An illustration of a woman standing in front of a mirror, ready to apply a facial mask to her skin. Share on Pinterest
Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

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You have thousands of sebaceous glands in your skin. These glands are responsible for producing sebum, or oil, that helps protect and hydrate your skin.

Sometimes, though, your glands can make too much oil. This may make your skin look shiny or increase the risk of acne.

If you have an oily T-zone, you’re not alone. The T-zone is especially prone to greasiness and acne breakouts — which is why you might be looking for ways to manage oiliness in this area.

Fortunately, you can take several steps to manage an oily T-zone. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the skin care habits that may help reduce breakouts and unwanted shine in this area.

Your T-zone is the part of your face that includes your:

  • forehead
  • nose
  • chin

Together, these features create the shape of a T, which is why it’s called the T-zone.

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

Compared with the rest of your face, your T-zone has more oil glands. That’s why it tends to be oilier and more acne-prone.

Specifically, acne often develops when excess oil and dead skin cells mix together. This blocks your pores, creating whiteheads and blackheads.

As the oil accumulates, bacteria can multiply and cause inflamed pimples, including:

The key with this area is to remove excess oil without drying out your skin. When done regularly, certain skin care habits can help manage greasiness and reduce acne flare-ups.

Here are seven helpful steps to managing an oily or acne-prone T-zone.

One of the best ways to control an oily T-zone is to regularly wash your face. Washing your face removes excess sebum, along with dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt.

Here’s when you should wash your face:

  • in the morning, after waking up
  • after exercising or sweating
  • in the evening, before going to bed

Wash your face gently, especially if you have active acne. Scrubbing or vigorously rubbing your skin can cause redness and irritation.

Choosing the right cleanser is key to managing oil. Look for a face wash that’s:

  • oil-free
  • noncomedogenic (meaning it’s designed to not block your pores)
  • foaming

Avoid harsh face washes, especially those with alcohol. Products that contain alcohol can dry out your skin, which will make your sebaceous glands produce even more oil.

If you have an oily T-zone, it might seem counterintuitive to use a moisturizer. But this is an important step for hydrating your skin. Again, if your skin is too dry, your oil glands will just make more oil.

Use a moisturizer after washing your face. Choose a product that’s:

  • oil-free
  • noncomedogenic
  • a gel if you have oily skin or the weather is humid
  • a lotion if you have normal or combination skin

You can also try using a gel moisturizer on your T-zone and a lotion everywhere else. Avoid using creams on your T-zone. Creams are best suited for dry skin.

It may be a good idea to use a moisturizer that already has a built-in SPF. This way, you won’t have to apply a layer of sunscreen, which can increase oiliness.

If you wear makeup, consider using powders instead of cream or liquid products. Powders do a better job at absorbing excess oil.

If you want to use cream or liquid makeup, pick products that are oil-free and noncomedogenic.

You can also apply a mattifying powder to your T-zone. Also known as a finishing powder or setting powder, this product is designed to reduce oiliness and shine. This type of powder is usually translucent, so it can be used on most skin tones.

Shop for finishing powder online.

Blotting papers are small sheets of absorbent paper. When you press them against your face, they remove excess oil.

They’re also travel-friendly, so you can keep a pack in your bag and use them during the day.

To avoid spreading sebum to other parts of your face, refrain from wiping or dragging the paper. Instead, softly press the paper onto your skin.

Shop for blotting papers online.

According to a 2017 research review, the polyphenols in green tea, when applied to your skin, may help decrease sebum production. Polyphenols are micronutrients that contain antioxidants.

Additionally, an older 2005 research review suggested that the polyphenols in green tea have the ability to destroy bacterial membranes. This means green tea may help limit bacterial growth that can lead to acne.

You can use green tea as a toner after washing your face. Another option is to use skin care products containing green tea.

Shop for green tea toner online.

According to 2016 research review, the minerals in cosmetic clay can help manage excess oil and treat acne and blackheads. Cosmetic clay is typically used as a facial mask.

Examples of cosmetic clay include:

You can buy clay masks at the drugstore or online. Alternatively, you can make your own mask with cosmetic clay powder.

To make and use a clay mask:

  1. Wash your skin as usual. Pat dry.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of clay with filtered water until it forms a thick paste. You can use witch hazel or rose water instead of filtered water, if you’d prefer.
  3. Evenly spread the mixture on your face and let it dry.
  4. Wash off the mask with warm water once it’s dried, then pat your face dry.

You can use the mask only on your T-zone, instead of your whole face.

Shop for cosmetic clay online.

It’s common to have an oily T-zone. This area has more sebaceous glands, so it naturally has more sebum, or oil. To control oiliness and shine, gently wash and moisturize your face every day.

Using a green tea toner after washing your face may help reduce acne breakouts. You can also use a finishing powder or blotting papers throughout the day. Applying clay masks a few times a week may also help control oiliness.

If you’re still having issues with excess oiliness and acne breakouts in your T-zone after trying these tips, consider following up with your doctor or a dermatologist.