Why is My Skin So Oily? 9 Common Oily Skin Causes and How to Fight It

Ever felt like you could fry an egg on your forehead? Or like you’re giving the shiny disco ball at a party competition? If so you probably have oily skin. Apart from looking like a live frying pan, oily skin also clogs pores and can cause acne.

It may feel like there is no hope left when your sebaceous glands take up your whole face, but that’s not the case at all. Hormonal factors and genetics do play a role in how oily your skin gets, but there are also several common causes of oily skin that are firmly in your control.

Find out the top causes of oily skin and some very simple solutions you can put to use to start zapping the grease off your face and out of your life!

Over Washing Creates More Oil

First things first, stop washing your face all the time! When you have very oily skin, it may seem like the logical thing to wash the oil away repeatedly (sometimes using a harsh oil fighting face wash), but this is actually the worst thing you can do for your oily skin.

Washing your face constantly strips your skin of its natural oils (sebum). When stripped of sebum, your sebaceous glands work overtime to produce more of it, so you end up with a big oily mess. Instead of harsh products, use gentle cleansers on your oily skin, and do not wash your face more than twice a day. Washing every morning and evening is a good skin care routine.

But what about all the grease that accumulates in between morning and night? Well, you can simply blot that excess oil off with some oil absorbing sheets. These sheets are easy to use and damn effective in getting rid of oiliness without harshly stripping your skin.

best oil absorbing sheets

Fun fact: It’s the same with your hair. Notice how the more you wash, the more frequently you seem to have to wash again because your hair turns oily? That said, oily hair leads to more oil on your face, so wash your hair every other day with a gentle cleanser.

Hot Water Does, Too

Now that you know not to wash too much, you should also remember that the temperature of water used matters too. Notice how you feel dry after a really hot shower?

That’s because hot water dries skin out, which in turn leads to extra oil production. If you have acne, hot water is your worst enemy and will irritate your broken out skin further. Go lukewarm, even if it doesn’t feel as satisfying. Your skin will thank you.

Harsh Products are Not Your Friend

When you’re washing your face morning and night, remember to use a gentle cleanser in lieu of those harsh, chemical ones that claim to combat oily skin. Definitely avoid all astringents, harsh soaps, and alcohols.

Toners claim to tighten your pores, but harsh toners will just dry your skin out, causing it to overcompensate and produce more oil. If you must use a toner, use an organic and alcohol-free product. Toners that use organic witch hazel (a plant-based astringent) won’t dry your skin out so stick to those.

Wearing Too Much Makeup

Slathering your face with foundation is likely to make your oily skin problem much worse by clogging up your pores further and causing pimples. Wearing too many layers of makeup, and especially too much powder can also have a detrimental effect by coaxing your skin into producing more oil.

If you must use makeup, remember a few cardinal rules:

  • Primer is a good idea: Primers basically provide a layer of defense between your oil-producing pores and the rest of your makeup. So choose a good primer for oily skin that helps matte-ify and contains active ingredients to help combat oil production and acne.
  • Mineral makeup is your friend: Mineral powders soak up excess oil, without overdrying your skin. They’re also natural and don’t contain irritating ingredients that’ll further piss off your pores and result in more oil production and blemishes.
  • Blotting paper: If your skin still feels oily after these steps, use some blotting paper. These are an oily-skinned gal’s (or guy’s) best friend!

Hair Products Can Get Into Your Pores

Be very wary of what you put on your hair if you have oily skin, as the gunk from your hair products can easily make their way into the pores of your facial skin. Just think: how often do you brush your hair off your face? Yea, every time it makes contact, there’s going to be some transference of stuff you don’t want going into your pores.

If you can’t avoid hair products completely, stick to using waxes, sprays and gels only toward the crown of your head where there’s less chance of them coming in contact with your face. As for the rest of your tresses, try a natural oil like argan oil, rosehip seed oil or hemp oil to keep your hair moisturized – both of these natural oils are actually beneficial for your skin so you don’t have to freak out every time your hair touches your facial skin.

Hormones Can Make You a Oil Producing Machine

Hormones control how much oil our bodies produce, and the male hormone testosterone determines how much sebum the sebaceous glands will produce.

If you have higher levels of testosterone in your body, chances are your skin will be oily. One of the reasons teenagers have oilier skin than adults is because testosterone levels rise during puberty. The good news is that you can lower your testosterone levels through your diet.

tea for oily skin

An easy way to combat excess testosterone? Spearmint tea. Not only is it yummy and soothing, it lowers testosterone production. That helps your oil production and reduces body hair – win win!

What You Eat Shows Up In Your Pores

What you eat plays a big role in how you feel from the inside and how you look on the outside. Countless studies have shown that certain foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins can keep your skin healthy and glowing. But there are also certain foods that can cause excess oil production and acne.

Avoid these foods if you are battling oily skin:

  • Dairy: Dairy products like milk and cheese contain hormones that “turn on” oil glands. This can adversely affect your skin by clogging your pores. If you feel like you break out when you eat too much dairy, switch to alternative products like soy and nut milk, and vegan cheese.
  • Sugar: Ever heard someone say that eating chocolate causes pimples? Though chocolate may not be a direct cause of acne, eating sugar can hurt your skin if you’re trying to control oil production. Sugar raises your insulin levels which in turn causes inflammation. If you must have your chocolate, go for the real stuff: cacao. It’s rich in antioxidants and won’t break you out.
  • Unsaturated fats: You wouldn’t rub greasy french fries on your face right? Eating them can have almost the same effect, and oil up your face. Not to mention they don’t do wonders for your overall health.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol dehydrates you and makes you sweat more, which increases oil production and clogged pores. If you must have some, stick to red wine. At least you get some antioxidant benefits.
  • Sodium: Apart from being covered in grease, those french fries are also high in sodium (salt), which causes inflammation. Not great for oily skin.

After you’ve cut all the oil-causing junk food out, increase your intake of the following foods:

  • Fiber: Foods with fibre in them are your friend. Fibre combines with toxins in your body and flushes them out, leaving you healthy inside and out. Good sources of fibre include lentils, beans and oats. Grapefruits are also high in fibre and have Vitamin C, so they’re great for your skin. Fun fact: grapefruits also aid weight loss!
  • Green vegetables: Leafy greens like arugula, chicory, and kale are chock full of vitamins and minerals that help keep your skin healthy and glowing from the inside out! You can also snack on crunchy green veggies like cucumbers – they’re made up of 95 percent water and are a light and healthy snack that leaves your body feeling cool and your skin hydrated. And hydration is key for supple, healthy skin.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and are key to having healthy skin. Include foods like fish, nuts and avocado into your diet to get your omega-3’s.

Dehydration Causes Oily Skin

It seems counterintuitive – I mean, if you have oily skin, doesn’t that mean your skin is over moisturized?

Not exactly. Dry, dehydrated skin causes your pores to produce excess sebum to compensate for the dryness. Result? Oily skin.

To prevent this from happening, keep your skin hydrated. By that, we don’t mean you should use heavy creams that block your pores – avoid putting ingredients like paraffin wax, mineral oils or even worse, Vaseline, on your skin.

Instead, go for light liquid creams, serums and gels that hydrate without clogging your pores.

Just remember it’s important to keep your skin moisturized, even if it’s oily to begin with. If you don’t use a moisturizer, your skin could produce excess oil to make up for that fact.

Stress Exacerbates Oil Production

Oily skin can be stressful, but unfortunately that stress can also cause oily skin. Here’s what happens when you’re anxious or stressed out: your body begins to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes an increase in oil production. The result? Oily skin, possibly followed by clogged pores and blemishes.

So next time you find yourself growing angsty over something that’s not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, ask yourself: do I really want to rant and rage over this jerk that cut in front of me or do I want clear skin. And then breathe deeply (sound silly, but it actually helps).

And lastly just remember, though oily skin can feel like the worst thing in the world when you get pimples, and unwanted shine, you are also less likely to get wrinkles with this skin type. It’s a fact that people who have oily skin age better. Silver lining? We think so.

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