Oily skin can be frustrating, and the bad news is that it is based on your genetics. Yes, there are things you can do to control the oily appearance and minimize the factors that increase oil production, but the bottom line is the same.

If oily skin is in your DNA, you will face the problem every day you look in the mirror.

In addition to genetics, though, there are other factors that contribute to oil production. Once you understand all of them, you can be better prepared to not only deal with your oily skin but get control over it too.

Let's take a closer look at the causes of oily skin:

1. Genetics

The number one reason that you will have oily skin is because your family does. If your parents have the traits then so will you.

Specifically, it is having larger sebaceous glands that produce excess oil, and these are inherited down every branch of the family tree.

2. Environment

Humidity and hot weather stimulate the production and secretion of sebum, which contributes to oily skin. Unfortunately, cold and arid climates can cause your pores to dry out quickly, which prompt your oil glands to go into overdrive.

The season doesn’t really matter, because if it is in your DNA, oil production will find a way.

3. Over-washing

As it happens, there is such a thing as being too clean. When you notice that your skin is shiny, the last thing you want to do is clean it too much with harsh face products.

Scrubbing too hard with a cloth or other abrasive tools or exfoliators can strip the skin of moisture. When this happens, your glands tend to overproduce oil so it is important to always clean your face gently.

4. Medication

Oral contraceptives or any other hormone-altering drugs can increase oil production. (1) You can also see oily skin with the use of steroids.  

Several medications also cause dehydration. Once you start drying out, your body produces more oil.

5. Hormones

Because of the impact hormones can have on oily skin, women are also likely to see increased oil production at certain times in their menstrual cycle. Androgens are the hormones responsible for oil production, and as they fluctuate, so do levels of sebum.

Along with menstruation, puberty, stress, and illness can all cause your hormones to fluctuate.


Always choose skincare products that are appropriate for your specific skin type. You also want to make sure the products you choose are of high quality and are labeled as oil-free or noncomedogenic.

If you have oily skin but choose products for combination skin, you can end up drying your skin out or cause more oil production. Poor-quality products can be too harsh for your skin and cause damage that will make your sebaceous glands produce even more oil.  

Along with having the right makeup, you also want to use it sparingly, because too much can trap oil and trigger a breakout.

7. Poor diet

We all love indulging in sugary foods, dairy, and refined carbohydrates, but these tasty treats are not your skin’s best friend. Frequent consumption of these foods increases sebum production, and your face may start looking as greasy as the food you are eating. (2)

What to Do With Oily Skin

Oily skin may be such a challenge that you feel like you will never get control over it. Don’t despair! There are some key things you can do to help you manage oil production so that it doesn’t take over your life.


More than just a nutritious breakfast, oatmeal can calm inflamed skin and absorb excess oil. When used as a facial mask, oatmeal helps to exfoliate dead skin leaving you with a healthy glow rather than a greasy shine.

Mix ½ cup of ground oats with water and a touch of honey to form a paste and massage it onto your face evenly for about 3 minutes. Rinse after 15 minutes and pat your skin dry to reveal a healthier and shine-free face.

2. Wash your face

This may seem obvious, but there are a lot of people with oily skin that do not wash their faces daily. The key is to wash your face gently without harsh cleansers or materials, but you definitely want to wash every day.  

Glycerin soaps are often the best to use because they are so gentle.

3. Blotting papers

These thin papers can’t stop oil production, but they can help you clear up excess oil from your face. By blotting away the oil, you can minimize the shiny and greasy appearance it creates.

These papers are cheap and readily available over the counter, so you can keep them on hand to use throughout the day.

4. Aloe vera

Aloe is known around the world for its soothing qualities, and research shows it can also help treat flaky skin that is caused by oily patches. Applying a thin layer at bedtime and leaving overnight will help control the appearance of oil on your face.

5. Honey

Long used as a skin remedy, honey is an antibacterial and antiseptic agent. It can help to clear up acne and because of its humectant properties; it can also keep your skin moist but not oily.

Humectants have the ability to draw in moisture without replacing it. You should use raw honey for face treatments, spreading a thin layer and leaving it for 10 minutes before rinsing.

6. Tomatoes

Not many people realize that tomatoes can help your skin, specifically acne. The salicylic acid they contain controls skin oils and helps to unclog pores.

It is easy to make a tomato exfoliating mask by mixing 1 teaspoon of sugar with tomato pulp.  Apply the mask to your face in a circular motion and leave for 5 minutes. Rinse and pat your skin dry.

Final Thoughts

Oily skin does not have to ruin your life, even if it is part of your genetic makeup.

There are several lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to keep oil production under control as well as several home remedies to get rid of any excess oil. You can also reach out to your dermatologist to see what they recommend.

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  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11069462

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4106357/