What causes oily skin and how to tackle it

Oily skin is often a troublesome problem for many, but there are a variety of reasons why you may be experiencing it. You may have tried all kinds of products to tame your shiny complexion but to no avail. We all want glowing skin, not greasy skin but there is a fine line between the two! Oily skin is far more common for men and women than you may think, and, in this guide, we are sharing some information and tips that will help you tackle this problem.


What is oily skin?

We have sebaceous glands located all over our body, primarily on our face and scalp, these glands excrete an oily substance called sebum. The function of this is to moisturise and protect our face but for some, their bodies can overproduce this. Leading to the shiny, greasy appearance we are all familiar with.


What causes oily skin?

There are many factors that can contribute to oily skin, researchers have established the following:

Hormones – A shift in hormones during puberty, ovulation, pregnancy and menopause for instance, can lead to our sebaceous glands overproducing oil. Men are likely to produce more sebum due to higher testosterone levels but for women sebum production can ramp up due to hormone fluctuations.

Stress – When stressed our bodies stress hormone, cortisol, rises, which can wreak havoc on our skin causing the increase in oil production.

Diet – We all know how important diet is but unfortunately it really is a factor when it comes to oily skin. The more foods we eat high in carbohydrates/with a high glycaemic index, such as sugar, white bread and white rice, can elevate the levels of insulin within our body, which in turn can drive up sebum production.

Weather – Quite often we notice oilier skin during the warmer months due to high temperatures and humidity levels. Whatever climate you are in, it will impact your skin’s natural oil production in some way.

Air Pollution – Studies have shown that those living in urban areas and cities with high levels of pollution have increased sebum production.

Genetics – If one of your parents has oily skin then there is a likely chance you will have inherited this trait. Having larger sebaceous glands is a hereditary attribute which can be passed on through the family.


Despite these outside factors there are also things that we may be doing ourselves within our skincare routine that can be counterproductive. Here we share some tips and ways to help tackle oil production.


Cleanse correctly

What we mean by this is don’t over cleanse or under cleanse! The recommended number of times to cleanse a day for oily skin is twice, once in the morning and again in the evening. This is to ensure you are whisking away sweat, dirt and grime which can build up overnight and during the day. Opt for a mild gentle cleanse which is non stripping otherwise your cleanser can actually trigger oil production. It’s also important to perform a basic cleanse after exercise to maintain healthy skin.

We love using our Bamboo Charcoal Konjac Sponge as it has natural oil absorbing properties but is gentle enough that it won’t irritate or strip your skin. We use it on its own in the morning for a thorough but gentle cleanse, and then again at night in conjunction with our favourite gel-based cleanser. 


Moisturise your skin!

There is a myth that oily skin doesn’t need moisturiser but we are here to tell you that’s absolutely not the case! Skipping moisturiser can exacerbate an oily complexion and send mixed messages to your body. If your skin is lacking in moisture your body will overproduce oil as a way of protecting itself and keeping it moisturised. Ideally look for lightweight moisturisers that are water based and are non-comedogenic, so won’t clog pores. Facial oils are also fantastic and although it sounds counter-intuitive they can actually improve oily skin. Look for jojoba, squalane and marula oils. Rosehip is also a fantastic all-rounder; we love the Flow Cosmetics Rosehip Intensive Treatment Oil which is incredibly repairing and balancing.


Use lukewarm water

One of the biggest ways we can strip our skin of its natural oils is by using water that is too hot. Ideally cleanse your skin at the sink as opposed to in the shower where the water temperature is likely to be higher.


Invest in blotting papers

These are such a fantastic tool for whisking away oiliness without disturbing your makeup. You will be surprised how effective they are! Gently press onto the skin rather than rubbing which can spread more oil around the face.


Avoid touching the face

As tempting as it is, this habit can massively contribute towards breakouts and oily skin as you are effectively spreading dirt and bacteria around the face. Only touch your face when you are applying your skincare and makeup, just be sure to clean your hands first!


Remember to wash your makeup brushes!

This may seem like a really obvious one but so many of us will confess to not cleaning our makeup brushes as often as we should! These are breeding grounds for bacteria and dirt, so washing them once a week will prevent them exacerbating acne and oily skin.


The lesson here is prevention is better than cure! We have no control over our genetics or outside factors but we can absolutely treat oily skin in a variety of ways. Caring for it consistently, and in the best possible way will enable you to maintain a healthy, happy complexion.