How I made my super oily skin less oily by going for gentler products (they worked!)

Raise your hand if your skin is so oily that you wake up every morning with enough grease on your face to fry your breakfast in! I know this; I’ve been there. Over the years, I’ve learned how to better manage my extremely oily skin, but I still find myself waking up with an oily nose and chin. During the daytime, I also still have to blot my face every few hours, as the Philippines’ heat and humidity can make our skin glands produce more oil. Recently, Den challenged me to make certain changes to my skincare and to see if those changes will help my skin become less oily. I was very curious if it could make a difference so I modified my usual skincare routine and products to give it a try.

Let’s make something clear, though; oily skin cannot be “cured.” All we can do is find the right products to help us manage oil production. As someone who has struggled with this condition her whole life, I can honestly say that the number one factor in trying to reduce oiliness is making sure your face stays hydrated. If you are a long-time PV reader, you would know that we are always preaching about how oily skinned people still need moisturizers. However, there are still other things we do that can dry our skin out, which leads to making our skin even oilier. I followed these four guidelines for changing my routine, and tried it out for two weeks. Here’s what I learned:


Tip 1: Ban SLS from your life

There’s a lot of talk about how Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is bad for your hair, but not a lot of people are aware that it is also a common ingredient in facial washes! It’s because SLS gives cleansers a rich lather that admittedly feels nice and makes skin feel squeaky clean, but unfortunately can also strip skin of moisture. I love the In Her Element Low pH Rose Gel Cleanser (P375 for 50ml and P675 for 110ml at because it’s a truly gentle cleanser. It is free from any kind of sulfate, has a fragrance-free formula, and also has the right pH level to keep my skin balanced.


Tip 2: Leave the alcohol to your drinks

It’s funny how oily skin needs products that dry quickly with a matte finish, yet alcohol, the very ingredient that makes this happen, also dries out skin. Alcohols even tend to be high up on the ingredients list of a lot of products, including sunscreens and even aloe vera gel moisturizers.

Not all alcohols are drying, though. Stay away from bad alcohols such as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol (alcohol denat.), methanol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol. On the other hand, there are a few neutral alcohols that don’t harm the skin such as cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol. For this challenge, I pored through the ingredient lists of my skincare products and stopped using the ones with bad alcohols. I had to get rid of quite a few products but I found this to make a significant difference in reducing the shine of my face!


Tip 3: Layer your moisture

Since time immemorial, we’ve been told that oily skinned people should use lightweight moisturizers. I realized though, that a lightweight moisturizer might not be enough to keep our skin hydrated, which is why some people with oily skin have dehydrated skin as well! Using a rich moisturizer can just leave us looking greasy , though so here’s the solution: layer your skincare with light layers of moisturizer.

I’ve gotten good results with using a moisturizing toner like In Her Element Petal Skin Rose Toning Essence (P875 for 100ml at, then following up with a light essence like Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (P1,560 for 150ml at After these light, moisturizing layers, I then apply Olay Regenerist Sculpting Cream (P1,899 for 50g at drugstores). The result is bright, glowy skin without the greasiness!


Tip 4: Put down the harsh exfoliator

Believe me, I totally get it. Oily skin gets clogged so easily, and the heat, dirt, and grime just seems to make everything worse. It’s so tempting to just bombard our face with exfoliants such as scrubs and acids, but resist the urge to overdo it. Otherwise, overexfoliation causes skin to dry out further and the drier your skin, the more it tries to produce oil to compensate. You also risk irritating your skin, so use exfoliators no more than every three days, or use a serum that exfoliates gently.

I love using Estee Lauder Perfectionist Pro Serum (P4,700 for 30ml at Estee Lauder) daily because it contains lactic acid, which gently removes dead skin cells but has bigger molecules that don’t penetrate the skin too deeply. It’s ideal even for sensitive skin. For a bi-weekly exfoliator, the CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is still my favorite (P990 for 100ml at It contains 4% Betaine Salicylate, a gentler alternative to salicylic acid, and helps prevent pores from clogging without drying out skin.


I must admit, I was slightly worried when I started this experiment because I switched out some of my anti-acne skincare products for gentler, more moisturizing options. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any changes in my acne (I usually have one or two zits). As I mentioned earlier, I usually wake up with a somewhat oily nose and chin, but after a few days into switching my skincare routine, I noticed that I was waking up with my entire face looking pretty matte!

During the daytime is another story, though. I still oil up a lot in this sweltering, summer heat, but I find that I could go about another hour more without having to blot my face. I’m happy to report that using these tips to create a new routine has really worked for me! And since I wasn’t oiling up as much as before, my pores were also less clogged even though I wasn’t using as many anti-acne products, which I think is the main reason why I didn’t develop more acne. And since alcohol is a no-no, choose a spot treatment that doesn’t contain this ingredient. You can try the tea tree-based Human Heart Nature Acne Defense Gel (P199.75 for 20g at Human Heart Nature) for treating your zits.


This experiment has taught me that treating my oily skin with more TLC by using gentler products actually causes it to produce less oil. The great thing about this routine, though, is that other skin types can benefit from it as well! It will help moisturize those with dry skin, and help prevent irritations for those with sensitive skin. I am so glad to have adapted this routine, and strongly encourage my fellow oily girls to try it. Remember, though, that when it comes to skincare, the rule that Your Mileage May Vary (YMMY) always applies.

Sources: Byrdie, Doctor Oz

Photography by Nicole Quindara