How to Prevent Oily Skin - A Definitive Guide to Remedies, Skincare & Diet

Figuring out how to stop oily skin is a tough one!

Most people fall somewhere on the scale between dry skin and oily skin.

Neither is ideal for your skin however, so most people try to strike a very fine balance.

Today's guide is aimed specifically at people who struggle with greasy skin and will collect together a variety of tips and tricks to reduce the oil content of your skin, which in turn helps prevent breakouts and shiny skin.

All of our tips are based on academic evidence and if you follow them, you will see results.

But first, let's start with the basics:

What is Oily Skin?

The sebaceous glands in our skin produce sebum, which is the oily substance that coats our skin, providing a protective layer and keeping the skin hydrated.

Oily skin occurs when these glands produce too much sebum, which can lead to blocked pores and acne breakouts.

sebaceous glands

Despite this, a lack of sebum leads to dry, dehydrated skin and a lack of protection, which can be equally bad.

This is why we talk of striking a balance - you want to stop your skin from producing too much sebum, but you don't want to dry out your skin entirely.

While many skin care and makeup manufacturers may advertise 'miracle' new expensive products containing chemicals you can barely pronounce, harsh chemicals are a really ineffective way to go about this and can even exacerbate the oil imbalance leading to long-term damage.

This is good news for you!

It means that the key to managing your skin's oiliness is sticking to a simple, all-natural skincare routine, eating the right stuff, and using a few home remedies.

We've trawled through the web, grilled dermatologists, and read dozens of scientific studies in order to bring you the definitive list of tips that just work.

If oily skin has been the bane of your life, you need to read this article in-depth and stick to the simple tips listed here.

From there, you will see rapid results and if you stick to our recommendations, there's absolutely no reason you can't solve your oily skin issues for good.

So without further ado, let's dive right in:

Why is My Skin So Oily?

Over-active sebaceous glands are often genetic, so it may be your parents' fault.

However, oily skin can also be caused by using too many skincare products or ones that contain harsh ingredients - causing an imbalance in your sebum production.

skincare products

Hormonal imbalances can also lead to too much oil - often caused by times of extreme change in the body such as puberty or pregnancy.

If your oily skin is a result of getting a bit over-enthusiastic with some skincare products, a week or two of following this guide will "reset" your oil production, and as long as you stick to all-natural skincare and makeup products from then on out, you may never have to deal with oily skin again.

If it's a result of genetics, however, you may have to keep these tips in mind perpetually in order to keep your skin looking and feeling it's best.

Don't get disheartened if this is the case though - most of these tips are extremely easy and quick to use, and you shouldn't be afraid to get in touch if you need further advice or are struggling to overcome your oily skin even when using all the tips listed a little further down.

What are the Symptoms of Oily Skin?

For many, the oily skin is enough of a symptom already - having your skin appear shiny and greasy can be pretty unpleasant from both a health and a beauty standpoint.

acne from clogged pores

But oily skin can also cause or worsen the following issues:

  • Enlarged pores
  • Rough, leathery looking skin
  • Breakouts of acne
  • Blackheads, whiteheads and blocked pores
  • Difficulty applying makeup and other cosmetics due to them going runny or being unable to "grip" the oily skin

So how do you go about fixing this?

Let's start with the basics and move on to some less commonly known home remedies:

How to Prevent Oily Skin

These tips will allow you to rebalance your skin and make it less oily, prevent acne and other issues, and more importantly, keep your skin well balanced and prevent the excess oil from returning.

First, let's take a look at some basic changes you can make to your skincare routine:

Skincare Routine Tips for Oily Skin

Wash Your Face & Pat Dry

face washing

It is, of course, crucial to wash your face regularly to keep your pores clean and remove any excess oils.

There are some things to be careful of, however.

Firstly you want to avoid washing your face with anything rough like a brush or loofah - they can damage the skin and worsen your situation.

Washing your skin too often can do the same thing so stick to once in the morning and once before bed where possible.

You should also avoid any face cleaners that come with harsh chemicals, fragrances or are specifically marketed to dry out your skin, as these can remove the oil too aggressively, leading to dry and irritated skin which will often cause your body to react by increasing oil production, only making things worse.

Facial cleansers and facewashes will help a ton but make sure you purchase ones that aren't based on alcohol or oil as these again will increase the oil in your skin - instead, use these basic tips:

  • Use a gentle, foam-based facial cleanser
  • Use warm water (very hot water can irritate or dry out skin)
  • Pat gently with a soft towel to dry
  • This should be enough for most people but if it doesn't work for you, try a facial cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

That's it!

Cleaning your face shouldn't be complicated, and people often try to overcomplicate it by getting fancy expensive face cleansers or scrubbing their face hard trying to exfoliate it - just be gentle and kind!

Use Witch Hazel as Toner

witch hazel

Toners tighten your pores and remove oil, which is, of course, crucial for helping fight oily skin.

However, many toners (even astringent ones which are formulated to fight oily skin) can contain alcohol which will only worsen your situation.

Even worse are skin tonics and skin bracers as these are designed to treat dry skin and as such will make your skin more oily.

Luckily, witch hazel is a natural astringent toner that works without alcohol, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties!

This makes it the perfect toner for people with oily skin - however, we do recommend testing it on a small, hidden patch of skin first.

Some people are sensitive to witch hazel which means it can cause irritation - if you feel a tingling sensation, discontinue use.

Carry Blotting Papers or Medicated Pads

medicated pads

These are really useful because you can use them super quickly when the need calls, and they do not dry out your skin.

If using blotting papers, simply apply it to your oily forehead t-zone and hold it down (don't scrub!).

While they don't prevent sebum production, they allow you to remove some oil from your skin as and when necessary.

This, along with their affordable price, means they should have a permanent spot in your purse or handbag.

Medicated pads shouldn't be used more than 3 times a day to avoid drying out your skin, but blotting papers can be used freely!

Always Remove Your Makeup Before Bed

This one should be self-explanatory but it's really important.

Sleeping in your makeup allows it to cake on your skin, encouraging sebum production.

It can also block up pores leading to acne.

It's just generally a really bad idea, so be sure to wash your face, gently yet thoroughly, every single night.

Use Face Masks

clay face mask

Face masks are super helpful for reducing the oil in your skin and using the right one can make your skin look less oily for days on end.

Masks that use clay ingredients such as smectite or bentonite are best as they can gently absorb oils and reduce your sebum levels.

Clay masks are the only ones worth using when it comes to off-the-shelf products, but you can also use household ingredients like honey or oatmeal to make surprisingly effective face masks too - more on that shortly.

Jojoba Oil

You might be a little surprised to see jojoba oil listed here since we've spent most of the article telling you to avoid oily or oil-based products.

However, Jojoba oil is used regularly to treat acne, oily skin and other skin issues, and is very effective for this.

Despite this, using large amounts may still increase the oil in your skin, so simply rub in a few drops once or twice a week - and increase this to daily if you see consistent improvements.

Try Not to Touch Your Face

face touching

Another simple tip, but regularly touching your face can irritate it and push debris, oil and foreign bodies into your pores.

In fact, since you have all of these gentle face washes and blotting papers now - do your best not to touch your face with your hands at all unless you're applying products or makeup - and even then, wash your hands thoroughly first.

Use Oil Free or Noncomedogenic Skincare Products

Non-comedogenic is a term used to describe skincare products that are specifically designed not to block pores.

Products with this label should be completely safe to use for people with oily skin.

Oil-free is another one to look out for, hopefully for obvious reasons!

Don't Be Too Liberal With Powder

We mentioned previously how keeping your makeup on overnight can cause it to cake against your skin, encouraging new sebum development.

Wearing large amounts of powder can do the same thing even if you are removing your makeup before bed.

If you wear a lot of powder, try reducing it to see if this has any effect on the oiliness of your skin.

Treat Your Acne

acne treatment

Oily skin, can, of course, lead to clogged pores which then leads to acne.

Acne can further throw off the sebum balance of your skin and make it even more difficult to reduce the oiliness of your skin, leading you into an ongoing circle.

Use our guide to getting rid of acne quickly and for good, and maybe some over-the-counter acne medications to get those pimples out of the way as quickly as possible.

That's about it for using skincare methods to treat your oily skin from the outside.

Now let's take a look at how you can make simple changes to your diet to help combat oiliness from the inside:

Diet & Nutrition for Oily Skin

We can't express the importance of a good diet enough - fat and sugar encourage oily skin so you want to cut those out as much as possible.

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Antioxidants and Omega-3

Antioxidants help to flush out the toxins and other nasties from your skin, and Omega-3 naturally helps your skin to protect itself and manage oil production.

These are both important for skincare in general, and should be consumed on a daily basis if possible.

Foods rich in antioxidants include:

  • Wholegrains
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

oily fish

Foods rich in omega-3 include:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Flaxseed

If you don't enjoy eating fish, this may actually be one of the reasons behind your oily skin - consider taking a fish oil supplement.

Drink Enough Water


Water consumption is one of the most important things when it comes to skin health.

Drinking enough water allows you to flush out toxins from your body and gives you healthy skin in general, but it also helps to improve the water to oil ratio in your body, reducing acne breakouts and oily skin.

Cutting out the nasty fats and sugars, making sure you get your antioxidants and omega-3, and staying hydrated - this should be enough to keep your skin healthy from a dietary standpoint.

Finally, let's take a look at a few natural, cheap home remedies you can use that you might not even be aware of:

Home Remedies for Oily Skin

Use Relaxation Techniques

meditation and relaxation techniques

You probably won't be surprised to hear that stress is a major cause of acne, oily skin and other skin complaints.

Taking this into account and using simple relaxation or self-care methods to reduce your stress can really work magic on your skin.

Consider taking up one of the following hobbies:

  • Meditation or controlled breathing
  • Yoga
  • Reading for an hour before bed
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep every single night

The last one is really important as not only does it reduce stress, but sleep is when your body (including your skin) renews and repairs itself.

Make Face Masks from Natural Ingredients

Certain natural ingredients can have excellent oil-reducing qualities when applied to the skin as a natural, home-made face mask.

When you also take into account how gentle and cheap these ingredients are, they often blow real face masks from the store out of the water.

Try applying some of these to your face and see what results you can achieve:


Tomatoes contain salicylic acid, a common ingredient in skincare products, and the acidic nature of the fruit helps it to absorb oils.

Simply apply tomato slices or pulp to your face and leave for 5-10 minutes.


No lie, this may be the most useful tip in the whole list.

Honey already has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities which make it incredible for your skin already.

But honey is also a natural humectant.

What's a humectant?

It's essentially a substance that is able to absorb moisture from your skin without replacing it or giving any moisture back.

This moisture, of course, can be oil, making honey a superweapon in the fight against oily skin.

Simply spread honey thinly across your face, leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes, then gently rinse it off with warm (not hot) water.

Doing this once a week alongside the skincare tips listed above will more than likely banish your oily skin for good.


Oatmeal is a little bit of a miracle for oily skin since it is able to:

  • Absorb oil
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Exfoliate the skin

Not bad for something that's probably in your kitchen right now!

All you need to do is combined ground oats with warm water and honey to make a rough paste.

Leave this on your face for 10 minutes then rinse gently with warm water.

.....That's it for today! 

If you have extremely oily skin for genetic reasons, it may be quite difficult to get rid of your oiliness entirely, but following these tips is the absolute best way to keep it under control and manageable.

If your skin is oily for other reasons, following these tips just for a few weeks is likely to improve it forever.

If you have any skincare tips that may help others achieve less oily skin, or of course any questions - feel free to get in touch.