Oily Skin Winter
Skin, Lip and Body Care

Do I Need Moisturizer for Oily Skin in Winter?

+ Pamela Friedman

Moisturizer for oily skin in wintertime—is it necessary?

If you have oily skin, you may wonder. After all, often your skin feels moisturized enough.

The winter weather, however, with its cold, harsh temperatures and dry indoor heating, can strip the skin of its natural oils.

This can actually trigger the skin to produce more oil in winter than at any other time.

What should you do? We explore this challenging issue in this post!

What Is Oily Skin?

Oily skin is just what it sounds like—skin that is oilier than normal.

All skin types naturally produce oil—called “sebum.” The sebaceous glands in the skin, which are microscopic glands found in your hair follicles, secrete sebum. This is an oily substance that helps protect your skin and keep it from drying out. It’s made up of various types of lipids (fats) like glycerides, free fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, cholesterol esters, and cholesterol.

Oily skin exists when the sebaceous glands are more active than usual. They produce too much sebum, which can lead to oily or “greasy” skin, clogged pores, and acne.

Moisturizer for Oily Skin: How to Tell If You Have Oily Skin

You probably already know if you have oily skin, but just in case you’re not sure, here are some signs:

  • Your skin looks shiny most of the time
  • It feels oily to the touch
  • You struggle with frequent acne breakouts
  • Blotting sheets are always in your bathroom
  • You have larger, more noticeable pores
  • Blackheads are commonly found on your skin
  • Your skin rarely feels tight or dry
  • It’s common for you to find oil on your phone or clothing
  • Others in your family have oily skin
  • Makeup seems to slide off your face

Here’s the good news: Though oily skin can clog pores and lead to increased breakouts, it also helps preserve the skin and delay the development of fine lines and wrinkles.

What Causes Oily Skin?

The biggest cause of oily skin is genetics. It tends to run in families, and you were likely born with it.

Some other factors may exacerbate oily skin, though. If you live in a hot, humid climate, for instance, you’re likely to have more oil on your skin in the summertime. Hormone fluctuations may be to blame.

Winter is the season that causes the most confusion about oily skin and moisturizing. People with oily skin in winter may suffer the most skin problems. The wrong moisturizer can make your skin oily, but chilly dry air can make it dry and then cause skin to produce more oil.

Using the Wrong Skin Care Products

Using the wrong skin care products for your skin type may either bring about oily skin or make it worse.

Some acne products, for example, are harsh and can dry the skin too much. That causes a rebound reaction where the skin produces even more oil, making oily skin worse.

If you have combination skin—oily only in the T-zone—but your cheeks are dry, using the wrong products in the wrong place can also make oily skin worse.

Piling On Too Many Products

If you struggle with oily skin and acne, you may have bottles and jars and sprays all over your bathroom cabinets. Using too many products, washing your face too often, or over-exfoliating can all dry and stress the skin to the point that it responds by producing more oil.

Skipping Moisturizer for Oily Skin

You may have heard that moisturizer causes oily skin, but that’s only if you’re using the wrong one!

If you’ve got a product filled with dimethicones and petroleum ingredients, it could be making your oily skin worse, clogging your pores and causing breakouts.

Although you may want to avoid moisturizers altogether, that’s not a good idea.

If you don’t use moisturizer at all, your skin will dry out, even if it’s oily. That’s because daily washings strip the skin of oil and without moisturizer to balance the effect, the skin will produce more oil to compensate.

If you’re using anti-acne products with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide in them, it’s even more critical that you use a moisturizer afterward to help balance your skin.

Moisturizer for Oily Skin Plus Other Tips to Help Control It!

The best way to control oily skin is to use products that will help balance the oil rather than completely get rid of it.

In general, avoid thick and heavy creams. Choose a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer with humectants (like glycerin and ceramides to help support the skin barrier).

Look for products that will help reduce or balance oil production without over-drying your skin.

Start with a Gentle Cleanser

Cleanse only twice a day (once more after you work out if applicable), but avoid being harsh. Stay away from soaps with fragrances or harsh chemicals and choose non-clogging, oil-free cleansers that gently cleanse skin.

Cleansers with salicylic and glycolic acids can help keep skin clear, but they can dry out skin, so it’s important to follow up with a lightweight moisturizer.

Also, be careful with cleansing brushes and washcloths. Some of these are too harsh and can create friction on the skin that causes microtears, exacerbating acne breakouts and triggering more oil secretion. Choose a soft cleansing tool to help you get into the pores without disrupting the skin’s outer barrier.

Use a Toner—But Not a Drying One

Most acne skincare lines offer an alcohol-based toner. These help kill germs and bacteria on the skin to fight the development of pimples, but they also dry skin out, which can make oily skin worse.

Instead, try our Rescue + Relief Spray. It provides moisture without clogging pores, is oil-free, and is pH-balanced for skin. It also has natural anti-bacterial properties. Using it will help your skin recover from cleansing, calm any inflammation or redness, and balance skin while preparing it to accept moisturizer.

Use the Right Moisturizer

You may believe that moisturizer adds oil to the skin. But the right kind of moisturizer adds hydration, which is different.

Hydrated skin has enough water in it. It looks plump, fresh, and resilient, and has a more youthful appearance than skin that lacks water. Dehydrated skin not only looks older, but it’s also more vulnerable to inflammation (and breakouts), wrinkles, and premature aging.

Moisturizing your skin can help balance your skin’s natural oil level and prevent it from over-producing oil.

The key is to look at the ingredients in your moisturizer. You want a clean product that has no fragrances, alcohol, petroleum products (like mineral oil), and other ingredients that will make oily skin worse.

Look first for aloe vera. According to a 2014 study, aloe helped reduce inflammation (common in acne-prone skin) while soothing and moisturizing skin at the same time. It also helps to balance skin and is a key ingredient in all CV Skinlabs products.

Next, look for those ingredients that will help seal in moisture. Petrolatum, mineral oil, and other similar ingredients do that, but they’re greasy and may clog pores. Choose other options that are non-comedogneic like natural butters and oils.

Then choose moisturizers that have hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids.

Overall, look for a lightweight lotion that is oil-free and non-comedogenic, which means it will be less likely to clog pores. We recommend our Calming Moisture. It contains aloe leaf juice as the first ingredient, includes natural oils and glycerin, then adds triglyceride and antioxidants to help protect the skin while balancing oil production.


It is a lightweight moisturizer that will help balance, soothe and treat any redness, itching or swelling caused by acne or oily skin. It’s regularly recommended by dermatologists and provides weightless hydration without causing the skin to feel clogged or too oily.

Finally, apply the moisturizer while your skin is still damp, as that will help trap the water in your skin.

Use a Facial Masks

Facial masks can be extremely helpful when you have oily skin.

About once or twice a week, try applying a clay mask to help absorb excess oil and reduce shininess. Pay attention to your skin—if it starts to feel tight and dry, back off and use the mask less often.

Exfoliate Carefully

Exfoliating is a good way to remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, allowing the younger cells to come forward. This is also a good way to clean out the pores and reduce acne breakouts.

Just be sure you’re exfoliating carefully. Don’t overdo it. Too much exfoliating can cause a rebound oil-producing effect, and may also exacerbate acne breakouts. Watch your skin for signs as to how often you need to exfoliate.

Do you have a favorite moisturizer for oily skin?

Featured image courtesy of Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels.

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