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An Affordable Skincare Routine for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

An Affordable Skincare Routine for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

I’ve had so many requests for a skincare routine that targets oily, acne-prone skin and admittedly, I haven’t posted a video on it because I’m dealing with the exact opposite skin right now. I’m super dry! 

But I want to make sure everyone has the right routine for their skin type, so I decided to write this post to hopefully help get you started on the right track. Oily and acne-prone skin can be two completely different skin types, so it’s really hard to suggest a one-size-fits-all routine, but there are some common themes that I find with people that deal with both or either. 

Keep in mind, I partnered with Walmart on this post for their “Here for Every Beauty” campaign because they have a wide variety of products to choose from and they’re affordable.

But before I get into the products, I want to call out some of the mistakes I see people with oily, acne-prone skin make: 

Too many harsh ingredients and products.

Acids, scrubs, benzoyl peroxide, alcohols, face cleansing brushes...the list goes on and on. There are so many products geared towards those with oily, acne-prone skin that it seems obvious that a combination of them would help strip the skin. The truth is, it can make your skin worse. It can exacerbate oil production by signaling to your skin to produce MORE oil since it feels tight and dry. And worse, you can cause inflammation, scarring, and hyperpigmentation if you’re too rough with your skin. 

Skipping moisturizer.

Just because you have oily skin, doesn’t mean you don’t need a moisturizer. Just like you don’t want to overstrip your skin with too many harsh ingredients, you also want to replenish your skin. 

Using occlusive ingredients.

I always tell people to look for “non-comedogenic” on product labels. While it’s not 100% accurate since the term isn’t regulated, most of the time it means the ingredients in the product were proven to not clog pores. There are also ingredients that are widely used in beauty products that work for some with oily skin, but don’t work for others. The two I tell people to be aware of most are silicones (like dimethicone) and certain oils. Your skin might be able to handle some use of these ingredients, and oftentimes silicone is in products geared directly to those with oily skin, so play around and figure out what you can and can’t handle. 

Not seeing an expert.

I find a lot of people who say they have oily skin or acne, eventually need to see a dermatologist to diagnose their issues. There could be an internal problem (hormones, diet, stress) or you could be dealing with fungus, rosacea, or other issues that need to be tackled by a doctor or at least brought to your attention.

That all said, let’s get into some skincare products I think generally work for those with oily skin! 

Morning Cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Face Cleanser ($12)

For those with oily skin, I love to get salicylic acid out of the way with a cleanser. It works surprisingly well and means you can move to other active ingredients in your overall routine since it’s not sitting on your skin like it would with a serum. This CeraVe cleanser is a home run because it replenishes your skin with ceramides (we naturally have ceramides in our skin to strengthen it),  it contains niacinamide, which I’ll get into later in the list below, and it’s fragrance-free. Also a note, I give a thumbs up to most CeraVe products, but for the sake of variety, I’m going to recommend other brands. This is the type of product you might want to only use once a day (I’m going to say morning, so you can do a proper double cleanse at night), but you’ll have to play around with it to see how your skin reacts to it. 

Other options: 

InstaNatural Acne Cleanser ($18)

Jan Marini BioGlycolic Oily Skin Cleanser ($26)

Nighttime Double Cleanse

Simple Cleansing Micellar Water ($8)

Let’s be clear, I don’t think micellar water is that much better than makeup wipes. That said, I know not all oily skin types can handle an oil-based first cleanse, even if you plan to wash it off. So, I fall back advice from my dermatologist friends who tell their patients to start their makeup removal with micellar water. Not all micellar waters are created equally though. They’re all essentially soapy water, so you want to pick one like this one from Simple that has minimal, yet effective ingredients like glycerin (a humectant) and niacinamide. Be sure to really douse your cotton pad, so it’s extra wet and glides easier on your skin and softens your makeup. The point is that you don’t want to tug on your skin and you definitely don’t want to leave this on your face afterwards (you wouldn’t leave soap on your face, right?). 

Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm ($20)

If you watch my videos, you know I prefer you start your double cleanse with an oil or a balm. I find those with oily skin are really nervous to try an oil, and with good reason, so I recommend a balm like this one from Banila Co. The main ingredient is ethylhexyl palmitate, which is a combo of an emulsifying alcohol and palm oil, and it doesn’t leave residue on the skin. I do warn, there is fragrance in this product, and while it’s not a strong scent, if you have sensitive skin, it’s a point to keep in mind. 

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel ($8)

When it comes to your second cleanse, the goal is to remove the rest of your makeup and the balm, without stripping your skin, hence this Neutrogena cleanser. You don’t need to get fancy with your second cleanse product, it just has to work. This one does and it has a little bit of hyaluronic acid in it, which I want you to introduce in your routine (more explanation below). I will also point out, this has fragrance in it, so keep that in mind if you have sensitive skin. 

Other options: 

The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Rich Facial Cleansing Oil ($12)

Physicians Formula Melting Cleansing Balm ($11)

Avalon Organics Intense Defense with Vitamin C Cleansing Gel ($9)


Skip the toner. Honestly. I don’t think you need it. We covered the salicylic acid in your morning cleanse, so you don’t need more now. Remember, I think those with oily, acne-prone skin tend to over do it. Take a step back and let’s move on to the rest of your products. 


Instanatural Vitamin C Serum ($21)

There are two reasons why I recommend this product for you: Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. I think most people should have a vitamin C serum in their skincare routine–It helps even your skin tone, which is great for those with hyperpigmentation from acne, and it protects your skin. The problem is, those with acne-prone skin also can find it’s too acidic at times. This one won’t be because it sits in a hyaluronic acid base. This kind of acid is not the exfoliating type! It acts as a humectant, not a moisturizer. There’s a big difference. It’s like a tall glass of water for your skin and I’m telling you, your skin needs it! This will replenish your skin and make it feel plumper, just make sure you top it with a moisturizer to seal it in. 

Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment ($35)

Everyone needs a retinol in their nighttime routine, but if you have oily skin, you especially need it. It’s the best anti-aging ingredient out there because it helps stimulate collagen production in your skin and thickens the lower levels of your skin. It also helps control oil production and acne as a side benefit. When it comes to an affordable version, I’ll always recommend Differin Adapalene Gel like I did in my Affordable Skincare Products post, but its focus is more on acne and not on anti-aging. I’ll point out, this serum from philosophy has silicone in it, which I said to watch out for, but I find it’s fine if used sparingly in your routine. Ease into retinol use if you’re new to it. Start with once a week, then move on from there or cut it with a moisturizer so it’s a little more diluted. 

Instanatural Niacinamide Face Serum ($31)

This is a special mention in this routine. Two of the above products I suggested already have niacinamide in them, so if you’re using both, you’re getting plenty. You could also swap the Vitamin C suggestion for this one (it has aloe and glycerin instead of hyaluronic acid to act as your humectant) or use it at night before your retinol. Niacinamide is one of my favorite skincare ingredients for most skin types because it has anti-aging properties and it’s anti-inflammatory, so it will calm redness in your skin. It also plays well with lots of other ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about how it mixes. 

Daytime Moisturizer with SPF

Cetaphil Pro Dermacontrol Oil Absorbing Face Moisturizer SPF 30 ($15)

As I said above, it’s a mistake to think you don’t need a moisturizer. You do! Especially now that I introduced a humectant in your routine. This will lock in the hydration. It’s all about balance when it comes to skincare! This moisturizer from Cetaphil feels nice because it has silicone in it. That’s why it’s oil-absorbing. Again, if this is the only product in your morning routine with silicone, it’s fine unless you know silicone doesn’t work well on your skin. I chose this one for oily skin types because it also has SPF 30 and it can be hard to find a proper sunscreen that doesn’t make you feel greasy. This one will look and feel matte on your skin. It will also double as a great makeup primer, so you won’t need one. My only note, don’t use this at night. SPF can be pore-clogging if left on the skin, similar to makeup, so if you need a moisturizer on top of the retinol I suggested above, then get an oil-free one. 

Other options: 

Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer ($18)

Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Face Sunscreen ($10)

Shop the routine here:

I hope this routine was helpful! As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments or find me in our Beauty Questions Answered private Facebook group where I answer questions along with our awesome community. 

Carly from the Mixed Makeup team shared a nighttime skincare routine for acne-prone skin. Check it out here:

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