Hyaluronic acid oily skin


The Top 26 Hyaluronic Acid Benefits – Check Out #17!

You’ve probably heard the term “hyaluronic acid” floating around skincare these days.

You might be thinking if it’s safe or not for your skin or if there are any hyaluronic acid side effects you should be aware of.

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Though the word “acid” may sound scary in reference to something you put on your face, don’t worry, it doesn’t burn.

Quite the opposite, in fact, hyaluronic acid for skin packs a ton of skin-boosting benefits, including mega moisture!

It’s become an increasingly popular ingredient in serums and moisturizers for its superpower hydrating and anti-aging abilities.

I’m proud of my Hyaluronic Moisture Boost Serum – I hand-selected the natural ingredients, like Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, and offered a high amount of hyaluronic acid (20%).

Here’s to check it out.

My other favorite products with hyaluronic acid are the Bioelements Absolute Moisture, Dermalogica UltraSmoothing Eye Serum, and the Dermaquest Perfecting Primer.

There’s even scientific research backing hyaluronic acid’s effectiveness.

Today, I’m delighted to bring you the top 26 things you need to know about hyaluronic acid so you can learn about what it is, what it does, and how it can help you!

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do?

1. Hyaluronic acid (HA), or hyaluronan, is a carbohydrate molecule that is naturally occurring in our bodies. That’s right, it’s already in your skin!

2. HA provides lubrication to the connective tissues of our joints and skin and is an important part of our skin’s overall health.

3. HA is present in many areas of your body including your eyes, internal fluids, and connective tissue, but much of it is in your skin, which accounts for 50% of your body’s total HA level.

4. Even though it occurs naturally in our bodies, HA is a super popular skincare ingredient. Don’t worry, the type that’s in skincare isn’t taken from people; it’s replicated in a lab.

What are the Hyaluronic Acid Benefits For Skin?

5. That study that I mentioned up top? It found some pretty amazing results. After observing women who used hyaluronic acid for just 8 weeks, researchers found dramatic improvements in the participants’ skin. Did you also know that hyaluronic acid benefits all skin types? Who knew?!

Now let’s find out some hyaluronic acid benefits for the face!

Provides Incredible Moisture

6. Hyaluronic acid’s main power move – and the reason it’s gained so much attention in skincare – is its amazing ability to deliver lasting moisture to the skin.

7. HA is a humectant, which means it grabs moisture and holds it so skin can absorb it.

8. The hyaluronic acid molecule can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

9. The HA molecule is too large to penetrate the top layer of skin. So, it sets up shop on your skin’s surface and gets to work grabbing and holding moisture so your skin can absorb it and stay healthy and hydrated.

Anti-Aging Benefits

10. As we age, our skin doesn’t maintain moisture as well as it used to. Babies are born with lots of hyaluronic acid in their skin, which is why it’s so soft!

When our skin loses its suppleness, it starts to sag and fine lines and wrinkles become more apparent (thanks, gravity!)

11. Diminishes Wrinkles – Applying hyaluronic acid on your face plumps up the skin to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. Picture the smoothness of a juicy grape compared to a raisin. (Not to say that your face looks like a raisin, of course!)

12. Firms and Tones – When your skin is supple and hydrated, it plumps up to appear firmer, less saggy, and more toned.

HA restores skin’s moisture to temporarily turn back the clock and give your skin some oomph and youthful rejuvenation!

Boosts Skin’s Health and Protection

13. Improves Protective Barrier – When your skin is dry, its surface is more vulnerable to damage and even infection getting through.

By providing your skin’s outer layers from the environment with rich moisture, HA actually strengthens your skin’s protective barrier to give you stronger, healthier skin. It’s like repairing your skin’s armor!

14. Supports Healing – Likewise, HA supports your skin’s healing and repairing ability by giving skin-soothing moisture and anti-inflammatory properties.

Jessica Weiser, a board-certified dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group, even recommends hyaluronic acid for people with dry or eczema-prone skin, or to help skin recover post-procedure (following a chemical peel, laser treatment, or resurfacing).

15. Antioxidant Defense – HA even gives your skin antioxidant defense to fight UV damage. This is important since free radicals can break down collagen and elastin to age our skin and make wrinkles and sagging more apparent.

With all this moisturizing, anti-aging and health-boosting power, HA is like the ultimate multitasker of skincare! Now let’s see how you can incorporate it into your routine.

What are the Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid Serum?

Hyaluronic acid serum is a main component of your face’s connective tissues, a polysaccharide molecule which encompasses calls in a gelatin type of surrounding. It binds moisture to the skin on your face, keeping your skin ultra moisturized all day long, which means you have less wrinkle over time.

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Serum Do?

Hyaluronic acid serum aka hyaluronan, is a carbohydrate molecule that is naturally occurring in our bodies amd it provides lubrication to the connective tissues of our joints and skin.

How Do I Use Hyaluronic Acid in My Skincare?

16. Hyaluronic acid is included as an ingredient in everything from makeup to serums to moisturizers. There are so many great ways to use it!

17. Pro tip: To get the most bang for your buck, look for a formula that contains at least 1% hyaluronic acid. If it only includes something like 0.5%, you may not get the best efficacy.

Read on to make sure you’re layering your skincare items correctly to get the best hydrating and anti-aging results!

Hyaluronic Acid Serum

18. If you want to get the most out of your HA usage, I would recommend a hyaluronic acid serum, especially if you have dry skin.

Serums typically have a thinner consistency and a more potent concentration of ingredients to deliver great results.

19. When using a serum, wait at least 15 minutes after applying for the serum to completely absorb into skin before moving to the next step in your routine.

Pro tip: Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid pair great together for an anti-aging routine. It boosts collagen production, diminishes dark spots, AND fights signs of aging!

Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer

20. Another great way to get the benefits of hyaluronic acid is to use a moisturizer that includes HA to pack a hydration punch.

You can even double up by using both a serum and lotion that feature HA!

Hyaluronic acid is super easy to add to your skincare routine! Check your products’ ingredient lists. You may be surprised to find you’re already using it somewhere in your skincare!

Are There Side Effects to Using Hyaluronic Acid on the Face? Is Hyaluronic Acid Safe?

21. Because HA is naturally occurring in our bodies, it poses a pretty low risk for allergic reaction or irritation.

22. Ironically, some users have reported that it dries out their skin, but this is rare. If you experience this, check to make sure you’re following the use instructions of your hyaluronic acid formula, or consult a dermatologist.

23. As with any new skincare product, I always recommend doing a patch test to see how your skin will react.

Apply a small amount of the product to the inside of your wrist or behind your ear. Wait 24-48 hours to make sure there’s no reaction before slathering that business over larger areas.

Is hyaluronic acid really worth using?

24. Heck yes! Because it offers such lightweight hydration, HA is gentle and great for all skin types, including those with oily or sensitive skin.

25. Plus, we’re all aging. Even if you’re not concerned about wrinkles (you lucky duck, you), you can still benefit from HA’s ability to hydrate and protect skin.

26. And, hyaluronic acid is wonderful for restoring skin’s hydration year-round. As we head into fall and winter months, cold, dry air, and heaters zap our skin’s moisture. In summer, heat and sun exposure totally dry us out.

Make sure you’re always replenishing skin’s hydration by using moisturizing skincare and drinking plenty of water!

Is hyaluronic acid good for acne?

I get this question a lot!

Those who struggle with breakouts know just how drying topical acne treatments can be.

While HA doesn’t directly clear acne, it’s used in blemish-fighting formulas to draw moisture to the skin and improve dryness.

As you might already know from reading my other posts, when our skin is dry, it actually produces more oil to compensate – which may create more acne.

So, yes, moisturizing is an important skincare step!

What is “sodium hyaluronate”?

Although the terms “sodium hyaluronate” and “hyaluronic acid” are used interchangeably in the beauty industry, they’re a bit different.

If you guessed this had something to do with salt, you’re right!

Sodium hyaluronate is the salt of hyaluronic acid.

Sodium hyaluronate is a smaller molecule than HA, so it is more easily absorbed and penetrates more deeply into the layers of the skin – but it does the same job.

One ingredient isn’t necessarily better than the other; think of them as sisters.

In fact, you can even find HA skincare products that contain both forms for maximum benefits.

What are some other uses for hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers are some of the most popular forms of injectables (it’s used in Juvederm and Restylane).

A dermal filler is injected into facial skin to fill in lines and wrinkles for a smooth complexion.

Many are temporary because they are eventually absorbed by the body, so they need to be redone after a certain amount of time.

The hyaluronic acid injectables can be derived from bacteria or rooster combs (avian) – talk about a fun fact of the day!

In some cases, it’s chemically modified to make it last longer in the body – results usually last from six months to a year.

Injectables made with HA plump up the skin, improve contours, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scarring.

And, most importantly, it’s safe!

Hyaluronic acid injections and are also used to treat knee pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA).

As I mentioned above, this is because HA is naturally found in the body and acts as a lubricant and a shock absorber for the joints.

The FDA has even approved hyaluronic acid to be injected during eye surgeries to help replace natural fluids.

Can hyaluronic acid be taken orally?

The answer is yes!

Hyaluronic acid supplements are available for osteoarthritis and joint pain.

They’re also said to protect against osteoarthritis.

The suggested oral dose of HA is 100–200 mg per day.

There are claims that HA can help prevent osteoporosis and manage chronic fatigue and pain when ingested.

Ask your doctor before incorporating hyaluronic acid supplements into your daily routine.

Which first, hyaluronic acid or retinol?

Hyaluronic Acid benefits have the ability to do wonders on the skin by themselves; however, they’re even more impactful when used in tandem with other notable skincare products. Two of the most famous to add into the mix are Vitamin C and Retinol.

Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C work together to create a beautiful complexion. The Vitamin C should be applied before Hyaluronic Acid, always. The reason is simple: the Vitamin C will brighten your skin and promote a clearer palette, prepping the skin for the HA to plump it up with hydration. You can even find Hyaluronic Acid with Vitamin C in some cases for a 2-in-1 job.

As for retinol, it also works extremely well with Hyaluronic Acid. Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is a known wrinkle fighter and collagen supporter. While it’s a staple in the skincare world, this beauty magnifier can sometimes cause the skin to dry out. How to fight that result? Use serums with Hyaluronic Acid or Hyaluronic Acid Lotion after applying your retinol product of choice. This will keep the skin’s surface hydrated and glowing.

How much hyaluronic acid is too much?

When it comes to Hyaluronic Acid there are many forms you can find it in; hyaluronic acid skincare, hyaluronic acid tablets, and hyaluronic acid injectables. While there’s no such thing as extremely negative hyaluronic acid supplement side effects, for this substance, it’s still important to know the use case of each.

When looking for hyaluronic acid for the face, make sure that you’re on the hunt for products with a combination of molecular weights. There are a range of weights available – small to large. The smaller weights will penetrate more deeply into the skin; whereas the larger weights will sit on top of it. In either case, the outcome will be a fuller complexion that’s far from lackluster.

Hyaluronic acid injectables are used primarily to treat osteoarthritis and are delivered via shots into the knee. However, there are also hyaluronic acid face injectables, a.k.a fillers, which can naturally plump up areas that have become dull due to aging. Since this is done by a medical professional, you never need to worry about how much is too much. Since they are trained to know what is best for you skin. You should however expect multiple injections if you’re having targeted treatment done on your face.

Hyaluronic Acid Supplements are taken by mouth. It’s recommended that this form, usually a tablet or pill, has no more than 240 mg daily serving. Oral hyaluronic acid side effects from taking more than the recommended intake are minimal with the worst effect being a headache.

All this is to say, pay attention to the hyaluronic acid formula and when in doubt, consult a health professional.

Hyaluronic acid to treat eczema?

Yes! One of the benefits of hyaluronic acid is that it can help to hydrate the skin in a non-irritating way. In this way, you’re able to promote moisture to ward off flaky itchiness with a simple daily hyaluronic acid serum.

For the best results, you should use the hyaluronic acid daily as part of your skincare routine. Also, feel free to experiment with different forms of hyaluronic acid; topical creams may provide a richness you enjoy or you may find a light-wright serum is better suited for treatment.

Can hyaluronic acid be used with niacinamide?

Hyaluronic Acid can be used with Niacinamide. Actually, the two work together like a power couple. Niacinamide is known to regulate oil production of the skin and improve texture.

The best way to use a serum with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide together is by applying the latter first followed by the serum. This will ensure that your hydration levels are up and no possible irritation from the niacinamide will occur.

Which hyaluronic acid is best for microneedling?

There are three main types of hyaluronic acid that you should be aware of: large molecular, medium molecular, and small molecular versions. The type to choose is based on how the hyaluronic acid affects skin in your individual routine.

So which do you use when it comes to post-microneedling? Since the process of microneedling can leave the skin’s barrier slightly irritated and prone to dryness, it’s suggested that you use a larger molecular form of hyaluronic acid.

This type will sit nicely on the surface of the skin replenishing hydration levels and furthering the reduction of wrinkles. We highly suggest making sure that the Hyaluronic Acid product you use has been certified pure — it will lead to the happiest outcomes for your skin!

You deserve to enjoy all the hydrating, skin-boosting benefits of hyaluronic acid. Here are some of the best hyaluronic acid products to add as the newest member of your skincare gang today!

My Other Favorite Picks for Hyaluronic Acid Formulas

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque

This refreshing masque gently exfoliates the skin by utilizing enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells and impurities. It contains antioxidant vitamin C to clarify and brighten your complexion while providing damage repair. Finally, hyaluronic acid helps provide skin with lasting moisture while vitamins infuse skin with nourishment. Your skin will feel fresh, vibrant, and amazingly soft!

ilike Organic Skin Care Organics Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Set

If you want some all-around hyaluronic goodness, this set has got you covered. It includes everything you need to infuse skin with lasting hydration and fill out those fine lines all in one handy kit! This set includes:

  • Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Gel Mask (1.7 oz) – Anti-aging hyaluronic acid mask and a unique a unique botanical blend to replenish the moisture barrier and create visibly younger-looking skin.
  • Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Serum (1.2 oz) – Anti-aging hyaluronic acid serum and a unique botanical blend to replenish the moisture barrier and create visibly younger-looking skin.
  • Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Moisturizer (1.7 oz) – Anti-aging and hydrating hyaluronic acid moisturizer and a unique botanical blend to replenish the moisture barrier and create visibly younger-looking skin.
  • Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Eye Cream (1 oz) – Anti-aging hyaluronic acid eye cream and a unique botanical blend to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and create a visibly younger-looking eye area.
What Does Hyaluronic Acid do?

Ever seen a really good Hyaluronic acid before and after? Its probably legit because of one of the main Benefits of hyaluronic Acid. It literally binds water to your skin, making it more hydrated and plumper! Hyaluronic acid serum benefits way outweigh the side effects (potential allergic reaction. To receive all the Hyaluronic acid skin benefits, without side effect, remember to do a test patch on the pit of your elbow for at least 24 hours before you apply to your face.

Top Hyaluronic Acid Benefits To Know

Hyaluronic Acid is a pretty well-established skincare product. By now, you’ve probably already heard of it and seen some of its lovely benefits for the skin’s complexion. You know the ones; a dewy glow, covetably smooth skin, perfect selfies with natural highlights…Hyaluronic Acid is a mainstay for these effects. But, do you know what it actually is or what the benefits are for your body that cause the outward glow? No? Let us enlighten you today.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic Acid, contrary to its name, isn’t like all other facial acids. It won’t peel layers of your skin or exfoliate you. It’s also bioavailable, which means you can find it in your own body, right now. Some key areas for its presence are; in the joints and in the skin.

Hyaluronic Acid is what is known as a humectant. A funky word, we know, but once you learn what that means, you’ll be saying it in an adored way forever.

What is A Humectant?

A humectant is a moisture-hungry substance. Basically, like you on any holiday at the dessert table. It eats up all the moisture in the air like it’s a treat, and retains it. In fact, it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight!

Where does your skin come into the equation? Well, it pulls said moisture from the dermis layer of your skin to your epidermis (more superficial). In doing this, it creates a more hydrated complexion that lets you have that coveted glow. Pretty neat, eh?

Benefit 1) It’s A Powerful Hydrator

All this brings us to the first benefit of Hyaluronic Acid (HA), which is its hydrating properties. Since it’s a humectant, and you now know what that does for you, let’s discuss how Hyaluronic Acid Serum benefits you.

It is applied topically to the skin, pre-moisturizer, and can help to absorb water from your immediate environment then bind it to your skin. The result is keeping your hydration levels up to stop it from drying out, even in colder temperatures.

It should be noted that you may come across something called Sodium Hyaluronate. This is a derivative of Hyaluronic Acid and while the terms are used interchangeably by some, just know they are different substances. Yes, they both help with skin hydration, but the classic to look for is just “Hyaluronic Acid”.

Benefit 2) A Strengthener of The Lipid Barrier

As we age, our epidermis, or outermost layer of skin, is susceptible to a lot. From the sun’s rays to air pollution, things can get grim in the long-term. Namely, these environmental irritants wear down the naturally present fatty acids, resulting in damage.

That’s where protecting the lipid barrier comes into play. Hyaluronic Acid, thanks to its ability to retain moisture, helps to keep the lipid barrier strong and intact. This, in turn, leads it to being more resilient to early aging.

Benefit 3) A Pigmentation Fader.

Next up on the list is Hyaluronic Acid’s ability to help regenerate healthier skin cells. While it can’t actually erase pigmentation completely, it can help to fade spots over time.

It is able to do this since it helps to keep the lipid barrier strong. This translates to less internal damage occurring, which gives new cells the space to grow healthily in a hydrated environment. .

Over time, as new cells cycle through and are pushed to the top layer of the skin, the old, pigmented skin cells will shed and be replaced. The result? Pigmentation fading.

To make sure you get the best results for this, be on the hunt for a Hyaluronic Acid serum that has added Vitamin C. This will add a skin brightening component to the mix!

Benefit 4) A Replenisher of Bioavailability

As noted above, the impact of environmental stressors on the skin will lead to a loss of hyaluronic acid that’s naturally present in the skin. One of the biggest destructors of HA in the skin are UVB rays from the sun.

To help combat this from happening, the use of a topical or injectable Hyaluronic Acid is beneficial. It restores the levels of of fatty acids in the skin, allowing your face to retain more moisture than it could on its own. The result is more plump, hydrated, and firm skin.

This is one way it helps to combat dullness, enhances suppleness, and wards off wrinkles.

Now that you have all the top benefits of hyaluronic acid, you’re ready to roll into the world of wrinkle-fighting, and glow-instilling goodness. Can’t hardly wait? Let us know what you plan to tackle with the use of a Hyaluronic Acid serum!

Final Thoughts

You’re now well-versed in how to use hyaluronic acid!

It’s a popular skincare ingredient for good reasons.

Whether you’re looking for ultra-hydration, diminishing those pesky fine lines, or boosting your skin’s health, HA has got your back.

But, even if you choose not to add it to your routine, make sure you’re always practicing the skincare that is best for your unique skin!

Are you a hyaluronic acid convert? What has been your experience using HA in your skincare? We want to hear all about it in the comments section!

Last updated by Alana Mitchell at December 12, 2019.

That said, Solaraze is a prescription topical medication used to treat actinic keratoses (scaly patches of skin that can be a precursor to skin cancer) containing 3% diclofenac in a 2.5% hyaluronic acid gel. Research shows that this particular formula is particularly effective without serious side effects. Other research is ongoing to determine whether HA can be used to effectively deliver other topical drugs.

Here’s the best way to use hyaluronic acid in your skin-care routine.

Hyaluronic acid is best used for hydration, so it’s not surprising that it’s already a common ingredient in moisturizers. But it can also be found in facial serums and sprays to add even more hydration in between layers of skin-care products or during the day for a refreshing treat. Note that, in skin-care products, you might also see it listed as sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt form) or potassium hyaluronate (the potassium salt form).

Dr. Newsom recommends checking out the SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, $178, which does have some research backing its famed hydrating powers. She’s also a fan of the cult favorite Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream (specifically the formula for extra-dry skin), $16.

To get even more hydration benefits from hyaluronic acid products, Dr. Hu recommends using them shortly after washing your face or showering, when your face still has a bit of moisture on it. That way you can “trap and retain more of that moisture in your skin,” she explains. However, she adds, any effects you see from using topical hyaluronic acid will be temporary and may even wear off by the end of the day. So if you like the way it makes you look, be prepared to use it every day.

Hyaluronic acid products are great for pretty much every skin type, Dr. Newsom says, but can be beneficial particularly for those with combination skin who are looking for a highly moisturizing product that isn’t too thick or occlusive.

One of the biggest perks of hyaluronic acid is that it’s something that’s already found in your own body, so the chances of feeling irritation from using it are pretty low—even if you have sensitive skin. Of course, it’s always possible to be allergic to or irritated by the other ingredients in any product, but know that hyaluronic acid itself is unlikely to cause a problem. (There are rare instances of allergies, though!)

Not all topical hyaluronic acids are the same: Hyaluronic acid can have a high, medium, or low molecular weight, and research suggests that they do slightly different things. While low- and medium-molecular-weight HAs do the classic hyaluronic acid job of attracting and binding water, higher molecular weight HA tends to have a more occlusive effect, sealing in that hydration. But, in high enough concentrations, some researchers have found that lower-molecular-weight HA can extract water from the surrounding skin, possibly causing irritation or dryness (basically, the exact opposite of what you’re using hyaluronic acid for).

In practice, though, Dr. Newsom says that molecular weight isn’t really something to spend your time worrying about. And if your hyaluronic acid product is causing irritation, it’s far more likely to be due to another ingredient in the product.

Either way, you have a ton of options when it comes to products containing HA. So if you find one that doesn’t work for you, you’ll have plenty of others to choose from. But if you find that you’re consistently getting irritation from your products, it’s worth talking to a board-certified dermatologist to find out what’s causing those issues—and the best way to avoid them in the future.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


  • 9 Hyaluronic Acid Products Dermatologists Always Recommend for Hydrated Skin
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Hyaluronic Acid for Skin Care 101: Benefits, Results and Potential Side Effects

Search for skincare advice and you’ll quickly stumble onto hyaluronic acid, a naturally-occurring substance that’s used by your body for everything from wound and skin healing to inflammation. It’s abundant in your body as it repairs inflamed tissue and regrows skin. An average 154-pound person has around 15 grams of hyaluronic acid in them at any one time for healthy skin growth and development. It’s one of the most important components of healthy skin, and hyaluronic acid for skin care is a hot topic right now.

Over the last decade, hyaluronic acid has made its way from cosmetic clinics into the world of mainstream skincare, becoming one of the most popular ingredients in everything from facial creams and masks, to serums and even hyaluronic acid moisturizer.

As strange as it might seem to apply an acid to your face, there’s some scientific evidence that hyaluronic acid for skin care is legit. Most of this evidence is for hyaluronic acid as an injectable filler. There’s also some evidence that topical hyaluronic acid has benefits for your skin.

Unfortunately, like many other popular skincare ingredients, separating the reality of hyaluronic acid from the hype can be tough. Many skincare brands make misleading claims about how and why hyaluronic acid works, as well as the type of results you can expect from it.

As a consumer, knowing what’s legitimate and what isn’t can help you get the best results from hyaluronic acid, all while avoiding costly but ineffective treatments.

Below, we’ve covered everything you need to know about using hyaluronic acid for skin care; everything from the benefits and results you should expect, to side effects, dubious marketing claims and more.

Technically speaking, hyaluronic acid is an anionic, non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan. Woof, that’s a mouthful. In simpler terms, hyaluronic acid is a substance your body uses to keep your skin and connective tissue lubricated, strong and healthy.

Hyaluronic acid is naturally present inside your body, typically in quantities of approximately 10 to 20 grams, about half of which is stored inside your skin.

You can think of hyaluronic acid as an essential tool for your skin. Biologically, hyaluronic acid plays a major role in helping your skin retain moisture, making it essential for keeping your skin moisturized, strong and capable of shielding your body’s organs from the outside world. This is why many people opt for a hyaluronic acid moisturizer.

From a skincare perspective, hyaluronic acid plays several important role. By keeping your skin hydrated, it contributes to a smooth, firm and plump look. Skin that’s dehydrated and lacking in hyaluronic acid can often look washed out and less elastic.

Cosmetically, hyaluronic acid is used in two different ways. It’s an extremely popular and highly effective dermal filler, making it a mainstay of modern anti-aging treatment. But it’s also widely used as an ingredient in topical skincare products such as creams, masks and serums.

Before we answer this question, it’s important to separate injectable hyaluronic acid (something that’s only available from a cosmetic surgeon) from topical hyaluronic acid (something you can buy at your local pharmacy or department store).

It’s also important to separate artificial hyaluronic acid (the type you’ll find in dermal fillers and topical creams) from the natural hyaluronic acid that’s produced and used by your body.

Natural hyaluronic acid is always present within your body. Within your skin, it binds to water, helping your skin to stay moist, elastic and healthy. It also plays a major role in the health of your joints, stomach and eyes.

There’s also some scientific proof that your body’s natural hyaluronic acid helps to keep your bones strong and healthy. Studies show that hyaluronic acid could potentially play a key role in helping the body produce new bone tissue.

Around half of your body’s hyaluronic acid is found in the skin. Over time, factors such as sun exposure and normal aging can reduce the amount of hyaluronic acid found within your skin, often by a significant amount.

In short, the natural hyaluronic acid produced by your body plays an important role in a wide range of different processes, from maintaining your skin to keeping your entire body working efficiently.

Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers

Used as an injectable filler, hyaluronic acid plays a major role in reducing the visibility of facial wrinkles. It’s available under a variety of brand names, from Restylane to Juvederm, Captique and Hylaform.

Countless studies have confirmed that hyaluronic acid fillers work very well for slowing down and covering up the signs of aging, mostly by helping to make folds and wrinkles in facial skin less visible.

Like most dermal fillers, the results from hyaluronic acid aren’t permanent. On average, you’ll need to repeat the treatment every three to nine months for continual results, as the injected filler gradually breaks down once in your body.

As you’d expect, injectable hyaluronic acid isn’t something you can purchase over the counter from your local pharmacy. It’s an elective, often costly cosmetic treatment you’ll need to speak to your doctor about.

Beyond its cosmetic benefits, injectable hyaluronic acid is also used in eye surgery (typically as part of cataract surgery) and as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

Topical Hyaluronic Acid Products

Used topically, hyaluronic acid’s effects on the skin are quite different. Thanks to its powerful water-binding potential, topical use of hyaluronic acid can help to make your facial skin more hydrated and elastic.

In a 2011 study, researchers found that use of a 0.1% hyaluronic acid topical cream produced significant improvements in skin hydration and elasticity in 30- to 60-year-old women.

Other studies of topical hyaluronic acid show similar results. In a 2014 study, a group of women with an average age of 45.2 experienced a significant improvement in skin hydration and wrinkle depth reduction after using topical nano-hyaluronic acid for eight weeks.

The topical nano-hyaluronic acid cream also improved skin firmness and elasticity by as much as 55% over the course of the study.

Interestingly, there’s even some evidence that hyaluronic acid works as an anti-aging treatment when taken orally. In a 2017 study, researchers found that oral hyaluronic acid works to inhibit skin wrinkles, with users showing a reduction in wrinkle volume ratio after eight weeks.

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Not Do?

Over the last decade, hyaluronic acid has grown from a powerful and effective substance used in cosmetic treatments to the latest, greatest ingredient in skincare.

Like many other ingredients that go from somewhat popular to essential, some marketing claims about hyaluronic acid aren’t completely accurate. Others are downright misleading, or disproven by real scientific evidence.

Because of this, it’s important to cover what hyaluronic acid doesn’t do in addition to its potential benefits for your skin. Based on current scientific data, it’s safe to say that hyaluronic acid does not:

  • Treat acne. Because of its popularity and reputation as a miracle skincare ingredient, hyaluronic acid is often used in acne creams. However, there’s no scientific evidence showing that hyaluronic acid plays any role in treating or preventing acne.
    While adding hyaluronic acid to an acne treatment cream might have some benefits for your skin’s hydration and overall health, there’s no proof that it will make the cream any more effective at treating acne.
  • Heal scars. Used as a dermal filler, hyaluronic acid can be a powerful tool for filling in acne scars and restoring your skin. However, there’s no proven scientific evidence that topical hyaluronic acid works effectively on its own as a scar treatment.
    With this said, there is some scientific evidence to show that topical hyaluronic acid can be used alongside cosmetic treatments such as laser skin rejuvenation to reduce the visibility of acne scars.
  • Protect you from the sun. As you’d expect, skincare companies touting the use of hyaluronic acid for skin care have rushed to add it to their sunscreens. While topical hyaluronic acid can help your skin to stay moisturized, there’s no scientific proof that it offers any sun protection benefits.
  • Provide filler-like results. The hyaluronic acid molecule is too large to penetrate into the epidermis, meaning topical hyaluronic acid is only really effective on the surface of the skin.
    This doesn’t mean that topical hyaluronic acid isn’t effective. Based on studies, it is, but that you shouldn’t expect filler-like results if you opt for a topical form of hyaluronic acid.
  • Prevent aging. Regular use of hyaluronic acid creams is linked to an improvement in wrinkles. However, hyaluronic acid doesn’t prevent aging; like other skincare products, it’s more effective at reducing the signs of aging than preventing them entirely.

In general, while hyaluronic acid works, it’s far from a miracle treatment. Using hyaluronic acid creams and other topical products is scientifically linked to better skin, but there’s no guarantee that it will solve all of your skincare issues as some products claim.

Hyaluronic Acid Side Effects

Overall, hyaluronic acid is extremely safe to use. However, like with most skincare substances, hyaluronic acid side effects exist, and you should know them.

Used as an oral supplement, hyaluronic acid has a good safety record. Studies show that long term use is safe, with none of the participants in a one-year study reporting any negative side effects from their hyaluronic acid supplementation.

Used as a topical skincare ingredient, hyaluronic acid also has a good record. The only widely reported hyaluronic acid side effects experienced from its use in generic skincare products is dryness, which is often just a result of other ingredients used in over-the-counter skincare creams.

Used as a dermal filler, hyaluronic acid has a slightly longer list of potential side effects. After getting injections, some people notice pain, bruising, itching and swelling. It’s also possible to experience a rash on and around the injection site.

Like with other dermal fillers, it’s also possible for hyaluronic acid to give the skin an uneven, bumpy appearance.

These side effects are common for all dermal fillers and aren’t unique to products containing hyaluronic acid. Since hyaluronic acid is a substance your body produces naturally, it’s very uncommon to experience any common allergic reaction symptoms.

Is Hyaluronic Acid Worth Using?

There’s no question that hyaluronic acid is one of the latest skincare ingredient trends. It’s a popular ingredient in almost everything, from anti-aging creams, masks and serums to acne prevention washes, sunscreen and more.

Like with other scientifically-proven skincare ingredients, hyaluronic acid is worth using when it’s used right. If your goal is to reduce the visibility of facial wrinkles and moisturize your skin, using a skincare cream that contains hyaluronic acid can be a great idea.

Likewise, if you have specific lines or wrinkles that you’d like to make less obvious, hyaluronic acid-based fillers can also be a good option.

However, if your goal is to prevent acne, even out patches of skin hyperpigmentation or solve other skincare problems, there are more effective options out there. Our guide to using tretinoin for anti-aging treatment is probably a good place to start. While hyaluronic acid works well as an anti-aging treatment, it isn’t designed to solve every skincare problem.

Oil’s Well That Ends Well: The Best Ways to Treat Oily Skin

May 3, 2017 • Look Good / Skincare

While there may not be an easy cure for preventing your skin from producing too much oil, there are ways to control this skin condition. Read on to learn what options we suggest for managing your oily skin.

Adjust Your Skincare Routine

Oily skin usually requires its own range of products, so switch to a skincare regimen specifically suited for oily skin types. We recommend the following skincare routine:

Use Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer Twice Everyday

Look for cleansers that contain sulfur, salicylic acid or tea tree oil – all of which dissolve excess sebum. Glycolic acid is also a good active ingredient, as it improves the skin’s overall tone and texture. After cleansing, use a mild, alcohol-free toner to remove impurities that your cleanser may have missed. Finish your routine by applying a light, oil-free moisturizer.

Use an Astringent Every Other Day

If your skin is excessively oily, you can use an astringent to tighten pores and further remove oil, but because astringents contain high levels of alcohol, many find them over-drying and harsh – these should, at most, be used every other day, and never use them after you’ve exfoliated your face.

Exfoliate Once a Week

Exfoliating is good for preventing pores from clogging – something that happens often with oily skin types. Many people choose to use an oil-free scrub designed for oily skin types, but be gentle when applying it to the face so as not to irritate the skin.

Apply a Facial Mask Once a Week

A deep-cleansing facial mask containing clay can soak up excess oil, reducing shine for several days. Look for masks that also contain ingredients like honey or shea butter that soothe the skin and prevent it from drying out. However, these masks may still over dry your face, so consider applying them only to the oiliest areas.

Controlling Shine Throughout the Day

When applying makeup in the morning, first use a mattifying or oil-control primer or base. This will absorb oil throughout the day, keeping skin looking fresh and shine-free. You can also powder your T-zone to soak up additional sebum on your face’s oiliest areas: the forehead and nose.

If your face often starts looking greasy later on in the day, then oil-control paper is your friend. These are great for a quick fix to blot away shine. These papers also tend not to dry out the skin and can be used over makeup. A dusting of a translucent powder can be applied two or three times during the day after blotting the face to cover up extra shine.

Consult a Professional

When nothing else seems to work, consider seeing a dermatologist. Many of the same medications for stopping acne are similarly recommended for treating oily skin. Doctors can also prescribe topical creams with tretinoin, adapalene or tazarotene, which can alter the way pores secrete sebum, thereby reducing oiliness. These products can be irritating, so it’s best to use them on the oiliest areas of your face as you need to.

Other, more dramatic treatment options include pulsed light and heat energy therapies and diode laser therapy, which target and may destroy sebaceous glands. These possibilities, however, can be very expensive, and the long-term benefits and risks are still unknown – consult an experienced dermatologist to see if this is the right choice for you.

Now’s the Time to Act

Left untreated, oily skin can lead to acne flare ups and a buildup of dead skin cells, leading to sallow-looking skin and enlarged pores – that’s why it’s imperative to find a way to treat the oily skin you have right away. So take action now to get that shine-free, fresh complexion you’ve always wanted.

Disclaimer: The information on this website and any related links are for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a professional healthcare provider.

Tags: advice / oily skin / skincare

  1. Martin says:

    Hey, Thank you for sharing this guide about oily skin. I am currently facing oily scalp problems. But the tips and remedies that you mentioned it are quite helpful to me. Thanks for sharing keep updating.

  2. Ashleigh says:

    im am currently 15 and suffering from extremely oily skin, iv tried everything and nothing seems to work. so thanks for these great tip they have hugely inproved my skin.

    • FOREO says:

      Hello, Ashleigh! We are happy you liked our tips and found them useful :). Stay tuned for more interesting articles to come!

  3. mehdi says:

    Helpful articles on the care of your oily skin. It was great.

  4. Muslim☺ says:

    Hy! Thanks for the guide . I ‘m really going to try this all.

  5. sneha says:

    My skin is oily and i don’t know how to care my skin but your blog is so much helpful to me.

  6. samantha says:

    hie I have a really oily skin I am going try these methods hopefully they will work on me

  7. for oily skin is quite challenging. Typical face creams are usually not intended for people with oily skin. Rather, toners or face serums are the right products that can moisturize an oily

  8. Nonkosi says:

    Hi I will definately try these tips. I have a very oily irritating skin.

  9. Anne says:

    I have an oily skin, its really irritating. Have tried almost everything and nothing seems to work out. Please help

  10. Neora skincare tips says:

    I wish I had found this blog post earlier! It would have saved me a lot of time and trouble. Great information. Thank you.

  11. ahamaed says:

    I am very happay

You know how they say you can’t have too much of a good thing? Tell that to someone with oily skin and see if they agree. We need oil to keep our skin soft and to maintain the barrier that keeps moisture in and environmental irritants out. But too much oil feels greasy, looks shiny, and leads to acne breakouts.

Suffice it to say, the instinct to try to scrub away all the excess oil messing with your complexion is strong. But here’s the problem: Aggressively getting rid of the natural sebum, or oil, in your skin can actually cause even more oil to be produced. Tragic, we know. We spoke to several dermatologists, who showed us a bunch of ways that fighting oily skin can just make the situation worse. Here are nine habits making your oily skin even oilier—and expert ways to stop the vicious (or should we say viscous?) cycle.

1. You wash more than twice a day.

When your forehead is gleaming like a spotlight, it’s no surprise that you’re tempted to wash it, and then wash it again, until all of the oil is gone. “Overwashing your skin may feel like a short-term solution for removing the oil slick from your face, but in reality it is providing feedback to your skin that the oil is being stripped,” Melanie D. Palm, M.D., San Diego–based dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and founding director of Art of Skin MD, tells SELF. “In response, your skin thinks that this oil needs to be replaced, which results in over production of oil and irritation from overabundant cleanser use.”

Her advice is to stick to twice-a-day cleansing—once in the morning to create a fresh palette for sunscreen and makeup, and once at night to rid the skin of makeup and environmental pollutants from the day.

2. You skip moisturizer.

If your skin is oily, you may think that means it doesn’t need to be moisturized—but think again. Skipping moisturizer could actually make your skin more oily than it was to begin with. “Believe it or not, a moisturizer will add moisture to the skin, minimizing the skin’s perception that it is too dry,” explains Stanley Kovak, M.D., cosmetic physician at Kovak Cosmetic Center. “Adding moisture to the skin actually helps reduce the oiliness because it helps slow down sebum production.”

3. You’re using pore-clogging products.

If you are already over-producing oil, Dr. Palm says to stay away from any products that could obstruct the oil gland, hair follicle, or pores. They’ll increase the likelihood of breakouts. While sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out which products break you out and which ones don’t, but the best place to start is with ones that are labeled as non-comedogenic, which means they won’t plug up your pores, trapping oil underneath.

4. You’re scrubbing too hard.

When you can’t seem to get rid of your skin’s shine, you might be tempted to reach for a product that promises to scrub it away. However, dermatologists warn that scrubbing the skin actually causes the skin to produce more oil in response (obviously this is a theme). Instead of an aggressive exfoliation, Jerome Garden, M.D., the director of the Physicians Laser and Dermatology Institute in Chicago, recommends using a salicylic acid treatment. “Salicylic acid is lipophilic, which means it is able to dissolve oils,” he explains. “This allows it to penetrate into the pores and dry out your oily skin.”

5. You overdo it on the salicylic acid.

Indeed, salicylic acid can be a wonder ingredient for those with oily skin, but you have to be careful not to go overboard with it. “Salicylic acid does help exfoliate the skin and remove the dead layer of skin that can clog up pores,” says Dr.Kovak. “However, if you are using salicylic acid too frequently, you can actually cause too much dryness of the skin. In response, the body actually produces more oil, making your skin more oily and more acne prone.” So instead of using salicylic face wash, peel pads, and spot treatment, choose just one way to incorporate this exfoliating ingredient into your routine.

6. You need to tone down your toner.

For most people with oily skin, toners are like the superhero of skin-care products. They’re aces at pulling excess oil, dirt, and grease from the skin, leaving it feeling squeaky clean. But that feeling might actually be a sign that the product is doing its job too well. “Patients with oily skin think a harsh, alcohol-based toner or astringent is the answer to their oil-banishing wishes. However, a harsh astringent merely strips the skin making it feel taut and itchy, even pink,” says Dr. Palm. “The skin tries to compensate—if oil is stripped away then oil will be produced from the oil glands to replace it.” Most derms say toner is not a necessary step, but if you love it, try to find something sans alcohol.

7. You’re overusing your cleansing brush.

When your skin is over-producing oil, clogged pores are inevitable. While electric cleansing brushes, like Clarisonic’s Mia 2 Facial Cleansing Brush ($169), can be helpful, keep use to once a day. “Overuse sometimes has a paradoxical effect,” explains Dr. Palm. “Instead of cleansing skin and removing oil, overuse may stimulate more oil production.”

8. Your makeup is oily.

If you have oily skin, you are already over-producing some of the natural moisturizing factors that keep the skin barrier intact, so you don’t want to add another layer of oiliness on top. Dr. Garden recommends looking for oil-free foundations, concealers, and primers. Some great choices for people with oily skin are Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation ($34), Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15 ($46), and Dior Diorskin Forever Undercover Foundation ($52).

9. You’re letting stress build up.

In this hectic age, it’s no surprise you feel stressed out to the max. You’re probably well aware of the havoc stress can reap on your physical and mental health, but might not realize it has its effect on your skin, too. “When we’re stressed our body produces an excess amount of cortisol, which causes a hormonal reaction that can lead to breakouts,” explains Dr. Kovak. “We then try to cover up these breakouts with more makeup and product that leads to more breakouts. Before we know it, we’re too stressed to know where to begin fixing the problem.” While it might not seem like a normal part of a skin-care routine, taking some time to breathe now and then can help stop the stress-breakout cycle.


This velvety-textured hyaluronic acid serum’s plumping properties are something to be reckoned with. It also contains copper to heal cells damaged by things like UV and pollution and to provide an extra surge of hydration, making any other skincare an option, not a necessity. Believe the hype.

7. Cut Down On Added Sugar

We’re all aware of what consuming too much added sugar can do to our teeth and waistlines, but there’s another reason to cut down: a greasy T-zone.

‘Added sugars like honey, cane sugar, maltose and corn syrup may trigger hormone and blood sugar levels,’ says Will Hawkins, nutritionist at Push Doctor, ‘and this can lead to excess oil production which explains that overly greasy look.’

And while you’d be forgiven for making a beeline for the treats table come 4pm, there are other ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your glow.

‘Satisfy your sugar cravings with a cold pressed juice,’ suggests nutritionist and PT Tom Oliver.

‘Mello’s Raw Fresh Watermelon Juice is great to sip when you’re on the go and plant-based waters are also a good option as they are super-hydrating; maintaining hydration really helps support regular cell processes and skin firmness. Try the True Nopal Cactus Water – it has a slightly sweet berry flavour but doesn’t contain any added sugars.’

Stephen Lovekin/WWD/REX/

8. Limit The Amount Of Saturated Fat In Your Diet

There’s a long list of reasons why we should be limiting the amount of saturated fat in our diets, but according to Will, achieving a flawless and perfectly matte complexion is also one of them.

‘Meat that is high in saturated fat will increase your cholesterol,’ he explains, ‘and increased cholesterol is associated with excessively oily and spotty skin.’

They aren’t all bad, though.

Fatty acids like Omega 3 acts like a natural moisturiser and has the ability to revitalise skin from the inside out. Salmon, tuna, flax-seeds, pumpkin seeds are rich in them, too, but taking a daily supplement is also a great way to feed your skin.


– Tom Oliver Omega 3 Herring Caviar – £22.99 BUY


9. Get Enough Sleep And Manage Your Stress Levels

Those late nights, packed tube journeys and seriously stressful work presentations? They could be making your skin much oilier.

Yep, really.

‘Sleep deprivation and excessive stress can cause a spike in androgen production,’ explains Dr. Anjali, ‘and this is a hormone directly responsible for stimulating oil production.

‘Try to get a proper amount of sleep every night and find time during the day to de-stress, whether it be through physical exercise, yoga or meditation.’

And if you’re a beauty junkie, there are a whole army of essential oils, salts, balms and sprays which promise to kick stress, low moods, anxiety and even insomnia to the kerb.

15 Of The Best Calming Beauty Products To Help Banish Stress And Anxiety

This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray – £18


If waking up in the middle of the night is constantly killing your snoozy vibe, grab a bottle of this stuff. Thanks to the deep-sleep inducing blend of chamomile, lavender and vetiver, a quick spritz over your pillow before bed will see you straight through to the morning.

Neal’s Yard Calming Temple Salve – £6.50


The only way to describe this is like an Indian head massage in a tin. When dotted on to the temples, cooling eucalyptus works wonders to dissipate tension while rosemary gives an olfactory lift. Put the paracetamol down.

Uma Pure Calm Wellness Oil – £60


Noisy housemates ruining your zen? A drop or two of UMA’s Wellness Oil provides you with a few moments of me-time, whether you pop a little into your bath or massage into your skin. Jasmine essential oil soothes the senses, clary sage promotes peacefulness and chamomile delivers a wave of calm.

Aveda Chakra-1 Balancing Body Mist – £30


For times when you feel a bit all over the place, pick up Aveda’s Chakra-1. Taking inspo from the ancient healing art of India, a single spritz of this vetiver and patchouli-packed body mist has the clever ability to cut through nervous tension and stuffy office air, bringing you right back down to earth. Spray a cloud above your head and let it work its magic.

Cowshed Sleepy Cow Calming Body Butter – £18


If lavender isn’t your bag, try this melissa and lemon myrtle-infused body butter instead. Citrusy but incredibly soothing, slather it all over and pay special attention to your pulse points, including wrists and neck, so that the comforting scent works twice as hard to send you off to sleep.

Roques O’Neil Therapie Calm Balm – £38


Perfect for lifting spirits on-the-go, simply dab this incredible smelling balm on to your pulse points and breathe in. Neroli, fragonia and ultra-calming bay push any anxious, uneasy feelings aside.

Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Roller-Ball Oil – £18


Like mind trickery in a bottle, uplifting clary sage, intense frankincense and stimulating cardamom work to deliver a surge of positive energy – amazing if you’re feeling depleted at work. It’s a desk-drawer essential for sure.

Byredo Parfums Cotton Poplin Scented Candle – £54


This Cotton scented candle is like diving headfirst into a pile of clean laundry. A subtle and sophisticated duo of linen and chamomile work to dispel that fog of stress that hangs over you after a difficult day in the office – and it has an impressive 60 hours of burn time.

Tata Harper Aromatic Stress Treatment – £70


The bottle may look tiny and unassuming, but the product inside is mighty; a dreamy duo of rose and neroli slices through tension in about 0.2 seconds and places you somewhere on the sunny Amalfi Coast – which is exactly why it’s currently our handbag essential. Dot a little on to your wrists, neck and the back of your knees so the comforting fragrance follows you around all day.

Votary Aromatherapy Pillow Spray Lavender And Chamomile – £30


Another pillow spray? Well yep, because this is as luxe as they get. One spritz of the lavender, rose and chamomile-infused mist promises (and delivers) hours of uninterrupted sleep so you won’t have to hit snooze on loop come morning. And let’s be honest, you can never have enough pillow spray.

Neom Organics Tranquillity Intensive Skin Treatment Candle – £36


Neom’s genius skincare candle smells amazing and provides you with an indulgent body treatment. Simply burn the candle (jasmine, sweet basil and lavender scented FYI) for 30 minutes until a pool forms, blow the candle out, then drizzle the cocoa butter and almond-oil enriched treatment wherever you need a little hydration.

Isla Apothecary Relax + Recover Bath Salts – £20


Instead of claiming to ‘detox’, these divine-smelling bath salts take you to a level of relaxation as tranquil and peaceful as a deep sleep. The dried lavender buds are a charming, rustic touch and the granules are teeny tiny, so your soak won’t be ruined by any annoying grittiness.

Mauli Sacred Union Scent Dry Oil – £69


Forget what you know about dry oils because this one changes the game. Thirteen healing essences, including rose otto and vanilla, embed themselves into hair and skin to calm the senses instantly, while a blend of 4 oils nourish and condition like no other. Ditch the body lotion, people.

Moon Juice Spirit Dust – £39


When you’re in need of an energy boost, swirl a heap of Spirit Dust into your morning mocha. After five days, we felt positive and balanced – and if it’s good enough for the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Miranda Kerr…

Mio Liquid Yoga Restorative Bath Soak – £26


Been on your feet all day? Treat your bathwater to a generous dash of this. Mineral salts, herbs and arnica unravel tight, knotted muscles in a matter of moments while spearmint slays stress and helps you breathe easy – no yoga mat or downward dog pose required.

10. Good Make-Up Prep Is Key

For a complexion that is shine free for longer, it’s best to start on freshly cleansed skin and according to make-up artist Gabriella Floyd, it’s important to prep with products that are completely oil-free as not to exacerbate the situation.

‘I’d recommend Dermalogica’s Medibac Clearing Mattifyer, £63 in areas of oiliness such as the T-zone and around the nose, then treat other, slightly dryer areas of your skin to the Dermalogica Medibac Oil Control Lotion, £42 before make-up,’ she says.

‘If you like to use a primer before foundation, snap up the Laura Mercier Primer Oil Free, £30. I can guarantee that it’ll keep your make-up on all day!’

ELLE Edit: The Best Make-Up Primers Tested

REN Perfect Canvas Clean Primer – £45


A primer in a pipette? Yup, it’s totally a thing. REN’s lightweight formula has a matte finish so your make-up won’t slip and slide all over the place, plus it’s silicone free.

Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Radiance SPF35 – £24


Combine your daily SPF with a radiance-giving primer with Bobbi Brown’s oil-free primer. Formulated with ultra-fine pearl pigments, it’ll smooth over pores and wrinkles whilst giving your complexion a serious glow hit.

Marc Jacobs Under(Cover) Blurring Coconut Face Primer – Blur-fection – £17


This miniature size primer is ideal for carrying in your hand luggage for that last minute make-up application just before your flight lands. Formulated with five forms of coconut (oil, juice and water to name just three) for extra hydration, this is a gift for parched post-aeroplane skin.

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Primer – £52


If anyone knows how to make a face of make-up last all day, it’s the Mother of make-up Pat McGrath. A fusion of make-up and skincare, this primer is packed with Hyaluronic acid to give skin a shot of hydration whilst blurring any imperfections.

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer – £27


Formulated with aloe water, cherry blossom, hyaluronic acid and B vitamins, this primer is like velcro for your make-up. Ideal for defeating the summer sweat off.

The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer – £3.90


At just £3.99 this is the best value primer that actually does the job. Formulated with advanced adaptive silicones, this techy primer minimises the appearance of pores for an airbrushed finish to your make-up that lasts all day long.

Lancer Studio Filter Pore Perfecting Primer – £58


The boujiest primer of the bunch, this luxe make-up base works on all skin tones to give a pore-free complexion. Added amino acids hydrate and soften your skin for the ultimate multi-tasking beauty product.

This Works In Transit Camera Close-Up – £30


This Works’ genius formula is a mask, moisturiser and primer all in one. Smooth on before foundation to brighten and rehydrate tired skin with hyaluronic acid, argan oil and a hit of caffeine.

Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer – £15


New kid on the block, this has shot straight up there as one of our favourite primers (no easy task). Why? It genuinely gives the most dewy all-over glow. We’d cover our entire body in it if we could.

Charlotte Tilbury Brightening Youth Glow – £39


Is it a highlighter? Is it a primer? Well, yes and yes, but also so much more. Charlotte Tilbury’s latest secret to getting your skin but way better is a blemish blurring, pore concealing, glow giving all in one foundation base of dreams.

Clarins SOS Primer – £27


If the world of colour correcting is too much hassle for your morning routine/a little over your head, then Clarins’ new primers are for you. Available in six shades, each primer tackles a different skin problem which is helpfully specified on the packaging. Just in case you weren’t entirely sure why you were swiping green cream onto your face before your foundation…

Sisley Instant Glow Primer – £57


The ultimate make-up multi-tasker, use Sisley’s primer as a radiant base before applying foundation, dab onto the high points of your face to use as highlighter or wear completely alone for a seriously radiant complexion.

NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer – £29


Control that shine and blur those pores with NARS’ oil-free matte primer infused with soft focus powders so you look selfie ready 24/7.

YSL Encre De Peau All Hours Primer – £30


When you feel like your foundation refuses to stay on your face, YSL’s long-wearing primer makes it stay put. Huzzah!

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer – £49


A cult classic for a reason, this ticks all the longevity, skin-perfecting boxes and has SPF15 mineral UV protection. If you’ve got sensitive skin, it’s free of all the usual aggravating suspects – oil, fragrance, parabens and sulphates. Overall, a difficult one to beat.

11. Choose Your Foundation Wisely

According to Dr. Jonquille, mineral-based powder make-up, especially foundation, is great for skin prone to excess oiliness. Not only is it non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores and cause breakouts) but it also works wonders to absorb oil instantly and cumulatively throughout the day.

10 Of The Best Foundations For Acne-Prone Skin

Guerlain L’Essentiel Foundation – £44


Just because you have acne doesn’t mean you always want a crazy matte finish to your make-up. Guerlain’s natural glow foundation is formulated with 97% naturally-derived ingredients and has buildable coverage for a luminous finish that lets your skin breathe.

Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Foundation – £32


If there’s one foundation that’s going to make even the most acne-prone skin look flawless, it’s this. One for the full-coverage foundation fans, this will stretch to conceal and cover any imperfections so you’re Insta ready.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur – £16.50


Just because you have acne doesn’t mean you love a thick paint-like foundation. If a full coverage formula isn’t your bag but you still want a smooth AF complexion, then this BB cream is for you. The oil-free formula keeps skin matte whilst blurring the appearance of large pores, and it’s non-comedogenic to boot. The dream.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation – £30


Designed to last all day no matter how oily your skin is, this genius foundation stays matte whilst reducing the appearance of pores and concealing any less than ideal spots.

Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation – £49.99


This was created by doctors in LA as a ‘post-procedure’ coverage product – meaning it’s so healing and calming it they give it to patients post chemical peels, lasers, injectables, you name it. So just imagine how great it is for just day-to–day sensitive and blemish-prone skin that needs extra care. A true game-changer.

Chantecaille Future Skin Oil Free Gel Foundation – £60


Formulated with with a soothing mix of Chamomile, Aloe and Arnica, this oil-free foundation is ideal for acne-prone skin that’s also sensitive.

Cover FX Natural Finish Oil-Free Foundation


This foundation provides impressive coverage. A thin layer is enough to camouflage most blemishes and because it’s easily blended, you can add an extra layer to intensify coverage. The only down side is that it’s not super moisturising, so if you have really dry skin, this formula might not work for you.

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Make-Up – £28


This foundation contains ingredients that neutralise the appearance of redness, as well as keep oily skin in check. It’s really light in texture, but gives decent medium coverage and lasts for hours, so you won’t have to reapply throughout the day.

Hourglass Liquid Powder Foundation – £51


True to it’s name, this goes on like a liquid but sets like a powder. It’s thin in texture, but rich in pigment, so it’s buildable from sheer to full coverage. It also controls shine without ending up looking cakey and won’t slip throughout the day.

bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Foundation – £27


Unlike water based products, mineral powders don’t harbour bacteria, making it more beneficial for your skin. This one gives impressive coverage and contains tea tree oil to prevent further breakouts. Clever.

And if you prefer a liquid base?

‘Foundation wise, I’d highly recommend the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops, £36 for oily skin,’ says Gabriella. ‘They come in an amazing spectrum of shades and can be mixed with other products for a sheer finish, or you can use three drops for full coverage.’

12. Powder Is Your Friend – But You Have To Invest In The Right One

If you aren’t a fan of blotting papers, the second best way to stop that afternoon shine from peeping through is a dusting of face powder where you need it the most – but it pays to invest in the right formula. Heavy, cakey base? No thanks.

‘The Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, £29 is my holy grail powder for oily complexions as it keeps skin shine-free for hours on end,’ says Gabriella – and her oil-eliminating application technique is pretty clever.

9 Of The Best Setting Powders Guaranteed To Keep The Top Lip Sweat At Bay

Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder – £29


Weightless and totally translucent, this soft-focus effect powder won’t leave any unwanted chalky residue or cakiness.

Marc Jacobs Finish Line Perfecting Coconut Setting Powder – £32


Inspired by Marc Jacobs’ love of all things coconut, this super hydrating setting powder is infused with refreshing electrolytes and Coconut Polysaccharides (they’re a thing, trust) to condition your skin whilst fixing your make-up in place.

Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Powder – £28


The latest launch from Huda Beauty, this genius loose powder helps set make-up, blur pores and absorb any unwanted shine. The best bit? It’s available in eight shades (all with delicious cake-themed names) so it looks epic on all skin tones.

Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Micro-Powder – £33


Sometimes a pressed powder is the on-the-go shine saver you need. Charlotte Tilbury’s seriously fine-milled powder absorbs any excess oil and blurs imperfections without getting caught in your face fuzz.

Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder – £36


Infused with light-reflecting particles, this ultra refined setting powder blends seamlessly with your foundation to set any wayward concealer and mattify oily patches.

Becca Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Powder – £32


The most baffling setting powder we’ve ever come across, Becca’s genius loose powder feels wet on application for a refreshing and hydrating finish.

Bobbi Brown Retouching Loose Powder – £30

If white powders tend to come up chalky on your skin tone, opt for a universal yellow shade instead. Bobbi Brown’s mineral-based powder works a treat swept over foundation or bare skin.

RMS Un Powder – £32


The most cryptically-named setting powder of the edit, RMS’ Un Powder thankfully still does the job. Free from Talc, Silicone, Parabens and perfume, this is the ultimate setting powder for those with sensitive skin.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder – £29


Iconic for a reason, the secret to using Laura Mercier’s translucent powder is all in the application. Instead of dabbing, take the powder puff, fold it in half (so it resembles a taco) and roll the powder onto your skin. It’ll set your make-up in seconds.

‘My top tip is to apply it using a damp Beauty Blender,’ she says. ‘This allows you to really press the powder into your skin so it doesn’t budge as the day goes on.’

And if you’re on the go, it’s fine to use a pressed powder to stop your foundation from slipping off, as long as it’s super-light.

‘To prevent shine throughout the day, pick up something really finely milled like Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish, £33,’ Gabriella adds. ‘You can keep topping it up and it never, ever gets cake-y, which is why it’s a go-to powder in my kit – for my clients and myself!’

Related Stories

Oily skin is caused by excess sebum production, which can lead to clogged pores, trapped bacteria and ultimately acne. Yuck! When evaluating skincare products, pay close attention to the active ingredients. Here are five super ingredients that will help kill bacteria, promote cell turnover and keep your skin looking radiant– not shiny.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid is a type of Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) that treats oily skin by opening up clogged pores and neutralizing bacteria. This ingredient comes from bark of a willow tree, and is known for helping to break down blackheads and whiteheads by stripping off the outer layer of skin.

Products containing Salicylic Acid:

  • Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula Salicylic Wash
  • Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam
Dermatologist Doris Day, MD, advises applying products with salicylic acid to the oily T-zone only, skipping facial dry zones.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is a natural antiseptic, made from the leaves of a tree native to Australia. This essential oil is helpful in the treatment of oily skin because it dissolves skin oils and kills bacteria that can cause acne.

Products containing Tea Tree Oil:

  • The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Exfoliating Pads
  • urlique Purifying Foaming Cleanser
“Don’t use tea tree oil if you have acne rosacea,” says Mayo Clinic dermatologist Lawrence E. Gibson, MD, “because it can worsen symptoms.”

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) that is used in many products for oily skin– in particular, peels that help improve the skin’s texture and overall appearance. Glycolic Acid is derived from sugar cane.

Products containing Glycolic Acid:

  • Perricone MD Cleansing Treatment Bar
  • Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula Glycolic Exfoliating Wash 5%

Best products for oily skin >>

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is a popular ingredient used in both over the counter and prescription skincare and acne treatment products. Benzoyl Peroxide works by destroying bacteria and promoting skin cell turnover, helping to treat existing acne and prevent breakouts in the future.

Products including Benzoyl Peroxide:

  • Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Trifix Acne Clearing Lotion

Best products to treat acne >>

Hyaluronic Acid

When treating oily skin, it’s important to make sure you’re not over-drying it, which can cause your glands to react by producing even more sebum. A natural way to boost your skin’s moisture is with hyaluronic acid. This acid, which occurs naturally in our bodies, is actually the main ingredient in Restylane, a gel injected into the skin to reduce facial wrinkles and lines.

“By the time we reach 50 years of age, our bodies are producing about 50 percent less hyaluronic acid than they did in youth,” says Nicholas Perricone, MD, a clinical dermatologist and author of The Perricone Promise: Look Younger, Live Longer in Three Easy Steps. “This decline is a major contributing factor to… wrinkled, sagging skin.”

Products containing Hyaluronic Acid:

  • Lancome High Resolution Refill -3X SPF 15
  • Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Replenishing Hyaluronic Acid/Peptide Capsules

DIY face mask recipes for oily skin >>

More help for oily skin

Get healthy looking skin for every skin type
Don’t let oily skin get you down
How to deal with adult acne

Oily skin is tricky and temperamental. Even when we may think we have successfully eradicated all signs of shine, it always reappears with a vengeance.

Oily skin is characterized by overactive oil glands that cause a greasy sheen to appear, breakouts, blackheads, and enlarged pores. Often oily skin is caused by genetics, climate, and dehydration. It’s important to restore balance in the skin to prevent the oil glands from over producing oil.

You may be stripping your skin and worsening the issue without even knowing it. That is why being aware of ingredients in skincare products is essential. Once you are educated on what each ingredient does, with just a quick glands of an ingredient list you can determine if the product is right for you.

If you have oily skin, be on the lookout for the following ingredients:

Lemon: A natural antiseptic and antifungal, which can help reduce breakouts. The vitamin C also helps to brighten skin and combat hyperpigmentation, including acne scarring. Lemon can also whisk away greasiness / sebum due to its cleansing properties, which helps reduce shine and breakouts.

Tea Tree: Tea Tree is often used in skincare products formulated for oily, acne prone skin. This makes sense, as it has numerous benefits for this skin type. It is a gentle astringent, so it controls oil without drying the skin out. It is also antibacterial, which is what makes it effective against breakouts. Since blemishes are caused by bacteria, using tea tree oil will help to remove them and prevent new breakouts from forming.

Kaolin clay: To absorb excess oil without stripping the skin, using a product with kaolin clay is a great idea. This ingredient helps to draw oil, dead skin, and other debris out of the pores and tightens them, leading to clean, flawless skin. Many masks geared towards oily, acne prone skin contain this ingredient for its powerful results. Use a clay mask with kaolin clay two to three times a week after exfoliation and you will be amazed at how clear your skin looks afterwards.

Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid is a BHA that is present in many fruit enzymes, like papaya and pineapple. Unlike other chemical exfoliators, salicylic acid reaches below the surface of the skin to clear out the pores. This removes dead skin, blackheads, and congestion without irritating the skin. It even helps to reduce inflammation and calm the skin, making it ideal for sensitive skin. You may either use a face wash with salicylic acid each day or use an exfoliator containing this ingredient two to three times a week.

Hyaluronic Acid: Oily skin is often caused by a deficiency in moisture. Because many with oily skin do not moisturize, the oil glands produce even more oil to make up for it. Also, dehydration, which can plague any skin type, is a lack of water in the skin that also contributes to excess oil. Hyaluronic acid draws water from the deeper layers of the skin to the surface to hydrate and soften. It will not leave a greasy sheen and will in fact help to reduce oil on the skin. It also has a plumping effect for healthy, glowing skin. Be sure to look for hyaluronic acid in either a serum or moisturizer.

Jojoba Oil: While those with oily skin are frequently warned of the perils of oil, the truth is oil is essential to healthy skin and will curb sebum production. However, don’t simply lather any oil onto your skin–be sure that it will not clog the pores, in other words, that it is non-comedogenic. Jojoba oil is one of the lightest oils used in skincare. It’s consistency is very similar to that of human sebum. As a result of applying jojoba oil to the skin, the oil glands stop producing oil, as they get the signal that the skin is properly hydrated.

Witch Hazel: Like tea tree oil, witch hazel is an astringent that will not strip skin. It tightens the pores for a more flawless look. It is also antibacterial, which will treat breakouts and prevent new blemishes from appearing. When blemishes appear red and inflamed, witch hazel soothes them and reduces redness. Using a toner with witch hazel will balance out skin, calm, and reduce pore size.

There’s a long list of ingredients that are beneficial for oily skin, however these are the standouts. Gently balancing out the skin with products that utilize these ingredients will help you to achieve shine-free, healthy skin.

When it comes to getting the best results from your skin care products, it’s so important to use and avoid certain skin care ingredients.



– Oil-free ingredients. These attract and retain water in the skin, which is crucial for keeping oil production at bay. (Renée Rouleau Skin Recovery Lotion is great for reducing shine.)

– Sodium Hyaluronate (also known as Hyaluronic Acid). This is a bioactive hydrating ingredient that can bind 1000 times its weight in moisture to the skin. It has been used for years and continues to be one of the most commonly used skin-hydrating ingredients for oily skin. (Found in Renée Rouleau Skin Drink, Skin Correcting Serum and Detoxifying Mask which are all excellent products for oily skin.)

– Sodium PCA (Sodium Pyrollidone Carboxylic Acid). This is a water-binding agent that helps attract water in the skin.

– AHA Smoothing Serum. This is an AHA that dissolves and digests surface skin cells to encourage fresher, clearer, and smoother skin, reducing the appearance of large pores. (See our collection of alcohol-free glycolic acid serums.)

Read: How Do I Care For My Oily T-Zone?

Read: Five Ways To Reduce Oil Production In Skin

Read: How to Determine Your True Skin Type


– SD Alcohol 40, Denatured Alcohol, Ethanol and Isopropyl Alcohol. These are commonly found in toners and should be avoided. (Exception: They can be beneficial when used in acne spot treatments.) All the Renée Rouleau toners are alcohol-free.

– Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate. These are commonly found in cleansing gels and are extremely dehydrating to the skin. All the Renée Rouleau cleansing gels are sulfate-free. (Luxe Mint Cleansing Gel is great for oily skin.)

– Mineral Oil. This ingredient can have a pore-clogging effect on the skin.

– Petrolatum. This ingredient can have a pore-clogging effect on the skin.

– Isopropyl Myristate and Isopropyl Palmitate. This ingredient may encourage clogged pores.

All the Renée Rouleau products do not contain the above ingredients.

Read: Five Skin Care Ingredient Myths You Need To Know

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.

For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”

How Does Vitamin A Impact Your Acne Levels?

Vitamin A is a powerful vitamin for the skin. It has many great benefits for your skin, as well as your health.

Not all vitamin A types are created equally though. It’s important to know that excessive amounts of vitamin A can result in Hypervitaminosis A, which is a toxicity that has a negative impact on your health, vision, skin irritations, & appetite.

Hypervitaminosis A can also cause headaches, drowsiness, irritability, and even liver damage.

The good news is, excess amounts of vitamin A are only found in Performed vitamin A (also known as Retinoids). Preformed vitamin A is found in dairy products, poultry, fish, meat, and oral synthetic medications.

First, you need to understand the difference between the two main classes of vitamin A. One is Retinoids, and the other is called Carotenoids. Let’s go over the difference between the two and the impact they can have on your skin and body.

Retinoids (retinol) are fat soluble, bioavailable forms of vitamin A that are found in animal products and synthetic medications. These bioactive forms of vitamin A are converted into retinoic acid, retinal, and retinyl esters.

They are the only type of vitamin A that your body can use right away. Retinoic acid improves your skin health, bone health, and tooth remineralization. Retinal improves your vision and overall health. Retinyl esters function as antioxidants in skin care products.

Two common ester forms for vitamin A are Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Acetate. They aren’t as strong as Retinol, but they are gentler on the skin.

Carotenoids are found in plant foods like carrots, dark green veggies, and yellow/orange colored fruits and vegetables. There are over 600 types of different carotenoids, but only a small number of them can actually be used in the human body. 33% of all vitamin A consumption comes from carotenoids found in our diet.

Your body has to first convert the carotenoids into a bioavailable form of retinol before it can be used. It’s important to note that there are certain health factors that can actually inhibit your body’s ability to absorb the carotenoids, which blocks them from converting into retinol. Some of these health issues include:

  • digestive problems
  • alcohol use
  • toxicity in the body
  • crohn’s disease
  • cystic fibrosis
  • certain medications
  • gallbladder disease
  • diabetes

Does Vitamin A Help Fight Acne?

So, now that you understand the two main classes of vitamin A, let’s take a look at the benefits of using vitamin A for acne. Acne comes in many different forms such as blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and cysts. There are many factors that can contribute to acne, so it’s good to know how to both prevent it and combat it.

Ongoing acne breakouts can eventually take its toll on a person’s self-esteem. Thankfully, vitamin A is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fighting acne. It promotes healthy new cell grown and strengthens your skins tissue from within. This fat-soluble vitamin is extremely beneficial in regard to the health of your skin cells and skin function.

Our skin has a process of specific pore behaviors called retention hyperkeratosis.

This process causes certain pores to be acne prone. Which is why the healthy pores never break out. Retention hyperkeratosis is a process that sheds ‘under the skin’ dead skin cells up to 5 times more than the normal amount per day.

Since the pore can’t get rid of the extra dead skin cells, it starts to build up in the pore. This results in clogged hair follicles called microcomedones. This is the beginning stage of acne.

As sebum continues to build up under the skin, the chance of an acne breakout increases. Since microcomodones are underneath the surface of the skin they aren’t visible to the naked eye. It could be close to 90 days before the breakout even occurs.

Vitamin A from synthetic sources like Retin-A and natural sources like food are some of the better-known ways to effectively treat acne. It is a potent antioxidant that helps your skin combat against both free radicals and acne. Free radicals can actually cause changes to your sebaceous glands, which results in bacteria forming to cause blemishes. Vitamin A also helps to reduce your skins sebum production. This really benefits people with oily and combination skin, as these skin types are prone to acne.

Medications like Accutane and Retin-A have a synthetic form of vitamin A as an active ingredient. They work to keep your pores from becoming clogged by preventing dead skin cells, reducing the amount of oil your skin produces, and decreasing androgen formation. They also help to prevent inflammation and cell damage by protecting the fats from oxidation.

Now, when it comes to vitamin A for acne from natural sources, there are a few different ways you can get it. You can get an active form of vitamin A from animal products like cod liver oil and liver. You would need to eat them and drink them daily for it to make an impact though. It will be a challenge to meet the necessary amounts of vitamin A through this method alone, however, it can help to aid you when combined with other methods.

As we mentioned above, another form of vitamin A are Carotenoids. Eating vitamin A enriched foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, & leafy vegetables will help, but it will take a lot to reach the recommended daily value of 5,000 IU per day.

So, it is possible to get your vitamin A through food sources, and it is recommended to add them into your diet, but keep in mind it will be hard to meet all your daily requirements through this method alone. This is where supplements come into play. Most supplements will give you close to 5,000 IU per day. They are not a ‘cure all’ in and of themselves, but they definitely do help when combined with vitamin A enriched foods.

How Do You Use Vitamin A for Acne?

The two most effective ways to use vitamin A to treat acne are through nutrition and medications. As mentioned previously, there are foods and supplements you can add into your daily routine to boost your vitamin A levels naturally inside your body. Topical medications are another option. Let’s take a deeper look at these two methods.

There’s an old saying ‘you are what you eat’. This is true for many different areas of our health, acne being one of them. Acne is a hormone imbalance that can’t be ‘cured’, however, it is an issue that can be reduced and managed. When we eat poorly, or body has to find a way to remove some of those toxins. One way it releases them is through our pores. Foods with the highest vitamin A content are:

  • beef liver – 31,718 IU per 100 g
  • chicken liver – 13,328 IU per 100 g
  • butter – 2,500 IU per 100 g
  • beef kidney – 1,578 IU per 100 g
  • cream – 1,470 IU per 100 g
  • eggs – 520 IU per 100 g
  • whole milk – 200 IU per 100 g

Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it has to build up in your body. Be careful to not exceed more than 10,000 IU (international units) per day. Exceeding this amount can be toxic to your body. Also, keep in mind that if you have a slow metabolism your body will not be able to convert carotene into vitamin A as easily as it would for someone with a high metabolism.

Using vitamin A in topical medications is an effective way to treat acne with faster results. These types of medications are chemically altered forms of vitamin A, making them retinoids that you can apply directly to your skin.

If you have stubborn acne that just seems to get worse, you may want to consider seeing a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can prescribe a topical vitamin A medication to you based on the level of your need. First, your dermatologist will need to examine your pores and skin.

Based on the examination, your acne will then be rated on a level of 1 to 4, with 1 being mild and 4 being severe. Mild cases of acne, which consists of whiteheads, blackheads, and/or a few blemishes, can generally be treated without a prescription.

Topical acne medications and treatments will give you fast results, but it won’t happen overnight. These medications work to kill bacteria on the skin, reduce redness, and decrease inflammation. Just like the rest of your body, your face needs to be cleaned each day. Dirt, environmental elements, sweat, and oils can get in your pores and clog them up all over again.

You’ll need to be consistent in your hygiene regimen, using the medication exactly as the directions say to. Be careful to not miss a day or two in between uses. The medication needs to be consistently treating the blemishes and controlling the oils in your skin.

You’ll smooth a pea-sized amount of the retinoid cream medication over your face prior to washing your face. Retinoid creams are known to cause redness, peeling or flaking skin, and worsening of acne in the beginning stage of using them. If it becomes too irritating, you can try using it every other day. Just stay consistent with every other day during this phase while your skin is getting familiar with the medication.

If you experience any burning, stinging, tingling, or swelling side effects, contact your dermatologist. You may need to stop using it altogether while your doctor finds you a medication that works with your skin type.

Generally, sunlight should be minimized while you are using Retin-A medications. Your skin becomes overly sensitive to light while using these types of medication. Limit your exposure to outdoor lighting during this time. If you must go out into the sun, make sure you wear protective clothing and accessories to cover your skin from the sunlight. A few good suggestions for adding protection are sunglasses, a scarf, a hat, long sleeve shirt, pants, and sunblock.

Vitamin A is beneficial to the body in many other ways as well, not just when it comes to acne. Boosting your vitamin A levels will help to improve your vision, your immune system, and decrease your inflammation level. The carotenoids in vitamin A also help to protect by protecting against macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness.

Your immune system gets a needed boost with the increased level of vitamin A. It helps to regulate the genes that signal sickness and disease, and the antioxidants in the beta-carotene work to combat a number of these different illnesses.

The antioxidant also helps to prevent further cellular damage, resulting in decreased inflammation.

Remember, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. Vitamin A does not cause acne, but too much of it actually can worsen some conditions. Hypervitaminosis A, which results from too much vitamin A in the body, is a toxicity that can negatively impact your health.

The effects from it can range in severity from a simple skin irritation to a heart valve calcification. Hypervitaminosis A is a result of too much-performed vitamin A. As mentioned above, performed vitamin A is found in foods like fish, meat, poultry, and dairy.

The synthetic forms of preformed vitamin A are found in oral medications used to treat acne. Health experts recommend 5,000 IU of vitamin A per day. The U.S. daily recommended amount of vitamin A is 3,000 for adult males and 2,300 for adult females, however, these are very conservative numbers. 5,000 IU per day is easily accomplished through a healthy diet alone.

9 things you shouldn’t do if you have oily skin, according to dermatologists

  • If your face often appears to be shiny and you find you’re prone to blackheads and breakouts, you most likely have oily skin.
  • When it comes to treating oily skin, dermatologists recommend not cleansing too often and sticking to a simple skin-care routine.
  • It’s best for those with oily skin to avoid thick, greasy moisturizers.

Oily skin can be a real pain, as frequent blackheads, breakouts, and slick spots can be frustrating to manage. And though you may think that a good facial mask and detoxifying cleanser is all it takes to get rid of unwanted greasiness, that isn’t always the case. Dermatologists say that there are some important skin-care dos and don’ts to keep in mind when dealing with oily skin and that there are seemingly innocent habits that you may be indulging in which can make your skin worse.

To help you determine which skin-care habits you should leave behind, we spoke to some seasoned pros on the topic. Below are some helpful hacks they recommend keeping on your radar next time your face is feeling especially greasy.

Don’t cleanse too much

“The most common mistake I see in my patients with oily skin is over-cleansing, whether with cleaning the skin too frequently or with overly astringent products,” said Dr. Inessa Fishman, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Over-cleansing strips the skin of its natural protective barrier, she explained, which can lead to redness, inflammation, acne outbreaks, and sensitivity.

Read more: How you should wash your face, according to your skin type

Don’t make your skin-care routine too complicated

Often times, the simpler the routine the better. iStock

With so many new products consistently touting amazing results, it can be tempting to overdo it when it comes to your skin-care routine. But dermatologists say when it comes to your skin, it’s best to keep things simple.

“I like a simple skin-care routine, and prefer to keep the morning steps limited to cleanser, vitamin C serum, moisturizer if feeling dry, and a powder sunscreen,” Fishman told INSIDER.

Read more: How to know if you’re using too many skin-care products, according to experts

Don’t use harsh products

“I always tell my patients with oily skin to avoid over-drying the skin with harsh products,” said Lisa A. Carroll, MD, FAAD, of Brinton Lake Dermatology.

Although it is tempting to do so, she explained that over stripping the skin’s natural oils will only trigger more oil production and lead to even oilier skin.

Don’t use alcohol-based products

If you suffer from oily skin or acne, Carroll said that you might be compelled to try alcohol-based skin products. She advised, however, that you avoid these products, as they can dry out your skin.

“Your sebaceous glands will get the message that your skin is too dry and will work overtime to produce even more sebum (skin oils),” she said.

Avoid super-gentle cleansers

Your face wash should help reduce your skin’s oil. VGstockstudio/

When it comes to treating oily skin, it’s all about balance. Though you shouldn’t use harsh cleansers, you also shouldn’t use incredibly gentle cleansers.

“Avoid super-gentle cleansers since you need a little oil-cutting in your cleanser, particularly at night,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Guanche, MD, FAAD.

Read more: 7 amazing cleansers for people with oily skin, according to Reddit

Don’t avoid a dermatologist

“For individuals who have extremely oily skin, for those who also suffer from acne, or for those who wish for more aggressive therapy, it is advised to see a dermatologist,” said Dr. Fayne Frey, FAAD.

Prescription and non-prescription retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) are available that may decrease oil production, she explained. A doctor can advise you on which is best.

Read more: Everything you need to know about retinoids — the skin-care trend that can prevent acne and smooth your skin

Don’t use a sunscreen with a low SPF

SPF is important and should be applied often. cushyspa.com/Flickr

“Individuals with oily skin should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 (or higher) to their face daily, liberally, and often,” Dr. Frey told INSIDER.

Individuals with oily skin are advised to try applying some sunscreen behind their ear (or on a small area of the face or neck), for a five-day trial to assess how it looks on their skin and the efficacy of the particular sunscreen, she added.

Don’t use hydrating primers

“If you use makeup primer, be sure not to use hydrating primer products,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman. Jaliman instead recommended people with oily skin stick to using mattifying primers.

That way, when they apply makeup, their skin won’t look oily.

Don’t use greasy skin-care products

“Avoid moisturizers and foundations that are too greasy or heavy,” Dr. Jaliman told INSIDER. Try to use lotions instead of creams and ointments, as lotions are lighter in texture, she said.

9 foods to help support oily skin

How to feed your skin

Your skin is a complex organ that requires a great deal of nutrients to function at optimum levels. Unfortunately, too many of us often neglect our nutritional needs and instead opt for convenience over quality, choosing microwavable meals, processed snacks and sugar treats to help sustain our energy levels during the day.

As a result, your skin is left crying out for nourishment and other areas of your body suffer, such as your liver and digestive system, which can have a knock-on effect on your skin, especially if it’s already predisposed to being oily. However, I won’t harp on about what you shouldn’t eat (you can read more about that on our diet page) and instead I’ll focus on what you can eat.

1 – Grapefruit

A citrus fruit with a very distinctive flavour, grapefruit might not be to everyone’s taste but it definitely packs a punch when it comes to fighting oily skin. Incredibly rich in vitamin C as well as being loaded with antioxidants, it can help to support your production of collagen and even increase your skin’s natural pH balance, warding off acne.

You can eat this fruit or even apply it to your skin to help guard against free-radical damage. It’s naturally astringent so it can help to absorb excess oil, not to mention its high water content can help to keep your skin hydrated and protected from external pathogens.

My favourite way to eat grapefruit

Avocado & Grapefruit Salad

I personally like eating grapefruit as part of a salad and this recipe definitely ticks all of my boxes. Not only does it include avocado (more on them later!) it also incorporates spinach, another leafy green that’s bursting with skin-boosting vitamin C. Perfect as a light lunch or side dish, it’s simple, easy and very effective!

2 – Bananas

Famous for their high levels of potassium and dietary fibre, bananas are one of the nation’s most popular fruits and for good reason. They’re delicious, versatile and full of goodness being packed with antioxidants, vitamins like vitamin E, C & A as well as lectin and zinc.

They’re a popular addition to most oily skin face masks, but eating them can also help to protect your skin from oxidative stress and premature ageing, keeping away the bacteria that can cause pimples and helping to regulate your production of sebum oil.

My favourite way to eat bananas

Cashew & Banana Smoothie

Smoothies are a great way to kick-start your day and this smoothie is definitely bursting with benefits for your skin. Not only does it contain bananas, it’s also got a good quantity of oats in it too, keeping your digestive system ticking over which in turn results in happier, healthier skin.

3 – Kale

Low in calories but dense in nutrients, the skin boosting properties of kale are starter to garner wider attention, with many beauty products now containing extracts of the leafy green vegetable. It’s definitely earning its reputation though thanks to its content of vitamin C, vitamin A and copper.

Great for promoting healthy cell growth, reducing inflammation and protecting against free-radical damage, just one cup of kale provides up to 48% of your vitamin A intake, which is very important, especially if you have oily skin, as low levels of vitamin A can impact your production of sebum oil for the worse.

My favourite way to eat kale

Broccoli, Kale & Sweet Potato Soup with Fitness Mix Sprouts

This comforting soup is one that definitely warms me up when the weather starts cooling down. It’s soothing, delicious and crammed with minerals like magnesium as well as vitamins and antioxidants. Topped with bioSnacky’s crunchy sprouts, it’s definitely rich in flavour as well as nutrients!

4 – Walnuts

A great snacking option, walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help to strengthen your skin’s natural barrier, keeping out toxins and pathogens.
These healthy fats can even reduce inflammation, decreasing your chances of developing spots and pimples! Brilliant if you suffer from spot-prone oily skin, walnuts also contain dietary fibre which can help to support your digestive system and remove parasites.

My favourite way to eat walnuts

Pumpkin Tagliatelle

A great, satisfying dinner, this recipe works well if you use wholemeal tagliatelle rather than refined white pasta. Full of vitamins and minerals, and topped with crunchy walnuts, you won’t lack for nutrients and it’s a must-try if you’re fond of pasta dishes!

5 – Cucumber

If you’ve read my blog ‘7 home remedies for oily skin’ you probably aren’t surprised to find that this salad staple has made its way on to this list too. As I discussed there, cucumbers are incredibly hydrating and contain vitamins A & E, helping to keep your skin smooth and protected from free-radical damage.

It’s easy to increase your intake of cucumbers – you can add them to everything from salads to sandwiches or even to flavour your water!

My favourite way to eat cucumber

Cucumber & Avocado Smoothie

A nutrient-packed super smoothie, this is an excellent option if you’re looking to start your day with a greener twist. Containing celery, apple and avocado in addition to cucumber, it’s a valuable source of healthy fats as well as skin-boosting vitamins and minerals.

6 – Pineapples

Pineapple juice is often recommended for acne sufferers and for good reason. It’s brimming with vitamin C as well as bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Since oily skin can sometimes lead to acne, some people do advise applying pineapple juice topically, but you can also take it internally too!

Pineapples also contain alpha-hydroxy acids which are very useful for premature ageing, as well as preventing pimples!

My favourite way to eat pineapples

Pineapple Ice Lollies

A refreshing summertime treat these pineapple ice lollies are perfect if you’re looking to cool down. Prepared using a handful of ingredients, including pineapples and dairy-free milk, they’re quick and simple to whip up with no extra fuss!

7 – Lentils

Lentils are packed full of protein and fibre so they’re amazing when it comes to supporting your digestive system, which in turn can benefit your skin. Some have even taken to using lentils in their face packs to help remove acne marks and to brighten their dull skin.

Lentils are also low on the GI index meaning you won’t experience a drastic spike in your blood sugar levels that may trigger your sebaceous glands into releasing more oil. They also contain zinc which can regulate your production of sebum oil and help your skin to repair and renew itself!

My favourite way to eat lentils

Lentil Ragu with Zucchini Noodles

A satisfying and rich ragu that’s full of protein and fibre without being too heavy, this is a favourite with my vegan friends and contains garlic, tomatoes and onion in addition to lentils and zucchinis.

8 – Avocados

Avocados are definitely trending at the moment as a healthy source of fats, vitamin E and omega oils. While you’re generally better applying them topically to your skin, eating avocados can still help you to reap the nutrients that you need.

For example, avocados actually contain more potassium than bananas and are full of fibre. Their content of healthy fat also helps you to absorb nutrients from other foods, giving your skin more of what it needs to remain strong and healthy.

My favourite way to eat avocados

Chocolate Avocado & Banana Pudding

A great option if you’re craving a chocolaty fix, this avocado & banana pudding is bursting with dietary fibre, potassium and other antioxidants!

9 – Oats

Oats are an excellent complex carbohydrate that’s chockfull of fibre and protein. Just half a cup provides 20% of your daily allowance of zinc and 24% of copper. They contain beta-glucan which can help to encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut plus they’re rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and can help to lower your blood sugar levels, preventing an insulin spike that may increase your production of sebum oil.

My favourite way to eat oats

Cacao & Peanut Butter Porridge

A protein packed start to the day this delicious, sweet and chocolaty porridge is full of great ingredients, like cinnamon, almond milk and raw cacao powder. Wonderful for keeping you full throughout the morning and supporting your digestive system.

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is an ingredient derived from sugar cane that does a number of beneficial things for the skin. Glycolic acid is a commonly used alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Alpha hydroxy acids are the name of a group of synthetic versions of naturally occurring, non-toxic fruit acids used in many skin-rejuvenating products.

So what exactly does glycolic acid do? One word: exfoliation. When you use an AHA, you help remove the dead cells on the surface of your skin. As a result, the dead skin cells are no longer able to mix with the oils (aka “sebum”) in your skin and clog your pores. Glycolic acid speeds up this helpful process and keeps skin healthy. And when your skin is healthy it’s better at fighting off breakouts. Think of glycolic acid as a super power booster for one of the body’s most important acne-fighting functions.

How does Glycolic Acid Work?

When applied to the skin, acne products containing glycolic acid weaken the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. Once glycolic acid loosens and removes this top layer of old cells, the healthy, living cells beneath the surface are revealed, new cell growth is encouraged and your skin looks and feels smoother.

In a nutshell, by eliminating the buildup of oils and dead skin cells, glycolic acid ensures the pores are less likely to become clogged and acne breakouts are less likely to occur.

The Benefits of Using Glycolic Acid

The benefits of glycolic acid can be quite remarkable because as it boosts your skin’s natural exfoliating process it also helps your skin retain moisture. This is important because when acne-prone skin gets too dry the body will overproduce oil to compensate. As mentioned above, more oil means a more fertile environment for new acne breakouts. Glycolic acid’s extra moisture boost is also a nice counterbalance to the dryness that can sometimes come from using benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, two ingredients often found in acne treatments.

Another added benefit of using glycolic acid products on acne-prone skin is that it can help reduce the appearance of marks and dark spots left behind by acne. Glycolic acid may also help smooth fine lines and surface wrinkles, as it helps to keep the skin soft, supple and vibrant-looking.

Risk and Warnings

All alpha hydroxy acids can cause mild irritation on very sensitive skin, but in concentrations less than 10% (what you’ll find in most acne medications), most people use them without issues.

Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen any time you go outside, but it is particularly important if you are using a glycolic acid product for acne because it can make your skin extra-sensitive to sunlight.

Proactiv Products with Glycolic Acid

Given its potent exfoliating abilities, it should come as no surprise that glycolic acid is one of the anti-acne ingredients in both Proactiv+® 3-Step System and Proactiv® Solution 3-Step System.

Other Proactiv acne products with glycolic acid include:

  • Proactiv+ Skin Smoothing Exfoliator: Step 1 of the Proactiv+ 3-Step System, this creamy, cushiony cleanser is formulated with micro-crystal benzoyl perozide to clear up acne blemishes and help new ones from forming. It also contains tiny exfoliating beads and glycolic acid which help to gently resurface the skin to reveal a smoother, softer-looking complexion.
  • Mark Correcting Pads: Each convenient, single-use pad helps remove dead skin cells and exfoliate away rough, dull layers, revealing the new, smoother skin below. The pads are designed to resurface the skin with exfoliating glycolic acid, helping to fade the look of post-acne marks and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores.
  • Re-Texturizing Toner: This unique formula helps remove dead skin cells and decongest pores to promote healthy cell turnover and includes pore-purifying ingredients like glycolic acid and salicylic acid to help unclog pores.
  • Clear Zone Body Pads: Our Clear Zone Body Pads contain the time-proven acne effectiveness of salicylic acid with the skin-enhancing properties of glycolic acid. Specially formulated for the treatment of oily skin, our dual, textured 3″ pads help lift away dirt build-up off the pores.
  • Proactiv Revitalizing Toner: Step 2 of the Proactiv Solution 3-Step System, this botanical-rich, alcohol-free toner helps to keep pores from clogging by removing excess surface oil and dead skin cells. It features our exclusive alpha hydroxy (AHA) formulation, including glycolic acid, to gently exfoliate layers of dead cells, revealing vital skin underneath

Glycolic Acid: The Bottom Line

While salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide may be the two most recognized acne-fighting ingredients, glycolic acid ranks right beside them in terms of importance for treating acne-prone skin. It’s a super-exfoliator that gets rid of dead skin cells so they can’t clog your pores. In addition, the hydration and healing qualities of glycolic acid help with the appearance of post-acne marks and discoloration and keep your skin smooth, resilient and healthy-looking.

  • Glycolic acid is an exfoliant agent used in toners to treat a variety of skin complaints.
  • Toners with high concentrations of glycolic acid are best suited to those with oily or acne-prone skin.
  • DIY glycolic acid toners can be made using simple household ingredients, such as sugar.
  • Always start with a low concentration of glycolic acid toner before working up to a stronger one.
  • Use sunscreen after applying a glycolic acid toner as your skin will be more sensitive to the sun.

Widely used in both professional treatments and commercial skin care products, glycolic acid is a potent ingredient known for its exfoliating effects on the skin. Glycolic acid toners are effective in treating a variety of common skin complaints including acne, fine lines, texture irregularities and hyperpigmentation.

Due to its potency, it’s important to understand the mechanisms of glycolic acid, and how to use it safely and effectively within your routine.


What Is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid belongs to a group of chemicals known as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), also referred to as fruit acids. AHAs are widely used by dermatologists within treatments to exfoliate the skin and promote the regeneration of fresh, healthy, skin cells.

Glycolic acid is typically derived from sugar cane, although it is present within common household foods such as apples, yogurt and vinegar.

Professional chemical peel treatments regularly use glycolic acid in high concentrations of up to 70%. Much weaker concentrations (2–7%) can be found in various at-home skin care products, such as toners.

Glycolic acid in toners

Glycolic acid is the most commonly used AHA, due to its small molecular size and water solubility. This allows it to easily penetrate the skin more effectively than other acids.

When used in toners, it sloughs away dead skin cells, helping to unblock clogged pores. Over time, this will result in an even, brighter-looking complexion.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid Toners

Glycolic acid toners are a beneficial step in your routine if you are seeking to treat skin issues such as acne, scarring and hyperpigmentation.


Bacteria is a known trigger for acne breakouts, aggravating the skin and causing red, inflamed pimples to emerge. Glycolic acid has been shown to have antibacterial effects when used to treat acne – reducing the risk of breakouts and infection. It also helps reduce the excessive amounts of oil that often presents with acne.


Severe acne breakouts often lead to scarring of the skin. Glycolic acid has keratolytic properties, which means it is able to break down the skin’s outer layers, reducing the thickness of scar tissue.


Milia are small white bumps that appear under the skin and are often mistaken for whiteheads. Unlike whiteheads—formed by built up sebum—milia comprise hardened keratin, a protein that aids in maintaining your skin’s structure. They typically appear around the eyes and upper cheeks.

Milia are difficult to remove at home without causing damage and scarring, as they are located under the skin. If milia have become a concern for you, a glycolic acid toner will help clear them away.

As glycolic acid works by sloughing away dead skin cells and increasing the rate of cell turnover, the hardened keratin rise up to the surface of the skin over time. This will allow them to be extracted more easily.


If your skin has a flushed or red appearance, you may have a common condition known as rosacea. Other symptoms can include a stinging sensation and visible blood vessels on the face.

Stress, hot water and certain skin care ingredients are attributed to flare-ups of rosacea – although these triggers will vary between individuals. Research has shown that glycolic acid has the potential to provide anti-inflammatory benefits, while also reducing the appearance of rosacea.


Darker patches of skin or discoloration on the face and body are known as hyperpigmentation. Age, sun damage and acne breakouts are all potential causes for this skin condition.

Glycolic acid has been shown to be effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation by speeding up the process of skin cell regeneration. Over time, darker areas of the face will begin to fade with the use of a product containing glycolic acid.

How to Choose a Glycolic Acid Toner

AHAs can be harsh on the skin, especially when first starting this treatment. When selecting a glycolic toner, you may want to opt for one that provides additional calming ingredients. Tasmanian pepper berry and aloe vera are popular toner ingredients that help soothe any irritation caused by exfoliating ingredients.

Glycolic acid strength

It is important to check the strength of AHA toners, due to their powerful exfoliating effects. Commercial toners containing glycolic acid will state the concentration of the formula on the packaging.

It is advisable to choose lower concentrations if you are a first time user or if you have normal and combination skin, as you may find that the effects may be too harsh and drying. Oily and acne-prone skin types are more likely to have a higher tolerance toward stronger glycolic acid formulas.

Strength (%) When to use
2-3% A low concentration that can be used on normal, combination, oily and acne-prone skin types.
May be used twice a day.
Will slowly fade hyperpigmentation and brighten your complexion.
5-7% A relatively low concentration suitable for daily use on normal and oily skin types.
Will gradually improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and scarring.
Should be used once per day.
30% A relatively high concentration suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.
Offers more immediate results than weaker concentrations.
Use only once per week.

Who should avoid glycolic acid toners?

The exfoliating effects of AHAs are often too strong for dry and sensitive skin types and are not recommended; using them in your daily routine is likely to cause irritation and dryness.

If you have broken or peeling skin, you should wait until it is healed before attempting to use glycolic acid in your routine.

If you are already using a strong acne treatment such as benzoyl peroxide, adding a glycolic acid toner into your routine may excessively dry out your skin.

How to Apply Glycolic Acid Toners

When planning a daily skin care routine, it’s important to use your skin care products in the right order to maximize their efficiency. Toners should be used as a second step of your routine, to clear away any remaining oil and residue left after using a cleanser.

Apply a glycolic acid toner using a cotton pad or cotton ball, adding a few drops of the toner solution without overly soaking the cotton. Begin by gently sweeping the toner from the center of your face outward toward your chin, cheeks and forehead. Avoid contact with your lips and the eye area, as they are more sensitive and prone to irritation.

Keep the time spent applying your toner to a minimum. Prolonged contact with glycolic acid can leave your skin feeling irritated.

It is normal to experience a slight tingling sensation when applying AHA toners, however if this worsens during application then you should immediately rinse your face.

After applying a glycolic toner, follow up with a nourishing moisturizer. This will not only hydrate your skin, but also soothe any redness or irritation caused by the glycolic acid.

Safety and Side Effects

AHAs have strong effects on the skin and should be introduced slowly into your daily regime. Begin with toners that contain a low concentration of glycolic acid before graduating to stronger products. By doing this, it will allow your skin to build up a tolerance and avoid any potential irritation.

Do not use other AHAs or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)—such as lactic and salicylic acid—on the same day as your glycolic acid toner. If you feel you need to use a combination, alternate these treatments on different days.

The side effects of glycolic acid include a stinging sensation and redness. If you experience any of these, rinse the product off with cool water and discontinue use.

The use of glycolic acid increases your sensitivity to the sun. It is essential that you apply sunscreen or a hydrating moisturizer containing an SPF of 30 and above to prevent sunburn. Sun damage contributes to premature aging and hyperpigmentation – so it is important you keep your skin protected and limit sun exposure.

Skin purging

You may experience a breakout when adding glycolic acid to your regime for the first time. This is not always a sign of an allergic reaction – it can be your skin adjusting to a new product.

As previously mentioned, AHAs work by clearing away dead skin cells, increasing the turnover rate for new cells. This causes impurities deep within the skin to be brought to the surface, resulting in pimples and blackheads.

It can take a few weeks for your skin to adjust to a new product. If your acne worsens or does not clear within this time, then an allergy to an ingredient is likely to be the cause of your breakout.

Homemade Glycolic Acid Toner Recipes

Homemade glycolic acid toners are an alternate option to commercial products. A benefit of DIY toners is that you can use minimal ingredients, which can be useful if you are concerned about the great amount of ingredients found in commercial toners.

Sugar and honey toner for acne

Sugar and honey toner is optimal for soothing acne-prone skin. Honey has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a useful ingredient in easing the symptoms of acne.

It’s important to select unrefined sugars to use as a natural source of glycolic acid; processed ingredients sometimes lose their natural benefits.


  • 2 tablespoons of unrefined sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 cup of water


Stir ingredients together until the sugar dissolves and all ingredients are combined.

Brown sugar, yogurt and green tea toner for oily skin

Brown sugar and yogurt are both good sources of natural glycolic acid. Research into green tea has shown that it may help to reduce sebum production, which is beneficial for those with oily skin.


  • 2 tablespoons of muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt
  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1 cup of water

Steep the tea bag in hot water; cool. Add sugar and yoghurt; stir until combined.

Sugar and chamomile toner for normal and dry skin

This mild DIY toner will help cleanse and calm the skin. Chamomile is a soothing ingredient used in skin care products that can provide anti-inflammatory benefits.


  • 2 tablespoons of unrefined sugar
  • 1 chamomile tea bag
  • 1 cup of water

Seep the tea bag in hot water; cool. Add sugar stir until combined.

Glycolic Acid Toner Alternatives

Lactic acid is an alternative AHA often used to improve uneven skin tones and textures. The only major difference between glycolic and lactic acid is their molecular size. Lactic acid molecules are slightly larger, meaning it won’t penetrate as deeply into the skin and will provide a milder exfoliation.

Additionally, salicylic acid is used as a chemical exfoliant to reduce the appearance of blemishes. Belonging to a group of chemicals known as BHAs, it is best suited to clearing out impurities from clogged pores.


If you have acne, fine lines, hyperpigmentation or scarred skin, glycolic acid toners are an effective treatment. By adding a toner to your skin care regime, you can expect a brighter complexion and smoother skin texture over time.

Improper use of AHA toners will lead to irritation; therefore, it is important to gradually build up your skin’s tolerance to these potent exfoliators. Best suited to oily and acne-prone skin, those with dry and sensitive skin types should avoid glycolic acid toners altogether.


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