How to control oily skin

It’s the question that’s always top of mind if you have oily skin, and since summer’s just around the bend and your skin’s about to feel peak oily, it’s worth talking about now. You might have tried the kinds of face wash that make your skin feel *squeaky clean.* Or you might have tried de-greasing with rubbing alcohol or skipping moisturizer altogether. Do any of these sound familiar? The truth is that these tactics can do real damage to your skin. So we’re sharing a 101 on how to control oily skin and kick the oil slick.

You need to moisturize

Yes, you. Moisturizing is an essential step in any skincare routine—no matter your skin type. Let’s be clear: we’re not saying that you need to heap on a rich anti-aging cream. Here’s what we do mean:

Go lightweight

To control oily skin you need to be using some kind of hydrator. That’s because the more dehydrated your skin gets, the more oil it will produce. Harsh, stripping products only make matters worse as they’ll dry skin out even more. On the other hand, products that have a gel-like consistency are an excellent choice.

Humectants preferred

Aloe Vera gel is a great ingredient to look for as it’s weightless. Hyaluronic acid, a kind of humectant, is another favorite as it attracts moisture to the skin without clogging pores. On the oilier end of the spectrum (don’t freak out!) is Squalane Oil. This miracle ingredient is also is lightweight and will never clog pores.

Cleansing is key

Not all cleansers are all created equal. And that’s particularly important to know when it comes to choosing the right one for oily skin.

Beware SLS

Many cleansers are formulated with SLS, aka sodium lauryl sulfate, a surfactant that acts as a cleansing and foaming agent in skincare—it’s what gives your face wash that nice, rich lather and your skin that squeaky clean feeling. Because it’s a relatively inexpensive ingredient it’s found in lots of cleansers, so you’ve almost certainly encountered it in your skincare life. The problem with SLS is that while it’s great for lifting oil, it can also dry out your skin.

Dry, you say? We know that sounds great, but if your skin’s feeling dryness or tightness it’s not a good thing. That’s because the outer layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) acts as a protective barrier that keeps moisture in and irritants and bacteria out. Cleansers that contain surfactants can disrupt this outer barrier and raise the pH of your skin beyond it’s normal, healthy range (around 5.5). When the skin’s pH gets too high and its protective barrier is compromised it can have trouble repairing itself. That’s particularly bad news if you’re breakout-prone because a high pH will encourage the growth of acne-causing bacteria that your skin won’t be able to defend against.

Try booster ingredients

Getting the basics for cleansing and hydration is key, but to control oily skin there are a few more ingredients you need to know:

  • Salicylic Acid – An oil-soluble chemical exfoliant that can penetrate into the pores of the skin. It’s especially effective for reducing breakouts, including blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Retinol – An ingredient that works by speeding skin cell turnover. It helps to unclog pores and reduce pore size. It can also reduce the oil in skin overall.
  • Niacinamide – Aka Vitamin B3. This ingredient can help calm inflammation and reduce oil production.

Get the right stuff

Navigating all the options available can be daunting. That’s why we set out to make the process of finding your ideal skincare easy—no Googling or guess-and-test required.

To get started with a skincare routine that’s custom-built for you, head to and create a skin profile.

Or, to find more tips on taking care of oily or acne prone skin, check out our posts on how to wash your face (you’re probably doing it wrong), how to avoid ingredients that clog pores, and how to face acne scars.

Team Kura