Why Is My Skin So Oily? Causes and Natural Remedies

By , Category : Skin Care

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

why is my skin so oily
Credit: iStock.com/Srisakorn

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is my skin so oily?” Oily skin is the result of your skin’s glands secreting more sebum than usual, leaving the surface with a shiny and greasy appearance. So, what leads the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum? The causes of oily skin range from a hormonal imbalance to the overuse of certain types of cosmetics. Your skin may also be oily due to rare genetic conditions like Fowler-Christmas-Chapple syndrome.

In this article, we are going to discuss how to get rid of oily skin with natural remedies like cornstarch, oatmeal, and orange peels. We will also look at the natural benefits of oily skin.

The skin requires some oil in order to function properly, but only in moderate amounts. One of the more difficult side effects of oily skin is acne, which develops when a buildup of dead skin cells mixes with P. acnes bacteria.

Common Causes of Oily Skin

What causes oily skin? The primary cause of oily skin is the overproduction of sebum, a waxy, oil-like substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Sebum is the body’s natural lubricant; it helps lubricate and waterproof your skin and hair. But when it is created in excess, it can leave the skin looking shiny and oily, and feeling greasy. This excessive sebum production can be caused by the following circumstances:

1. Puberty

When you enter puberty, your hormones often become unbalanced and are constantly shifting. This instability can lead the body to create disproportionate amounts of sebum. This is also the reason why most people who suffer from acne in their teenage years later grow out of it, as the hormone levels typically stabilize with age.

2. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can often throw a woman’s hormones into disarray, especially in terms of estrogen production. This fluctuation in estrogen can often cause sebum production to go into overdrive. The good news in regards to this cause is that the oily skin often returns to normal after the pregnancy is over.

3. Dietary Habits

The food that you eat can cause your body to create excessive amounts of sebum. Processed foods, foods and drinks high in caffeine, as well as foods high in fat and salt, can dehydrate your skin and cause the glands that create sebum to produce disproportionate amounts.

4. Cosmetics

Cosmetics such as foundations, powders, rouge, and bronzers can also lead to oily skin. Make-ups that are oil-based or come in a liquid form can trap the skin’s natural oils and cause the body to produce more sebum than it requires.

5. Skin Care Products

Too much exfoliation or cleansing of your skin can have the undesired effect of causing your skin to become oily. When you clean your skin too much, especially with products like scrubs, it can strip your skin of its natural oils. As a result, the body will try to overcompensate and make the skin oily.

6. Seasons

The changing of the seasons can also play a part in your oily skin. In the summer, a hot and humid period can cause the body to produce excess sebum in an effort to keep the skin moist. During the winter, when it is cold but there is less moisture in the air, your skin can become dry and dehydrated, causing the body to create more sebum to try and compensate.

7. Stress

Stress can manifest itself in a number of physical ways, including oily skin. It can cause the body to create excess androgen hormones, which can result in overproduction of sebum, causing the skin to be oily and greasy.

8. Genetics

Unfortunately, some of your skin issues may not have anything to do with your dietary or lifestyle choices. Many skin issues and sensitivities can be passed on genetically. So, if your parents both have issues with oily skin due to sensitivity to cosmetics, larger pores, etc., there is a good chance you will face similar issues.

Rare Medical Causes of Oily Skin

Along with the common causes of oily skin, there are a few rare medical causes that you should be aware of.

1. Acromegaly

Acromegaly is caused by a non-cancerous tumor on the pituitary gland. This tumor then causes the gland to mass produce hormones, especially growth hormones. This can cause bone deformities and issues with your organs. While the over-production of hormones can cause oily skin, it can also lead to medical conditions like cancer and diabetes.

2. HAIR-AN Syndrome

HAIR-AN syndrome is a rare medical condition that only affects women. It involves the body increasing the formation of male hormones in a woman, along with insulin resistance and dark, velvety patches of skin. This surge of male hormones throws off the hormone balance in the woman affected, causing symptoms like oily skin, increased hair growth, loss of scalp hair, infertility, acne and other symptoms.

3. Forbes-Albright Syndrome

Forbes-Albright syndrome occurs in a person with a hormone-secreting pituitary or hypothalamic tumor that, in turn, causes galactorrhea (nipple secretion) and amenorrhea (a lack of menstruation). This set of medical issues can throw a person’s hormones completely out of balance, causing oily skin, decreased libido, enlarged male breasts, decreased sperm, an altered pattern in body hair for females, and more.

4. Pachydermoperiostosis

Pachydermoperiostosis is another rare hereditary disorder that is characterized by swelling of the fingers and toes, thickening and folding of the skin, new bone formation, and hyperhidrosis (extreme sweating) of hands and feet.

Oily skin is also common in this condition, whose symptoms often appear at the onset of puberty.

5. Fowler-Christmas-Chapple Syndrome

Fowler-Christmas-Chapple syndrome (which is also referred to as polycystic ovaries urethral sphincter dysfunction) is a rare medical situation that prevents a woman (usually premenopausal and under 30) from urinating or having the urgency to urinate, but also causes lower abdominal discomfort. It is often linked with polycystic ovaries and symptoms like irregular periods, increased androgen hormone levels, weight gain, and oily skin.

Common Symptoms of Oily Skin

The symptoms of oily skin are relatively uniform. People with oily skin tend to have larger pores and an oily sheen to their skin in both look and touch. The skin does not feel tight and may even leave a greasy print on objects like cell phones. But, other symptoms that come along with oily skin.

Skin issues tend to come hand in hand with oily skin. The excessive amount of sebum produced can help feed various skin blemishes so those people who have oily skin often have issues with acne, pimples, and blackheads. These skin issues can often lead to blocked pores as debris on the skin can build and fill them in.

Natural Remedies for Oily Skin

There are some natural remedies for oily skin that employ common household items. If there is an underlying medical issue causing the oily skin, these might a stop-gap measure until the medical condition causing the oily skin is cured.

1. Wash Your Face/Skin

Washing your face and body can help get rid of oily skin. You can cleanse with either natural, homemade soaps or those bought from the store. However, you should avoid washing too frequently and use gentle soaps to prevent damage and dehydration of your skin.

2. Honey

Honey works as a natural peroxide and, as such, is antibacterial and antiseptic. These properties could help clear up skin blemishes that may occur due to oily skin as well take away the oiliness. The added benefit of using honey on oily skin is that it may help keep your skin moist and supple.

Twice a day, try spreading a thin layer of honey across your face. Let it sit for 15 minutes before washing as normal.

3. Oatmeal

Not only can oatmeal be used as a natural scrub to help remove debris and oil from your skin, but it could also help treat acne and other skin issues. Try the following method:

Mix a half cup of ground oats with hot water to form a paste. Then, add one tablespoon of honey.

Massage the oatmeal mixture into your face for about three minutes; rinse with warm water, and pat dry.

4. Egg Whites and Lemons

While they may seem like an odd combination of ingredients, this mixture could potentially help tighten your pores. The acid in the lemon might help to fight acne and absorb the excess oil. According to studies, lemon also exhibits antibacterial properties. The following mixture may work for you.

  • Combine one egg white with one teaspoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
  • Apply the mixture to your face. Leave the mixture on until the mask dries.
  • Remove with mixture warm water, and pat dry.

5. Yogurt

The lactic acid that natural yogurt contains may help exfoliate your skin, ridding it of debris as well as absorbing the excess oil that is being produced.

Take one tablespoon of plain yogurt and thoroughly apply it to your face. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Then, rinse it off with cool water. Do this once daily.

You can also try adding honey and or oatmeal for better effectiveness.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar may make it ideal for cleaning up acne and oily skin. The alpha-hydroxy acids that apple cider vinegar carries might also keep the skin moisturized and tight.

  • Dilute 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 3/4 cups of distilled water.
  • Apply this mixture onto your skin using a cotton ball. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with cool water and pat dry. Repeat this process several times a week for best results.

Many of these remedies can be used in conjunction with one another. The key is to make sure you don’t dry out your skin too much. Oily skin can feel uncomfortable and cause other skin issues, but super-dry skin can crack and blister, and cause the body to create more sebum which once again creates oily skin.

As many of the remedies use natural ingredients, you should also be mindful of possible allergies.

Diet to Reduce Oily Skin

While the remedies we mentioned in the previous section can help take care of oily skin, there are a few things changes to your diet to reduce oily skin.

1. Food to Eat

There are a number of foods you can eat that may help prevent or reduce oily skin, including:

2. Water

Drinking plenty of water will keep your skin hydrated, which means the body will require less sebum for moisturizing the skin.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating foods rich in omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, as they block G-protein-couple-receptor 120, which seems to help stop inflammation or at least helps reduce inflammation.

These anti-inflammatory properties could help reduce the effects of oily skin like acne and other skin blemishes. Foods with omega-3s include fish like salmon and tuna, avocados, and soya beans.

4. Fiber

Eating foods with plenty of fiber may help your skin overall. Fiber helps the body absorb nutrients and helps the body get rid excess minerals by promoting the movement of foods through the digestive tract. This process could possibly help keep skin clear and help reduce oiliness.

5. Foods to Avoid

There are a number of foods that you may want to avoid when suffering from oily skin, including:

6. Dairy Products

Dairy products can contain hormones that may not normally affect you. But, if you are currently dealing with a medical condition that has disrupted the hormone balance in the body, dairy products like milk can exacerbate the issue.

7. Added Sugars

Added sugars like cane sugar, maltose, and corn syrup with high hyperglycemic levels may cause an increase in hormone and blood sugar levels that leads to excessive oil production in the body. Note, this only includes refined sugars as opposed to the natural sugars that exist in foods like fruit.

8. Inflammatory Fats

Trans fats and saturated fats can increase the inflammation of acne and other skin issues that may be causing or adding to the issues of oily skin. Fatty meats like bacon and steak, high-fat dairy products like whole milk, and sweet baked goods like cakes, cookies, and pastries contain these types of harmful fats.

Oily Skin Promotes Anti-Aging

One perhaps unexpected benefit of oily skin is that it may actually help keep your skin looking young, and could help in the anti-aging department. The sebum that your body is producing acts as your skin’s lubricant, which is where it can help with reducing the signs of aging.

Wrinkles in your skin are caused by the stretching of the skin, most of which are created through repetitive movement like furrowing your brow, smiling, etc. The excessive sebum may moisturize the skin, giving it the ability to bounce back from the stretching more easily. So, while oily skin may keep your skin from being tight and toned, it can also cause the skin to relax from stretching.

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that acne sufferers experience age-related fine lines and thinning skin much later in life than others due to their longer telomeres. These protective caps found on the ends of chromosomes protect the structures from breaking down during the cell replication process, which eventually leads to cell death with age.

Oily Skin Isn’t a Life Sentence

An oily skin type can make you feel self-conscious. The excess sebum can make your skin feel greasy and soft. It can mean that you leave oil marks on your phones and even your clothes. It might also be a warning sign of rare medical conditions or simply indicate too much sugar in your diet.

But there is good news. There may be a natural treatment for oily skin that works for you as well as treatments for the medical causes that may have prompted the issue. Science also shows that you may enjoy smooth, wrinkle-free skin for years longer than your drier-skinned counterparts. If you have oily skin and are unhappy with it, try changing your diet or applying one of the above natural cleansers to your skin. In the meantime, make an appointment to see your primary doctor or dermatologist. Hopefully, these steps will lead to clearer skin.


Sources :
Sakuma, T. and Maibach, H., “Oily skin: an overview,” US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22722766, last accessed September 29, 2017.
Schwartz, R., “Pachydermoperiostosis,” Medscape, June 6, 2017;  http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1075122-overview, last accessed September 29, 2017.
Pater, R., “Oily Skin Type: how to treat and what are the symptoms,” Skin Vision, 2016, https://skinvision.com/articles/oily-skin-type-how-to-treat-and-what-are-the-symptoms, last accessed September 29, 2017.
Williamson, R., “6 Foods to Avoid for Oily Skin and What to Eat Instead,” Bioeffect, December 13, 2016, https://bioeffect.co.uk/thebuzz/6-foods-to-avoid-for-oily-skin-what-to-eat-instead/, last accessed September 29, 2017.
Viuda-Martos, M., et al.,“ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF LEMON (CITRUS LEMON L.), MANDARIN (CITRUS RETICULATA L.), GRAPEFRUIT (CITRUS PARADISI L.) AND ORANGE (CITRUS SINENSIS L.) ESSENTIAL OILS,” Journal of Food Safety, Oct. 2008; 28(4): 567-76; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-4565.2008.00131.x/abstract, last accessed September 29, 2017.
Ribero, S., et al., “Acne and Telomere Length: A New Spectrum between Senescence and Apoptosis Pathways,” Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Feb. 2017; 137 (2): 513–515; http://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(16)32456-3/fulltext, last accessed September 29, 2017.




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Up until the end of 2016, Brent Chittenden had been a freelance researcher and writer, writing about everything from entertainment—including pro wrestling and stand-up comedy—to health and nutrition, to culture and lifestyle. In 2017, he joined the Doctors Health Press full time and couldn’t be happier about it. With a graduate certificate in Radio and Broadcasting, Brent brings extensive experience as a communicator and researcher, adding to the many talented health authorities and professionals on whose expertise Doctors Health Press... Read Full Bio »