Why Is My Face So Oily? Oily Skincare Routine Tips

When it comes to skincare, “oily” can feel like a dirty word. Nobody wants greasy skin — or the breakouts that come with it. So, is all oil bad for your skin? 

There is a difference between healthy oil production and excess oil in the skin. While it may not seem like it, our skin actually needs a certain amount of oil to function. Natural oils keep your skin barrier strong and help lubricate the internal structure of your skin so that it can do its job and protect you from outside threats. However, some skin types make more oil than necessary. 

If your skin produces more oil than needed, you probably have oily skin — even if you didn’t always. 

It’s possible to develop oily skin as you get older, even if you’ve had dry or combination skin all of your life. Especially if this oiler skin is new to you, you may find yourself wondering, “Why is my skin so oily all of a sudden?” Or, more importantly, “How do I get rid of it?”

Today, we’ll answer both questions. In this article, you’ll learn where excess oil comes from and how to control oily skin with the right skincare routine to get back your natural (not greasy) shine. 

What Causes Skin Oiliness?

Remember when we said that your skin produces a healthy amount of oil on its own? Well, this oil is called sebum, and it is responsible for a lot in your skin. Without it, your skin would be a pretty ineffective organ. However, too much of it can lead to oily skin. 

Sebum can build up on the skin in multiple ways and cause an oily face. 

Sebum Overproduction

Your skin is your body’s first defense against the world. Microbes, pollutants, and dirt would all make their way into your body through your skin if not for your skin barrier. And you need oil to keep this barrier strong. 

So, what happens when your skin makes too much of this oil?

Sometimes, your sebaceous glands — which are located in your hair follicles and produce sebum — can become overactive, pumping out more sebum than your skin needs. This can cause the oil to build up on your skin, clogging your pores and creating that oily look on your face. 

While some people are born with overactive sebaceous glands, others develop this oilier skin later in life. Sebum overproduction can be caused by: 

  • Hormones: As you age, your body starts to change at a molecular level. You produce different kinds of hormones in different amounts. These fluctuations in your hormone levels impact the way your organs function — including your skin. 
  • Lifestyle: Like nearly every other system in your body, your skin is largely impacted by your lifestyle — specifically, your diet. Dermatologists and other healthcare professionals have long said that high-glycemic foods like breads and fried foods can raise your blood sugar quickly, sparking inflammation and activating your sebaceous glands. 

Improper Cleansing

Another factor that can cause your skin to make more sebum than it needs is coincidentally the same factor that can help you control your oily skin: cleansing. 

Washing your face is a must for every skincare routine . This step removes any leftover makeup, lingering dead skin cells, or excess oil clinging to the face. If you don’t cleanse your skin or use a cleanser that isn’t strong enough, these substances can remain on your face, clogging your pores and contributing to oily skin. 

However, too much of a good thing can also have serious consequences for your skin. 

Overwashing your face can strip away the sebum your skin needs to protect itself. Without these lipids and natural oils, the pH of your skin can spike , throwing the organ out of balance and damaging your skin’s natural barrier. In an effort to protect itself, your skin will then start to produce more of this sebum to replenish what you’re washing away — causing your oily skin. 

Excessive Dryness

Anything that threatens your skin barrier will prompt your sebaceous glands into action. 

This can mean stripping away the natural oils your skin needs by overwashing your face — but there are other causes of dry skin: 

  • Winter Weather: Cold weather conditions (and the dry air common during the wintertime) can dry out your skin by failing to provide enough moisture to the organ. Because the molecules in cold air are packed closer together, they don’t hold as much water as the air in humid climates. This lack of moisture in the air changes the amount of moisture in your skin.
  • Harsh Skincare Products: Skincare products made with highly potent chemicals are praised for their effectiveness, but too much of them can irritate your skin and tamper with its natural pH levels. Your skin will recognize this as a threat and begin to produce more sebum to balance out what is being lost. 

Will Moisturizing Make Oily Skin Worse?

While it may seem like the way to control oily skin is to introduce fewer oil-based products, failing to hydrate your skin is one of the fastest ways to boost excess oil production. 

When you skip moisturizer in your skincare routine, you condition your skin to believe that it is in a dry environment. Like with winter weather, this causes your skin to produce more oil to combat this lack of water. Over time, this can lead to oilier skin than you started with.

No matter how tempted you might be, don’t throw out your facial moisturizer — doing so might just make your oily skin worse. 

What Is a Good Skincare Routine for Oily Skin?

We’ve talked a lot about what not to do for your oily skin — but what should you be doing? 

No matter what it may seem like, oily skin is not a death sentence, and it definitely isn’t a guarantee that you will have acne breakouts and blackheads forever. By crafting the right skincare routine for your skin type , you can avoid excess oil without the need for blotting sheets. 

Use a Gentle Cleanser

When it comes to washing your oily skin, it’s important to strike the right balance of powerful yet gentle. A cleanser that is too strong can strip away key oils that your skin needs (and prompt your skin to create more of them in the process), but a cleanser that’s not strong enough can leave behind excess oil on the skin and contribute to acne breakouts. 

That’s why choosing a gentle cleanser is so crucial for oily skin. 

To properly clean but not irritate oily skin, you need a cleanser that will hydrate your skin as it cleans, ensuring that no essential moisture is lost from the skin. 

If you want long-lasting hydration, try the IS Clinical Cream Cleanser . This cleansing product combines the power of bio-nutrients, antioxidants, and restorative ingredients to thoroughly cleanse your skin and remove excess oil from your pores without stripping away your natural moisture.


But as anyone with oily skin will tell you, face wash is not enough. To combat sebum overproduction and greasy skin, sometimes you need a cleanser with a bit more of an oomph. That’s where exfoliation comes in. 

Skin exfoliants work to gently polish the surface of your skin. Both mechanical and chemical exfoliators remove dead skin cells clinging to your skin and clogging your pores. By removing this debris, you remove some of the key factors fueling acne-prone skin. 

If you’re looking for a strong exfoliator to pair with your gentle daily cleanser, give the Jan Marini Marini Multi-Acid Exfoliating Pads a try. These pads are powered by four brightening acids that can smooth the look of your skin and even work to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in the process. 

Tone Your Skin

Once you’ve properly cleaned your face, it’s time to turn your attention back to pH. 

Your skin sits at about 5.5 on the pH scale , making it more acidic than water, which is at a 7. When you wash your face, the water used can increase the pH of your skin, negatively impacting your skin barrier. That’s why it’s important to get your skin back in balance after cleansing — otherwise, you risk acne, irritation, and dryness. 

Skincare toners are specifically designed to regulate your skin's pH after washing. 

If you’re looking for a toner that supports oily skin by targeting pores, the M-61 PowerGlow Toner might be the one for you. This product uses glycolic and salicylic acid to balance and clarify skin for a brighter (and oil-free) complexion. 

Choose a Light Moisturizer

While anyone who claims that oily skin doesn’t need a moisturizer is misinformed, there is some truth to the fact that moisturizers can weigh down oily skin. But rather than skip this step altogether, a good oily skin routine should choose a moisturizer made for this skin condition. 

Lightweight moisturizers made for oily skin provide all the same benefits as your typical hydrating cream but are made to be less heavy, and, therefore, less likely to weigh down the skin. These products are often also non-comedogenic — meaning they are designed not to clog pores like other skincare products would. 

If you’re looking for a daily moisturizer to hydrate your skin without contributing to T-zone breakouts, try the Augustinus Bader The Light Cream . This product is a mattifying moisturizer that hydrates, renews, and protects your skin while preventing unwanted shine. 

Use Sun Protection

Every skin type needs to wear sunscreen , but if you have oily skin, then you know that some sun protectants seem to cause acne breakouts the second you apply them to your face. 

Similar to moisturizers, it’s important to choose a lightweight sunscreen if you have oily skin . But don’t think that lightweight means less powerful — your sunscreen still needs to contain enough SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays . Otherwise, you may find yourself with more skin problems than just breakouts. 

If you’re looking for a powerful sunscreen that won’t contribute to excess oil, then Dune Mug Guard might be the best choice for you. This sunscreen is made with a revolutionary gel formula that is weightless and invisible on the skin but still provides all the essential sun-protecting power your skin needs to stay safe from UV radiation. 

Win Over Your Oily Skin

Just because you have oily skin all of a sudden doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the same healthy skin look you had when you were younger. Now that your skin has more excess oil, you just need to take care of it a little bit differently, using oil-control skincare products

By understanding the causes of oily skin, you can create a skincare routine that’s perfectly designed for your specific skin type and encourages your overall skin health. 


Sebaceous-immunobiology is orchestrated by sebum lipids | National Library of Medicine

Sebaceous Glands: Function, Location & Secretion | Cleveland Clinic

Aging changes in hormone production | Medline Plus

Can the right diet get rid of acne? | American Academy of Dermatology Association

The pH of the Skin Surface and Its Impact on the Barrier Function | Skin Pharmacology and Physiology

Cold air is dense | Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

How to safely exfoliate at home | American Academy of Dermatology Association

What is your skin's natural pH and why does it matter? | Cleveland Clinic

Does UV Radiation Cause Cancer? | American Cancer Society

Original Article Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors Increase Human Sebum Production | Science Direct.