The best skin care routine for oily acne prone skin

Managing acne when you can’t afford a dermatologist

Finally, I hope you’ve found the right blog post to help you tackle this oily acne-prone skin problem.

I feel you completely because just a few years ago I found it really difficult to leave my house without makeup. You know very well how acne can ruin a girl’s confidence!

This was when my acne had actually started to clear! Was too embarrassed to take photos before then.

So, I really do feel your pain!

This article will hopefully save you hours of googling, research and plain helplessness. In fact, this is the kind of guide I wish I had when I started on my own skincare journey.

Meet Ijeoma

In order to give you even better information,  I reached out to skin care aficionado and expert Ijeoma, who runs BeautyFrenzy and I will be including some of her top tips in this article.

Consider this your definitive guide, if like me you who were not born with perfect skin and don’t have the budget for a dermatologist.

A few months from today, you are going to look into the mirror and love that woman staring back at you! I promise you will!

Are you ready? Grab a cup of green tea (let’s fake healthy for a minute) and let’s see how we can cure acne on oily skin together!

By the end of this article you will

  • Understand why you get acne.
  • Have a simple skin care regimen you can start immediately!
  • Know what order to use the products
  • Know what to eat to fight acne
  • Love me forever! lol


Acne terminology can get confusing really quickly so let me try to explain in lay terms.

Acne basically happens when the holes or pores in our skin get blocked, you know those holes where your hair grows out of? These pores are called sebaceous glands and they have this special oil called sebum which they produce, just so our face and hair doesn’t dry out!

So for us oily sisters, our face basically produces a lot more than average and that is where the problem happens. That excess oil finds a way to mix with dead skin and stuff in the air and blocks that hole! Yup! That is how a pimple is formed.

Those holes are also sensitive to hormones and makes the skin produce even more oil and more acne.

You can read more about how different types of acne are formed here


You don’t need a 20 step skin care routine

Whoever came up with the quote “less is more” was certainly referring to skin care. Ijeoma agrees with me. She says:

“The most important thing to do is to start small and be consistent. It’s harder to be consistent when you have a 10-step routine to get through, so it’s best to stick to the basics at first.

You really only need 3-5 products in your routine. Identify what your skincare concerns are, and buy products with ingredients that address those concerns.”

Thank you Ijeoma! I totally agree!

There is no quick fix

Anyone promising you a magical cream for treating acne is lying to you. Good skin care is not a quick fix but a lifelong commitment! Are you ready?

This might take some trial and error

I didn’t magically know what product would be best for my skin. It took trying, educating myself, failing and trying again. Hopefully, this article will save you time on trial and error.

Good skincare products are not cheap

Ok! Before you run, give me a chance to explain that one of the most shocking realisations I had on this journey is that cheap skincare isn’t always the best route.

Don’t know your skin type? Here is a really cool article that helps you find your skin type.

Now, let’s delve into daily practices for better skin, this is what everyone calls, a skincare routine.


If your goal is to treat acne and banish it forever, you are going to need a skin care routine.

Here is a simple but effective day routine Ijeoma thinks is best to follow. We will be sharing precise recommendations later in the article.

Morning Routine for oily acne prone skin

1. Oil Cleanser

They are so important because they help to break down the makeup and sunscreen on your face in a way that water based cleansers simply can’t. I’ve had clearer skin since I incorporated this step into my routine.

2. Foaming Cleanser

I follow up my oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser. You don’t want that oily residue on your face from the oil cleanser.

3. Toner/Serum/Treatment

Toners are a really great and lazy way to balance the skin while also getting your active ingredients in.

Toners were initially designed to balance the pH of the skin after cleansing, since most cleansers are alkaline. But they have evolved over the years. It’s hard to find a toner these days that’s just a regular plain toner. Toners are now exfoliating, hydrating, etc. They contain all sorts of active ingredients from retinol to AHAs.

4. Serums and treatments

These are optional. If your skin is great, you really don’t need this step. I have acne prone skin and acne scarring, so my serums and treatments target that.

I love a good antioxidant serum like Vitamin C. You see how an apple turns brown after it’s exposed to the air? That process is called oxidisation. But if you put some lemon juice over that apple, it would turn brown so quickly.

Think of an antioxidant serum the same way.

5. Moisturiser

This is really important, even for oily skin. When your skin is dry, it overproduces oil to compensate.  If you have oily skin, look for a water-based moisturizer.

I love eye-creams too. Better to start using eye creams in your twenties than trying to use an anti-aging eye cream.

6. Sunscreen

This is probably the most important step in your routine. Exposure to sun rays leads to all sorts of skin issues from acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and enlarged pores, to more serious issues like accelerated aging and even skin cancer. Please wear sunscreen.

Thank you Ijeoma. I love how our routines are so similar!

Night-time Routine for oily acne prone skin

So I will share what I do to my skin at nighttime. This is usually my primary focus because night time is when our skin rests and rejuvenates itself.

The steps are very similar to the morning routine:

1. Oil Cleanser

This step is very important especially if you wore make up during the day.

2. Toner

Depending on my skin care needs, I usually alternate between a glycolic acid toner and my good old rose water.

3. Treatment

I typically use retinol or any hydrating serum.

4. Moisturise:

Follow up with a rich, moisturising night cream designed for your skin type and skip the sunscreen, unless you have dreams of walking along the beach on a nice summer’s day, then be my guest!

These steps might seem a bit long for a beginner so here is a graphic to guide you!

The best skin care routine for oily acne prone skin



Best oil cleansers

Should I wash my face in the morning if I have oily skin?

Yes! But try to start with an oil cleanser. Oil removes oil and you’ll get a cleaner face for it!

What I currently use

Palmers Cocoa butter facial cleansing oil

Ijeoma’s recommendations

My favourite oil cleansers are Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Oil (affordable) and Banila Co Clean It Zero (mid-range).

Best face wash

After oil cleansing, wash with a foaming or gel cleanser. But please don’t over cleanse because it makes your skin produce more oil that will eventually clog your pores.

What I currently use

Cetaphil Oily skin cleanser

Ijeoma’s recommendations

My favourite foaming cleansers are the Garnier Green Tea Cleanser (affordable) and the Drunk Elephant BESTE No 9 Jelly cleanser (high end).

Best moisturisers

Does oily acne prone skin need moisturiser?  Is mosturiser good for acne?

People with oily skin think, “Why use a moisturiser when I have all this natural oil?, but you kind of have to my dear. Lack of moisture can actually trigger your skin to produce more oil which will clog your pores even more.

What I currently use

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + Ha

Ijeoma’s recommendations

Vichy Mineral 89 is a good place to start, and so is The Ordinary NMF. My current favourite is Drunk Elephant B Hydra and Protini.

Best face masks

Do face masks actually help acne?

I love to slather on a good homemade natural mask, some of which you will find in this article, but here is one many people swear by.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

Best exfoliators

Most oily acne prone skin are naturally sensitive so I personally favour chemical exfoliants over physical ones.

In case I am confusing you, chemical exfoliants are the ones that have ingredients that gently remove dead skin cells, while physical ones usually have a grainy texture that will physically slough off dead skin when scrubbed.

What I currently use

The Ordinary glycolic acid toner

Best Toners

What I currently use

Rose water

Ijeoma’s recommendations

My favourite toners are from Pixi – I love both the Glow Tonic (this exfoliates) and the Retinol Tonic (this renews the skin). They’ve just launched a Vitamin C Tonic too and I have no doubt it will be amazing.

Best serums/treatments

What I currently use

The Ordinary Vitamin C suspension 23% + HA spheres The Ordinary Retinoid 5% in Squalane

Ijeoma’s recommendations

Differin Gel, The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin, Drunk Elephant Retinol Cream

Best sunscreen

Ijeoma’s recommendations

My favourites are the Neutrogena Hydroboost SPF 50 and Supergoop SPF Mist.

What I currently use

Neutrogena ultra sheer dry touch SPF 50

Best Eyecream

What I currently use

The Ordinary Caffeine solution



Face routine order

I honestly hope that your head isn’t spinning yet! Remember, you can always come back to this article at any time.

So does it really matter whether I use a serum first or sunscreen first? Oh yes!

Applying your products in the wrong order can literally render it ineffective. Just like cooking or baking, order matters in skin care too.





The best skin care routine for oily acne prone skin


I love a good homemade mask. They cost next to nothing and are so effective if used regularly

Here is my favourite favourite recipe that just does my skin so much good

DIY Turmeric face mask


Turmeric has amazing anti inflammatory and anti inflammatory benefits which is good for acne because it prevents it from spreading. It is also famous for brightening the skin.

Apart from the antibacterial qualities of honey, it acts as a humectant to help retain moisture on the skin, leaving it supple.

Whilst milk’s lactic acid will exfoliate your skin and improve it’s complexion.

You’ll need

  • Turmeric powder
  • Pure honey
  • Milk/Yoghurt

Mix these three ingredients and slather all over your face with a clean foundation brush or hands. Be careful though because it stains. Leave on for 10-15 minutes and rinse off. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse off.. Cleanse again with rose water to further remove the yellow pigment.

Follow up with your favourite serums and moisturisers.



This is something that might seem controversial but I absolutely had to mention! Based on personal experience, I genuinely believe microdermabrasion is not a good treatment for oily acne-prone. Here are photos of my skin before and 2 days after a microdermabrasion procedure. Please do some research and decide for yourself.

The best skin care routine for oily acne prone skin


While there is no definitive research that directly links diet and acne, experience has shown me that certain foods simply trigger my skin and I break out more. So I would definitely say that there is a direct correlation based on my personal experience.

Foods to avoid

Sugar and Dairy!

Let’s just say I am not quite ready to completely give up my sweet tooth but when I avoid things like pizza and icecream, what a visible difference it makes to my skin.

Come on, it makes sense! If a high blood sugar makes your body produce the hormone called insulin, and insulin makes you produce more oil, then it would be safe to conclude that foods that raise your blood sugar are definitely terrible for your skin.

I see you white rice!

Foods and habits to incorporate

  • Exercise: Exercise opens up your pores and decreases the stress hormone in your body, which means you reduce your chances of getting hormonal acne. Just don’t forget to take a good shower after your workout!
  • Water: Drinking enough water will surely help your body stay hydrated and help get rid of toxins.
  • Coloured food: Fruits and vegetables that have rich colour in them, only signify one thing-  antioxidants. Think carrot, beetroot, blueberries. These foods can help you achieve better skin from the inside

Should I take vitamins to treat my acne?

Some people suggest taking vitamin supplements and birth control for acne. While a good number of people have seen great results, that is a piece of advice I simply cannot give. Every artificial vitamin has an even better natural alternative and vitamins are best consumed in food.

So my dear, don’t overwhelm yourself. Just eat right and you’ll be fine.

Birth control or Accutane are sometimes prescribed for those with severe acne, but your dermatologist should be able to give you a more professional advice,

How to clear acne scars

After you get rid of acne, you will have some scarring to deal with. These scars can take a while to heal because your skin takes a whole 27 days to regenerate itself. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the process. Ijeoma was generous enough to sugest these to me when I was getting married and needed a quick fix to clear it up.

Treatments I use to clear acne scarring

Azelaic acid

Don’t be scared by the word acid. This really helps the skin to turn over quicker and reveal new skin

Alpha arbutin

This works as a melanin inhibitor and works to help brighten your skin.


I consider this one of my most effective treatments. I use this almost every single night and it helps my acne scarring look less visible. The best part is that it also helps to fight acne as well.

Glycolic acid

It is a very powerful chemical exfoliant that basically helps new skin cells to come to the surface.

If you want to dig deeper into the different treatments available for different types of acne scarring, I suggest you read this article from

More tips/advice

  • Use a paper towel to clean your face instead of a towel because towels harbour bacteria that can worsen your acne.
  • Change your pillowcase often. I know you’ve probably heard this a million times.

Ijeoma also says,

I want people to stop falling for the “organic” fad in skincare. A lot of companies use fear-mongering as a marketing tactic and it makes me so mad. “Organic” is an unregulated term in cosmetics manufacturing, and organic products are not automatically good for you, neither are chemicals automatically bad for you.

Just do your research and buy from reputable brands.

Secondly, I know there was a time when coconut oil was all the rage, but it is actually very bad for acne-prone skin because it clogs the pores. If you have acne prone skin, there are oils that are much better for you, such as Rose Hip Seed Oil or Squalane.

You will have amazing skin again!

I know this is a lot to unpack but I have done my best to dig deep into this subject of acne and hopefully give you tips to help you tackle acne if you don’t have the budget for a dermatologist and are simply lost on where to start.

Test some of the products we have recommended, start small, build your skin care regimen and be super patient. If it naturally takes your face 27 whole days to turnover, don’t expect your skin to become amazing in one week. Be patient!

Did you find this helpful? Let me know your acne struggles in the comments.

Love, Torera

Ijé is a content creator who is very passionate about skincare and loves to play with makeup. She shares reviews and tutorials on her blog, Beauty Frenzy.

  • This post contains affiliate links


Hey you, I’m Torera

I am super intentional about elevating my life and home. The question I always ask is, how can we do this better? I bet you are just the same! Here’s hoping this blog becomes your go to place for relatable, fuss- free home, cleaning and entertaining ideas.

  1. 5.20.19
    Uche said:

    Thank you so much Tory and Ijeoma. I’ve just been screenshotting and screenshotting. Definitely saving up to get some of these products. You’re an amazing person. Thank yoi for sharing.

    • 5.23.19
      torera said:

      You are so welcome. It lights up my heart that these tips are helpful. Go on and have the best skin of your life!

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