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Taking good care of oily skin can feel like an uphill battle at times.
We’ve rounded up the best products for men’s oily faces to create a routine that you can start using today.
When you’re trying to find the perfect balance of products it can be too easy to go overboard with the anti-oil agenda. Despite the fact that stripping your skin completely of oil leads to more oil production in the long term people still make this mistake time and time again.
There is a lot more to oil, acne, and hydration control than the astringent alcohols of the past. We now understand that keeping the skin in balance helps it to maintain the right levels of hormones, pH, and oil production.
Unsurprisingly many of the best products contain natural ingredients that gently lead the skin in the right direction, meaning you can build a day and night skin care routine that can be used sustainably over the long term.
|ZELEN Life Moisturizer||Check It Out|
|Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash||Check on Amazon|
|La Roche-Posay Serozinc Face Toner for Oily Skin with Zinc||Check on Amazon|
|ZIRH Men's Skincare, SCRUB, Aloe Facial Scrub||Check on Amazon|
|Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream||Check on Amazon|
|Brickell Men's Purifying Charcoal Face Mask||Check on Amazon|
|ZELEN Life Pack||Check It Out|
Before you buy: 3 things to consider when purchasing men’s products for an oily face
1. Will Retinol make the difference?
Retinol and other topical retinoids have been used for decades to treat an increasing variety of skin conditions. As they have been shown to control the rate of skin cell growth and turnover, they have perhaps most commonly been used in those suffering from acne.
More recent research however has highlighted how it might affect skin oil levels. Anyone who has (over)used retinol in the past will tell you that it has a drying effect. But this was thought to be down to stripping of the skin.
There is growing evidence that retinoids actually reduce the number of cells that produce sebum as well as reducing the level of sebum production. Currently, these are just lab tests, but it does let us know where research will be heading in the near future.
In real life, patients who were given the prescription strength Tretinoin (a form of retinoid) were found to reduce their pore size by over 40% after 6 months of use.
2. Should I get prescription-strength medication?
Many prescription-only medications have been noted by dermatologists to help with both sebum/oil production and acne severity as well. However, these strong drugs, which include Spironolactone (a diuretic), Isotretinoin, and Estrogens are not without potentially serious side effects.
It is by far better for your body and skin to take small and gentle steps to get your oil levels under control. Fortunately, researchers are looking into more natural remedies which have minimal side effects.
3. The dos and don’ts of oily skin
Have a consistent skin care routine:
Skin care can be complicated but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the basics. You should wash and cleanse every morning and night, not forgetting to also wash after you break a sweat, like just after exercise for example.
Oily skin is only slightly too oily on the surface, despite appearances. Trying to rid your skin of all its natural oils will only make the problem worse. When you are washing, avoid hard scrubbing and bin any products that are overly harsh. Skin irritation is a sure way to increase sebum production.
Don’t avoid your moisturizer:
If you believe that skipping moisturizing is necessary because of your overly oily skin then you are using the wrong moisturizer. A well-moisturized skin is calmed and more hydrated, keeping excess oil at bay.
SPF every day:
Another commonly neglected step, many of us with oily skin balk at the idea of putting another layer of cream on our skin. SPF or UV protection is not only needed to defend your skin from damaging radiation but also serves to keep in moisture that would otherwise be lost. Again this reduces the chance your skin will reactively produce more oil.
Choose your cleanser carefully:
Many with oily skin throw standard skin care norms out of the window in an effort to rid themselves of excess oil. Alcohol-based cleansers should stay in the past, however, even if they do temporarily make your skin feel completely oil-free. Be careful that your cleanser is not only alcohol-free but isn’t oil-based as well.
Check the label:
It goes without saying, but all the products that you use should be formulated so that they are non-comedogenic. The last thing you want is blocked pores filling with excess sebum that could likely turn into an acne outbreak.
Blot as you go:
Seeing an oily sheen developing on your face throughout the day might make you run for a paper towel to scrub it away. While we don’t have the time to cleanse and wash throughout the day, rubbing oil away with whatever you can find isn’t great either – the irritation will undo any action you take. Instead, take a tissue or blotting paper and press it against an area of build-up. This will take up the oil in a kind and non-irritating way.
Keep your hands to yourself:
An extension of the point above, too many men have the habit of unconsciously wiping away oil from their skin. This is a bad idea: you are spreading oil, dirt, and bacteria from your hands and affected skin to other areas of your face and body. This can irritate and infect otherwise healthy skin, making the problem even bigger. Use blotting paper instead.
Once a week or every few days, it is a good idea to use a calming mask to soothe the skin and draw out any excess oil and dirt from your pores. This is an effective way to bring down your oil levels sharply whilst also ensuring your skin remains calm and non-irritated.
Keep your towels clean:
As oils are hydrophobic, i.e. they don’t mix well with water, any oil you wipe onto a towel or hand cloth is likely to stay there. To keep the risk of adding old oil back to a clean face, make sure you often change towels or clothes you use on a regular basis.
The 7 best products for men’s oily face
- A calming moisturizer with added antioxidants
- Jojoba regulates sebum production
- Organic ingredients nourish and hydrate the skin
The best moisturizer for:
Men who want a natural, matte finish to their moisturizer that still gives day-long hydration.
The ZELEN Life Moisturizer is the perfect balance of ingredients that men’s oily skin need. Its natural extracts, including Jojoba, Calendula, and Clary Sage, work together to reduce inflammation and skin redness which helps reduce overproduction of sebum.
The light formula works even during winter, utilizing the moisturizing effects of Calendula oil to give day-long hydration. Importantly for oily skin, the formulation is hypoallergenic, giving a calming and soothing effect that leaves the skin refreshed and revitalized.
Being non-greasy and non-comedogenic means it can be used as often as you wash your face. This balances your skin pH and moisture levels, keeping oil production at bay and leaving your skin blemish-free.
- Organic, natural extracts soothe skin from within
- Lightweight formulation great for oily skin
- Antioxidants keep skin irritation to a minimum
Things to think about:
- Main fragrance is citrus and herbal
As we know a good moisturizer is a must for keeping oily skin in check. The ZELEN Life Moisturizer is the perfect all-around solution, giving oily skin an abundance of antioxidants and organic extracts to soothe, hydrate, and keep skin in balance. A great addition to any oily skin care routine.
- Contains salicylic acid to break up stubborn dead skin
- Extracts like tea tree and Eucalyptus keep skin smooth and clear
The best cleanser for:
Men with oily skin that often break out in acne.
This skin wash is actually a gentle foaming cleanser. Designed to clear skin and combat the signs of aging, the Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash contains Salicylic Acid to encourage gentle exfoliation of the skin and unclog problem follicles.
This wash also contains Menthol and Camphor to cool the skin and reduce excess oiliness from irritation. Although it contains exfoliating acid, it is formulated to only clear away excess oil without stripping the skin completely.
Many find using it day and night doesn’t produce any irritation and can help bring down the number of acne breakouts that they experience.
- Contains exfoliating acid to let fresh skin breathe
- Multiple calming agents to keep skin non-irritated
- Can help combat signs of aging
Things to think about:
- Some find exfoliating acids too harsh no matter how dilute
The Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash says it is suitable for all skin types but is clearly aimed at those with oily skin and acne. Used in both your morning and night routine should see a gradual shift to a more fresh and oil-free appearance, with fewer breakouts and flaky skin.
- Zinc Sulphate formulated specifically for oily skin
- Mist application
- Good matte effect
The best toner for:
A great cleanser for men who struggle to keep their skin oil in check even with other toners.
La Roche-Posay has developed a great toner for oily skin that sprays on but leaves a matte effect. To keep oily skin happy and healthy this toner is fragrance, paraben, and oil-free.
After using a cleanser like the Dermalogica Skin Wash above it is then sprayed onto the skin but importantly needs to be left to absorb for a few minutes.
It can then be blotted or patted to remove any excess leaving the skin fresh and oil-free. La Roche-Posay has made sure to keep the formulation as gentle as possible so it can be used daily.
Containing only 3 ingredients it is strong enough to be used with oily skin but gentle enough for those with the difficult oily/sensitive skin type.
- Simple yet effective formulation
- Good for oily and sensitive skin
- Spray toner for even distribution
- Unique Zinc Sulphate use
Things to think about:
- Incorrect spray use makes it easy to waste the product
- Need to avoid getting it in your eyes
This soothing and refreshing toner manages to use a mattifying facial mist to target the main causes of oily skin. Gentle enough to be used by even those with sensitive skin daily, it is great as a shine-control spray to keep your skin fresh and healthy. It only contains water, salt, and zinc sulfate but even those who complain of very oily skin find it helpful for managing their sebum levels throughout a full working day.
- Calming Aloe
- Naturally occurring mineral scrub
The best exfoliator for:
Guys struggling with stubborn acne and oil who don’t have overly sensitive skin.
ZIRH’s Aloe facial scrub is formulated with soothing Aloe Vera at its core. This is very much needed as they have included natural Diatomaceous Earth as their physical exfoliator, rather than using micro-bead or other harsh ingredients.
Packed full of minerals, the scrub helps break up even the toughest skin blemishes and dry patches, stimulating blood flow to the face and giving you a healthy, glowing appearance.
The scrub is physical rather than acidic but is still gentle enough for sensitive skin. Just be careful to not massage too deeply when you exfoliate otherwise you can irritate even normal type skin and promote excess oil production as a result.
- A perfect balance of physical exfoliator and calming aloe
- Effectively buffs away dead skin and oil
- Calms irritation and moisturizes
Things to think about:
- It can be easy to go overboard with a physical scrub
ZIRH’s Aloe Facial Scrub is the perfect exfoliator for those with the most stubborn skin conditions and blemishes. It uses diatomaceous earth to effectively remove grime, dead skin, and oil whilst simultaneously soothing, hydrating, and calming the skin.
- 3 types of retinoid
- Reduces blemishes and fine lines in 2 weeks
- Hyaluronic acids retain moisture
The best night cream for:
Oily and acne-prone skin that needs rejuvenating and hydrating overnight.
The Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream makes sure that your skincare routine works just as hard while you sleep.
It combines 3 types of retinoid into one whilst also calming the skin with niacinamide and picolinamide.
Finally, it ensures that the retinoids are balanced by the action of hyaluronic acid which keeps moisture locked in the skin. This combination of ingredients soothes the skin as you sleep, promoting less oil production and a clearer complexion when you wake.
- Retinols should be in every skin care routine
- Keeps skin soothed and hydrated despite using 3 retinoids
- Effective calming ingredients to clear skin of blemishes
Things to think about:
- Could be too much for sensitive skin
- Will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight
If you are looking for an overnight moisturizer that will replenish your skin while you sleep then look no further than the Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream. As with all retinols, just make sure you use it sparingly at first so you get an idea of how your skin will react to it.
- Activated charcoal
- Kaolin Clay
- Packed full of antioxidants
The best face mask for:
Anyone really, but those with problem oiliness, large pores, or blackheads shouldn’t miss this product.
This face mask uses activated charcoal – which is used in hospitals and clinics worldwide to remove impurities and toxins from the body.
It combines this with kaolin clay to gently draw out oils and dirt from the skin, all while leaving the skin fresh and supple.
As oil and dirt are soaked up, Aloe Vera, Kelp, and hyaluronic give the skin a boost of hydration. For long-lasting protection, it has added Vitamin E to give antioxidant support.
- Works for all levels of oily skin
- DMAE shrinks pores
- All-day moisture
Things to think about:
- Can be hard to wash off
- Some find it too drying
Every man with oily skin should use a face mask at least once a week to keep things under control. The Brickell Charcoal Mask is a great example of a mask for oily skin done right – not only does it draw oil and impurities away but it also actively tightens pores and soothes the skin.
- Everything you need for a complete daily routine
- Targets the main causes of oily skin
- Gives 24-hour protection whether for normal, sensitive, or acne-prone skin
The best skin care routine for:
Men who need a complete skin care routine to get their excess oil or acne under control – a consistent routine is more important than any product.
The ZELEN Life Pack is a complete day and night routine that serves oily and acne-prone skin very well. Inside you’ll find the full range of ZELEN Life products on offer – even including a mask and anti-aging night cream.
The gentle but powerful cleanser uses Aloe Vera and Jojoba to wash away the day’s impurities and leave a fresh foundation for the rest of the routine. The toner and moisturizer then provide full daytime protection and hydration while ensuring the skin remains firm and clear.
The anti-aging cream is enriched with vitamins, supporting your skin as you sleep and giving it the best chance to repair. Natural retinoids gently refresh tired skin giving you a more youthful appearance.
Overall the ZELEN Life Pack is formulated with nutrient-rich, natural ingredients that support the skin day and night. This reduces the stress and strain on your skin, calming inflammation, reducing sebum output, and working to give you an oil and blemish-free complexion.
- All-natural, complete routine
- Gentle yet effective both night and day
- Suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin
Things to think about:
- You may want to add in SPF protection
If you are still using single products or have a haphazard routine, it pays in the long term to switch to the ZELEN Life Pack. Combining all the skin care essentials into one package gives you the best chance of getting unruly and irritated, oily skin under control.
How we chose these products
Having oily skin can be a nightmare sometimes, especially if you have combination or sensitive skin. When looking for the best men’s products for an oily face we focused on finding products that stayed true to what we know about oily skin:
Gentle and natural ingredients that clear or prevent oil build-up without being too harsh or severe on the skin. Whilst most now know not to scrub or use alcohol to clear excess oil, we made sure that our recommendations used calming ingredients throughout to keep skin inflammation in check.
All perform their basic function very well, but also include natural ingredients and antioxidants to help your skin every step of the way.
Why is oily skin such a challenge?
Despite oily skin being one of the most common dermatological concerns worldwide, there is an ongoing search for better and better products to keep it under control. Oily skin demands such attention because of its consequences: many are left with acne or other blemishes, others are left with large pores or feel that they ‘look greasy’.
Whilst doctors and dermatologists may know what mechanism causes oily skin, the fact is we still don’t know why some people suffer from oily skin and others don’t.
That understandably makes treating and looking after oily skin a challenge – it’s hard to be effective when you don’t fully know what you’re aiming at.
Oily skin: What we do know
So you can understand why a complete skin care routine is helpful, it’s good to know the basics of why oily skin can happen in the first place.
The majority of glands that produce sebum (natural skin oil) are connected to the base of hair follicles. They are most concentrated on the face, upper chest, and back. This is why acne often follows the same pattern, as does excess oil production.
The amount of sebum or skin oil that a man produces changes over the years. We all know that teen years can be particularly bad, with many experiencing acne for the first time in their lives.
After the hormonal rollercoaster of puberty, men’s sebum levels don’t actually start to decrease until their late 60s or 70s.
DHT strikes again
If you suffer from hair loss or male pattern balding then you have likely come across DHT, also known as 5α-dihydrotestosterone. Research has shown that androgens, but particularly DHT, have a significant impact on the growth and proliferation of sebum glands and the level of sebum produced.
Unfortunately for us with oily skin, this issue comes about from only small increases in the amount of sebum produced. The average rate of sebum production in adults is 1mg/10cm2 of skin every three hours, but increase this to more than 1.5mg/10cm2 every 3 hours and skin appears oily.
The rate of sebum production still varies wildly even when taking into account increased DHT levels, and a full explanation for person-to-person variance is still to be found.
Various culprits from food to lifestyle have been blamed, and while these may affect your skin to some extent, fully removing these culprits fails to fully correct the issue. This is why getting oily skin under control with a solid skin care routine is essential – tinkering with food or other external issues will not solve the problem on their own.
In fact, the majority of risk factors for oily skin are not things that can be changed:
- Male sex
- Living in a humid climate
- Moving into spring/summer seasons
- African American descent
- Rare conditions which elevate androgens (like androgen-secreting tumors)
It pays to remember that we just want to bring oily skin under control, not eliminate natural oils completely. Our sebaceous glands which produce sebum are central to the skin’s well-being, synthesizing androgens, ensuring skin barrier strength, and building immunity.
You might be bored of reading it by now, but following a solid skin care routine really is the first step in getting excess oil under control.
By adding our recommendations into your routine, or even easier: pick up the complete ZELEN Life Pack, you should see your skin looking clearer and more refreshed in just a matter of days.
Make sure to not overdo it with face masks and exfoliating in the first few days! Take it slowly and you will see positive results that will last you a long time.
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2. Schaller M, Plewig G. Structure and function of eccrine, apocrine, and sebaceous glands. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizza JL, schaffer JV, editors. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Elsevier; 2012. 539 pp.544 pp
3. Mechanisms of androgen induction of sebocyte differentiation. Rosenfield RL, Deplewski D, Kentsis A, Ciletti N, Dermatology. 1998; 196(1):43-6.
4. Plewig G, Kligman A. Acne And Rosacea. 3rd ed. Springer; 2000. pp. 58–67.
5. Sebum output as a factor contributing to the size of facial pores. Roh M, Han M, Kim D, Chung K, Br J Dermatol. 2006 Nov; 155(5):890-4.
6. Human skin levels of retinoic acid and cytochrome P-450-derived 4-hydroxy retinoic acid after topical application of retinoic acid in vivo compared to concentrations required to stimulate retinoic acid receptor-mediated transcription in vitro. Duell EA, Aström A, Griffiths CE, Chambon P, Voorhees JJ, J Clin Invest. 1992 Oct; 90(4):1269-74.
7. Management of acne: a report from a Global Alliance to Improve Outcomes in Acne. Gollnick H, Cunliffe W, Berson D, Dreno B, Finlay A, Leyden JJ, Shalita AR, Thiboutot D, Global Alliance to Improve Outcomes in Acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Jul; 49(1 Suppl):S1-37.