Best Acne Treatment for Oily Skin: How to Kill 2 Birds with 1 Stone

If you’re a woman riddled with acne, it’s tempting to raid the nearest department store and stock up on all the strongest anti-acne treatments on the counters. When it comes to acne, the stronger the active ingredient, the better, right? Well, you might get rid of the pesky bumps successfully for now, but bombarding your skin with harsh anti-acne treatments usually cause more harm than good, especially if you have oily skin.

One of the most common side effects from using a lot of acne treatments is severe skin drying. I’m not just talking dry patches here, but tight, peeling off skin that feels permanently chafed.

Common acne fighters such as glycolic acid, tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide are also notorious for parching skin. They are prone to causing either allergic reactions or irritation. These ingredients work overtime to temporarily zap oil in the skin, however if done at high concentrations it can cause skin to react in a frenzy and overcompensate by producing even more sebum to keep up with all the oil being taken by anti-acne treatments!

Because of this constant battle, it might even end up that more acne crops up from all the sebum produced by the skin to counteract common anti-acne treatments.

Most anti-acne treatments in the market are also marked oil free and devoid of any sort of moisturizing ingredients. This makes skin that is subject to a constant slew of anti-acne products feel just parched.

So even if all the acne disappears skin still ends up looking uneven, dull, and lacking in suppleness. This doesn’t mean you just give up on anti-acne treatments. There are now a lot of gems in the market that are effective in treating acne without causing all sorts of dryness and irritation. Read on the find out about these win-win products below.

Best Acne Treatment for Oily Skin: Creative Options to Kill Two Birds with One Stone

When you've got acne, you want a solution. Pronto. But the last thing you want to do is over dry and irritate your acne-prone skin in the process!

Instead, look toward the below, effective acne treatments for oily skin. They help minimize oil production while actively combating acne - and they do all this without making things tougher for your skin.​

GIGI Bioplasma 15% Azelaic Cream

azelaic acid for oily skin

Get it for $43

Unless you have rosacea, Azelaic acid might not even be on your radar. As a treatment for rosacea, it’s known to be effective to counteract redness, seborrhea, and soothe skin flare-ups. However, this wonder has been making its way as an active ingredient on many over the counter anti-acne and shine control products.

Why? Dermatologists are quickly discovering that some of its benefits are effective on those suffering from oily skin and acne as well, making azelaic acid one of the gentlest yet effective acne products for oily skin. 

As a treatment for acne, Azelaic acid works by stopping growth of acne-causing bacteria in it’s tracks. At the same time, it also regulates production of keratinocytes around hair follicles so they don’t block your pores to cause blackheads, whiteheads, and other skin bumps. To counteract oil production, it also inhibits production of 5 alpha reductase which is causes excessive oil secretions on the skin.

As a bonus, if you’ve been riddled with acne for most of your life, you probably have a few hyperpigmentation spots from particularly bad pimples from the past. Azelaic acid also doubles as a treatment for hyperpigmentation, so it can get to work on lightening those problem areas too.

Gigi Bioplasma is one of the few Azelaic Acid treatments that is available over the counter at such high concentrations (most products claiming to have Azelaic Acid in beauty counters contain as little as 1%). The Azelaic Acid in it is sourced from grains, not oils or fat, so there’s no additional oil added to the formulation. It has a great, blendable texture that skin just drinks up, while also being a good base for your foundation.

Even as a powerful ingredient, you can be assured that Azelaic Acid doesn’t have any major side effects. It is safe to use when pregnant and can be used for as long as you want to.

Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel

best acne treatment for oily skin

Get it for $30

Salicylic is probably the most well known acne treatment for oily skin, and for good reason: it’s simply effective. It works by breaking down and promoting skin cell turnover. It’s this accumulation of dead skin cells that cause buildup and blockage of pores to cause acne. At the same time, it also has lightening effects to counteract post acne battle scars.

Plus, salicylic acid has the unique distinction of being oil soluble so it can really get into your pores to break down the gunk. However, Salicylic acid in itself also needs the help of a bacteria-killing ingredient to make it an even more effective acne treatment.

This gel product is an easy to use chemical peel that gives the full benefits of Salicylic acid with the additional of anti-bacterial and anti-fungal botanical extracts to help clear the skin of acne bouts. Since Salicylic acid is pretty strong stuff that might cause a bit of redness, the formulation also incorporates cucumber and chamomile extract to provide the skin soothing effects. In total, the unique combination of ingredients also helps rejuvenate skin.

Since this is a peel and not a simple, run of the mill moisturizer, you have to pay attention to usage instructions. Make sure you start with well-cleansed skin (preferably exfoliated the day before using the peel). Spread the peel lightly on skin and leave it on for a few minutes maximum, but be very vigilant to how your skin is feeling during the peel, and make sure to remove it ASAP if you feel a painful sting.

When removing, rinse off with cold water to help soothe the redness. Always follow with a rich moisturizer and avoid makeup and sun exposure for the day.

Body Merry 2.5% Retinol Cream

acne treatment for oily skin

Get it for $20

Retinols are nothing new to the market, this vitamin A derivative has been renamed so many times for decades, but it doesn’t seem like this powerhouse of an ingredient is losing steam. In fact, almost no other ingredient has the same track record for treating acne the same way retinol does.

It works by affecting the DNA in skin cells to boost cellular turnover (to prevent dead skin build up on skin). It also cleans up oil and other build up around pores (one of the causes of acne), and actually decreases oil production in the long term.

Body Merry’s Retinol moisturizer balances off the strength of retinols with intensive moisturizers to help soothe skin and keep it supple after the retinols do their clean up. Aside from retinol, this moisturizer prides itself in using organic ingredients such as plant-derived hyaluronic acid, jojoba oils, shea butter and green tea.

If you need a bit more convincing, this product also comes with a 90-day manufacturer’s guarantee, so any time you’re unhappy with the product within those 90 days, Body Merry will send your money back no questions asked.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

best pimple spot treatment

Get it for $17

This is probably one of the most iconic products in the market, simply because Mario Badescu is synonymous to it’s drying lotion. Seeing this bottle would transport you back into watching your mom or your sister dip a cotton swab into this layered mixture and dotting it on problem spots.

The only reason why this product has been in the market for so long is because it’s so darn effective. It combines the anti-acne properties of salicylic acid with the power of zinc oxide (and calamine) that fights the redness and flare-ups. It’s fast, reliable, and a breeze to apply, no wonder it’s been a staple for acne prone beauties for years.

To use, you just dip the aforementioned cotton swab in the lotion (making sure to get all the way to the bottom to get some of that calamine) and dab directly onto the spot. Do not rub. Simply let it dry, and wait for it’s magic to work over night. Upon waking, you will notice that your zit is noticeably smaller if not gone.

Peter Thomas Roth Theraputic Sulfur Masque

best acne treatment for oily skin

Get it for $36

When one hears sulfur, the default reaction might be to wrinkle one’s nose in anticipation of the gassy smell, but hear us out. This mineral is so much more than that, in fact it might be the exact thing you’re lacking in your beauty arsenal to treat acne. The ingredient mops up excess oil while also being an effective anti-bacterial agent.

Peter Thomas Roth decided to capitalize on the wonderful effects of sulfur by coming up with a blemish-clearing mask for anti-acne. It also contains Kaolin to help absorb even more oil and leave the skin looking brighter, and to help soothe skin while masking, they also infused ultra-moisturizing ingredients such as aloe.

One important note of caution, it’s been said that sulfur is a tad more effective on Asian skin. There’s a grain of truth in that, but only in terms of physical appearance. You see, sulfur also affects melanin pigments, and on Asian skin which only makes one type of melanin it brings out natural skin tones which makes skin more glowy and radiant. However on other skin types that produce two or three types of melanin, there’s a chance it will bring out redness.

Organic Hemp Oil

best acne products for oily skin
best acne treatment for oily skin

Get it for $14

At first it might seem counter intuitive. Using an oil to treat acne and oily skin? But suspend judgment on this wonder oil. First thing you have to know about it is that it's a "safe" oil with a comedogenic rating of zero, so you don’t have to worry about it causing even more acne or oil production.

In fact, it actually helps. Hemp oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties to prevent pimple outbreaks, while also helping balance sebum production through linoleic acid, the sort of oil that's found in healthy, unclogged pores.

To help you understand the truly unique effects of Hemp Seed Oil, let’s talk about Linoleic acid first. Linoleic acid is what helps regulate sebum in the body. With enough linoleic acid, the quality of sebum our skin produces doesn’t clog pores, but if you don’t get enough linoleic acid the sebum you produce transforms into a sticky, hardened sebum that almost always becomes a blackhead, a pimple or any version of a skin annoyance. Since Hemp Seed Oil is about 60% linoleic acid, it helps your body produce the good kind of sebum.

Nutiva’s Hemp Oil is the brainchild of John W. Roulac, a popular advocate of a natural more holistic lifestyle. This product is 100% hemp oil with no preservatives or added ingredients. It is unrefined and cold pressed, meaning that it wasn’t subject to heat (which can affect the quality of the oil and create some nasty byproducts). It’s USDA certified organic and certified vegan. Aside from being a great addition to your skincare, you can maximize the effects of this hemp oil by also eating it by drizzling it on salads or as an addition to smoothies since it has a great nutty flavor.

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