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During summer, those with oily skin can face exacerbated sebum production, leading to shine, clogged pores, and acne breakouts. A well-designed skincare routine is essential to regulating sebum, controlling shine, minimizing pores, and preventing breakouts for a smoother complexion. Below, we provide guidance on managing oily skin in summer, offering tips for a tailored oily skincare routine, product recommendations, and ingredients to keep an eye out for.

Understanding Oily Skin

Oily skin is characterized by an overproduction of sebum, the skin’s natural oil.

Sebum plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and hydration of the skin, but when produced excessively, it can lead to a range of skincare challenges. Sebaceous glands produce sebum throughout the skin, composed of lipids, squalene, wax esters, and cellular debris, which lubricate and protect the skin. In individuals with oily skin, the sebaceous glands produce an excessive amount of sebum which can result in a shiny appearance, enlarged pores, and a greasy texture. While sebum is vital for skin health, too much can lead to an unbalanced complexion.

What Causes Oily Skin?

Oily skin is a skin type, like dry skin or sensitive skin. It’s usually inherent, but can be managed with a proper skincare routine.

Several factors can contribute to the overproduction of sebum in individuals with oily skin:

  • Genetics: Oily skin can be hereditary, as some individuals have naturally overactive sebaceous glands. If your parents or close relatives have oily skin, there’s a higher likelihood that you may have it as well.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can influence sebum production. Androgens, such as testosterone, stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to increased sebum production.
  • Climate and Weather: Environmental factors, such as high humidity and hot weather, can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This is why oily skin often becomes more problematic during the summer months.
  • Skincare Products and Cosmetics: Certain skincare products and cosmetics that are comedogenic or heavy in texture can clog the pores and stimulate the sebaceous glands, exacerbating oiliness.
  • Overwashing or Harsh Cleansing: Paradoxically, overwashing the face or using harsh cleansers can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to an overproduction of sebum as a compensatory mechanism.

Characteristics of Oily Skin

The summer season presents specific skincare challenges for individuals with oily skin due to the increased sebum production and environmental factors. Common issues faced during this time include:

  • Breakouts and Acne
  • Shiny and Greasy Appearance
  • Makeup Melting or Sliding Off
  • Increased Skin Congestion and Enlarged Pores
  • Uneven Skin Texture and Hyperpigmentation

Not sure if you have oily skin? Learn how to Identify Your Skin Type

How Heat and Humidity Affect Sebum Production

High temperatures and increased humidity during the summer can impact those with oily skin.

The heat and humidity stimulate sebum production, resulting in shinier skin and heightened oiliness. Sweat mixing with sebum exacerbates the greasy and sticky sensation on the skin’s surface, potentially clogging pores and causing breakouts. Managing oily skin in the summer requires addressing the effects of increased sebum production and sweat accumulation to maintain a balanced complexion.

Building an Effective Oily Skincare Routine for Summer

Oily skin can be a year-round concern, but it tends to become more noticeable during the summer due to increased sebum production, sweat, and humidity. To address these effects, it is crucial to build an effective skincare routine specifically tailored for the summer season.

An ideal summer skincare routine for oily skin looks like:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Moisturize
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Exfoliate

When developing your summer skincare routine, it’s essential to pay attention to your skin’s unique needs. Avoid overusing harsh or irritating products that may excessively strip the skin of oils. Ironically, this can lead to even more oil production as the skin tries to compensate. The key to managing oily skin in the summer is finding the right balance by incorporating products that help balance and hydrate the skin.

Cleansers for Oily Skin

When it comes to managing oily skin in the summer, selecting the appropriate cleanser is crucial. Look for cleansers specifically formulated for oily skin, as they can help remove excess sebum, dirt, and impurities without stripping away essential oils.

  • Wash your face twice daily, in the morning and evening, to keep the skin clean and refreshed.
  • Use lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can strip away natural oils and stimulate increased sebum production.
  • Gently massage the cleanser onto damp skin using circular motions, paying attention to areas prone to oiliness.
  • Rinse thoroughly to ensure all traces of cleanser are removed.

Top Picks: Cleansers for Oily Skin

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay is a great option for oily skin, especially in the summer. It effectively removes makeup and grime without causing irritation. Red clay and rosemary leaf oil clear the skin and balance sebum production while antioxidants protect from environmental stressors such as UV damage. Suitable for various skin types, it provides a thorough cleanse that leaves the skin purified and rejuvenated.The formulation excludes harmful ingredients, including drying alcohols, mineral oil, parabens, and artificial fragrances.

Buy First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser is a budget-friendly cult classic that offers a range of beneficial ingredients to combat oily skin, especially during the summer. It effectively addresses oiliness without stripping the skin or causing discomfort. The cleanser contains three essential ceramides, ensuring a thorough cleanse while maintaining the skin’s natural moisture balance. Hyaluronic acid provides deep hydration, while niacinamide helps regulate sebum production, promoting a balanced complexion. Developed with dermatologists, this cleanser is specifically formulated for normal to oily skin. It removes excess oil and impurities, rejuvenates the skin, and respects its protective barrier.

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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser is specially formulated for oily skin. This soap-free cleanser, enriched with zinc pidolate, effectively removes impurities and controls excess oil production while maintaining the skin’s natural moisture balance. It provides a gentle and revitalizing cleansing experience, leaving your skin purified and balanced. Clinically tested on acne-prone skin and non-comedogenic, it ensures optimal results without clogging pores. Enriched with La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water, sourced from the town of La Roche-Posay in France, it further nourishes and soothes the skin with its unique composition of minerals, trace elements, and powerful selenium antioxidant.

Buy La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser

Toners for Oily Skin

Toners play a vital role in balancing oily skin by removing any remaining impurities, restoring the skin’s pH level, and minimizing the appearance of pores. When choosing a toner for oily skin in summer, consider ingredients that help regulate sebum production and provide a refreshing effect, such as:

  • Witch hazel: Known for its astringent properties, witch hazel helps tighten the skin and reduce excess oiliness.
  • Tea tree oil: With its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil can combat acne-causing bacteria and regulate oil production.
  • Aloe vera: Soothing and hydrating, aloe vera can help calm irritated skin while maintaining its moisture balance.

Additionally, you might find you can forego a heavy moisturizer if you deeply hydrate your skin with multiple layers of hydrating toner. Check out our guide on the Korean 7-Skin Method for how this can benefit oily skin.

Top Picks: Toners for Oily Skin

Thayers Rose Petal Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera

Thayers Rose Petal Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera is a nourishing toner specially formulated for oily skin. It combines natural ingredients to provide hydration and balance without stripping the skin. The alcohol-free formula keeps the skin hydrated, purified, and balanced, resulting in smoother texture, reduced pore size, and a more even tone. It contains rose water, aloe vera, and Thayers’ unique blend of non-distilled witch hazel, which is exclusively grown for their products. Rose water helps soothe and control oil production, while aloe vera calms irritation. The blend of non-distilled witch hazel acts as a gentle cleanser, effectively removing impurities and excess sebum.

Buy Thayers Rose Petal Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner is a lightweight toner specifically designed for oily skin and enlarged pores by combining key ingredients to smooth and balance the complexion. 1% niacinamide visibly refines enlarged pores, evens out skin tone, and provides antioxidant benefits. Infused with ceramides, brightening antioxidants, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and soothing chamomile and burdock root extracts, this toner works to balance the skin, minimize the appearance of large pores, and provide light hydration. Additionally, it gently removes any remaining traces of makeup and the toner’s lightweight liquid formula feels weightless on the skin while delivering high-quality hydration, making it perfect for the summer.

Buy Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner

Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner is an alcohol-free toner formulated with niacinamide and licorice root to enhance your skin’s radiance, promote an even complexion, and minimize the appearance of pores. It combines a soothing blend of brightening ingredients to address common skin concerns. A 3% concentration of niacinamide targets uneven skin tone, dullness, and visible pores while helping to regulate oil production. The inclusion of naturally derived arbutin aids in improving the look of hyperpigmentation, while licorice root extract soothes inflammation and promotes a calm complexion.

Buy Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner

Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Contrary to popular belief, oily skin still requires moisturization, especially during the summer. Moisturizers help keep the skin hydrated, prevent excessive oil production, and maintain a healthy skin barrier. Opt for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers or gels that provide hydration without feeling heavy or greasy on the skin. Look for products like:

  • Gel-based moisturizers: These water-based formulas absorb quickly, providing hydration without a greasy residue.
  • Oil-free moisturizers: Look for products specifically labeled “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” to avoid clogging pores.
  • Mattifying: These products soak up excess sebum, so your face stays less greasy throughout the day.
  • Hyaluronic acid-infused moisturizers: Hyaluronic acid attracts and retains moisture, making it suitable for oily skin without adding excess oil.

Top Picks: Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel is a cult-favorite drugstore skincare product, suitable for all skin types. While it is recommended for oily skin due to its oil-free and non-comedogenic formula, it is also a good moisturizer for dry skin, sensitive skin, and even during pregnancy. The presence of glycerin and hyaluronic acid, both humectants, ensures effective hydration without any heavy or greasy feeling. Moreover, this gel is clinically proven to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier, promoting overall skin health.

Buy Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat Anti-Shine Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Anti-Shine Face Moisturizer is an oil-free and noncomedogenic lightweight moisturizer that effectively mattifies the skin, refines pores, and hydrates the skin’s barrier without increasing oiliness. Ideal for makeup application, it targets shine and large pores with proprietary sebulyse technology while salicylic acid, silica, lipo-hydroxy acid, and perlite clears pores, provides a soft matte focus effect, and absorbs excess oil.

Buy La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat Anti-Shine Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin

Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer

The Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer is a lightweight and oil-free option designed to hydrate and revitalize oily skin. It features antioxidant-rich watermelon extract to promote a radiant and dewy glow. The moisturizer is quickly absorbed, providing instant cooling and long-lasting hydration while protecting the skin against free radicals. With the addition of hyaluronic acid and soothing botanicals, it also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, leaving your skin refreshed and revitalized.

Buy Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer

Sunscreen for Oily Skin

Sunscreen is a crucial step for all skin types, including oily skin, during the summer. It helps protect against harmful UV rays, prevents sunburn, and maintains an even skin tone. Choose lightweight, oil-free sunscreens specifically designed for the face. Look for:

  • Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide: These mineral-based ingredients provide broad-spectrum protection without leaving a greasy residue.
  • Lightweight formulations: Opt for oil-free or gel-based sunscreens that absorb quickly into the skin.
  • Matte or mattifying finishes: Sunscreens with a matte finish can help control shine and oiliness throughout the day.

Top Picks: Sunscreen for Oily Skin

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum is a hydrating SPF moisturizer that addresses the needs of individuals with oily skin. It has a lightweight, silky texture that can be worn alone or under makeup. Its key ingredients, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, provide ample hydration and help regulate oil production while zinc oxide reflects and scatters UVA and UVB rays and prevents the worsening of hyperpigmentation. Additionally, tocopheryl acetate, a form of vitamin E, serves as an antioxidant to combat free radicals and minimize visible signs of aging.

Buy EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Supergoop Mineral Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop Mineral Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40 is a lightweight, 100% mineral-based sunscreen for oily complexions. It provides effective sun protection and a matte finish, minimizing pores for a smooth appearance while the new neutral tint blends seamlessly with different skin tones. Its oil-free formula soothes the skin and defends against free radicals with wild butterfly ginger to filter blue light, and antioxidant-rich bamboo extract to combat visible signs of aging.

Buy Supergoop Mineral Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40

Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen SPF 30

Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen SPF 30 rivals pricier options in efficacy and satisfaction. Ideal for oily and sensitive skin, this non-comedogenic, mineral-based sunscreen provides daily protection with an invisible finish. Broad-spectrum SPF 30 safeguards against sun rays with natural ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Blueberry, acai, and green tea extracts defend against environmental stressors while rosa canina fruit oil minimizes pores and balances sebum.

Buy Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen SPF 30

Exfoliation for Oily Skin

Exfoliation is beneficial for oily skin as it helps remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve overall skin texture. In the summer, regular exfoliation can help prevent acne breakouts, control oiliness, and promote a brighter complexion. Consider using chemical exfoliants with ingredients such as:

  • Salicylic acid: It penetrates the pores, dissolves excess oil, and helps prevent breakouts.
  • Glycolic acid: Known for its exfoliating properties, glycolic acid helps remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover.
  • Lactic acid: This gentle exfoliant helps smooth the skin’s texture and improve overall clarity.

Top Picks: Exfoliation for Oily Skin

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is enriched with salicylic acid and green tea to effectively improve skin texture, minimize pores, and eliminate stubborn blackheads. This lightweight formula controls excess oil, reduces acne breakouts, and enhances your natural glow. Salicylic acid gently exfoliates and stimulates cell regeneration, reducing blemishes, redness, pores, and wrinkles while green tea soothes inflammation and protects against free radicals. Suitable for all skin types, this non-abrasive leave-on exfoliant promotes even skin tone by clearing pores and exfoliating dead skin cells.

Buy Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner is a multi-use toner that combines AHA, BHA, and purifying botanical ingredients to improve skin texture, soothe irritation, and control pores. It contains 10% Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Water and 10% Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water for gentle exfoliation, reducing breakouts and marks. Glycolic Acid smooths the skin, while Betaine Salicylate clears pores and balances oil. The spray bottle design ensures easy incorporation into your skincare routine or for refreshing your face as needed.

Buy COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial is a potent at-home facial treatment designed for oily skin. This mask combines a 25% AHA blend (glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids) with 2% BHA (salicylic acid) to exfoliate the skin, resulting in smoother texture, minimized pores, and diminished signs of aging. The addition of chickpea flour provides balance and brightness, while pumpkin ferment and antioxidant-rich ingredients like matcha tea, milk thistle, and apple deliver brightening and enzymatic effects for improved elasticity, a more radiant complexion, and baby-soft skin.

Buy Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Key Ingredients for Oily Skin in the Summer

Salicylic Acid: A beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that penetrates the pores and helps regulate oil production. It exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores, and reduces the occurrence of acne breakouts. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that can calm irritated skin.

Witch Hazel: A natural ingredient known for its astringent properties. It helps tighten the skin, reduce excess oiliness, and minimize the appearance of pores. Witch hazel also has soothing effects, making it beneficial for calming inflammation and irritation associated with oily skin.

Niacinamide: Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide helps regulate sebum production and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe irritated skin and improve overall skin texture. Niacinamide is also known to enhance the skin’s barrier function.

Tea Tree Oil: Well-known for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It can effectively target acne-causing bacteria and help reduce breakouts for oily, acne-prone skin. Tea tree oil also has soothing properties that can calm redness and inflammation.

Hyaluronic Acid: An ingredient that hydrates oily skin without adding heaviness or greasiness. It attracts and retains moisture, providing hydration to the skin’s deeper layers, which helps balance oil production and improve overall skin texture.