8 Best Skincare Ingredients for Oily Skin

As an oily skinned person, I know exactly how tempting it can be to constantly strip skin with frequent face washing and using drying, stripping products. 

The thing is, this really isn’t the best approach - trust me. If you’re constantly washing the oil off your face, you could end up dehydrating and damaging your skin - without actually impacting your skin’s oil production. This is a perfect storm for dehydrated skin and a damaged skin barrier, which is not what you want to go for.

Here’s my top 8 skincare ingredients for oily skin and how to use them to actually reduce oil production without over-drying or stripping skin!

Clay + Hyaluronic Acid

If you have oily (or even combination) skin, then you’ve probably used a clay mask before - right? Clay is a great skincare ingredient for oily skin because it has two unique properties - adsorption and absorption. While absorption is normally what’s used to describe clay, the fact is that it does both - adsorption is when clay grabs impurities and excess oil and attaches that to its own surface, while absorption is when clay absorbs moisture into itself. 

Either way, when you rinse clay off your face, it takes everything it’s grabbed with it - leaving behind smaller-looking pores and temporarily sebum-free skin. The thing with clays is that while they’re effective at soaking up excess oil, they tend to grab a little too much hydration out of the skin too - that’s where hyaluronic acid comes in. 

To counter clay from drying out the skin too much, I recommend following it up with hyaluronic acid to replenish water levels in skin. Pro tip: if you’re applying a hyaluronic acid product right after cleansing, apply it to a damp face. Having a damp face means there’s extra water for the HA to grab onto, making it extra effective!

GA-DE Purifing Mask image
GA-DE Purifying Mask | $35
A combination of clay and other skin-friendly ingredients helps to absorb excess oil and clarify skin.
Declare Hydro Ocean's Best Serum image
Declaré Ocean’s Best Hyaluron Triple Booster Serum | $85
This lightweight serum has three weights of hyaluronic acid for a hydration boost.

Niacinamide + Zinc

Niacinamide is a real powerhouse skincare ingredient because it can do so much for skin - including oily skin. Studies have found that niacinamide lowers sebum production for skin that’s less uncomfortably shiny and greasy - that, combined with all the other benefits of niacinamide make this one of my favourite skincare ingredients, ever!

Combined with zinc, you’ve got a recipe for exactly how to stop oily skin in no time. Zinc is naturally an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, so it’s great for calming down breakouts too. Studies have found that zinc also has a positive effect on reducing sebum production for skin that’s less oily, without leaving it feeling parched and dry. 

GA-DE Pro + Clear Mask Image
GA-DE Pro + Clear Calming Overnight Mask | $24
Replenishes skin’s moisture overnight with a blend of niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
La Mer Hydrating Facial Mask image
La Mer Hydrating Facial Mask | $542
This luxurious sheet mask uses a mix of zinc gluconate and other soothing ingredients to hydrate and calm skin.

Salicylic Acid + Witch Hazel

Salicylic acid is the best exfoliating acid out there for oily skin. It’s oil-soluble, unlike AHAs, so it’s super effective at dissolving away sebum and sebum-based skin congestion for less greasy feeling skin. Consistent use of salicylic acid helps to minimise excessive sebum production, leading to smaller-looking pores over time. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits, soothing and calming irritated skin and acne. 

Witch hazel works in tandem with salicylic acid to reduce oiliness, thanks to the tannins found in witch hazel. Tannins have astringent properties, which means they can effectively remove excess oil from the skin’s surface. However, that’s not they only skin benefit they have - tannins are a special type of antioxidant, and they have the added bonus of calming down reactive skin.


Declare Matifying toner image
Declaré Pure Balance Matifying & Astringent Toner | $30
Balance skin, without drying it out - that’s exactly what this toner from Declaré does. 
GA-DE Aqua Jolt Gel Moisturiser image
GA-DE Aqua Jolt Oil-Free Hydration Gel Cream (Oily to Combination Skin) | $25
GA-DE’s lightweight gel cream hydrates skin while soothing it with witch hazel.

Retinol + Rosehip Oil

I know what you’re thinking - are these two really right for oily skin? Hear me out - first of all, avoiding oil for oily skin skin is a super old-school approach. These days, we have a better understanding of how oils benefit skin - especially rosehip oil. 

Here’s why rosehip oil is great for oily skin: it’s rich in linoleic acid. This is a major factor for two reasons: first, it means that rosehip doesn’t feel as heavy and greasy on the skin compared to oils rich in oleic acid. An example of an oil high in oleic acid is marula oil - it has a super rich, almost sticky, thick texture that’s perfect for dry skin, but not so much for oily skin.

The linoleic acid in rosehip oil does double duty for acne, too - studies consistently find that people who have persistent acne have lower levels of linoleic acid in their sebum compared to those who don’t have acne. It’s thought that adding linoleic acid back to the skin helps to reduce likelihood of acne.

Retinol for oily skin might surprise you, but Vitamin A derivatives, including retinoids, could have a bigger effect on sebum production than we first thought. While we know that retinol is one of the best ingredients to reach for when it comes to anti-ageing, more and more studies are finding that retinoids interact with the cells responsible for sebum production.

Retinol may also impact pore size - oily-skinned people tend to have more visible pores than other skin types! Making pores look smaller may have an impact on sebum production as well, but for now, the actual mechanism isn’t as well understood. 

GA-DE Hydra Essential Precious Skin Serum image
GA-DE Hydra Essential Precious Skin Serum | $50
This lightweight retinol serum is perfect for getting your nightly dose of retinol in.

Inika Organic Enriched Rosehip Oil image
Inika Organic Certified Organic Enriched Rosehip Oil | $39
A blend of rosehip and other plant oils moisturise and nourish skin. 

Now, you're all set with the best ingredient combinations possible for oily skin. If you're not sure what your skin type is, check out our skin type guide - it has all the answers to your questions so you can get your beauty affairs in order!

Still looking for your perfect skincare routine? Try our skin quiz!

Beauty Affairs Australia Skin Quiz Image

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