Does Oily Skin Need Moisturiser?

The myth that oily skin doesn't need moisturiser is pervasive. Learn the two key reasons why an oily complexion absolutely benefits from the right moisturiser—and how you can choose a great product.

Every time you use a moisturiser, you're helping to improve the condition and barrier function of your skin though the combination of humectants and emollients. A serum's formula tends to favour hydrating ingredients, whereas a moisturiser generally contains more emollients, often in the form of oils.

This is the reason many people with oily skin avoid moisturisers. It's commonly believed that oily skin already makes enough oil and doesn't need any more. Actually, using the right moisturiser may reduce the oiliness of your skin for two reasons:

  1. Moisturiser contains ingredients that dissolve and mix oil and water.
  2. Moisturiser can thin and balance the sebum produced by your skin.

If you have oily skin, your skin isn't necessarily well hydrated. Having an oily or combination skin type just means your skin has a very effective barrier against attackers such as germs and pollutants. This is why moisturiser is important for all complexions.

Let's take a look at the science of moisturisers. The following information will help you understand why using the right moisturiser can improve the appearance of oily skin.


Does Oily Skin Need Moisturiser?


Why Using Moisturiser on Oily Skin Is a Smart Move

Regardless of your skin type, the top layers of your complexion are oil-based. Human skin has evolved this way because an oil-based barrier helps to lock hydration in and defend against pathogens that need water to exist. The waterproof quality of your skin keeps you from turning mouldy!

A moisturiser is made up of three main types of ingredients:

  • Water-based ingredients
  • Oil-based ingredients
  • Ingredients that help water and oil to mix

The basic composition of a moisturiser and what makes it special is the combination of water and oil. These two ingredients usually separate, not mix. Moisturisers contain a special type of ingredient, called an 'emulsifier', which binds together the usually incompatible waters and oils.

This is why a moisturiser is excellent for the management of an oily skin type. Moisturising products actually help your natural sebum penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin. This not only reduces the appearance of oiliness, but it also helps to condition your skin effectively.

Of course, using the right moisturiser is very important. We recommend the following three products, which can all be found in our oily skincare shop:


Does Oily Skin Need Moisturiser?


Why Using a Moisturiser With the Right Oils Can Help Balance an Oily Skin Type

So now you see how a moisturiser helps your skin absorb its own oil. But moisturisers can also balance the amount of sebum produced by your skin.

In 1986, dermatologists studied the composition of sebum in people with oily and acne-prone skin. The findings showed that this type of sebum was usually high in oleic fatty acid and low in linoleates.

Similar findings came from a study in 1992, when the sebum of adults with oily and combination skin was compared with the sebum of pre-teens. This study concluded that higher concentrations of essential linoleates (a type of oil) might actually defend against the formation of an oily, acne-prone skin type.

This means that using a moisturiser or facial oil high in linoleates and low in oleic acid may actually help to rebalance your sebum composition and reduce skin oiliness. If you have an oily complexion that's also spot-prone, such a product should make a marked difference.

Oils high in linoleates and low in oleic acid include:

  • Rosehip oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Borage oil

When choosing a moisturiser suitable for oily skin, you should ensure it contains the highest amount of one of these oils.

You should also avoid moisturisers that contain a large dose of these oils high in lauric and oleic acid:

  • Coconut oil, which is often recommended for acne
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Camellia oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil

Lauric acid has antibacterial qualities but ironically is also known to block pores. You can go natural without harming your skin by choosing a facial oil from the first list.

If you thought you couldn't use a facial oil because of your oily skin, you now know you can. A well-chosen oil could even reduce the oiliness of your skin.

These are some of our favourite linoleate-high facial oils:

If you'd like any further help choosing the perfect skincare routine for your oily or combination complexion, contact our friendly advisory team. We're always available to help by email at or by telephone on 03 9486 7179.