Oily Skin, Skin Care Tips and Trends, Skin Regimes, Skin Types

Treating Oily Skin: Choosing The Right Ingredients

Get The Best Advice For Oily Skin 

Oily skin can be hard to minimise using only topical skin products as it is typically caused by genetics (yes your mom and dad are to blame) and due to hormonal levels in our bodies. An excess of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the main culprit for oily skin. DHT is a breakdown product of testosterone and is the culprit responsible for triggering sebaceous glands to produce sebum. Higher than normal levels of this androgenic hormone or an increased sensitivity of the glands to normal levels of DHT result in a visible shine or oily feel to one’s skin.

Oily skin has a terribly negative effect on self-esteem as well as body image as a greasy looking skin or a bright shiny skin often outweigh other skin concerns. Oily skin is both uncomfortable and cosmetically unacceptable.

Sebum or oil production is important for the health of our skin and hair but an excessive amount leads to a number of skin changes:

  1. Excessive shine that gets worse as the day progresses
  2. Increased number of pores
  3. Increased size of pores


  4. Visible blackheads
  5. Predisposition to bacterial colonisation and acne lesions

If you are not sure if you have oily skin then use the following guidelines:

  • Your face is shiny only an hour or two after cleansing
  • Your makeup does not stay on the face through the day
  • You have clearly visible blackheads or get constant acne flare ups
  • You notice an increased number of new pores appearing
  • The pores are visibly enlarged and clearly seen on the face
  • When touching your face your fingers feel greasy or have a shine to them

Oily Skin Care Regime

Before deciding on a specific skin care regime to minimise oily skin it is important to eliminate anything that may be making your skin concern worse. There are a few things that oily skin sufferers may not be aware of:

  1. Avoid excessive cleansing and using harsh granular scrubs as this will aggravate and increase oil production
  2. Thick moisturisers also known as emollients should be avoided at all costs
  3. Also remember not to use bar soaps on your face which may be tempting at times when in the shower or having a bath
  4. Consider using only light weight specific gels that are designed for oily skin
  5. Good toners that hydrate may be all your skin needs in the form of hydration

Recommended Routine For Oily Skin:

  1. Cleanse

Use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser twice daily and only twice daily even if it is tempting to wash more often.

My Cleanser Choices For Oily Skin:

Dermaceutic Foamer 5 

Dermaceutic Foamer 15 

AGE Exuviance Reverse Bioactive Wash 

NeoStrata Clarifying facial Cleanser

SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Cleansing Gel

Everyone with oily skin should see cleansing and exfoliation as the same thing. Gone are the days of using harsh granular scrubs or brushes 9or at least they should be) replaced by chemical ingredients that do the job more effectively and more safely with specific skin benefits.

Using a good exfoliator is a vital step in your skin care regime as using the correct exfoliating agents will provide a number of benefits:

  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Reduce build-up of dirt and bacteria in pores
  • Removes oil and sebum effectively

The best exfoliating ingredient for oily skin is salicylic acid (BHA) as it has the ability to work in the pore itself (not just on the surface of the skin) delaying the blockage of pores and reducing the amount of sebum and oil produced. Salicylic acid has also been shown to produce anti-inflammatory effects (think Aspirin which contains salicylic acid) so this will also help with skin irritation and a reduction of oil production.

SkinMiles offers a number of choices:

Dermaceutic Mask 15 and Exuviance Purifying Clay Masque. 

Salicylic acid can be found in SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Defence Serum, SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Cleansing Gel and SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Solution

  1. Tone

An alcohol-free toner loaded with antioxidants and what is known as cell to cell communicating ingredients such as peptides and cytokines is an important step for oily skin. Toners that contain these ingredients help skin heal, minimize large pores by reducing inflammation, and remove the last traces of dead skin cells or makeup that can lead to clogged pores. My choices for oily skin are:

Exuviance Clarifying Solution

SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Solution

  1. Sun Protection

There are a number of sunscreens geared for oily and acne prone skin so no excuses for not using one. Sunscreen is a vital step in any skin concerns skin care regime. My recommendation is sun screens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as these ingredients tend to reflect harmful UV light preventing skin ageing and reducing inflammatory skin effects which will lead to better skin health and less oil production.

My recommendations include:

Heliocare 360 Gel Oil Free 

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense 

Heliocare Silk Gel 

Dermaceutic Sun Ceutic

  1. Moisturisers:

This may come as a complete surprise to most of you but my advice would be to consider not using a moisturiser in the morning but to solely rely on a good hydrating toner. However one should consider using a moisturiser at night to provide your skin with some P.M. Hydration.

At night, choose a lightweight liquid, gel, or serum that is non comedogenic and is specifically geared or made for oily skin.

See all our skin care ingredients specific for oily skin here.

I would also consider adding an anti-oxidant and my number one recommendation is Vitamin A or retinol as this is a good choice antioxidant for oily skin as it helps to reduce oiliness, pores (size and number), and stimulate the skin to produce more collagen and elastin. Other effects include pigment reduction and improving the texture and even diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. A true anti-ageing ingredient.

My Vitamin A ingredient of choice is retinol and it can be found in:

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0

Exuviance Super Retinol Concentrate

 SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3.

The following products contain excellent anti-oxidants:

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic for day time use applied in the morning on a cleansed skin that contains Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Ferulic acid all potent antioxidants.

SkinCeuticals Resveratrol BE for night time use that contains Resveratrol, Vitamin B and Vitamin E.

Dermaceutic C25 Cream for day time use that contains 25% vitamin c complex, vitamins A, B5, and E, and polyphenols.

25% Vitamin C: reduces the signs of skin aging.

Vitamin A: improves the structure of the skin and combats the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, uneven skin texture, and hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin B5: reduces water loss and keeps the skin smooth and elastic due to its moisturizing properties.

Vitamin E: renowned for its antioxidant properties, vitamin E also combats the signs of photoageing.

Polyphenols: naturally present in plants and fruit, polyphenols combat the action of free radicals and preserve the integrity of the skin’s collagen.

Glycolic acid is a great ingredient to reduce oiliness, minimise pore size and number and to help exfoliate the skin and stimulate new cell production including collagen and elastin. This ingredient can be found in oily skin specific products such as NeoStrata Ultra Smoothing Cream, NeoStrata Oil Control Gel, NeoStrata Oily Skin Solution

I hope this article has helped people with oily skin and please remember to send me any comments and questions with any skin concerns or feel free to take the Face2Face Skin Assessment (a free online skin consultation and skin assessment) for a personal skin care regime recommended by me.

Kind regards

Dr Alek Nikolic





About Dr Alek Nikolic

Dr Alek Nikolic was born in South Africa and received his MBBCh (Wits) in 1992 and in 2000 he received his MBA (UCT). He has been in private practice for 24 years and is the owner of Aesthetic Facial Enhancement, which has offices in Cape Town. Dr Nikolic specialises in aesthetic medicine and is at the forefront of the latest developments in his field. He is very driven and has lectured extensively and has performed live demonstrations throughout South Africa and Internationally including Bangkok, Rome, Paris, Monte Carlo, Prague, and Warsaw. Dr Nikolic’s focus is on skin care, skin ingredients and cosmetic dermatology treatments such as lasers, chemical peels, Botox, and Dermal Fillers. He has performed over 20 000 procedures to date and as such is responsible for training numerous medical practitioners both in South Africa and internationally. Dr Nikolic is one of the founding members of the South African Allergan Medical Aesthetic Academy and chaired its inaugural launch in 2012. The Allergan Academy provides essential training to keep up with the latest technology in aesthetics. Dr Nikolic holds the advisory position of Allergan Local Country Mentor in Facial Aesthetics and is the Allergan Advanced Botox and Dermal Filler Trainer. He is Vice President of the Aesthetic and Anti-Aging Medicine Society of South Africa (AAMSSA) and is an Associate Member of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS).

Related Posts

2 thoughts on “Treating Oily Skin: Choosing The Right Ingredients

  1. Jackie says:

    good advice and great product recommendations, thank you

    1. Dr Alek Nikolic says:

      Thanks Jackie always glad to help Dr Alek Nikolic

Leave a Reply