dirt, debris, or residue left behind after your cleanse. Plus, the right toner can also help prepare your skin for the rest of your routine. If oiliness is your primary skin concern, try using Rare Earth Pore Refining Tonic, which contains allantoin and fairly-traded Amazonian white clay. The mineral-rich formula (one of our best toners for oily skin) helps mattify the skin while rebalancing moisture levels. It also helps visibly reduce the appearance of enlarged pores over time. You can apply it with a clean cotton pad or by simply splashing the toning liquid onto your face—just avoid the immediate eye area.
Alternatively, you can reach for Ultra Facial Oil-Free Toner, which is formulated with glycerin and desert plant extract. The gentle, non-drying toner helps remove impurities and debris without stripping the skin of much-needed moisture. It’s pH-balanced and oil and alcohol-free. Use it morning and night for fresher, healthier-looking skin over time.
Address Concerns With a Targeted Serum
To help address oily skin’s unique needs, use a serum that’s formulated to help target your concerns. If you have enlarged pores, for example, try Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. The lightweight, water-free serum with 12.5% vitamin C smooths skin’s texture and helps reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. It also helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to reveal firmer, more radiant-looking skin over time.
For those looking to address age-related skin concerns within their oily skin routine, we recommend Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide. Made with a precise daily dose of pure retinol, the effective anti-aging serum is clinically-demonstrated to visibly reduce wrinkles and firm the skin (and it does so with minimal redness, dryness, or irritation).* With consistent use, it also helps smooth skin texture and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, revealing a more even, refined appearance. While it’s not made specifically for oily skin, the gentle formula is suitable for all skin types.
*Results based on expert grading in a clinical test for subjects showing improvement after 12 weeks of use.
Hydrate Your Eye Area
Though 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. Formulated with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, the fast-absorbing formula instantly smooths and hydrates the under-eye area to refresh the appearance of tired-looking eyes. 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.
*Clinical grading of the full panel tested in an eight-week study.
Use a Lightweight Moisturizer
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 a lack of natural moisture.* This, in turn, can lead to an excessively oily appearance, clogged pores, and blemishes.
Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer
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 Moisturizer, which contains glycerin and micronized amino acid. The non-comedogenic formula absorbs instantly, refreshing the skin with long-lasting hydration. It also helps keep the skin shine-free for up to 24 hours and works to minimize the appearance of enlarged pores with consistent use. You can use the cooling, gel-cream formula morning and night for fresh-feeling, deeply hydrated skin.
For men with oily skin, we recommend Oil Eliminator 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer For Men. It moisturizes the skin while helping to absorb sweat and excess oil for a visibly less shiny appearance. The ultra-light formula is non-comedogenic and leaves the skin feeling clean and fresh.
The five steps we outlined above are the ones that you should follow every day to help keep your skin balanced and healthy-looking. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other tips you can try to help care for oily skin. Ahead, find two routine boosters that you can pick up when your skin needs a little extra TLC.
Once Weekly: Deep Clean With a Clay Mask
Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Cleansing Mask
An at-home facial serves as an extra relaxing step that you can turn to any time your skin feels especially oily or congested. We recommend our best-selling Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Cleansing Mask, made with ultra-absorbent Amazonian white clay and soothing aloe vera. This award-winning formula draws out dirt, oil, and other impurities from within the pores to thoroughly cleanse and detoxify your skin. It immediately helps diminish blackheads and reduces surface oil by up to 46% in a single use.* You can incorporate it into your regular skincare routine weekly for smoother, visibly more refined skin.
*Results based on a two-hour instrumental test vs. untreated skin on 24 subjects.
Kiehl's Tip: Learn how to apply your face mask properly in our article How To Apply a Face Mask The Right Way.
As Needed: Address Blemishes With a Kiehl’s Spot Treatment
While those with oily skin don’t always have blemishes—and those with blemish-prone skin don’t always have oily skin—it’s true that excess oil often contributes to breakouts. If you struggle with blemishes and oiliness, we suggest keeping a tube of Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment on hand to target pimples when they do appear. The potent formula with sulfur and niacinamide is clinically-demonstrated to rapidly reduce the appearance of acne blemishes while helping to prevent new spots from forming.* The spot treatment absorbs quickly and blends evenly onto the skin, making it ideal for use both morning and night.
*Tested in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.
I. “Moisturizer: Why you may need it if you have acne.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2022.