Caring for oily skin naturally

Oily skin is determined by the overproduction of sebum. This means your skin produces more oil than necessary, resulting in a shiny face and being prone to acne breakouts. You can not change your skin type with cosmetic and topical products, but your skin type can change over time, during pregnancy and through other hormonal changes in the body.

Characteristics of oily dark skin

  • Oily and shiny on appearance.
  • Enlarged and visible pores.
  • Black and white heads that are red and painful to the touch.
  • Once ruptured the breakouts leave dark marks (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
  • Primary areas to have oily skin are the scalp, face (cheeks, forehead, jawline, and chin), chest and back (known as bacne)
  • Scientifically referred to as seborrhoea.

How to care for oily dark skin.

The fundamental care for oily skin is the same for all skin types, cleanse, tone, hydrate, treat, moisturise & protect. For oily skin, you need products that help break down and remove excess oil, clean the pores, remove dead skin, and even out your tone.

AM Routine for oily dark skin

1. Cleanse – Oil Cleansing for oily skin.

Oil cleansing is a fantastic way to break down and remove excess sebum without stripping or drying the skin. It is especially good for oily types as it breaks down and removes all the excess oil you produce without disrupting your skin’s barrier. (If you do not know how to oil cleanse, you can read our post on it right )

Seek products designed for oily and acne-prone types, as the wrong oils will exacerbate your breakouts and worsen your skin.

Best cleansing oils for oily skin.

  • Castor Oil – Cleansing, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, Astringent, humectant (One of the best oils for acne-prone skin).
  • Safflower Oil – Astringent (pore cleansing)
  • Jojoba Oil – moisturising & closest to natural sebum
  • Shea Oil – Anti-inflammatory & moisturising
  • Primrose Oil – Astringent
  • Liquid coconut oil – moisturising and antibacterial
  • Turmeric – brightening & antibacterial.
  1. Tone – Your oily and acne-prone skin needs hydration, especially after using soap on your face, toners are a wonderful way to rebalance and rehydrate the skin.

2. Tone – Best toners for acne-prone skin.

  • Witch hazel – removes excess oil and relieves inflammation, minimises the pores.
  • Lavender – antibacterial, anti-inflammatory
  • Rose – calming and soothing to the skin.
  • Rosemary -antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Tea-tree – anti-bacterial properties.

Pro Tip: Use your toner in between the application of each product, to help your products penetrate your skin more efficiently.

3. Treating oily skin.

Vitamin C is a great AM option for daytime treatment for oily skin as it is a potent antioxidant proven to brighten up your skin, even out your tone, and reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

4. Hydrate – Hydrating oily skin.

Oily skin often suffers from dehydrated, dry skin so special attention must be given to rehydrating your skin. Water, hyaluronic acid, glycerine, and other water-rich moisturisers and humectants are a wonderful way to add hydration to the skin. Using a toner in between each product application also adds hydration to the skin whilst helping your products penetrate and work more effectively.

5. Moisturising oily skin

a. Hydrating serum/gel

Oily skin often suffers from dehydrated, dry skin so special attention must be given to rehydrating your skin. Water, hyaluronic acid, glycerine, and other water-rich moisturisers and humectants are a wonderful way to add hydration to the skin. Using a toner in between each product application also adds hydration to the skin whilst helping your products penetrate and work more effectively.

b. Misturise with a light cream or lotion

Adding a light cream or lotion can boost the nutrients to your skin. Look for products with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties to boost your skin health and reduce the effects of your oily skin.

c. Seal with an oil.

Use an oil to seal in hydration and to help regulate your sebum production.

i. Oils to use on oily acne-prone skin:

      • Shea oil – restorative and soothing properties.
      • Olive squalane – Hydrating and moisturising.
      • Jojoba – Easily absorbed and is like our own natural sebum.
      • Castor Oil – Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
      • Safflower Oil – Cleansing properties, pore refining.
      • Sunflower Seed Oil – Economical, moisturising without clogging the pores.

ii. Oils to avoid if you have oily skin.

Any oil high in oleic acid is likely to clog your pores and cause further breakouts avoid these if you can and if not, use sparingly.

  • Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil (when applied directly to the skin)
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Red and refined palm oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Cocoa butter

7. Protect – SPF

Using SPF is essential to protecting your skin from sun damage and premature ageing as well as minimising the effects of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and dark marks. Protecting your skin from the sun prevents it from getting darker and worsening your hyperpigmentation. Use a broad-spectrum, waterproof SPF that is at least 30+ SPF in winter and 50+ in summer. Be liberal with your application, making sure to slather your face, neck, chest and ears.

PM Routine for Oily Dark Skin

The PM routine slightly differs from the AM because you will have been exposed to more dirt, grime, and environmental skin stressors, so a thorough cleanse is required to bring back balance to your skin.

  1. Double cleanse

    1. Oil Cleanse – Remove any excess oil and SPF with your oil cleanser on dry skin. Cleanse for at least 1 minute.
    2. Foaming cleanser – Because your skin is prone to bacterial buildup from the excess oil (sebum) you produce, you would benefit from using a water-based cleanser with antibacterial properties. Cleanse for 1 minute, making sure to cleanse the neck and chest.

Soap – Natural soap is a great way to thoroughly clean your skin without resorting to harsh chemicals or aggressive exfoliants. The right bar will leave your skin soft, clean, and clear. We have bars specifically designed for oily skin that you can shop here.

Pro tip: After washing your face with soap, use a toner to rebalance your skin pH and hydrate your skin.

African Black soap & shea butter: West Africans have been using African Black Soap (a potent natural cleanser made with cocoa pod ash, shea butter, honey and other local botanicals) to create a deep cleansing bar. After cleansing with the black soap, we usually follow with Shea butter, a rich emollient high in restorative Vitamin A & E to soften, restore and smooth the skin.

2. Tone – toning your oily skin in the PM

Your oily dark skin needs pH regulation, hydration, sebum balancing and brightening, and the right toner can help with all.

    1. Rose Toner – You can use a rose toner it has a calming and soothing effect on the skin.
    2. Witch Hazel – Removes excess oil, relieves inflammation, and minimises the appearance of pores.
    3. Enzyme Toner – An exfoliating toner with fruit enzymes gently removes dead dull skin and hardened sebum. It can also have brightening properties that alleviate dark marks and hyperpigmentation.

Pro Tip: Use your toner in between the application of each product, to help your products penetrate your skin more efficiently.

3. Treat – Night-time treatments for oily skin.

Acne skin sometimes needs a treatment to manage inflammation and irritation or to balance your hormones from within. Seek medical and dermatologic advice from people specialising in dark skin care before embarking on any treatments. If you have melanin-rich skin the wrong treatment will cause irreparable damage. Here are the top three over-the-counter and prescribed treatments commonly used to manage acne.

    1. Retinoids – They increase skin cell turnover by aggressive exfoliation and by reducing inflammation.
    2. Azelaic Acid – clears the pores of bacteria that may cause irritation, breakouts and inflammation. It gently encourages cell turnover to accelerate skin healing and minimise scarring.
    3. Benzoyl peroxide – works by lifting away dead skin cells, excess oil and bacteria trapped underneath the skin.

4. Exfoliating Oily Dark Skin

You need to exfoliate to remove hardened sebum and dead skin which cause breakouts. Most commercial cosmetic products fail to offer oily acne-prone skin any kind of gentility, containing a cocktail of harsh chemicals and aggressive physical exfoliants. You deserve better, so we created a selection of deep cleansing natural bars that are designed to gently exfoliate the skin. Shop Acne Bars

Best Exfoliants for Oily Skin:

Clay – This is an excellent (and my personal favourite) way to exfoliate my skin. It not only lifts off dead skin by gently scrubbing it off, but it also decongests the pores, soaking the excess sebum, and resulting in balanced, smooth, and unblemished skin.

  • Charcoal
  • Bentonite clay
  • Moroccan Red clay
  • Green Clay

BHA’s (Not natural) – Beta Hydroxide Acid exfoliants (BHA’s) are oil-dissolving acids that clean out the pores of excess oils and hardened sebum plus dry skin. BHA’s are also gentler than AHA’s which are more aggressive and may not be suitable for sensitive pigmented skin like yours.

Enzymes – Fruit enzymes are a great option as they break the bonds of dead skin and lift them off your fresh new skin underneath. They are pregnancy-safe and ideal for people with sensitive skin, like yours. Fruits like pineapple, pawpaw (papaya) & pumpkin and banana all contain exfoliating properties that gently remove dead skin increasing cell regeneration and renewal.

African Sapo – An exfoliating net is essential to maintaining clean, clear skin. Found across West Africa, it is used to gently clean and exfoliate the body (neck to feet) without causing damage to the skin’s barrier. An excellent physical exfoliant that can be used to access hard-to-reach areas like the groove in your back (great for bacne) and in between your toes. Perfect for daily use Shop African Sapo

5. Hydrating oily skin

Oily skin often has too much oil and not enough water, leaving it dehydrated and unhealthy-looking. Healthy skin needs a good balance of both water and oil and products with humects are a great addition to your routine. Hyaluronic acid, glycerine and lactic acid are among the best humectants available. Humectants draw water to the skin, keeping it hydrated, plump and hydrated. Look for serums with high concentrations of humectants to give your skin the right amount of water and you can also use hydrating toners for added hydration.

6. Moisturise – Moisturising with a water-based cream is another way to add actives and hydration to your skin. Use a cream that is light but full of hydrating properties to soothe and restore the skin.

7. Seal – You need to seal in the hydration you applied with a light and beneficial oil. Adding the right oil will slow down your oil production reducing your breakouts. Shop Beauty Oils

Tips for oily dark skin

  • Lifestyle is important, drink your water and mind your business, do things that reduce stress, eat clean and whole, get rest and sleep well. Stress increases inflammation which not only impacts your mind, but it also impacts your body, and it can increase breakouts. Chill.
  • Essential Oils – They have a place in your skincare routine as most contain excellent antibacterial, antimicrobial, brightening and soothing properties, however… NEVER APPLY NEAT ESSENTIAL OIL TO YOUR SKIN. It will burn, it will damage your skin’s barrier and you may scar. They are far too potent on their own to be used directly on the skin undiluted. Always dilute heavily, the minimum dilution should be 5:1 carrier oil to essential oil for non-professionals. You can use them in certified products but be mindful of irritation so always to a patch test.

Tea Tree essential oil alternatives for acne-prone skin

  • Rosemary – antibacterial and anti-inflammatory
  • Lavender – antibacterial
  • Cedarwood – Sebum balancing
  • Bergamot, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit (To be used at night to avoid photosensitivity) – Brightening.
  • Black pepper – Increases circulation.


  • Seek professional advice – Go for annual skin checks with a licensed, medical skin professional (dermatologist) with experience treating melanin-rich skin (this is key). They are trained to see your skin from a medical and not a cosmetic standpoint and they may not have some of the biases we deal with making them better equipped to identify potential skin health concerns.

That is all this week.

I know that that was a lot of information but take with it and build your own routine based on this. Not everything will work for you but try, test and perfect the routine until you have the skin of your dreams.

Leave a comment if you have any questions about anything.

be good to yourself.


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