Because natural oils are important for healthy skin, the goal of cleansing oily skin is to remove the excess oil, dirt and dead skin cells, while leaving some of the good oil on your skin. If you clean too harshly or too often, the protection provided by this oil will be lost. Gentle cleansing with a mild cleanser is the key to success with oily skin.
To begin, wash your face once or twice a day with a cleanser that's specifically formulated to be mild. There are many such products on the market. Don't scrub too hard. And absolutely do not use any kind of harsh or overly alkaline soap on your skin -- it will remove all the oil from your face, good and bad. Even if your oily skin frustrates you, remember that your goal is to have healthy skin, not dry skin. Dried-out skin that lacks its protective layer of oil is more prone to wrinkling and irritation.
Once or twice a week, you can use a mask that contains mud or clay. These masks draw oils out of the skin, and many people have been able to achieve results that last for days at a time.
Some mild cleansers contain special ingredients that are able to exfoliate skin without causing dryness or irritation. They can remove dead skin cells and excess oil, so they help prevent acne -- a problem that often concerns folks with oily skin. Among these ingredients are beta hydroxy acid (such as salicylic acid) and alpha hydroxy acid (such as glycolic acid). These two acids are often found in products meant for blemish-prone skin. Choose products with low concentrations of these acids.
There are many types of problem skin, and oily is just one of them. You may have the opposite problem: dryness. If so, you'll find a cleansing routine on the next page.