a guide to caring for oily skin

a guide to caring for oily skin

In need of some expert advice for balancing your oily skin? 

When you have an oily skin, you may make the common mistake of over washing and over scrubbing your skin, or even skipping on your moisturiser. But what may appear logical when treating oily skin, in fact, in most cases, worsens it. 

We’re going to explore why some skins produce more oil than others, and if that’s your skin, what we recommend to reduce shine and promote a more balanced skin. 

why is my skin oily? 

In most cases, oily skin is a result of your skin type. Skin types are driven by genetics, and they don’t tend to change – although skin does become drier as we age. Most people experience a level of oil in the t-zone area (nose, above the brows and chin), as this is where we have more oil glands. But beyond the t-zone, oily skin types experience oil flow on the cheeks and tend to start feeling shiny early in the day. You can’t “prevent” an oily skin type, but with the correct skincare and habits, excess oil can be controlled. 

Environment and lifestyle can also cause shiny skin. Pollution, hot humid climates, working with industrial oils or in a commercial kitchen, a sugary diet, pregnancy, and stress can all send the skin’s oil producing glands into overdrive. If you notice your skin suddenly becomes oily but hasn’t always been that way, your oiliness is likely temporary. By assessing what’s different in your day-to-day life, you should be able to figure out what could be causing your oily skin and make changes to help bring back balance to your skin. Speaking with an experienced qualified skin therapist can support you with identifying what the cause of your excess oil could be. 

are you dehydrated? 

Dehydrated skin is another common culprit of oily skin. If you would describe your skin as both oily and dry, then it’s chronically dehydrated. When our skin isn’t adequately hydrated (lacking in water) it compensates by making more oil, instead of water. Along with dialling up oil production, dehydration slows down the skin’s natural shedding process, causing dead skin cells to get stuck within the pores – a perfect storm for blackheads and breakouts. This is why cancelling your moisturiser is a bad idea. Both external and internal hydration is critical to keeping skin healthy. If you’re an oily skin you’ll want to incorporate a lightweight, oil-free moisturiser that will feed your skin essential moisture without adding oil.  

what not to do if you have oily skin 

As alluded to earlier, over cleaning your skin, although very tempting, will backfire. This is especially so if you’re using a cleanser that's alkaline such as soap-based facial wash or bar. Over cleaning your skin, whether that be with a cleanser or exfoliant, will start to break down the skin’s protective barrier. This damages the skin’s natural protective lipids, causing moisture to escape from the skin, and bingo, the skin becomes dehydrated. The repercussions of over cleansing an oily skin is more oil and sensitivity! Sticking with a double cleanse twice a day and using cleansers that are the same acidity as the skin will leave your face feeling clean without stripping it. All Dermalogica cleansers are formulated to match the ski’s natural PH, providing a gentle yet effective cleansing experience.  

If there’s anything you’ll want to give your oily skin more of, it’s hydration! Remember, when we talk about hydration, we are referring to water, not oil. Toners, hydrating serums and lightweight moisturisers that absorb quickly into the skin are ideal for promoting a healthy, clearer, more balanced skin. Ensure to avoid alcohol-based toners, they may feel great for about a minute as they strip the oil from the skin's surface, but the side effects of prolonged use can cause skin irritation and dehydration. And, as soon as skin becomes dehydrated, oily skin becomes oiler and skin health is compromised.  

how to care for oily skin 

A thorough cleanse two times a day, regular exfoliation and a focus on hydration are key strategies for controlling an oily skin. Here’s Dermalogica’s go-to solutions for oily skins: 


  • Use PreCleanseoil – yes, an oil! as the first part of your double cleanse routine. PreCleanse is a water-soluble cleansing oil and, in science, like attracts like. PreCleanse dissolves oil on the skin by using Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, once water is applied to this active ingredient, it facilities the release of oils from the skins surface, so no greasy residue whilst Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) improves the skins smoothness and softness.  
  • For your 2nd cleanse, use a clay-based cleanser such as Active Clay Cleanser which uses Kaolin Clay to absorb excess oils whilst Botanical lipids and Murumuru Seed work together to attract and remove excess oil from skin while helping toprotectits natural lipid barrier and promote ahealthymicrobiome. Skin is left feeling super clean yet comfortable.  
  • Regular exfoliation can help control oil production, improve skin texture, and help prevent clogged pores that lead to breakouts. It also helps prep the skin for maximum absorption of oil-controlling ingredients. We recommend using a gentle daily exfoliant, such as Daily Microfoliant, this exfoliant uses Papain from papaya and Salicylic Acid which helps to dissolve excess skin cells and unclog pores.  

Pro Tip! For a quick, power cleanse, combine Active Clay Cleanser with Daily Microfoliant in one single step. 


  • Try Sebum Clearing Masque, once or twice a week. Apply this clay-based masque to oily areas, the Bentonite and Kaolin Clays assist controlling sebaceous gland secretions and clean out pores.  
  • Douse your skin in Circular Hydration Serum - a light weight, yet super saturating daily serum that won’t leave residue on the skin. It contains a plethora of hydrating actives including Hyaluronic Acid and Algae to both deeply hydrate and prevent future dehydration. By advancing skin’s hydration cycle, the skin’s natural exfoliation process runs at optimum, helping with clarity, plus help balance oil production. 

Pro Tip! You can use your Active Clay Cleanser as a 5-minute mini masque, once or twice a week.  


  • After cleansing, apply an oil free moisturiser such asActive Moist. Oily/shiny skins can suffer from dehydration (lacking water) - this triggers skin to produce more oil to protect itself. Active Moist uses natural botanical extracts of Lemon, Cucumber and Burdock to help refine the skin along with a skin-balancing Prebiotic Complex. Or if you want a gel-based, weightless moisturiser, there’s Calm Water Gel, which uses Hyaluronic Acid, Apple Fruit Extract and and Glycerin to soothe, soften and calm. Another gel-based option is BioLumin-C Gel Moisturizer. Featuring an ultra-stable Vitamin C complex, plus 5 types of Hyaluronic Acid, it delivers critical hydration whilst brightening and safeguarding against premature skin ageing.  
  • Like a mattified look? Moisturise with Clearing Defense SPF30 – a sunscreen that’s kind to oily skin. It uses a Patented TT technology that works with the skin’s natural microbiome and natural Tapioca to help regulate oil production, plus antioxidants to soothe and protect. This oil absorbing daytime moisturiser helps maintain an all-day matte finish, preventing shine without any powdery residue.  

Pro Tip: Create a “matte kit” from the products above to keep in your bag for mid-day touch-ups. Your kit should include oil-free lotions or sunscreens.  

professional treatments for oily skin 

Advance your oily skincare routine with a professional treatment for oily skin. Dermalogica PRO Clear is a comprehensive clearing skin treatment combining professional extractions with professional-grade actives and skin soothing techniques. Whether skin is congested with blackheads or active breakouts, PRO Clear is the answer. A professional skin therapist will begin your service by assessing the level of oil, breakouts and inflammation in your skin and then personalise the treatment. To find your local Dermalogica professional skin therapist, visit ourstore locator. 

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