Understanding the Shine: Why Is My Skin So Oily and How to Manage It

Give your skin the best moisturization because we all want that healthy glow on our skin

Ever wondered, “why is my skin so oily?” Your skin may shine brighter than the morning sun or your makeup may refuse to stay put. Well, the culprit is likely excess sebum production, leaving you in a sticky situation. But don’t fret! By understanding the causes and managing them effectively, you can tame that oil spill and embrace a balanced, healthy complexion.

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal fluctuations, stress, and genetics can all contribute to increased sebum production in the skin.
  • Healthy lifestyle habits such as drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly can help manage oily skin.
  • Appropriate skincare products that are oil free/noncomedogenic with SPF 30+ sunscreen should be used for optimal results.

Unlocking the Secrets Behind Increased Sebum Production

Illustration of sebaceous glands and oily skin

Our skin naturally produces an oily substance called sebum, which is not all bad. Believe it or not, sebum is our skin’s best friend, moisturizing and protecting it from external aggressors. However, when the sebaceous glands go overboard, sebum production escalates, leading to that unwanted shine, acne breakouts, and clogged pores due to the accumulation of dead skin cells.

But what leads to this overdrive in sebum production? The answer lies in a complex interplay of factors including hormonal fluctuations, stress, and genetics. Yes, your oily skin might just be a result of your genes acting up or your hormones going haywire.

Hormonal Highs and Lows

The hormone roller coaster during puberty or menstruation can be a one-way ticket to oily skin town. Hormones like testosterone stimulate the sebaceous glands, ramping up their oil-producing machinery. During puberty, there’s an increase in hormonal levels, particularly androgens, leading to a subsequent increase in sebum production.

But it doesn’t end there. The hormonal fluctuations during menstrual cycles also contribute to the skin’s oil saga. Prior to and during a period, there’s an increase in oiliness due to elevated levels of progesterone and testosterone.

Stress: The Skin’s Silent Aggravator

Stress, the invisible foe, can be a prominent player in the game of oily skin. It stimulates the production of cortisol, a hormone that revs up oil production, worsening skin issues. Psychological stress often triggers increased sebum production, causing oily skin and acne.

Research has shown that stress can disrupt the skin’s pH balance, contributing to oiliness and acne. Stress also increases expression of hormones like CRH, which can elevate oil production.

Genetic Predisposition

Ever wondered why some people seem to have glowing skin no matter what they eat or do, while others fight a constant battle with oiliness? The answer could lie in our genes. Genetics plays a significant role in determining our skin type, including oiliness.

Specific genes can impact the function and activity of the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing sebum. Some individuals may have certain genetic mutations associated with oily skin that contribute to excess sebum production. So, if your parents or other family members have oily skin, there’s a chance you’ve inherited that trait too.

External Elements Elevating Oiliness

While our hormones and genes play a pivotal role in dictating our skin’s oil production, external factors too have their part to play. Climate, diet, and cosmetics can all contribute to making our skin oilier.

Some factors that can contribute to increased sebum production and oiliness include:

  • Living in a humid climate, which can lead to higher moisture content in the air
  • Consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars
  • Using cosmetics with certain ingredients that can clog pores

These factors can stimulate heightened sebum production and exacerbate excess oil production, leading to too much oil on the skin.

Climate’s Impact on Complexion

If you’ve ever traveled from a dry region to a humid one, you might have noticed a sudden surge in your skin’s oiliness. This is because humidity can lead to increased sebum production by the sebaceous glands.

And then there are the seasonal changes. Sebum production tends to increase during the warmer spring and summer months, leading to oilier skin. Conversely, living in a dry climate can also lead to increased oiliness as your skin may produce more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture.

Dietary Decisions

We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” This holds true for our skin too. Consuming processed foods can worsen oily skin, whereas incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into one’s diet can assist in managing it.

Foods that can contribute to increased sebum production and oilier skin include:

  • Refined carbohydrates and sugars
  • Unhealthy vegetable oils
  • Dairy products
  • Greasy foods

A high-glycemic index diet, in particular, can lead to a sharp increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, resulting in excess sebum production and contributing to oily skin.

Cosmetic Culprits

While makeup can enhance our natural beauty, the wrong products can be a recipe for disaster for those with oily skin. Oil-based makeup can exacerbate oiliness by clogging pores and mixing with the dirt and oil that accumulate on the skin throughout the day.

People with oily skin should use noncomedogenic, oil-free, and water-based cosmetics to prevent additional pore congestion and allow the skin to breathe. Additionally, certain ingredients in cosmetics, such as occlusives like petroleum jelly, face oils like coconut oil, mica, silica, talc, and beeswax, can exacerbate oily skin conditions by clogging pores and making the skin worse.

Skincare Strategies for Oily Complexions

Now that we’ve understood the causes of oily skin, we can explore various strategies to manage it. Implementing a proper skincare routine, which includes using the right cleanser, toner, and moisturizer can help keep oily skin in check.

Keep in mind that not all products are created equal. It’s important to choose items that are suitable for your skin type and meet its unique needs. Using products with ingredients like niacinamide can help manage oil production, while choosing gentle, hydrating products can prevent skin from overproducing oil in response to dryness.

Purifying with the Right Cleanser

Selecting the appropriate cleanser is one of the initial steps in managing oily skin. A gentle cleanser can effectively remove excess oil and impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

When it comes to choosing a cleanser, it’s advisable to steer clear of occlusives like petroleum jelly and face oils such as coconut oil. These ingredients are considered too heavy and can clog pores, which can exacerbate oiliness.

Balancing Act: Toners and Moisturizers

Once you’ve cleansed your skin, the next step is to balance and hydrate it. Using a toner can help balance the skin’s pH levels, while a good moisturizer can keep your skin hydrated without adding to its oiliness.

Opt for toners and moisturizers with ingredients like niacinamide. Niacinamide aids in regulating sebum production, thereby decreasing excessive oiliness. Remember to look for non-comedogenic and oil-free moisturizers to keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated without adding extra oil.

Sun Protection for Oily Skin

Sun protection should not be overlooked. It’s a myth that oily skin doesn’t need sunscreen. In fact, sun damage can actually worsen oily skin. It’s important to opt for noncomedogenic, oil-free sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from sun damage without exacerbating oiliness.

Remember to reapply your sunscreen every two hours to ensure consistent protection. If you’re unsure about which sunscreen to choose, some recommended brands include:

  • Elta MD UV Clear
  • Skin Aqua UV gel
  • Clear As Day SPF 46 Invisible Sunscreen Gel
  • Force Shield Superlight Sunscreen SPF 30

The Role of Lifestyle in Skin Health

Photo of person drinking water to stay hydrated

Although skincare products are crucial in managing oily skin, your lifestyle choices can also significantly impact skin health. Proper hydration and regular exercise can improve skin health and help manage oiliness.

Adequate hydration helps to balance sebum production, preventing excessive oiliness. On the other hand, regular exercise can benefit oily skin by:

  • increasing blood flow
  • reducing oil production
  • decreasing inflammation
  • reducing stress.

Hydration Habits

Consuming at least 2 liters of water each day can have a positive effect on skin physiology and overall health. Adequate hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining skin health by regulating sebum production.

Maintaining proper hydration not only helps to prevent dehydration, which could result in excessive oil production, but also promotes a healthier and more balanced complexion.

Exercise and Oily Skin

Engaging in regular physical activity can have numerous benefits for your skin. It increases blood flow, nourishing skin cells and helping maintain their vitality. It also has a significant impact on balancing, suppressing, and increasing specific hormones, thereby contributing to overall healthier skin.

Exercise-induced sweating can affect the physiological properties of the skin, including sebum production. However, it’s important to note that the relationship between exercise and sebum production can vary among individuals.

Advanced Solutions for Persistent Shine

If you’re still battling excessively oily skin despite trying various strategies, it might be time to consider advanced solutions. Dermatologists can offer personalized skincare advice and prescribe treatments for severe oily skin. High-tech treatments such as laser therapy or chemical peels can also be explored to manage persistent oiliness and improve overall skin health.

These advanced methods are proven to be highly effective in controlling and decreasing excessive oil production. They involve topical applications like:

  • Retinoids
  • Salicylic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Other cosmeceuticals

Dermatologists often advise a comprehensive treatment plan that may include combining topical retinoids with other targeted therapies for the best results.

Dermatology Association Recommendations

A consultation with a dermatologist can offer invaluable customized skincare advice. Depending on the severity of your oily skin, they may recommend a range of treatments from topical creams to oral medications.

Dermatologists advise a skin care routine that includes:

  • Washing the face every morning and evening
  • Using oil-free and noncomedogenic skin care products
  • Applying SPF 30 or higher sunscreen
  • Opting for lighter lotions or gel-based moisturizers

They may also recommend prescription products like spironolactone and oral contraceptives, which can help control oily skin by regulating oil production and hormonal imbalances that contribute to oily skin.

High-Tech Treatments

High-tech treatments such as laser therapy or chemical peels can offer relief for persistent oily skin. Laser therapy can reduce sebum production, although it may not be the most efficacious treatment option. Specific wavelengths such as the 1,450nm diode laser and AviClear laser are recommended for this issue, but they may not offer a permanent solution.

Chemical peels have the potential to diminish excess oil, blemishes, and enhance skin texture. However, there are risks such as redness, swelling, and potential scarring, particularly with aggressive peels or improper administration.

Navigating Makeup for Oily Skin Types

Illustration of makeup products suitable for oily skin

Individuals with oily skin should be cautious when selecting makeup. Here are some tips:

  • Choose water-based makeup
  • Look for products that are oil-free and noncomedogenic
  • These can prevent additional pore congestion and allow the skin to breathe.

Avoid ingredients like:

  • Occlusives (e.g., petroleum jelly, coconut oil)
  • Mica
  • Silica
  • Talc
  • Oils
  • Fragrances
  • Alcohol
  • Silicones

These ingredients can block pores and worsen oiliness. With the right makeup choices, you can enhance your natural beauty without aggravating your oily skin.

The Psychological Impact of Oily Skin

Oily skin not only poses a physical problem but can also significantly affect one’s psychological well-being. It can lead to:

  • feelings of unattractiveness
  • self-consciousness
  • embarrassment
  • irritation
  • reduced self-esteem
  • heightened stress levels

Furthermore, skin conditions such as acne can contribute to the development of depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues. Addressing both the physical and psychological impacts of oily skin is crucial for overall well-being.


Whether it’s genetics, hormones, stress, diet, or even the weather – the causes of oily skin are manifold. Understanding these causes is the first step towards managing oily skin. By implementing a proper skincare routine, making informed dietary choices, and adapting to external factors, you can effectively manage your skin’s oil production.

While oily skin might be challenging to handle, remember that it’s not insurmountable. With the right information, patience, and consistency, you can control the oiliness and embrace a balanced, healthy complexion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when your skin is very oily?

Oily skin is caused by many factors like stress, humidity, genetics, and hormonal fluctuations. To reduce the oiliness, it’s best to follow advice from a dermatologist.

Does oily skin go away?

Oily skin may fade away over time, particularly for those going through puberty or adolescence, but it is not guaranteed.

What are the main causes of oily skin?

Hormonal fluctuations, stress, genetics and external factors such as climate and diet all contribute to the development of oily skin.

How can I manage oily skin?

To manage oily skin, create a skincare routine with suitable products, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and stay hydrated.

What kind of makeup should I use if I have oily skin?

If you have oily skin, choose water-based, oil-free, and noncomedogenic makeup to avoid clogged pores and excess oil production.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and is intended to offer insights into the world of facial spa treatments. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, please note that not all services discussed may be offered at our facility. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider or skin care specialist for personalized advice and treatments.

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