What causes oily skin and how to treat it effectively?

Symptom Database

Oily skin is a common skin condition that affects many individuals. It occurs when the sebaceous glands in the skin produce an excess amount of sebum, a natural oil that helps to keep the skin moisturized. While some sebum is necessary for healthy skin, an overproduction can lead to oily skin, which can be frustrating to deal with. In this article, we will explore the causes of oily skin and provide effective tips and remedies to treat it.

Causes of Oily Skin

Understanding the causes of oily skin is essential in order to effectively treat it. Here are some common factors that contribute to oily skin:

  • Genetics: Oily skin can be hereditary, meaning that if your parents have oily skin, you are more likely to have it as well.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, can trigger an increase in sebum production.
  • Environmental factors: Hot and humid weather can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Additionally, exposure to pollutants and certain chemicals can also contribute to oily skin.
  • Incorrect skincare routine: Using harsh or drying skincare products can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing the sebaceous glands to overcompensate and produce more oil.
  • Diet: Consuming a diet high in greasy and fried foods can exacerbate oily skin.
  • Stress: Stress can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, leading to increased sebum production.

Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

Establishing a proper skincare routine is crucial for managing oily skin. Here are some tips to incorporate into your daily routine:


Choose a gentle cleanser specifically formulated for oily skin. Avoid harsh soaps or cleansers that can strip the skin of its natural oils, as this can trigger more oil production. Cleanse your face twice a day, in the morning and evening, to remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities.


Use an alcohol-free toner after cleansing to help balance the skin’s pH levels and remove any remaining traces of oil or dirt. Look for toners that contain ingredients like witch hazel or salicylic acid, which can help control oil production.


Contrary to popular belief, even oily skin needs moisturization. Opt for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers that won’t clog pores. Moisturizing helps to keep the skin hydrated and prevents it from producing excess oil to compensate for dryness.


Regular exfoliation is essential for oily skin to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. However, be cautious not to over-exfoliate, as this can irritate the skin and stimulate more oil production. Use a gentle exfoliator once or twice a week.

Sun Protection

Always protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Look for oil-free or non-comedogenic formulas to avoid clogging pores.

Oily Skin Remedies

In addition to a proper skincare routine, there are several remedies that can help manage oily skin:

Clay Masks

Clay masks, such as bentonite or kaolin clay, can help absorb excess oil and impurities from the skin. Apply a clay mask once or twice a week to help control oiliness.

Oil Absorbing Sheets

Oil absorbing sheets are a convenient way to quickly remove excess oil from the skin throughout the day. Gently press the sheet onto oily areas to absorb the oil without disturbing your makeup.

Blotting Papers

Similar to oil absorbing sheets, blotting papers can be used to soak up excess oil. Gently press the blotting paper onto the skin, focusing on oily areas, to remove shine without disturbing your makeup.

Best Products for Oily Skin

Choosing the right products for oily skin is crucial. Look for the following ingredients when selecting skincare products:

  • Salicylic acid: Helps to unclog pores and control oil production.
  • Niacinamide: Regulates sebum production and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores.
  • Tea tree oil: Has antimicrobial properties that can help control acne and oiliness.
  • Retinol: Helps to regulate oil production and promote cell turnover.

When it comes to makeup, opt for oil-free and non-comedogenic formulas to avoid clogging pores. Mineral-based or powder foundations can also help absorb excess oil throughout the day.


Oily skin can be a frustrating condition to deal with, but with the right skincare routine and remedies, it can be effectively managed. Remember to cleanse, tone, moisturize, and protect your skin from the sun. Incorporate clay masks, oil absorbing sheets, and blotting papers into your routine for quick oil control. Choose products with ingredients like salicylic acid, niacinamide, tea tree oil, and retinol to help regulate oil production. By following these tips and being consistent with your skincare routine, you can achieve a healthier, less oily complexion.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment