User Menu

Oily skin woes? What products to use and the ones to avoid

Step away from old-school astringents and always read the labels

To achieve that healthy glow with oily or congested skin, buying the correct skincare product will take a little research. File photograph: Getty Images

We treat oily skin with pathological unkindness, as though the breakout shine on foreheads, chins and noses can be bashed into submission with abrasive, alcohol-laden products and the power of self-loathing.

If you have oily or congested skin, buying skincare will take a little research. Avoid ingredients such as mineral oil and shea butter in areas prone to shine or breakouts, usually the face, back or chest. Minimise the use of astringents such as alcohol (fatty alcohols typically used as emollients and thickeners are usually okay). Avoid anything which lists ethanol, ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol or methanol high up on the ingredients list. Ingredients on skincare labels are listed in order of quantity within the product.

Shiseido WASO quick matte moisturiser (€35 from Arnotts from October)

This new skincare range from Shiseido is a revelation, and the super-hydrating oil-free moisturiser leaves skin matte but not flat – and feeling deeply hydrated.

Sunday Riley U.F.O clarifying face oil (€88 from Space NK)

Using oil on your skin helps to regulate its own oil production levels – the more you dry it out, the more compensatory oil your skin will produce. This dry oil won’t congest skin, but tackles congestion with salicylic acid.

Clinique 2-in-1 cleansing micellar gel + light Make-up Remover (€23)

Though I wouldn’t cleanse off make-up with this, it is a beautiful morning cleanser for any skin. Non-stripping and non-irritating, it will cleanse without interfering with your skin’s natural barrier.

Clarins gentle exfoliator Brightening Toner (€32)

If your skin is oily, reactive and prone to breakouts, stop using physical exfoliants. Instead, use a gentle chemical exfoliant. I have been using this one for about seven years, and noticed a visible improvement in my own acne and oiliness when I started using it.

Medik8 alcohol-free Blemish Control Pads (€30,

Salicylic acid is one of the few hyper-effective over-the-counter ingredients for the treatment of breakouts and congestion. These pads are alcohol-free and contain 2 per cent salicylic acid, the maximum quantity you can get without a prescription.

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm (€29)

You should be using an oil or balm cleanser, even if your skin is oily. Fragrance-free, this one contains nothing to congest or disturb the skin, and cleanses thoroughly without stripping the barrier or stimulating oil production.

NYX professional make-up Green Tea Blotting Paper (€7)

Some people, myself included, will have some oiliness throughout the day regardless of how good a skincare routine they use. Keep on top of it by having some affordable blotting papers with you.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension (€6.76, from ASOS)

Good quality vitamin C, along with the use of a good oil, is the best treatment for the red or dark pigmentation marks that acne or bad breakouts can leave behind on the skin. This is a highly effective, hydrating vitamin C product at a brilliant price.

Product of the Week:

NARS Velvet Matte Foundation Stick (€39)

A foundation that gives good coverage, comes in 20 shades and leaves a soft matte finish without catching and settling on the skin. This is as buildable as it is blendable.