In short, oily skin is caused when skin produces excessive amounts of sebum, the oil naturally produced by the body. This oil, which is secreted by the sebaceous glands, can cause clogged pores, build up on the skin, and even discomfort. This can make skin tone look uneven and, well, unclean.
Clogged pores are also often irritated pores, so oily skin can often look very irritated. And of course, as anyone who has oily skin knows--and probably has the selfies to prove--oily skin can make skin shine like the sun. For these reasons, oily skin often needs a little extra care.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Oily skin is caused when skin produces excessive amounts of sebum causing clogged pores, build up on the skin, and even discomfort.
Good to Know: Genetics, hormones, and your diet all play a role in whether or not you have oily skin.
What Causes Oily Skin?
As we discussed above, oily skin occurs when the skin produces an excess of sebum--but what causes the skin to do that?
Here are a few factors that cause oily skin:
- Genetics. No matter what kind of skin you have, your genetics all but undoubtedly have something to do with it. If you have oily skin, chances are at least one of your parents is the reason you have it.
- Hormones. If you’re like a lot of people, your skin was probably at its oiliest when you were an adolescent. That’s because your hormones were going a little insane for a few years. A group of hormones called androgens are what cause oil production in the skin. When they decide to act up, they can trigger an increase in sebum production, causing your skin to look and feel oilier than usual.
- Pregnancy, menstrual cycles. Nothing will get your hormones to act like a bunch of cranky children like pregnancy and menstruation. Don’t be surprised if you experience excess oiliness for a few days out of the month or during your pregnancy. Just call it a “glow” and lean into it!
- Environment. A seriously humid day will really ramp up sebum production, especially if you have oily skin to begin with. Depending on where you live, if you have oily skin, you probably spend the summer trying to control oil.
- Diet. You know that feeling your skin sometimes gets when you eat junk food? Almost like you’ve taken a big bottle of oil and poured it directly on your skin? Well, that’s because foods that are high in saturated fats, sugar, and even some carbohydrates can cause your sebum production to rise. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to go through the drive-thru!
- Medication. All kinds of medications, but especially ones like birth control pills and hormone replacement can really cause your sebum production to spike.
- Dehydration. It seems totally counterintuitive to think that dehydration can cause your skin to produce excess oil, but in fact, it can. Skin that’s dehydrated sometimes overcompensates by ramping up oil production, leading to oily skin.
How to Fix Oily Skin
Luckily, with a great skin care regime and a few lifestyle adjustments, oily skin can be kept under control. Here are some easy ways to do that:
- Cleanse. Getting dirt and oil off and away from skin is the easiest way to make sure oil doesn’t take over. You know how you pull weeds from a garden before they can dominate a space? That’s kind of what cleansing does--it gets oil off the skin before it causes damage. Fleur & Bee’s So Clean Natural Cleanser not only clears dirt and make-up from the skin, it helps balance skin’s natural oils, which is super important for oily skin! It also won’t dry skin out, which can lead to your skin over compensating as we discussed above.
- Tone. Anyone who has oily skin knows that a toner can be an oily skin’s best friend, especially in the summer. Our Rose & Shine Rose Water Toner helps control excess oil and minimizes the look of pores--something that’s a big issue for oily skins!
- Exfoliate. One great way to make sure skin stays clear of dirt and oil is exfoliation. Exfoliation really helps draw impurities from the skin, unclogging pores and making sure skin is as clean as it can possibly be. This is crucial for oily skin, which tends to get clogged and dirty very easily!
- Moisturize. Yes, believe it or not, oily skins need to moisturize! For starters, as we said above, skin that’s dehydrated may try to compensate by producing more oil. The key with moisturizing for oily skin is to just go gently on areas like the T-Zone that are more oily and to make sure you’re using a moisturizer made for oil skin types (there are a lot of moisturizers out there for very dry skins so be sure you’re not using one!).
- Use a detoxifying mask. One great way to really get the oil and dirt out of your skin is to use a detox mask. Many masks--charcoal ones in particular--are incredibly uncomfortable and leave your skin feeling dry (and not in a good way). We’re happy to tell you that our Prince Charcoal Natural Detox Mask does an incredible job at dredging up your skin’s impurities without drying it out! If you want to really cleanse your pores without feeling like you’re in a desert, this is a great choice to use one-to-three times a week.
- Use non-comedogenic ingredients. It’s super important that oily skins stay away from anything that is likely to clog their pores since oil does a good job of that on its own. Non-comedogenic means just that--that it won’t clog pores, so the next time you’re in the market for skin care, check the packaging and make sure the ingredients are considered non-comedogenic.
- Change your diet. Oily skins who consume a lot of saturated fats and sugar are just asking to make their oil issue worse. Clear your diet of anything that can ramp up sebum production and we think you’ll find your oil situation will vastly improve!
- Meditate. Stress causes hormone levels to change, which, in turn, sometimes causes oil production to increase. Take a few minutes each day to just calm yourself, either through meditation or deep breathing or some other way and see what happens to your skin.
- Use paper blotters. The more dirt and oil is allowed to sit on the skin, the more damage it can cause. Make your own face blotters by pre-spraying a little toner on some tissues and break them out on a hot day when your skin is apt to be its oiliest.
Of course, there is one big benefit to oily skin, which is that people with oily skin have a tendency to develop wrinkles later in life than most people and even then, often don’t experience lines that are as deep or noticeable as those with drier skin.
So while you may have to deal with some shine, we recommend you just call it a “glow” and revel in the fact that you’ll probably stay line free longer than most!