Here’s a not-so-surprising fact: Those with oily skin still need to moisturize daily. If you avoid moisturizing your skin, it will produce even more sebum (aka oil) to hydrate itself. As a result, that overproduction of sebum can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
Instead, you should hydrate your skin right after cleansing to get ahead of this process. Whether you’re oily all over, have oily and dry areas (i.e., combination skin), or are simply looking for a lighter formula to slather on during the warmer months, here are the very best hydrators that serve just the right amount of shine.
When we asked board-certified dermatologist Jenny Liu, M.D., FAAD, which ingredients are best for oily skin, she suggested looking for something with water-based ingredients, like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. These humectants are super lightweight and can add slip to the formula, which helps give it that airy feel.
In addition, ingredients like niacinamide, green tea, and salicylic acid can help control sebum production, Liu says. Niacinamide, in particular, helps balance sebum production and acne-prone skin (while oily skin doesn’t automatically mean you’re acne-prone, the skin types do tend to go hand in hand): One study showed that applying a topical formula of 4% niacinamide treated moderate acne just as well as 1% of a topical antibiotic.
Salicylic acid, of course, is the oil-soluble BHA we know and love: It can break through oily skin and penetrate deep inside the pores to help unclog them at the source. As a result, it can help exfoliate the skin and remove excess oil, as well as balance sebum levels in the skin.
Even though it may not feel like it, oily skin does need proper hydration. When looking for a moisturizer, keep an eye out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate and balance the skin. And if you want even more top-tier moisturizers fit for every skin type, check out this roundup.