The extra heat during the summer has an impact on every skin type, but the sweltering months we’re about to embark upon tend to create extra challenges for those of us with oily skin. “Humidity envelops skin in a blanket of heat and moisture, which leads to pores expanding wide, an increase in oil production, and a smothering of the skin, which can lead to congestion or even an outbreak of blemishes.” Audrey Kunin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor previously told Well+Good.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to keep these breakouts at bay without having to dip into your summer travel funds, we’ve got you covered. We chatted with Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, about her favorite affordable oily skin solutions that you can easily add to your at-home routine. The best part? You can pick up most of the products at the drugstore, and the entire routine will run you less than $40. Keep scrolling to shop the three-step regimen for yourself.
1. Gentle cleanser
Though it may be tempting to scrub at your skin to get rid of the excess oil, being too aggressive may actually have the opposite effect. “The biggest mistake made by people with oily skin is to over wash,” says Dr. Nazarian. Using a harsh cleanser (or cleansing too frequently) can strip the skin’s barrier, which can lead to an overproduction of oil as your complexion tries to keep itself balanced. With that in mind, Dr. Nazarian recommends limiting your face washes to two or three times a day, max, and using a gentle cleanser instead of a highly active one. Her pick? Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($4) because it’s a great and simplistic solution for cleansing your skin, removing surface oil and bacteria, and preventing irritation.
2. Tea tree oil serum
Whether you have oily skin year-round or just during the June to September months, Dr. Nazarian recommends adding a tea tree oil-based serum into your daily routine. “Tea tree oil has been a long-standing ingredient used to combat oily skin,” she says. “It’s an ingredient you’ll also find a lot of acne-fighting products for the same reason.” She loves The Body Shop’s Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution ($22), which uses tea tree oil and salicylic acid (another acne-fighting favorite) to keep blemishes at bay, and also includes aloe vera leaf extract for plumping and hydration.
3. Retinol-based moisturizer
The most crucial component for treating oily skin, says Dr. Nazarian (and pretty much every other derm on the planet) is retinol. The ingredient is known for its ability to tighten pores, which allows your skin to retain its natural oils to deliver a smooth finish. If you’re a retinol rookie, Dr. Nazarian recommends starting off with a moisturizer infused with the active, as it lowers the risk of irritation. “Ponds Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream is a fantastic product for people who have oily skin,” she says. “Not only does it have a retinol complex, which is a “must-have” for oily skin, but it also combines it with vitamin B3, which is a form of niacinamide that hydrates and can also target oil glands,” she says.
In general, toners are considered a “nice to have” instead of a “must-have,” but note that adding one into your routine (after your cleanser, before your serum) can help you further stave off the effects of humidity on your skin. “Look for ingredients such as salicylic acid, which can decrease oil production,” says Dr. Nazarian. Her go-to is The Clarifying Toner ($24) from DRMTLGY, which has salicylic acid alongside calming extracts including papaya and olive to prevent irritation.
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.