What Causes Oily Skin? 6 Causes and How to Treat Them

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Oily skin is a common dermatological concern that affects individuals of all ages and genders.

Characterized by excessive sebum production, enlarged pores, and a shiny complexion, oily skin can be frustrating to manage and may contribute to various skin issues such as acne, blackheads, and congestion.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the underlying causes of oily skin, its effects on the skin’s health, and effective treatments to manage and balance oil production for a clearer, healthier complexion.

Understanding Oily Skin:

Oily skin occurs when the sebaceous glands in the skin produce an excess amount of sebum, an oily substance that helps lubricate and protect the skin.

While sebum is essential for maintaining skin hydration and elasticity, overproduction can lead to a greasy, shiny appearance and a host of associated issues.

Oily skin is influenced by a combination of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors, making it a complex condition to address.

Causes of Oily Skin:


Genetic predisposition plays a significant role in determining an individual’s skin type, including whether they have oily, dry, or combination skin.

If oily skin runs in your family, you are more likely to inherit this trait and experience excessive sebum production.

Hormonal Changes:

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can trigger an increase in sebum production.

Androgens, the male hormones present in both males and females, stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to oily skin and acne breakouts.

Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors such as humidity, heat, and pollution can exacerbate oily skin by stimulating sebum production and clogging pores.

Hot and humid climates can cause the skin to produce more oil as a protective mechanism, while exposure to pollution and airborne particles can lead to pore congestion and inflammation.


While the relationship between diet and oily skin is still under research, certain dietary factors may influence sebum production and skin health.

Consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats may contribute to inflammation and excess oil production in some individuals.

Skincare Products:

Using skincare products that are too harsh or stripping for your skin type can disrupt the skin’s natural barrier and trigger an overproduction of oil as a compensatory mechanism.

Similarly, using comedogenic or pore-clogging products can exacerbate pore congestion and acne breakouts in individuals with oily skin.


Chronic stress can impact hormone levels and cortisol production, leading to an increase in sebum production and exacerbation of oily skin.

Stress-induced hormonal changes can also trigger inflammation and disrupt the skin’s natural balance, contributing to acne flare-ups and other skin issues.

Effects of Oily Skin:


Excessive sebum production can lead to the accumulation of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria within the pores, resulting in acne breakouts, including whiteheads, blackheads, and inflammatory lesions such as pimples and cysts.

Enlarged Pores:

Oily skin is often associated with enlarged pores, as the excess sebum can stretch and dilate the pores over time.

Enlarged pores are more prone to becoming clogged with debris, leading to blackheads and congestion.

Shiny Complexion:

Oily skin typically has a shiny or greasy appearance, especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin).

The excess oil on the skin’s surface can reflect light and give the skin a glossy sheen.

Skin Congestion:

Pore congestion is common in individuals with oily skin, as the excess oil, dead skin cells, and impurities can become trapped within the pores, leading to congestion, blackheads, and rough texture.

Skin Irritation:

Harsh skincare products or excessive cleansing to combat oily skin can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin barrier, leading to irritation, redness, and sensitivity.

Makeup Meltdown:

Oily skin can cause makeup to slide off or melt away more quickly, making it challenging to maintain a matte, long-lasting finish throughout the day.

How to Treat Oily Skin:

Gentle Cleansing:

Use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities without stripping the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Look for cleansers formulated with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide to help unclog pores and control oil production.


Incorporate exfoliation into your skincare routine 2-3 times per week to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve skin texture.

Choose chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to gently exfoliate the skin and regulate oil production.

Oil-Free Moisturizer:

Despite having oily skin, it’s essential to moisturize to maintain skin hydration and prevent excessive oil production.

Opt for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers that hydrate the skin without clogging pores or adding shine.

Balanced Diet:

Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to support overall skin health and regulate oil production.

Avoiding excessive consumption of sugary, high-glycemic foods and dairy products may also help reduce inflammation and acne breakouts.


Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day to keep the skin hydrated from within.

Proper hydration helps regulate sebum production and maintain skin elasticity and suppleness.

Mattifying Products:

Incorporate mattifying skincare products into your routine, such as oil-absorbing primers, powders, and blotting papers, to help control shine and minimize the appearance of oil throughout the day.


Oily skin can be challenging to manage, but with the right approach and skincare routine, you can effectively control excess oil production and achieve a clearer, healthier complexion.

By understanding the underlying causes of oily skin and implementing targeted treatments and lifestyle changes, you can minimize shine, reduce acne breakouts, and improve the overall appearance and texture of your skin.

Remember to be patient and consistent with your skincare regimen, as it may take time to see significant improvements.

If you’re struggling to manage oily skin on your own, consider consulting a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

With dedication and proper care, you can take control of oily skin and enjoy a smoother, more balanced complexion.

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