Is Moisturizing Good for Oily Skin?

Is Moisturizing Good for Oily Skin?

Benefits of Moisturizer for Naturally Oily Skin

Is moisturizing good for oily skin? Whether or not to apply moisturizer is a common dilemma among those who have naturally oily skin. Oily skin can often be frustrating for those who have it.

Many people with naturally occurring oily skin feel as though they are overly shiny, or that their face is dirty. There are also concerns regarding clogged pores and breakouts. Because of these concerns, it is no wonder those with oily skin are hesitant to apply moisturizers.


Many of these concerns are valid. For example, excess oil production can cause clogging of the pores which can lead to acne. Therefore, people who have naturally occurring oily skin are more prone to acne.

This article takes a close look at why some people have oily skin while others don’t, and why moisturizing should be a top priority in your skincare routine. Discover how the skin naturally produces oil and get tips on highly recommended moisturizers to help you get started adding a moisturizer to your skincare routine.

Why is Some Skin Excessively Oily?

There are many possible factors that play into why some people have excessively oily skin, why others have dry skin, and why yet others have a combination of oily skin in certain regions and dry skin in others. However, before getting into those many reasons, it is important to understand how the skin works to our benefit by producing oil and keeping itself hydrated.

A Little Bit of Skin Science

Your skin is one of the largest organs in your body. Within that organ, there are tiny little (microscopic) glands called Sebaceous glands. These glands are part of the pilosebaceous system, which altogether is comprised of skin, hair, and nails. Sebaceous glands are all over the body. However, there is a very high concentration of Sebaceous glands in the face, neck, chest, and scalp.

Sebaceous glands

Why is this important? Well, Sebaceous glands work to produce a substance called sebum, which is the oil that can be so frustrating if you are prone to oily skin. However, sebum is what protects and hydrates the skin. Sebum also helps regulate body temperature in extreme heat and humidity.

Causes of Excessive Oil Production

So again, why can skin be excessively oily?

Excessive oil production is most often the result of:

  • Higher levels of sebum production.
  • Certain climate zones have higher levels of humidity, thus increasing sebum production as a way of keeping the skin hydrated and regulating body temperature.
  • A spike in hormone levels (during adolescents, or pregnancy, for example).
  • Stress
  • Genetics.

But Why is Moisturizing Good for Oily Skin?

To fully understand the benefits of moisturizing, it is necessary to debunk a few myths about the role of moisturizers in a healthy skincare routine.

Myth #1: Moisturizing Oily Skin is Like Adding Layers of Oil

The first common misconception about moisturizers is that they all contain some sort of oil (meaning they are all oil based).

Actually, there are plenty of options for choosing a moisturizer that works perfectly for each and every skin type. While there are oil-based moisturizers, there are water-based moisturizers too.

If you are prone to oily skin, it is recommended to choose a good water-based moisturizer. A gel or lightweight cream moisturizer are both excellent options.

Myth # 2: Oil Equals Hydration

Many people believe that oily skin is hydrated skin. This is not the case at all.

Oily skin is caused by an overproduction of sebum. Hydrated skin, however, happens because of water absorption into the skin's epidermis.

Therefore, an excess of oil production does not mean the skin is well hydrated. In fact, the skin may lack a healthy measure of hydration even when there is excess oil production.

Myth # 3: Moisturizing Oily Skin Further Increases Oil Production

There is a misconception that applying moisturizer adds water and other hydrating elements to the skin for it to absorb.

This common misconception plays a major role in why those prone to excessive sebum production might believe it is a bad idea to moisturize. After all, why would it be necessary to add more moisture to an already excessively oily face?

Moisturizer does not actually add or even replenish water to the skin. Instead, moisturizer works to hold water in the outer layer of the skin. Think of your moisturizer as a water trap that keeps your skin hydrated.

Moisturizers have ingredients in them such as humectants and emollients. These ingredients draw water into your skin and form a protective layer to keep the water from evaporating away.

What to do - Washing V. Moisturizing Oily Skin

Remember those fears and insecurities over oily skin problems mentioned above? The ones you might have if you have excessive production of sebum? Fears like your skin is too shiny too often, or fear of having bad breakouts due to clogged pores? 

oily skin

A research study originally published in Health Qual Life Outcomes found that more than 68% of participants with oily skin washed their faces a minimum of three times and some up to fifteen times per day.

This is largely the result of the above-listed fears and insecurities due to excessively oily skin. Face washing up to fifteen times per day is also far more than the recommended washing of twice a day for those with oily skin.

While face washing seems like the best option for oily skin, it actually can cause more damage to the skin. Obsessive face-washing can strip the natural oils from the skin which then causes loss of hydration in the skin.

Dehydrated skin can also cause more breakouts to occur. This is because when the skin becomes excessively dry, it will overcompensate by producing more oil, which will inevitably lead to more clogging and more acne. Additionally, dehydration in the skin can cause other problems such as inflammation, wrinkles, and premature aging.

On the other hand, moisturizing, which seems like it would be counterintuitive, is actually, possibly the single most important thing you can do to care for your skin if you have naturally occurring oily skin.

How to Choose the Right Moisturizer for Your Oily Skin

To put it in a much shorter and simpler way, when asked the question, ‘Is moisturizing good for oily skin?’ the correct answer is a resounding YES. Moisturizing is not only good for oily skin, but it is arguably the most important part of any healthy skincare routine.

That said, how can you choose a moisturizer that is just right for your oily skin? What kinds of moisturizers are best? Which ones won’t leave your skin feeling dirty, sticky, heavy, and increasingly oily?

Below are some recommendations to consider when choosing a moisturizer best suited for oily skin.

Water-Based Moisturizers

water based moisturiser

When it comes to oily skin, the last thing you want is to apply additional oils to your face. 

Myth #1: Moisturizing Oily Skin is Like Adding Layers of Oil to your face?

Not all moisturizers are oil-based. There are several wonderful water-based options today that are great for oily skin.

Water-based moisturizers are perfect for people prone to oily skin because they are generally lightweight and can maintain proper levels of skin hydration without the heaviness, or the stickiness of oil-based moisturizers.

Gel Moisturizers


Gel moisturizers are water-based, very light, and great for hydrating the skin without clogging pores. B

ecause they are water-based too, they contain fewer emollients and fatty content. Instead, they contain a variety of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that keep the skin looking healthy.

Gel moisturizes are one of the best options for oily-prone skin.

SPF Moisturizers

spf moisturiser

When it comes to oily skin, reducing the sheer quantity of substances applied to the face can have large benefits.

After all, the more you put on your skin, the more chances you will have of having clogged pores and breakouts.

So, choosing a moisturizer that doubles as a sunscreen too eliminates the extra step of applying sunscreen. It also reduces the number of products you need to apply to your face.

Moisturizers with Noncomedogenic Ingredients

Moisturizers with Noncomedogenic Ingredients

Noncomedogenic substances are those substances that will not clog pores and cause breakouts. Therefore, not only are these ingredients excellent choices for oily skin, but they are great for treating acne-prone skin too.

Some examples of noncomedogenic ingredients used in many moisturizers are aloe vera, witch hazel, rose water, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Niacinamide (which also helps reduce inflammation), sodium hyaluronate (which is a form of hyaluronic acid), glycerine, and carmine.

While it is preferred to choose a water-based moisturizer over an oil-based moisturizer, not all oils are treated equally.

Sure, there are plenty too many oils that are comedogenic (meaning they are pore clogging ingredients).

But there are some that are in fact noncomedogenic. Those include jojoba oil, safflower oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, and castor oil. If you must use an oil-based moisturizer, look for one that contains these oils and you’ll be set.



Retinoids such as retinol are a form of Vitamin A and are commonly known to be used in skin care products for their anti-aging effects. They are also an excellent treatment for acne prone and oily skin.

Retinoids work to exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, promote collagen production, and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Overall, Retinoids help the skin look young and healthy.

Concerning treating oily-prone skin, there are different degrees of effectiveness to consider when choosing a moisturizer that contains a retinoid.

For example, while retinol will effectively treat mildly oily skin, Retin A and Isotretinoin (also known as Accutane) require a medical professional’s prescription.

Humectants and Emollients

Humectants and Emollients

As already mentioned above, humectants and emollients work together to draw in water (humectants) and trap water (emollients) into the outer layer of the skin (epidermis).

There are several humectants and emollients that are not going to be beneficial when treating oily-prone skin. However, there are two that are worth discussing and looking at because of their usefulness in managing excess oils. Those are Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides.

Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant. Hyaluronic Acid helps draw out the natural hydration your skin produces by retaining the water. It may seem counterintuitive to want to retain water in oily skin but remember

Myth #2: Oil Equals Hydration.

Oily skin and hydrated skin are not the same and while you may want to reduce the production of sebum in your skin, you do not want to reduce hydration. Reducing hydration will inevitably cause an overproduction of sebum because your skin will make every effort to compensate for water loss.

Ceramides are natural emollients that the skin produces. They are essential fatty acids that serve to lock in moisture on the epidermis (outer layer of the skin).

Ceramides are often lost through excessive washing. As discussed earlier in this article, people that have naturally oily skin tend to over wash their faces, washing as much as fifteen times a day.

Because of this loss, finding a moisturizer containing ceramides is recommended to replenish and smooth the skin barrier.

What Moisturizers NOT to Use For Oily Skin

Just as noncomedogenic substances are recommended, comedogenic ones are not. Comedogenic substances are those that cause blocked pores.

It is also a good idea to steer clear of any harsh astringents and alcohols that can cause redness, inflammation, and drying. These will evidently not be your best choice for a moisturizer.

Examples of known comedogenic ingredients that are used in moisturizers are:

  • Lanolin,
  • Oleic acid
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Wheat germ
  • Palm oil
  • Linseed oil
  • Isopropyl palmitate
  • Isopropyl isostearate
  • Butyl stearate
  • Petroleum based substances

Recommended Moisturizers for Oily Skin

This has been quite an extensive discussion of why moisturizing, despite having oily-prone skin, is of vital importance. Additionally, you have discovered the science of how moisturizer works to protect even oily skin from dehydration and dreadful breakouts.

You have also taken a few tips about what to look for when searching for a top-quality moisturizer for oily-prone skin.

So, to piggyback on that, the remainder of this article is to share three of the top moisturizers to help you manage your excess oil production.

Top Three Choice Moisturizers for Oily Skin

Lioverite Balance Control Lotion

Lioverite Balance Control Lotion is a top choice for managing excessive oil production. Though a lotion, it is extremely lightweight and water-based. Hyaluronic acid draws the skin's natural hydration to promote healthy, youthful skin.

 Llioverite balance control lotion


Kyotos Komachi Matcha Beauty Essence Cream

Not only does the Kyotos Komachi Matcha Beauty Essence Cream moisturizer have hyaluronic acid to draw out the skin's natural hydration, but it contains grapeseed oil, quince seed extract, and Vitamin E, each purely noncomedogenic ingredients that won’t clog pores and cause unwanted breakouts.

 Kyotos Komachi Matcha Beauty Essence Cream



Noa Noa Luxe Whitening Moisture Gel

Noa Noa Luxe Whitening Moisture Gel is a lightweight moisturizing water-based gel that contains triple hyaluronic acid to lock in hydration in even the deepest layers of the skin barrier.

 Noa Noa Luxe Whitening Moisture Gel



To Sum it All Up…Yes! Moisturizing is Good for Oily Skin

In short, Yes. Moisturizing is good for oily skin. Without a proper moisturizer that is suitable to oily-prone skin, the skin is at risk of becoming dry and dehydrated. Lack of hydration in oil prone skin is commonly due to over washing and using harsh astringents to combat acne caused by excess oils that clog the pores.

Additionally, when natural oils are stripped from the skin, the skin overcompensates by producing more oil.

Finding a good moisturizer is key to successfully moisturizing without having to worry about the heavy, sticky, and oily layers that other moisturizers might contain.

A lightweight, gel or lotion moisturizer that contains noncomedogenic, hyaluronic acid and ceramides, as well as possible retinoids is sufficient to help manage your oily skin.

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