How to Moisturize Oily Skin in 5 Steps

BY Dermstore Editors · March 21, 2016

woman walking outside

If you’ve ever reached for a shine-blotting paper, puffed on extra powder before facing a camera or felt like your makeup is sliding off, you know the challenges that come with oily skin. But this doesn’t mean you have to bypass moisturizing products. The right treatments and techniques can nourish your skin without exacerbating oiliness.

1. Keep It Light

Rich, heavy creams may be your go-to product to smooth dry elbows, but these heavy-emollient textures can wreak havoc on a face with oil glands in overdrive. Imagine you’re giving your face a light drink of 2% percent milk instead of a carton of heavy cream. Look for lightweight, water-based moisturizers or moisturizing gels that plump up the skin with hyaluronic acid. Because gel formulas have a high water content, they improve the elasticity in the skin and create a better base for makeup. Whereas oil-based moisturizers will cause makeup to slide off faster, since the majority of foundations and primers are oil-based as well.

2. Start Small Before Going Big

Don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to the amount of moisturizer you smooth on your face. While too much moisturizer may have you running for blotting papers, a small amount of product allows you to gradually layer the product. Listen to your skin instead of slathering: Start with dots of moisturizer instead of dollops, and gently massage it into your skin. If you have combination skin, such as a T-zone of oilier spots, give the drier areas a couple more dots of moisturizer. Build up the coverage until your skin is in its comfort zone.

3. Get Acne-Fighting Help

Serums, moisturizers and even makeup primers can come equipped with acne-fighting ingredients, such as salicylic acid or retinol, in the mix. Some anti-acne moisturizers contain anti-inflammatory agents such as witch hazel or aloe vera. Be aware, though, of how many products you’re compounding with acne-battling elements, such as facial wash and spot treatments. You don’t want to cause dry skin or irritation in your battle against blemishes.

4. Consider the Climate

The moisturizer your skin soaks up in the wintertime may be too heavy for your oily skin to handle during a humid summer. If you start suffering skin issues as the seasons change or during travel to a different climate, experiment with adjustments in your routine. You may need less moisturizer or a lighter formulation in the warmer months, or coupling a blemish-fighting cleanser with your usual moisturizer could do the trick. Keep year-round notes of which products reacted positively or negatively with your skin, taking into account other variables such as hormonal changes and stress that can precipitate breakouts.

5. Block Those Rays

Don’t trade your oily skin for sun-damaged skin. Opt for products that manage oily skin while also protecting it. This is especially important if you’re using retinoids to control acne, because these topical treatments increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Look for lightweight moisturizers that contain SPF, at least 30 or higher, but don’t rely on moisturizer alone for full sun protection.

This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

Dermstore Editors

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