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The 7 Major Cause of Oily Skin and How to Avoid Them

Ever wondered what causes oily skin? Well, everyone has oil in their skin. Under each pore on the skin is a sebaceous gland that produces natural oils, also known as sebum. This oil helps your skin stay hydrated and more importantly, healthy. In some people, however, these sebaceous glands can produce too much oil. This overproduction creates oily skin.

So how do you know you have oily skin? For starters, your skin always looks shiny. To compensate, you regularly go through multiple blotting sheets each day. Oily skin can feel greasy even after thorough cleansing. Breakouts are also more rampant as dead skin cells have a higher chance of getting stuck on your pores.

There are multiple causes of oily skin. For some, oily skin is genetic, environmental, or a mix of lifestyle factors. While you cannot necessarily get rid of your oily skin, you can take various steps to make your skin look and feel less oily. Your best bet is to identify one or more of these common underlying causes of oily skin below. Let’s take a look at each one of them.

#1. Genetics

As you would have already guessed, the first cause of oily skin is genetics. Oily skin tends to be passed down through families. For instance, if one of your parents has oily skin, you are more than likely to have overactive sebaceous glands too.

#2. Aging

Also, while you cannot grow out of your oily skin, your skin will automatically produce less sebum as you age. Aging skin loses protein like collagen, which consequently slows down your sebaceous glands. For most people, aging systematically turns skin dry.

Consequently, this is also the time when fine lines and wrinkles become more noticeable due to the lack of enough sebum and collagen. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Perhaps one benefit of oily skin is that, unlike other skin types, you may not show signs of aging as quickly.

You may have oily skin when you are younger, but you will need to evaluate your skin as you get older. Additionally, the products you use in your skincare routine have to change with age. What works in your 20s may not be as productive in your 40s. In all cases, these changes are due to natural changes in your skin composition. A skincare expert or dermatologist can help evaluate your skin every few years to see if you need to make changes to your skincare regimen.

#3. Using the Wrong Skincare Products

If you already know your skin type, one obvious cause of oily skin would be using the wrong skincare products. It is relatively easy to confuse your oily skin type for combination skin. As a result, you might end up using heavier creams for the wrong reasons. Since your skin may get drier in the winter, you will need to change your skincare regimen and products, during summer and spring.

Gel-based cleansers and lightweight creams are better suited for those seasons. Using the correct skin care products will make a huge difference in how much oil you will have on your face.

#4. Location and Time of Year

Although genetics and age are the primary causes of oily skin, where you live and the time of year also makes a huge difference. Unsurprisingly, people tend to have oilier skin mostly in hot, humid climates. Your skin is also more likely to produce more oil during summer compared to winter or fall.

While you may not be able to move from your location right away because of oily skin, you can still make some changes to your daily skincare routine when it gets too hot or humid. Another great option is to keep your blotting sheets in hand to touch up any excess oil during the day. Alternatively, a matte moisturizer or foundation are both great options to soak up your oily skin.

#5. Enlarged Pores

As you age, your pores begin to stretch. Weight fluctuations and previous breakouts may also enlarge your pores. Large pores are known to produce more oil. Unfortunately, you can’t shrink your pores when they become enlarged. Luckily, there are enough measures you can take throughout the day to blot areas of your face that have enlarged pores.

#6. Overdoing Your Skincare Regimen

On the one hand, washing your face or over-exfoliating can make your skin produce more oil. While this might sound ridiculous, considering the exfoliation is supposed to help your skin eliminate excess oils, the process can trigger the overproduction of sebum. If you exfoliate too often than you need to, you may strip away the necessary oil your skin needs. When that happens, your skin compensates by producing more oil to make up for the loss. At most, dermatologists recommend that you wash your face only twice a day to keep any excess oil at bay.

Failing to wear sunscreen may also dry out your skin, leading to extra oil production. Every skincare expert and dermatologist will tell you to always wear sunscreen, whether indoors or outdoors. Although some moisturizers and foundations may have sunscreen on them, you will still need to reapply them throughout the day for the best results.

#7. Skipping Moisturizer!

Another notorious cause of oily skin is skipping moisturizer. One of the most common myths of skin care is that moisturizers can cause oily skin. On the contrary, if you often use acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, you will need a moisturizer to protect your skin from drying out. Instead of skipping this crucial moisturizing step, take your time to find the right product for your skin.

Water-based, lightweight moisturizers work best for oily skin. Of course, this step comes in handy after cleansing and toning. Finally, always keep your pores clear by using oil-free, non-comedogenic products.


Like we have mentioned, it’s possible to have more than just one cause of oily skin. While oily skin can be complex and sometimes frustrating, you will be glad to know there is more than enough you can do about it.

Whether your oily skin is genetic or you live in a humid climate, you have every right to enjoy cleaner, clear skin. Once you discover your very own oily-skin-fighting-plan, give it some time and patience to work. For some, finding the right regimen may take a month or two, or more. If nothing seems to work yet, you might want to consult a dermatologist to make sure it is not a more prominent underlying skin problem.


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