We independently select and review the products we recommend. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through our affiliate links below. Learn more about how we review products and our sources of information.
It’s frustrating to try and manage oily skin only to find out that you’re the one causing your skin to produce more oil. I mean, let’s be honest here. We’re all guilty of skipping moisturizers because we thought that’s what’s causing the look of oily skin. Well, drying out oily skin is like chasing your own tail. But since you’re here, you obviously partially caught the tail and you’ve realized something’s not right. Your confusion ends here. Because here you’ll find what causes oily skin to dehydrate, how to manage it, and the best products to create a skincare routine for dehydrated oily skin.
First things first. Let’s brush up on the basics so you can better understand what’s going on with your skin.
Dry Skin vs Oily Skin
All skin types need both water and oil for the skin barrier to function properly. Dry skin doesn’t have enough oil whereas oily skin has an abundance of it. So, oil (lipids) has a defining role in your skin type.
When your skin is dry, it looks and feels dry which is sometimes accompanied by redness and sensitivity as well. On the flip side, when it’s oily, your skin looks shiny and feels greasy. With excess oil, you’re more prone to congestion and breakouts. So far so good.
What is Dehydrated Skin?
Dehydrated skin is when your skin doesn’t have enough water. And dehydration isn’t exclusive to any skin type. Dry, normal, oily, or combination -all skin types are prone to dehydration. This has nothing to do with your skin type. It’s simply a skin problem that needs to be fixed.
When your skin is dehydrated, it tends to look dull, flaky, and pale. And it feels tight and dry with wrinkles and fine lines that are more visible.
And when your skin is hydrated, it looks more vibrant with a nice flush of color on the cheeks. And it feels supple and bouncy.
How To Tell If You Have Dehydrated Oily Skin
It’s easier to separate dryness from oiliness. But it’s not easy to tell if your oily skin is dehydrated. Because dehydration usually causes a tight feeling on the skin, which is not easy to observe when your skin is oily. That’s why dehydration usually goes unnoticed on oily skin.
According to Healthline, you can try a simple test. You gently pinch your cheeks and then release. If your skin bounces back immediately, it’s not dehydrated.
But if your skin takes a few seconds to bounce back, it’s dehydrated. The test makes sense as hydrated skin feels bouncy and looks plump.
Another way of telling if you have oily dehydrated skin is if your skin is abnormally oily even though you haven’t been moisturizing. You can also see dryness and flakiness on the T-zone.
Additionally, dehydration can cause your pores to look larger. But the best way to determine is, of course, by seeing a dermatologist.
What Causes Dehydration on Oily Skin?
A very common cause of dehydration on oily skin has to do with skincare. You’re more likely to use harsh and drying products in an attempt to reduce oil and manage acne.
Using active ingredients like hydroxy acids for exfoliation, and benzoyl peroxide for acne management can cause your skin to lose water.
It’s not really about using them but about overdoing them. Over-exfoliation, improper after-care with exfoliants, or acne products can worsen dehydration.
Additionally, taking long showers with hot water, unprotected sun exposure, aging, cold weather conditions, and wind cause the skin to lose water.
How To Treat Dehydrated Oily Skin
A skin type is something you manage -not something you treat. But a skin condition is something you can treat, fix, and get rid of. Dehydration is a skin condition that is absolutely treatable. It’s a temporary problem. And below is how you treat dehydration on oily skin.
1. Know the difference between hydration and moisture.
Hydration means putting water into the skin whereas moisture means putting oil into the skin. Your skin is lacking water -not oil. So your priority is using water-based products made with humectants.
Humectants attract water to the skin, which is exactly what you need. Humectants include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, and sodium PCA.
2. Cleanse gently.
Alcohol-based cleansers, even if your skin can tolerate them, will cause dehydration. During the time when you’re trying to hydrate your skin, avoid these types of cleansers and use a non-drying cleanser to wash your face.
Hydroxy acids, especially lactic acid, work as humectants as well. As an exfoliant, it’ll help you manage excess oil, enlarged pores, acne, and hyperpigmentation by getting rid of the top layer of the skin.
But as a humectant, it’ll hydrate your skin as well. After washing your face, use an exfoliating toner or a pad made with lactic acid. With exfoliation, you also clear the way for your upcoming hydrating products, which enhances their effects.
4. Hydrate with hyaluronic acid.
This is the most important step. Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydrator for all skin types. It’s the best treatment for dehydrated oily skin. And it’s best to use it in serum form to ensure maximum efficiency.
Once you’re done with exfoliation, apply a few drops of hyaluronic acid serum onto the skin and let it absorb. This is the most satisfying step for dehydrated oily skin.
A hyaluronic acid serum is how you hydrate dehydrated oily skin without causing breakouts or clogged pores. You can take advantage of hydrating toners, essences, and face mists as well.
5. Moisturize with care.
If your skin lacks water, does that mean you can skip moisturizer? Not necessarily. Because moisturizers help keep that water in with their emollient structure that forms a thin film on the skin. They don’t hydrate but they prevent dehydration.
Moisturizers also keep your skin soft and plump. The trick is to use an oil-free moisturizer, which tends to contain more humectants. And instead of oils, they tend to contain silicones or oil-like substances such as squalane or jojoba esters.
These types of products are great for oily skin because they don’t make your skin more oily. They don’t cause breakouts or clog your pores. A great example of this is hyaluronic acid moisturizers.
Another advantage of moisturizers has to do with a desired complexion. With the right moisturizer, you can have dewy-looking skin or a very nice, matte base before you apply your foundation.
The Best Products For Dehydrated Oily Skin
From face washes to face serums, below are the best skincare products for dehydrated oily skin.
Best Cleanser: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
This is a very basic cleanser, not an exfoliating or a balancing one. Leave that to your treatment when your skin gets back on the horse. It’s fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. So it won’t cause clogged pores or sensitivity, which might aggravate acne. The gel form lightly foams up and works very well to remove dirt and makeup. But it doesn’t leave the skin creamy or tight. It packs ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to support the skin barrier too.
Best Serum: Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra SOS Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This is an amazing hyaluronic acid serum for people with oily and dehydrated skin. It’s minimal, gentle, and mad hydrating for the skin. The lotion-like serum is oil-free and it replenishes the skin instantly, giving you visibly plump skin. Besides hyaluronic acid, it packs glycerin, which is another water-boosting humectant. And it contains grape water which is rich in antioxidants as well as squalane to help dehydrated oily skin retain moisture.
Best Toner: Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Toner
This is an exfoliating toner you can daily use to keep oily skin in check without dehydrating it. It’s made with lactic acid, which is the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acid that removes the build-up of dead skin cells. It’s also incredibly hydrating for the skin. You hit two birds with one stone; keep a smooth and hydrated base. It also packs willow bark extract, a natural source of salicylic acid, to manage acne and clogged pores.
Best Hydrating Mist: Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Mist
This is a face mist that doubles as a hydrating face toner. If you’re not into exfoliation and just looking to amplify hydration, this toner mist is going to help a lot with achieving that hydrated and plump skin. Mist it on your skin after cleansing. The combination of hyaluronic acid, rose water, aloe, and coconut water will replenish thirsty skin.
Best Peel Pads: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
Exfoliating peel pads are great if your skin is prone to acne. Besides lactic acid to boost hydration, these pads contain glycolic acid. Glycolic acid helps with acne as well as enlarged pores. It also boosts radiance and reduces hyperpigmentation and acne marks. The pads are also soaked in a blend of hydrating goodies like hyaluronic acid, aloe, and cucumber. As an alternative, you can also try salicylic acid pads if you’re particularly unhappy about blemishes and clogged pores.
Best Moisturizer: Shani Darden Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer
This oil-free moisturizer hydrates with hyaluronic acid, collagen, and algae extract. So it helps your hyaluronic acid serum and seals everything in. It’s non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, and has a silky smooth finish. It’s a great moisturizer for people with oily and dehydrated skin to get a healthy, shine-free complexion.
Best Sunscreen: Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF 30
This is an amazing SPF moisturizer perfect for those of you who don’t like layering products. The multi-tasking moisturizer is oil-free. So don’t even worry about congestion and clogged pores. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid as well as niacinamide, which is fantastic for supporting the skin barrier, brightening the skin, and reducing the look of enlarged pores. With SPF, you get your daily sun protection and protect your skin against the dehydrating effects of UV exposure.
Related: Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF 30 Review
Best Mask: Farmacy Coconut Gel Sheet Mask – Hydrating
Nothing brings the skin back to life better than a fast-working sheet mask. When you need a quick hydration boost, rip open one of these sheet masks to quench the skin. Hydrators include hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, coconut water, cucumber extract, and collagen.
To wrap up, hydrating with humectants is the key to managing and treating oily and dehydrated skin. If you take good care of your skin and be mindful of your products, you can get rid of dehydration in no time. As you can see, a simple skincare routine for dehydrated oily skin includes a gentle cleanser, an exfoliating toner/pad, a hyaluronic acid serum, and an oil-free moisturizer followed by an oil-free sunscreen. This is the bare minimum. You can modify the rest according to your preference.
Read Next: The Best Anti-Aging Products For Oily Skin