Grooming for Greasy Skin: How to Prevent Forehead Shine

Main with oily skin
 Plume Creative / Getty Images

We all land on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to skin—few striking that perfect combination. Some suffer from dryness, struggling to keep their whole face or specific patches hydrated and free from flakes. Others err on the side of greasy. If your forehead is prone to extra oil, then you’re conscious of the matter. Your skin can look slick and shiny at the end of the day

It’s not detrimental to your skin health. On the contrary, the added sebum can actually help protect against pollutants and minimize the appearance of wrinkles (essentially natural anti-aging). But the accumulation of grease can be annoying as hell. You have to wipe it constantly throughout the day, and your forehead can reflect light in photographs.

How do you remedy this? There’s no need to cover your brow or go crazy with a harsh grooming protocol (washing your face too often can actually trigger your skin to produce more oil). Tend to your skin with the right products and regimen.

Here are six things to help minimize oil buildup and shine.

1. Use a Toner

Toner should be your first attempt at managing oil production. It works to balance the pH levels of your skin, while removing excess dirt or grime from the pores that your cleanser may have missed. Toner should be applied after cleansing, but before any serum and moisturizer. Avoid any alcohol-based toners and astringents, in favor of something with cooling herbal ingredients. These will neutralize oil without over-drying and irritating the skin. Witch hazel is a much-touted toner, too, and helps balance pH levels effectively, though you should discontinue if you notice any dryness or redness. (It’s not likely, but pay attention.)

Try these: Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Toner [$21; kiehls.com] and Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner [$10.99; amazon.com]

2. Try a Mattifying Primer After Moisturizing

Once you’ve applied your moisturizer, you can add a lightweight coat of mattifying primer atop the skin. It comes as a liquid that dissolves into a powder-like substance. (Or, you can simply pat some anti-shine powder* on your forehead, too, like they do on movie sets to help prevent the actors from radiating like traffic lights.) This invisible layer will absorb excess oil throughout the day, preventing the buildup of grime and shine. Most of them also mask the appearance of enlarged pores, giving you a matte, smooth complexion.

Try these: Mënaji Liquid Powder Shine Eliminator [$36; menaji.com] and Mario Badescu Special Healing Powder* [$12; mariobadescu.com]

3. Wear Lightweight, Oil-Free Moisturizers

Another aggravator of shine is when you coat the skin with excessively dense creams and lotions. This suffocates the pores, and you end up sweating or glistening more than you otherwise would. That’s why you should stick with lighter creams that absorb quickly and don’t add any excess oil to your forehead. Oil-free products will proudly announce themselves to you on their packaging. And it’s not that some oils are bad as a skincare ingredient. They make excellent moisturizers for dry and “normal” types of skin, but are a bit excessive when you’re already prone to excessive oil.
Try this: Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer [$38; boscia.com]

4. Consider Mattifying, Tinted Moisturizers

Another option for your moisturizer is a tinted, mattified option. Not only will this work to even out any inconsistencies in your complexion (by neutralizing redness, lightness, or dark spots), they also often come with SPF. The same drill applies as above, however, look for lightweight, oil-free options that won’t aggravate your sebum production or block your pores. While you’re browsing for tinted moisturizers, note that you might see them listed as “BB Creams”—a.k.a. “blemish balms”—so be sure to browse those options, too.
Try this: La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Cream for Oily Skin, SPF 20 [$29.99; laroche-posay.us]

5. Keep Blotting Papers in Your Bag or Backpack

Remember how some people used to pat their greasy pizza with a napkin? While their gesture was pointless, it did make the pizza appear less greasy. And that’s what blotting papers do for your forehead. Only they aren’t napkins: These tote-able papers soak up the oil and instantly remedy the situation, leaving no product or residue behind.

Try this: Sephora Mattifying Blotting Films [$8; sephora.com]

6. Cleanse More Frequently, and More Gently

There are two ways to combat oily skin via cleansing: Logic would tell you to use a cleanser for oily skin, something with salicylic acid to help keep your pores clear. And that’s the truth. However, while that’s a good solution for people with oily skin, it doesn’t mean that they should cleanse with that heavier-duty product multiple times a day. (Just once will suffice.)

If you want to wash your face an extra time or two midday—like after a workout, or just because you’re just getting glossy—then swap in something a little gentler, sans oil, to compensate for the fact you’re washing more than most people.

Try this: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser [$13.57; cerave.com]