Back when I was an oily and acne-prone teenager, my mom used to tell me that someday I’d be grateful for the gift that is oily skin. Her reasoning? Oily skin tends to age better and result in fewer lines and wrinkles (I’m still waiting for those benefits to kick in!).
Oily skin can be a contradiction though. With so much oil, it makes you feel like you need to wash your face more often to keep the shine at bay. Unfortunately over-washing is one of the quickest ways to find yourself coping with oily skin.
Harsh scrubs and cleansers can overstimulate your pores to produce even more oil. While the thought of using actual oil to wash your face might sound crazy, it’s actually quite smart. Oil dissolves oil and helps clear out pores and regulate skin’s oil production. Read on for more oily skin tips and our favorite oily skin face mask recipes:
Meet the experts
Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York
Brendan Camp, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology
Todd Minars, M.D., dermatologist at Minars Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida
Is oily skin normal?
As it turns out, oily skin is perfectly normal. In fact, sebum, or oil, production is an important and necessary process that occurs in the skin, explains Brendan Camp, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. “Sebaceous glands secrete oil through glands that coat the surface of skin to help seal in moisture, minimizes frictional forces on the skin, and protects the skin from infections,” he says.
What causes oily skin?
There are plenty of factors that can influence the oiliness of a person’s skin. The first has to do with your genetics. It’s not uncommon for someone with oily skin to have a parent or a sibling who also experiences it, explains Marisa Garshick, M.D., dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York.
Age is another factor. “Many people find that their skin is more oily during their teenage years and as they get older the skin may produce less oil,” says Dr. Garshick. “The combination of less oily being products and weakening of the skin barrier with age can lead to the appearance of dry, dehydrated skin.”
Lifestyle habits, like over-washing your face can also be a culprit. This might sound counterintuitive, but over-washing your face can strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to ramp up its oil production and leaving you even more shiny. Todd Minars, M.D., dermatologist at Minars Dermatology in Hollywood, Florida recommends washing your face twice daily—in the morning and at night. “Do that for a couple of weeks and see how your skin (and the shine) react to the decreased frequency,” he says.
10 Oily Skin Face Masks
Sometimes you need a little extra assistance in getting rid of the excess oil, dead skin cells and dirt clogging your pores. Anyone else break out more during the holidays? Maybe it’s the extra time at the stove – or the stress!
A grease-cutting face mask can do the trick. Here are 10 ways to combine natural astringents with oil-absorbing ingredients to tone your skin, soak up oil and draw out impurities.
1. Activated Charcoal Mask for Oily Skin
Charcoal acts like a magnet for bacteria, debris, oil, dirt, and dead skin cells, cleansing the skin and reducing oil by drawing these things from deep within pores, explains Dr. Camp. “These impurities are then flushed away along with the charcoal when the face mask is rinsed off,” he says.
Mix the ingredients into a bowl along with a few drops of oils like rose hip or grape seed oil for added hydration. Apply to your face with clean fingers and make sure to get the areas most prone to shine. Leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.
2. Baking Soda Face Mask
This kitchen staple can serve as a skin savior when included in a DIY mask. It gently scours the skin surface and facilitates the process of exfoliation, cleans out pores, and may help treat blackheads and whiteheads, explains Dr. Camp.
—1 tablespoon water
—1 tablespoon baking soda
Mix together the baking soda and water to create a paste that you can apply to your skin. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse away with warm water.
“Baking soda can help to reduce the appearance of blackheads and clogged pores and also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits,” says Dr. Garshick. “It is important to not overdo it as it can contribute to irritation and inflammation.”
3. Clay + Witch Hazel Mask
Clay provides deep pore cleansing by absorbing excess oil and pulling out impurities and dirt while witch hazel is an effective astringent that makes pores tighten as they dry.
Combine ingredients and stir until blended. Don’t use metal spoons or bowls to mix. Apply to skin with clean fingers and leave on for 10 minutes.
Super oily skin types can leave on for up to 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.
4. Egg White Honey Mask
Egg whites are often used in masks to tighten and tone skin, which essentially means they are helping to dry out the skin. Ground oats absorb oil and exfoliate dead skin that can clog pores. Add a bit of honey for its skin healing benefits.
—1 egg white
—1 teaspoon honey
—Ground oats or flour
Whip together the egg white and honey until well combined and a bit frothy. Add ground oats or flour until you have a paste. Apply to face (avoid the eyes) and massage paste gently into skin. Leave mask on for 10 minutes and remove with warm water.
5. Lemon Apple Mask
Lemon and apple both contain natural fruit acids that exfoliate skin and remove oil. Sage is an herb with astringent properties to tighten and close pores. You can also try dried lavender or peppermint for similar effects.
—1 tablespoon applesauce
—1 teaspoon lemon juice
—1 teaspoon dried sage
Combine ingredients and apply to face. Leave on for 5-10 minutes and remove with warm water.
6. Nutmeg Spot Treatment Mask
Combine these three acne fighters to shrink a pimple fast—without leaving your skin dry or flaky.
—1 aspirin tablet, not enteric-coated
—1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
—1 tablespoon plain yogurt
Crush the aspirin tablet down to a powder and put it in a small bowl. Add the nutmeg and yogurt and stir to make a paste. Gently dab on the zit. Leave on for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
7. Apple cider vinegar + clay face mask
Clay absorbs excess oil and impurities deep down in the pores, while the natural acids in apple cider vinegar shrink pores to limit the secretion of excess oil and gently slough away dead skin cells.
Combine clay and probiotic powder in a small bowl. Add the water and apple cider vinegar to make a paste (add more water if needed).
With clean fingers, spread the mask over your face and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water and apply moisturizer. Repeat twice a week to maintain shine-free skin.
8. Witch hazel sheet mask
Sheet masks are super fun and on-trend but buying too many of them can really break the bank. So make your own DIY sheet masks with a simple tissue! After all, the sheet is simply a vehicle to transport the fluids and other ingredients to the skin.
Tea tree’s antibacterial properties are a great addition to any sheet mask—especially those battling acne—while witch hazel tightens the skin and calms inflammation.
Combine the water, tea tree oil and witch hazel in a bowl and mix well. Cut or tear a tissue in half at the fold so you have two pieces, one for the top and bottom half of your face.
Place the tissue halves into the bowl to absorb the liquid. Once saturated, remove the tissue from the bowl and apply to the face. Leave the sheets on for 10-15 minutes then remove and pat dry. Rinsing is optional for this mask, but follow with appropriate serum or moisturizer.
9. Potato + green tea overnight mask
Wearing a healing mask all night allows our skin the chance to heal and repair cells, balance oil production and expel impurities. This mask takes advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of potato juice and the antioxidants and antibacterial agents in green tea.
Take a clean, washed potato and juice it to extract 1 tablespoon of potato juice. Steep 2 bags of green tea in hot water for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
Once cool, combine 1 tablespoon of green tea with the potato juice. Dip a cotton pad (or a reusable cleansing pad) in the solution and apply to a clean face, taking your time to apply to any clogged areas or blemishes. In the morning, use your normal facial cleanser and follow with your daily skincare routine.
10. Moroccan red clay + rosewater mask
Moroccan red clay is an ideal choice for balancing oily skin and unclogging pores. It absorbs excess oil and is often used in recipes for deodorant and masks. Mined in the mountains of Morocco, this clay deep cleanses the pores while stimulating circulation.
Combine the rosewater, avocado and clay in a bowl and stir thoroughly. Keep mixing until a smooth paste is created and all the clay has been incorporated.
Using clean fingers, apply the mask to oily or acne-prone areas. As soon as the mask starts to lighten (usually a sign the mask is dry), rinse off with warm water.85