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Ways to get rid of oily skin: Clinical treatments and home remedies

Oily skin comes when too much sebum is formed by the sweat glands. Several home remedies, lifestyle changes and medicinal therapies can help to minimize the oily skin look.

Read on to find out about some ways to make skin less oily. This article also covers when to see a doctor.

Methods for making the skin less oily

Washing face with soap
Alongside gentle or medicated cleansers, reducing stress and making dietary changes may help reduce the appearance of oily skin.

There are plenty of ways to lessen the oily skin appearance. Some are home remedies while others are clinical remedies.

These methods include:

1. Clean regularly

Washing the face every morning and evening with a gentle, pH-balanced, non-soap cleanser — as well as after exercise — is crucial for maintaining clean , healthy skins.

Choosing gentle, foaming face washings is important. This is because strong, harsh products can trigger the production of extra oil.

2. Limiting alcohol use

Chronic alcohol consumption may damage the blood vessels and cause widening of the blood vessels and oil glands, which also enlarges the pores of the skin.

Try to limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.

3. Using salicylic acid products

Smooth exfoliation, ideally with a chemical-based exfoliator such as salicylic acid weekly, can help remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and other debris from the surface of skin.

Apply exfoliating products with warm water in gentle, small , circular motions for about 30 seconds or under.

4. Using blotting papers or medicated pads

Blotting papers and medicated pads can normally help to absorb excess oil from the skin’s surface.

For a few seconds, gently press blotting papers or pads against the skin, and use a new paper or pad when it becomes filled with oil or debris.

5. Moisturizing regularly

Some people think moisturizers are increasing the amount of oil on the skin or clogging the pores, but oil-free, noncomedogenic moisturizers help keep the skin hydrated.

Look for daytime moisturizers that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with an SPF of 30 or greater.

Start using a higher moisturizer formula at night, for very oily skin, such as going from a heavy cream to a serum or gel.

6. Making a facial mask

Although there is limited scientific evidence, people have used a variety of natural or herbal products to reduce the excess skin oil. Many of those products can be incorporated into homemade masks.

Some of the masks most tested and recommended for reducing oily skin include clay and parsley, according to recent studies.

Clay — especially green clay — has various cosmetic applications, including the absorption and removal of debris, dirt, and oil from the surface of the skin. Clay helps to tone your skin too.

Parsley contains a rich blend of vitamins and minerals that help regulate the production and absorption of sebums. Masks that contain around 4 percent of the parsley powder may be effective in controlling excess oil.

7. Using products with green tea

In green tea, the antioxidant polyphenols may help treat various skin conditions, including oily skin. While more research is needed, one review in 2017 found that the polyphenols in green tea could reduce sebum secretion.

Try to apply moisturizers, toners or facial washes with a green tea extract of 3 percent.

8. Making dietary changes

The American Academy of Dermatology indicates that high-glycemic foods and drinks can improve inflammation and sebum development as they rapidly increase blood sugars.

People with oily skin should also aim to concentrate on consuming foods that are low in glycemia, such as:

  • most fresh vegetables
  • some fresh fruits
  • beans and peas
  • most whole grain oats and cereals

Cow’s milk may also cause acne via inflammatory pathways, due to its glycemic index. This in turn contributes to clogged pores.

9. Reducing stress

Researchers know that stress can cause the release of hormones that contribute to sebum development.

Try to reduce stress by using stress reduction methods such as:

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • avoiding nicotine or alcohol
  • sleeping well
  • exercising regularly
  • staying hydrated

10. Using mineral and setting powders

Oil-free and water- or mineral-based makeup products are less likely to clog the pores. The use of setting powders not containing talc may also help to absorb excess facial oils.

11. Removing makeup before going to bed

When a person leaves makeup overnight, the pores can be clogged and the skin irritated.

Always use a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser to remove the makeup before bed. Remember to dab the face gently with a clean cloth, instead of scrubbing it.

12. Using a sonic cleanser

The use of sonic brush cleansers can provide a deeper level of cleaning and exfoliation which can help to reduce excess sebum.

One review in 2019 concluded that sonic cleansers could provide a gentle, effective way to remove debris without stripping too much sebum.

13. Using products with retinoids

While more research is needed, it appears that certain vitamin A derivatives called retinoids — in particular tretinoin and tazarotene — are reducing pore content and sebum production.

These are prescription products so for more information a person should speak with a board certified dermatologist.

14. Using products with niacinamide

Niacinamide, a vitamin B3 derivative, could help to reduce sebum excretion rates and reduce the oily skin appearance.

According to one 2017 review, after 2-4 weeks of use, 100 individuals who applied topical products with 2 percent niacinamide experienced significant reductions in sebum production rates.

15. Using products with L-carnitine

Some research shows that L-carnitine, an amino acid that the body produces to help break down fatty acids, can help to reduce the oily skin appearance.

To reduce oily skin, try using topical products with 2 per cent L-carnitine.

16. Using isotretinoin

An older study found that over 6 weeks, isotretinoin, an oral retinoid, reduced sebum production by 90 per cent. Therefore isotretinoin can be an effective treatment for severe acne.

Most people who complete 4–6 months of treatment within this timeframe may be acne-free, but the results depend on the dosage.

17. Trying hormonal therapy

Hormonal drugs such as antiandrogens could be useful in reducing sebum production.

Dermatologists have used spironolactone in one study to treat oily skin in females. They found there was less sebum produced by their skin. Some research also found that cyproterone acetate in females reduced sebum production.

18. Taking oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives can help balance hormones which can trigger the production of excess oil. Especially estrogen seems to be lowering sebum production.

It is worth noting, however, that certain types of progestin a person may take with estrogen may actually increase sebum production. People should therefore discuss their contraceptive plan with a doctor to ensure they receive a type of progestin not associated with oily skin.

19. Receiving Botox injections

Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) inhibit sebaceous gland growth, and reduce sebum production.

Injections can produce results within a week, but every few weeks or months, a person may need treatment to maintain the results.

When to see a doctor

Whenever oily skin becomes a concern for them, a person may talk to a doctor, either physically or psychologically. This is particularly important in cases where home or over-the-counter ( OTC) remedies do not appear to have any effect.


Home and OTC remedies can help reduce the oily skin appearance.

Most offer results fairly immediate, albeit temporary. But some work only after weeks or months of consistent use.

Oily skin can be a cosmetic nuisance, but excess skin oil can also clog the pores and contribute to acne development — which can cause scarring without treatment.


At some point in their lives most people will experience oily skin. They can try cleaners or homemade remedies to remedy it.

A person should talk to a doctor about the severely oily skin , especially when it does not seem to work with home remedies or OTC cleansers.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.