Taking care of oily and acne-prone skin is a big challenge for many people, and the best skin care routine for you can vary dramatically depending on factors including the severity of your acne. Acne is caused by a variety of reasons, including genetics, stress, hormones, menstrual cycles, and diet. But the truth is, most cases of acne can be traced back to one thing: excess oil production.
That’s why the best skin care routine for oily, acne-prone skin is all about fighting that oily overproduction. This guide is here to help you assemble a healthy skin care routine that will keep your acne at bay, and help your skin look radiant and beautiful.
If you are in a hurry, these are the 3 products you want to check out first.
- Table of Contents
- What is the best skincare routine for acne prone skin?
- AM Skincare Routine
- PM Skincare Routine
What is the best skincare routine for acne prone skin?
Generally, the best skincare for oily acne prone skin is a combination of cleansing, toning, moisturizing and spot treatments, all designed to keep the oil from getting too out of control. The good news is, there is indeed a skincare routine that you can follow to get better skin regardless of what condition you are currently in.
AM Skincare Routine
Step 1: Cleanse
Your skin has a job to do- to protect your body from the outside environment. Of course, it needs to do its job properly, and if you’re not taking good care of your skin, that job is in danger.
It takes almost an entire month to shed old skin-cell debris from your face, which is why it’s really important to cleanse and care for your skin properly. Cleansing is the first step in your skincare routine – it removes dirt and impurities from the day, opens pores and leaves your face glowing.
In the morning I like to use a very gentle face wash, preferably with anti-oxidants to start the day. This is assuming you don’t have or anything like that that you need to clean off early in the morning. Cleanse, purify, moisturize and rehydrate your skin the way it was meant to be with this patent antioxidant-rich cleanser from Murad that removes impurities and awakens the senses with a burst of citrus. Its fabulous formula is infused with Vitamins A, C, and E to neutralize harmful environmental pollution and enhance immunity.
Mario Badescu acne facial cleanser prevents and clears existing acne with its exfoliating and deep-cleansing ingredients. Formulated with acne-fighting salicylic acid, it also contains aloe vera and chamomile to calm and soothe inflamed skin. It unclogs pores.
Gently cleanse away impurities. This cleanser deep-cleans oily, troubled skin and exfoliates impurities. Salicylic acid and thyme extract help you achieve a balanced complexion.
Step 2: Tone
Another step in the skincare routine to clear and prevent acne is the toner step. Toner is different from cleanser and is designed to treat the skin after cleansing. Toning your skin helps you get rid of excess oil, deep-down dirt and the impurities that your cleanser couldn’t flush out with water.
Glytone’s Acne Clearing Toner with 2% Salicylic Acid, Mattifying for Blemish Prone Skin, Oil-Free, Non-Comedogenic is a must-have for any blemish prone skin. It exfoliates and clears acne. With ingredients to clear acne and prevent future blemishes, it leaves skin mattified and ready to be put on display. This is one of my personal favorites.
This clarifying tonic is a must-have for those looking to instantly brighten dull skin. With the help of alpha and beta hydroxyl acids, this tonic sweeps away dead skin cells and removes excess surface oil and impurities. It also gently exfoliates clogged pores, simultaneously soothing and purifying the skin.
The CLEAR CELL salicylic clarifying tonic is an intelligent formulation that combines proven alpha and beta hydroxyl acids to surface impurities, sweep away dead skin cells and excess oils, and keep skin clear of shine. Glycolic acid helps smooth away pore-clogging debris, and salicylic acid works to exfoliate and minimize the appearance of large pores as well as blemishes.
Step 3: Treat
After the 2 steps above, your skin will need to be calmed down and dried out a little. This is the time when your favorite acne spot treatment and acne cream for blemishes kicks in, to fight the acne causing bacteria before it’s even formed.
PCA SKIN Acne Cream / Gel works hard to target acne and help your skin recover. Benzoyl Peroxide is a fast-acting ingredient that quickly gets rid of blemishes. Gluconolactone prevents dryness, so you can clear skin without any irritation. Use this 5% benzoyl peroxide spot treatment for acne-prone skin or to treat occasional blemishes.
- Benzoyl peroxide is the fastest-acting ingredient to clear acne blemishes.
- Poly hydroxy acid gluconolactone supports acne breakout control and comforts irritated skin.
- Active botanicals reduce potential irritation caused by acne treatments.
Oily, acne-prone skin sufferers who are sensitive to certain products will benefit from Cleanance EXPERT Lotion Treatment for acne-prone, oily, or sensitive skin types.
This formula is non-comedogenic and helps eliminate blemishes to reveal a brighter, clearer skin tone. The 3 key ingredients attack blemish at every stage and leave the skin feeling hydrated and smooth:
- Avène thermal spring water’s soothing, softening effect helps reduce the appearance of blemishes by targeting them at every stage.
- Monolaurin reduces excess oil,
- X-Pressin helps smooth skin texture, and Diolényl targets redness.
This 3-key solution is innovation at its best for the sensitive skin that blemishes can cause.
Step 4: Moisturize
Now that your skin is purified, it is time to moisturize. You want it to stay hydrated and supple, with no excess oils. Just to be triple sure, everyone needs to use a moisturizer all year-round, including Moisturizing your skin ensures that your skin stays happy, healthy and glowing.
This oil-free moisturizer helps improve skin texture and combat surface dehydration for women and men. It’s an oil-free, lightweight formula that hydrates skin without clogging pores using a sheer, easy-to-apply formula containing silk amino acids and a combination of plant extracts. HydraSmart technology, with the added benefit of Alpha Hydroxy Acids will help you exfoliate dull, aging skin.
Aging can happen to anyone. Breakouts and oiliness are not the bane of only young skin. It applies even to the most beautiful mature skin. But with this Vichy Normaderm Anti-Age resurfacing care, you have a product that smooths aging signs as well as blemishes.
This powerful formula contains two types of action for fighting imperfections: an exfoliator and Vitamin C. The gel-cream texture is non-oily and ultra-comforting.
Step 5: Shield
During the day it’s important to protect your skin from harsh weather and the elements: sun, air-pollution and other pollution. This is the time for a topical shield. So that you can protect your skin from environmental and age-related damage, as well as the skin-care products you use.
A good sunscreen not only shields the skin from sun, but it also works to absorb excess spilled oil that could otherwise break out during the day.
Or if you are lazy like me, I would also just find a really good with for (minimum SPF30) in it. Then I kill 2 birds together.
Check out La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60, a cell-ox shield sunscreen that absorbs pore-clogging oil from your face even in heat and humidity. It has been specifically formulated for sensitive skin and combines the UVA and UVB filters to deliver antioxidants into your skin and protect it from free radicals. Added bonus is that it is water resistant (80 minutes) and has a matte + shine-free finish.
PM Skincare Routine
Step 1: Double Cleansing
You’ll want to double cleanse your skin at night to make sure all that excess sebum is removed from your skin, and any makeup you wear is properly removed. This means you want to wash your face twice in the evening with 2 different cleansers, to make sure it’s really clean. The second cleanser will not be a harsh or aggressive one, but need to remove excess oil, deep-down dirt and impurities.
The link is actually for a 3 step treatment kit that includes a gel cleanser, toner, and treatment cream. But I want to talk about the cleanser here specifically.
La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Dermatological Gel Cleanser has won the Allure Best of Beauty award for Best Acne Treatment for three years in a row. It can reduce acne by up to 60 percent in 10 days and has noticeable results from the first day of use.
Even dermatologists recommend the entire Effaclar Acne Treatment System. This comprehensive system of different skin care products contains a combination of acne-fighting ingredients designed to reduce the visible signs of acne such as blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. For those with stubborn blemishes, we recommend all 3 pieces of the powerful Effaclar Acne Treatment System.
PCA SKIN BPO 5% benzoyl peroxide and gluconolactone cleanser is the perfect way to cleanse your skin of impurities. It is a professional-quality cleanser that instantly penetrates pores, eliminating existing and future breakouts.
The antibacterial and exfoliation qualities are also complemented by additional botanical extracts that calm the irritation associated with acneic skin. This Daily Cleansing oil can be used with your favorite facial cleanser as part of a double-cleansing process that starts in the morning and ends at night, but I usually only do double cleansing at night only.
Whether you have oily, dry, mature or combination skin, this daily cleansing oil from PCA SKIN will wipe away grime and leave your face feeling fresh and clean.
Step 2: Exfoliating
We need to include exfoliation as part of our skincare routine because it rids the surface of your face of dead cells and is a particularly important part of a healthy skin care routine for oily and acne-prone skin types.
You don’t need to do this every day though. Do this once or twice a week. I recommend just going for an exfoliating cleanser, replacing the second cleanser of your double cleanse step. Exfoliating helps your skin turnover, which is the recommendation for acne-prone skin from every dermatologist.
Murad’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser with Salicylic, Lactic, and Glycolic Acids is an effective exfoliator that uses the unique combination of salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids to reveal smoother skin texture.
The product is formulated for a youthful looking complexion and is free of harsh ingredients such as sulfates, artificial fragrances, and colors. Triple-action exfoliating acid blends with this proprietary blend of acids polish away dull, dry skin without irritating the face.
It can reveal a younger looking complexion and a smoother texture after just one application. This cleanser also has really small jojoba beads in it which pleasantly surprised me, and contributes to exfoliating with natural ingredients.
Oily, acne-prone skin needs cleansing to help improve the look of uneven texture and discoloration. This COSMEDIX® Purity Clean Exfoliating Cleanser deeply cleanses skin and removes excess oil. It helps unclog congested pores, cleanse away impurities and eliminates excess oil.
Formulated with peppermint essential oil to help cool the skin and accelerate circulation. Quickly dissolves debris without irritation to improve complexion. Leaves skin feeling refreshed and hydrated.
Step 3: Toning
Again, in the evening, you’ll want to use a mild, soothing toner to calm and soothe your skin after a long day.
Obagi Medical’s CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy Acne Treatment, 2% Salicylic Acid Facial Toner unclogs pores and clears dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores, black and whiteheads, and oily skin that can cause acne. It leaves the skin refreshed for the next step in the acne treatment regimen.
Step 4: Essence and Serums
Next, in the evenings, you’ll want to add some essence or serums to your nighttime skin care routine. Essence is a great product to add to your routine. Often, acne-prone skin suffers from dryness and dead skin on the surface. Using an essence will help to restore the skin’s ability to retain moisture. If your skin isn’t purging, a good essence will also help the skin along.
Serums are another great way to maintain the skin and keep it glowing while also preventing breakouts. You can use multiple serums in your skincare routine for acne prone skin; just make sure to research which ones can be used together and which ones need to be used on separate nights.
Pore-Refining Serum with Glycolic Acid Astringent Face Toner
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Pore-Refining Serum goes beyond reducing the look of pores. It also addresses rough, oily skin texture, dullness, and signs of aging. This product has been tested on oily skin type, and is prevent to reduce the look of pores and refines skin texture. This facial serum helps combat oily skin and aging simultaneously.
LHA and glycolic acid work together in this product to unblock enlarged pores, refine skin texture, and accelerate skin renewal. The serum helps pores appear tighter and smoother, and the skin appears more radiant.
It’s fast-absorbing, and lightweight, and therefore perfect for oily skin. This face serum contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun, therefore remember to use a sunscreen after application.
The Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum is a powerful blend of willow bark, salicylic acid, CoQ10, and organic fruit acids. The serum clears up breakouts and unclogs the pores, while clearing the skin and reducing redness. It deeply hydrates the skin at the same time.
This plant-based serum reduces breakouts and clears clogged pores by exfoliating with beta hydroxy salicylic acid and willow bark, evens skin tone and texture with organic lemon and apple fruit acids, replenishes the skin with Vitamin C, fights free radicals with antioxidant vitamins B5 and E, moisturizes with organic aloe and green tea extracts, and creates a smoother looking appearance with CoQ10.
Another great night serum is the Image Skincare Ageless Total Anti-Aging Serum. It contains an advanced formula to help fight the visible signs of aging. It is packed with a variety of ingredients, such as plant-derived stem cells, phytonutrients, and vitamin C. This serum also has exfoliating properties that help remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, making it appear clearer and more vibrant.
Achieve the skin you want with this RE9 Advanced Anti-Aging Serum. This multi-benefit AHA and peptide serum is ideal for fighting wrinkles, lack of firmness, and dryness. Apply to clean skin in the evening after cleansing. Enriched with a triple-AHA blend, this advanced resurfacing serum improves the look of dullness and fine lines.
Here I also need to mention the wonderful things that niacinamide can do for people with oily skin. But I have another article How salicylic acid and niacinamide work together to give you even and glowing skin that covers that in detail so I won’t be repeating those recommendations here.
Step 5: Sheet Masks
Sheet masks are an amazing way to add some extra love into your skincare routine for acne prone skin. Sheet masks are mostly made from nourishing and hydrating ingredients, so you can use a sheet mask when you want to give your skin a special boost.
There are some great sheet masks out there that are designed specifically for oily and acne-prone skin. When you use a sheet mask, your face comes into direct contact with all those rich ingredients for a good amount of time, which helps to give your skin a boost of nutrients and hydration.
Meet TonyMoly Dr.Logy, a Korean beauty product with Blemish that helps acne scars, blemishes, and other skin issues. Betaine Salicylate and Glycolic Acid, an effective AHA, will fade acne scars and blemishes. Dr.LOGY sheet masks are natural and made with 100% plant-based cellulose.
Karuna Clarifying+ facial sheet masks can control blackheads, tighten skin, and calm irritation. Karuna offers a soothing solution for any stressed skin with this face mask. Its specially-formulated serum includes the ingredients ginger and honey to calm irritated skin.
Step 6: Treat with Acne Treatment
Night time is when your acne treatment– like benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid – kicks in to really kill and dry out acne-causing bacteria and zits before they even form. You may need to have two different treatments on hand to handle acne and blemishes during the night vs the morning.
Indie Lee Blemish Lotion is a talc-free overnight spot treatment with Salicylic Acid + Colloidal Sulfur for blemish-prone skin. It helps combat breakouts and reduces the appearance of redness, irritation and minor skin eruptions. This developed overnight drying spot treatment combines Colloidal Sulfur and Salicylic Acid to draw out impurities, reduce the appearance of excess oil, clarify your skin, and heal current blemishes.
Step 7: Moisturize
After all the hard work you’ve done up to this point, you are finally at the last step in your nightly skin care routine – your moisturizer. Choosing the right moisturizer is critical to your acne care. You must keep your skin moisturized and soft, and a non-oily moisturizer will help keep you free of breakouts as well.
But make sure you are not just picking up any moisturizer that’s on the hot product list. You will need moisturizers designed for oily skin types.
I recommended Dermalogica’s Active Moist as a choice for your day cream. It should be no surprise that their Intensive Moisture Balance moisturizer makes it to our night cream recommendation list.
Restore balance to your dry skin with Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance. This moisturizer is ultra-nourishing and restores lipid balance to the skin for optimal barrier performance. Hyaluronic Acid, combined with Echinacea, Centella Asiatica and Aloe Vera, locks in hydration to help enhance the skin’s moisture content and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Delivers a proven combination of key lipids to help enhance the skin’s natural resilience.
With what I’ve laid out for you, hopefully you now have a good understanding of how to put together a proper skin care routine that fights acne causing bacteria, and have all the right products and tools to fight acne in minutes.