Is Using Face Wash Beneficial for Oily Skin?

Oily complexion? We have a tip. Here's how face wash can help counter oily skin

Learn how the right face wash can help your oily skin

Many beauty vloggers and healthcare sites rail against the skin's natural oil, although oil is what gives our skin its natural moisture and elasticity. (In other words, oil keeps us looking younger for longer!)

Skin oil is usually the scapegoat for acne flare-ups and other skin conditions, and people with oily skin often struggle to find the balance between healthy, dewy skin and an excessive shine poking through their makeup.

The automatic solution most people think of is to wash and scrub all that oil away. Face wash runs the gamut from simple soap-and-water formulas to specialty, medical-strength serums designed to tackle a specific skin condition. Many advertise themselves as being the best face wash for oily skin—and these face washes can have an excellent effect when used correctly.

However, over-washing the face can actually make oily skin much worse. Especially when paired with products that exacerbate an already frustrating condition, oil imbalance or overproduction can lead to a variety of unpleasant issues, ranging from shininess to acne to itchy or painful skin conditions.

So, the question remains—is face wash good or bad for oily skin?

Face wash is good for the skin when used correctly.

This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but a product can only do its job right when it is used the way it's meant to be used. A serum designed to combat oily skin does not work better if it's used more often—in fact, excessive washing and scrubbing, or washing too frequently, can create a facial environment even more prone to oil than it would be without the face wash.

Find the right face wash for your skin type.

Just because something advertises itself as "good for oily skin" doesn't necessarily mean it's right for YOU. When looking for a face wash, pick one that is oil-free and water-based. Many skin care products designed to combat acne can also be good for oily skin, but be sure to check the label for any ingredients that you know cause flare-ups or other unpleasant reactions. It's important to choose ingredients you trust, like natural astringents and toners.

My favorite is witch hazel, since it naturally refreshes, cleans, and removes oil from the skin without damaging it. Witch hazel also tightens up the pores temporarily, which can help reduce the skin's oil production when used with the right combination of skincare products.

Find companion products and a skincare routine that will boost your skin quality

One of my hardest skincare lessons to learn in middle school was that scrubbed skin does not necessarily equal healthy skin. When the skin is scrubbed, the pores open up, free from grime or blockage—and with plenty of places for oil to go! Over-scrubbing the skin actually prompts your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, the oil you were trying to get rid of in the first place.

While exfoliation is a critical part of your skincare routine (it removes gunk and dead skin cells, cleans the top layer of skin, and preps your skin for other nourishing care products), overdoing it can actually wreak havoc on your skin's fragile ecosystem. Scrubbing too hard can irritate or even damage the skin, leaving it red, raw, uncomfortable, and prone to injury or acne.

The right companion products will minimize the risk of damaging your skin while boosting its natural glow and reducing the amount of oil left behind. A solid skincare routine for oily skin includes cleansing twice a day, but it's critical not to skip the additional steps of the routine: toner or astringents, moisturizers, and primers.

Don't forget to moisturize!

Moisture is absolutely critical to maintaining healthy skin. Skin oil acts as a natural barrier between your skin and bacteria or other outside invaders. Dry skin can be a major pain (literally!), especially if the skin is scrubbed and then treated with something alcohol-based—or not treated at all!

Moisturizers, like most skincare products, can be formulated to suit a certain skin type. You can choose oil-free, water-based moisturizers that help lock in hydration without adding an extra layer of shine. That's one great benefit of oily skin—you get that dewy glow without the added work!

All in all, oily skin can be a nuisance, but it can also be a major blessing. If you wash regularly, choose the right companion products for your skin type, and stay on top of your skincare routine, you'll find the right balance of cleanliness and hydration to keep your face acne-free and glowing all day long.

Resources— Verywell Health, L'Oreal Paris, American Academy of Dermatology

Share this article