Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/27/2021
Face oils are growing in popularity among the skincare world. There are now quite a few available, all of them espousing different skin perks and touting that they’re made for different skin types (like sensitive skin, dry skin or combination skin).
But applying oil to your face if you already have oily skin — sounds dicey, right? Face oils can actually have pretty big benefits for those with complexions that run towards the more oily side, too.
The key is knowing what ingredients to look for when you purchase a face oil. By doing this, you ensure that you boost your skin health, rather than adding extra slickness or risking clogging your pores.
First thing’s first: just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean it doesn’t need hydration.
Your skin naturally secretes oil via your sebaceous glands to lubricate skin and create a protective layer or barrier. That barrier can be worn away by environmental factors like sun and pollution.
Plus, if you have oily skin and use acne-fighting products that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, you may get dry skin and that can send a signal to your sebaceous glands to work overtime to produce more oil. This, in turn, can lead to clogged pores.
Using something that prevents dehydrated skin (like a moisturizer or face oil) can prevent your sebaceous glands from going into overdrive.
When it comes to how to use a face oil, most products come with instructions suggesting you apply a few drops in the morning and at night (much like how you’d use a regular moisturizer).
If you’re particularly worried about greasiness, you could opt to only use it at night. This way, the oil has plenty of time to be absorbed by your skin as you sleep.
Want more tips from the pros? Our list of Dermatologist-Recommended Skin Care Tips is worth a read.
Another quick pro-tip: if you have any skin conditions, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional before adding a face oil to your routine.
You’ll be able to discuss your skin concerns with them and they may be able to point you in the right direction regarding what may help.
It’s always best to look for skincare products for your specific skin type.
Luckily, when it comes to face oils, there are plenty on the market made for different skin types (from normal skin to sensitive skin and beyond).
If you have oily skin, a face oil with some of the below potent ingredients could be a good option for you.
Squalene (sometimes listed as squalane) is naturally produced by your body to help keep skin hydrated. However, natural production slows after the age of thirty.
Though this is technically an oil, it doesn’t have an oily feel, making it a good ingredient for someone with oily skin.
This ingredient is sometimes seen in products meant for fighting acne.
Since oily skin can sometimes lead to acne, a product that contains tea tree oil could help.
Speaking of being more prone to blemishes, salicylic acid should also be on your radar.
It is classified as a keratolytic agent, which breaks down the outer layers of skin, and it’s a very popular ingredient in acne-busting products.
It does two main things to fight pimples — it’s both an anti-inflammatory agent and an exfoliator. It also nixes certain types of bacteria.
You can read more about this go-to zit busting ingredient in our guide to Salicylic Acid for Acne.
Sure, you could drink green tea — but it’s also growing in popularity within skincare. That’s because it’s high in the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
Science shows that it fights inflammation and reduces sebum production.
There’s some research that seems to suggest that when this lightweight oil is used on your skin, it helps regulate sebum because it’s so similar in structure.
It’s worth noting that jojoba wasn’t the only oil used in this research.
If you already have oily and acne-prone skin, adding an oil-based face product to your skin may seem counterintuitive. However, a face oil can lead to hydrated skin, which can help balance out oil production.
It’s important to make sure you pick one with active ingredients that can benefit your oily skin (rather than add more grease or slickness).
Look for things like squalene, jojoba oil, green tea and more when reading the ingredients list.
All of these can benefit an oily complexion and give you radiant skin.
If you purchase a face oil and notice irritated skin soon after using it, be sure to reach out to a healthcare professional immediately.