Exfoliating for Oily Skin? Many people have the misconception that exfoliating is only for dry skin. That couldn’t be further than the truth! Exfoliating is for all skin types, dry, oily and combination. Everyone has dead skin cells and getting rid of those is the exfoliators job! Here we’re going to go through the best exfoliators for oily skin. Not only will exfoliating remove dead skin cells, but it will also help keep your oily skin at bay!
Oily skin is a blessing and a curse. Good because you’re less likely to have wrinkles with oily skin. I think we all know the bad side of oily skin! When there is too much oil, your pores are enlarged – the results are acne, blackheads and white bumps. I know highlighted and glowing skin is a thing nowadays, but sometimes being overly oily and looking like a grease ball is a far cry from that beautiful glowy look. The struggle is real!
Don’t worry, though! There are ways to control and manage your oily skin. And it doesn’t have to be a pain in the you-know-what! Being guided through what’s best for your oily skin and knowing the right products to use will undoubtedly help you manage your oily skin better.
At the end of the article, I have included a guide on the different types of exfoliators along with the tips on getting it right! Click here to read it now.
Let’s start with my recommendations for the best exfoliators for oily skin!
Top 10 Best Exfoliators for Oily Skin
The Fresh Sugar Face Polish hydrates oily skin really well and leaves it smooth and soft after you wash it off. You will feel squeaky clean after using this exfoliator!
It is infused with brown sugar and strawberry seeds that scrub away dead skin cells and dissolves effectively in nourishing oils. This exfoliator is gentle to the skin and melts deeply into your skin. You don’t need to worry about it irritating your skin!
The brown sugar is a natural humectant that seals in moisture and improves dull skin. The strawberry seeds are infused with Vitamin C, which is hugely beneficial to oily skin as it removes dead skin cells. It also has nourishing and hydrating ingredients from the plum seed and grapeseed oils. Plus there’s linoleic acid which helps to increase skin’s collagen and elastin. Basically loads of good with very little bad!
If you love spending a bit more on your skincare, the Fresh Sugar Face Polish is a great uncomplicated choice. This exfoliator is very simple to use and delivers just the right exfoliation that your skin needs. If you want a simple yet effective exfoliator that instantly gives you results, Fresh Sugar Face Polish is the one for you!
- Perfect for Oily Skin
- True To Its Claims
- Natural Ingredients
- Gentle on the Face
- Reduces Oiliness
- Contains Vitamin C
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a great starting point when it comes to chemical exfoliants. Having a lower concentration of acid will let your skin adjust and be familiar with chemical exfoliants.
This exfoliant has salicylic acid, which is an ingredient that works really well with oily skin. Since BHAs are oil-soluble, they can penetrate deeper into your pores. This then helps with clearing your pores and evening out your skin, giving you the perfect radiance. This also has green tea which is excellent for anti-ageing as well as smoothing the skin.
You will find your skin will be smooth in texture as well as a noticeable improvement on the size of your pores. The most exciting benefit is that it will also help to clear your blackheads! Yay!
This exfoliator will ultimately help you with oil-control throughout the day and will clear up your acne within weeks of use. Plus, it gives you a beautiful, radiant finish with reduced lines and wrinkles.
The Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is best for anyone who’s looking for a different brand to try out and a product that works effectively with an affordable price. You will love how simple this leave-on liquid exfoliant is to add to your skincare routine.
- Short and Reliable Ingredients
- Does not include Alcohol
- Unclogs Pores
- Only available online
- Ingredients may cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun
The Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intense Exfoliator works wonders! It has all the three main types of exfoliators which are physical, chemical and enzymatic (see the guide on different exfoliator types). And it is not overwhelming to the skin! This scrub works to improve your skin texture and pores. It also helps soften the look of fines lines and wrinkles.
The ingredients of the ExfoliKate Intense Exfoliator is AHA Lactic Acid and BHA Salicylic Acid that exfoliates the skin dead cells and effectively removes the ‘glue’ that holds these dead skin cells. For its physical exfoliator, this has silica which is a natural bead that also effectively scrubs dead cells away.
There are also Papaya, Pineapple and Pumpkin Enzymes which are enzymatic exfoliators! Papaya and Pineapple have excellent mattifying properties which are really great for oily skin.
This exfoliator smooths and evens out your skin! It also helps in removing blackheads. If you love the grit and the feeling of physical exfoliants, the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intense Exfoliator is an excellent choice. You will love the process of exfoliating with this one and how clean and smooth your skin is after using this.
- Triple Effective Physical, Chemical, and Enzymatic Exfoliator
- Fast Results
- Brightens the Face
- Clears Blackheads
- May be too strong for Sensitive Skin
- Not Environmental-Friendly
The NeoStrata Oily Skin Solution is an uncomplicated but effective exfoliant! One thing to love is that it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. Instead, it focuses on ingredients that are really exceptional for exfoliating as well as for oily skin.
The NeoStrata Oily Skin Solution really caters to oily skin and it’s made for those with oily skin in mind. The exfoliator contains ingredients that target acne and also brighten the complexion.
Its vital ingredient is glycolic acid, an AHAs chemical, that works to exfoliate dead skin cells and brighten your skin. These also prevent future breakouts! It has 8% glycolic acid which gently exfoliates to remove excess oil and leaves you with a radiant finish.
You’ll see results straight away! Yup, that’s right, after only a short time you will see a noticeable improvement in your skin as well as a reduction in oil. If you’re acne-prone, this also helps with keeping you acne-free. When using this product, it dissolves without making your skin feel completely stripped and tight.
For a dermatologist-approved option, the NeoStrata Oily Skin Solution is highly raved about when it comes to targeting oily skin and acne. This option is definitely one of the top choices for those with excessively oily skin. It works effectively in clearing your skin and keeping oil at bay.
- Fights Acne
- Formulated for Oily Skin
- Balances Your Skin
- Can be too strong for Sensitive Skin
- Contains Alcohol
The Dr Brandt Microdermabrasion Exfoliator is an extra gentle exfoliator! Even though it is gentle on the face, don’t think it’s not effective, it exfoliates deeply into the skin and really well too I must add.
The exfoliators key ingredients are lactic acid which is less irritating to the skin and provides moisturising properties. It also has jojoba oil, aloe vera and chamomile extract that gives the skin-soothing and refreshed skin feeling.
For its physical exfoliator, it has professional-grade ‘aluminium oxide crystals’ that effectively scrubs away dead skin cells. Compared to harsh scrubs, this won’t make your skin feel like it’s been rubbed raw. Instead, it buffs away dead skin layers very gently. In turn, your subsequent creams will be able to penetrate better.
This is yet another product that really keeps your oil and acne at bay! You will find that your acne and acne scars will be visibly reduced. It also improves the texture of your skin, as well as get, rids of lines and wrinkles.
If you have sensitive skin on top of being oily, the Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Exfoliator will be a great investment for you. The exfoliator is not aggressive yet still effectively removes the dead layers of skin cells which then resurfaces a healthier, cleaner skin. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin and just prefer a mild exfoliator, you can still benefit from it!
- Gentle on the Face
- Both a Physical and Chemical Exfoliant
- Brightens Complexion
- Deeply Cleanses The Face
The Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins is an exfoliating sleeping mask that has excellent AHAs ingredients. This cream is packed with ingredients that target dullness and clear the skin away from dead skin cells. Although it is advertised for dry to normal skin, this amazingly works extremely well with oily skin too.
Use this as the last step on your routine so the AHAs ingredients can work its magic effectively. It is not heavy on the skin. In the morning, the results of this cream are wonderful! You will wake up with smooth and moisturised skin. It also controls oil production better throughout the day.
As you progressively use the Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins cream, you will notice that the oily parts of your face are much calmer. Ingredients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and salicylic acid fill this product which has wonderful benefits to the skin.
Looking for a reputable high-end brand? Origins have been a holy grail in people’s skincare routine for years. Their High Potency Night-A-Mins Resurfacing Cream is no exception. Marked as ‘Clean’ at Sephora, this is a product that guarantees clean ingredients that are safe for the skin.
If you’re looking for an alternative to a physical exfoliator, the Potency Night-A-Mins Resurfacing Cream is a great overnight mask that is gentle and easy to use. You simply apply it as your last skincare step, let it sit on your face and wake up to beautiful radiant skin!
- Balances Skin
- Great for Oily Skin
- Very Hydrating
- Slight Tackiness
- The jar can be unhygienic
- Does not remove blackheads and whiteheads
Don’t be fooled with the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid because not only does it target blackheads, and it is also an excellent exfoliant that is acne-fighting and smoothing!
Being a BHA-rich product it penetrates deeper into your skin. This unclogs your pores better and more effectively. As you will notice, the ingredients for the liquid are minimal. We love products that have fewer ingredients but for my sensitive friends, it also means there are fewer irritating ingredients. It concentrates on keeping your skin clear as well as minimising pores.
Consistent use of the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid will help immensely with the reduction of oil production. BHAs has oil-absorbing properties for the pores which will keep your pores clean and oil-free.
Indeed, this product will help with keeping your skin clear and smooth!
K-Beauty has been rising in the skincare industry for the past few years. If you’re looking to try out the goodness that K-Beauty brings to the skin, go ahead with the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. There’s more to love, it is fairly affordable and targets more than one skincare concern. This is another unique leave-on exfoliant that makes use of the powerful BHAs in it.
- Controls Oil Production with Continuous Use
- Kills Acne
- Removes Blackheads Effectively
- Minimizes Pores
- Can Be A Tad Drying
- Needs To Be Gradually Added Into Your Skincare
Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic is a fairly new drugstore range that offers clean products. Clean for your skin and clean for the environment. If you’re recently wanting to switch to cleaner skincare ingredients, Ren is a good way to start your journey. If you also prefer a toner as an exfoliator, this tonic will do an excellent in replacement to a physical exfoliator.
Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic is an exfoliator and toner in one! This is wonderful for everyday use for exfoliating and balancing your skins pH levels.
The ingredients are naturally extracted! This has lactic acid from yeast which helps with removing dead skin cells, salicin (BHA) from Willow Bark Extract that effectively minimizes pore appearance and Azelaic Acid Precursors from grain that helps to even skin tone and gives it a beautiful radiance.
With Lactic Acid on the ingredients as well, it is fairly gentle on skin. This toner is great as a starter acid toner and if you need a new effective acid toner. It suits people with oily, combination or congested skin as it dries the skin as it removes the dead layer.
This Tonic does indeed effectively shrinks your pores and clears your dark spots. It removes the dirt, and dead skin build-up throughout the day, leaving you with a refreshed and radiant skin.
- Great Packaging
- Unclogs congested skin
- Balances Skin pH Levels
- Helps with Acne
- Not Good for Sensitive Skin
- Citrus Scent
Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser exfoliates your skin amazingly. This is a great drugstore steal! This dermatologist-tested cleanser is effective enough to truly smoothen the texture of your skin.
The microbeads on the exfoliator are surprisingly really fine and gentle to the skin. It also helps a lot with the removal of blackheads and efficiently cleanses your pores. With cleansed pores, there will be much less oil production on your skin.
With AHAs like Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid, all dirt and oil will efficiently be removed. There is also glycerin that helps with keeping your face moisturised. This exfoliator helps with mattifying your face throughout the day and decreases the time you have to blot your face!
Who doesn’t love a drugstore steal? Neutrogena has always been a reliable drugstore option and best for those who are on a budget. If you’re looking for a drugstore affordable two-in-one product, this exfoliating cleanser is a double duty that will make your skincare routine a lot easier.
- Affordable Drugstore Price
- Gentle Microbeads
- Not for Sensitive Skin
- Skin May Be More Sensitive to the Sun
The Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powders is a great enzymatic exfoliant that delivers excellent results to your skin. It provides a non-abrasive daily exfoliation that leaves your skin smooth. This powder will give a luxurious and smooth skin experience!
What sets this apart from other exfoliators is that the physical exfoliator is a powder and it is a lot finer and delicate compared to your classic microbead scrubs. You can definitely customise the consistency of this product by adding a few drops of water onto a tablespoon of powder which makes a thick paste. If you prefer a thinner and gentle scrub, you can always add a sprinkle of the powder to a tablespoon of water.
The ingredients include rice and papaya enzymes that help with the natural skin turnover which then leaves you with smooth and plump skin. This also has green tea, rice, and algae which gives you a youthful radiance. When used every day, it will help reduce the appearance of fine lines, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation.
For a high-end and luxurious option, you can never go wrong with Tatcha. With this Rice Enzyme Powder, you will certainly pay for the magic that this exfoliator brings to your skin. The powder is also a unique way to exfoliate your face that will be surprisingly gentle on your face since the texture is finer.
- Deeply Cleanses Face
- A Little Goes A Long Way
- Refreshes Your Skin
- The Scent Can Be Off-Putting
So now that you’re covered on the best exfoliators for oily skin you should also know how exfoliators work better, along with the best tips on exfoliating!
Let’s catch you up a little more on exfoliating. It is an essential key to healthy-looking skin, and I’m sure you’ve heard conflicting opinions on exfoliating. It’s either great to remove dead skin or it’s too abrasive for the skin. So what’s really the deal? Let’s start with the basics.
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin.
Skin Cell Turnover
Our skin naturally and actively produces new skin cells, a process called skin cell turnover. It generates new healthy skin cells to keep our skin healthy and young. When we are younger, the skin cell turnover rate is much faster, but it slows down as we age.
So how does exfoliating help with the skin cell turnover?
As our skin produces more skin cells, there is also a dead skin cell build-up. When left unexfoliated, it can cause acne, enlarged pores along with rough and dull skin. That’s where exfoliating comes in.
With exfoliating, it removes the extra-thick coat of dead skin cells on the surface layer of the skin and diminishes clogged pores. When you clear these dead skin cells, you will most likely have more effective skincare routine. Why? Since the dead skin cells are removed and then you put on your creams, serums or moisturizers – it will be absorbed by the new healthy skin cells which will be a lot more beneficial to your skin.
What are the other benefits of exfoliating?
Now that we mentioned that exfoliation helps with the removal of dead skin cells. There are other beneficial things that exfoliation does.
- Helps with slowing down the ageing process
- Unclogs your pores
- Increases skin cell turnover
- Clears acne
There are 3 main types of exfoliating: Physical, Chemical & Enzymatic Exfoliators.
Physical Exfoliators are either tools or skincare products that have physical grit or granules in it.
You would like this if you prefer products that you can actually feel how they work and massage on your face.
This type of exfoliators is typically best for oily skin. The reason is – as your day progresses, and your skin rapidly produces oil, it tends to have a lot more dirt and dead skin build-up. With a scrub, you can be sure all the dirt and dead skin will be removed from your face.
Oily skin people can get away with using physical exfoliators at least 2 to 3 times a week.
The scrubs are likely to be sugar, salt, seeds, nuts, fruit pits or jojoba beads. Theses exfoliators come in the form of a face scrub or even face masks.
What? Chemicals and acids on your face? When you hear chemical exfoliators, it can be frightening. When in actuality, chemical exfoliators are a lot gentler, efficient and effective on the skin. You just have to educate yourself in which ones are better for you.
These chemical exfoliators are found in toners, serums or moisturisers.
Chemical Exfoliators have two main components. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAS)
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs are great for resurfacing the texture of skin and helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles as well as hyperpigmentation. It is usually derived from natural substances, meaning these chemicals are extracted from apples, grapes and sugar canes.
AHAs are water-soluble and can’t penetrate deep into the pores. But they do nourish and even out the skin wonderfully and effectively dissolve the layer of dead skin.
These have six types which are glycolic, lactic, malic, tartaric, citric and mandelic. But we are going to focus mainly on four: glycolic, lactic, mandelic and malic.
- Found in sugar crops
- Penetrates the skin deeper compared to other AHAs because it has a small molecular size
- Found in milk
- Slightly larger molecule
- Moisturises the skin
- Removes dead skin cells for a plumper skin
- Usually comes from bitter almonds
- Gentler out of the two above
- Has antibacterial properties
- Exfoliates really well
- Good for acne-prone skin
- Found in apple
- Not as strong as Glycolic or Lactic Acid
- Often and best used together with another AHA
- Mostly found in Brightening products
- Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)
Unlike AHAs, Beta Hydroxy Acid or BHAs goes deeper into the pores. This chemical is the best for oily and acne-prone skin. Since it has salicylic acid and oil-soluble, these properties go hand in hand with your oily skin. It helps with acne, and it can dissolve in oil which then makes it penetrate the skin deeper into the crevices of the pores.
It clears your skin from acne, blackheads and clogged pores!
Although Enzymatic Exfolirators tend to be overlooked because they tend to work as a chemical exfoliant, it is still another effective way to exfoliate your skin.
Enzymes are active ingredients that are typically natural ingredients with naturally occurring enzymes.
So how does enzyme work?
Enzymes in products break down the proteins that hold dead skin cells together. They are usually very large and can’t penetrate deeply into the skin. But it is still gentle like papaya, pineapple, pumpkin and rice extracts.
Water-activated powders are the most common form of enzymatic exfoliators and the most efficient. Its ingredients stabilize a lot better, and it is not mixed with other ingredients that can break it down.
Now that you know all the types of exfoliators and what they truly are, here are some tips for better exfoliator routine!
Tip #1: Don’t Over Exfoliate!
As much as exfoliating can do wonders, it can also be damaging when overdone. Be wary of how many times you should exfoliate a week. Avoid using exfoliating products in your daily routine.
For oily skin, 2 to 3 times a week is optimal while drier or sensitive skin, 1 to 2 times a week is enough.
Tip #2: Choose The Right Physical Grit or Granules for Your Skin
Make sure that the exfoliating agents on the scrub are not too large or too abrasive. Ground nuts like walnut shells, fruit pits and sea salt are granules that are way too large and aggressive for the skin.
Tip #3: Be gentle with scrubs!
When you apply exfoliators, make sure that you are extra gentle with it. If you’re too aggressive when applying, it can cause micro-tears on your skin, which you may not see on the surface but you will definitely notice the long-term damage of it in the next few years.
Tip #4: Read The Labels!
When we see a product, we tend to ignore the information on the back. But it is critical we read the instructions on it and the how-tos of a particular product. Especially when it comes with AHAs or BHAs products, they have different percentages of acid concentration. The skin will react differently depending on these percentages.
The higher the concentration, the stronger it is, leave it on the face for a shorter time.
Tip #5: Know How To Use AHAs/ BHAs Properly
If you’re new with AHAs or BHAs or need a little guidance, it is essential that you slowly add in acids into your skincare. Use one product first and test out how it goes with your skin and how it reacts. Start with the smallest percentage of acidity levels and use once a week.
Yes, there’s a lot of things to learn and understand from the world of skincare. But it is all for the good of your skin. I know you cannot entirely stop excessive oil but surely, with the right products and tricks – you’re oily skin will be a lot more manageable!
What I’ve learnt is that skincare is trial and error. If you want to test out products you can always ask for samples or travel sizes so you could test out how your skin will like it.
Do you have oily skin? Do you like exfoliating? What exfoliating products do you love?