Understanding Oily Skin

Understanding Oily Skin: Causes & Characteristics

Reference Lab

MAY 24, 2023

If you can’t leave the house without blotting papers in your pocket, or if your face feels greasy an hour after cleansing, then you probably have an oily skin type. Oily skin is a common skin type characterized by an overproduction of sebum, the skin's natural oil. An excess of this oil can cause the skin to appear shiny, making skin prone to acne and blackheads. While oily skin can be frustrating, with a consistent skincare routine, it’s possible to achieve healthy and balanced skin.

01 What is Oily Skin?

Oily skin holds an excess of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in skin. These oil glands are found all over the body, with the highest concentration on the face, scalp, chest, and back.1

This substance, sebum, helps to keep the skin hydrated and protected. Its primary function is to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair, keeping the skin barrier strong, moisturized and healthy. When it comes to oily skin, however, too much of a good thing occurs.2

While sebum is vital for moisturizing skin, overproduction can lead to problems such as acne, blackheads, and enlarged pores. Oily skin can be challenging to manage, as it requires a delicate balance between controlling excess sebum production and keeping the skin moisturized, since oil-combatting ingredients often strip the skin of its moisture.

One common mistake is using harsh cleansers and toners that strip the skin of its natural oil. This process can cause the skin to overcompensate by producing even more sebum, exacerbating the problem.

02 What Causes Oily Skin?

Overproduction of sebum causes oily skin, but what causes this overproduction? The creation of sebum is regulated by hormones, specifically androgens such as testosterone, which are present in both males and females. During puberty, androgen levels increase, raising sebum production, often producing oily skin and acne. Hormonal imbalances during pregnancy and menopause can also lead to changes in sebum production and oily skin.

Environmental factors such as hot and humid weather can also stimulate the sebaceous gland, increasing sebum production. In addition to hormonal and environmental factors, genetics can play a role in oily skin. People with a family history of oily skin are more likely to have that same skin type.3

Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can also increase sebum production and contribute to oily skin. Finally, following a skincare routine that is too harsh can strip the facial skin of its natural oils, leading to overcompensation by the sebaceous gland and increased sebum production.
Unlock the secret to healthy skin. Learn more!

03 How to Identify Oily Skin

The hallmark signs of oily skin are a shiny or greasy appearance, enlarged pores, and a tendency to develop acne and other skin blemishes. Here are some tips on identifying oily skin:
  • Look for shine. Oily skin often has a shiny or a greasy appearance, especially in the T-zone area (forehead, nose, and chin).
  • Check for enlarged pores. Oily skin tends to have enlarged pores, which can be visible to the naked eye. The pores may appear clogged or congested with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells, leading to blackheads and other blemishes.
  • Observe acne and blemishes. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other blemishes due to excess sebum production. These blemishes may be red, inflamed, and painful and can appear anywhere on the face.
  • Notice makeup breakdown. Oily skin can cause makeup to break down more quickly, leading to a patchy or uneven appearance. The excess sebum can dissolve the makeup and cause it to slide off the face.
  • Look at your blotting paper. If you are unsure whether you have oily skin, try using a blotting paper on your face. Press the paper against different areas of your face and observe the amount of absorbed oil. You likely have oily skin if the paper becomes saturated with oil quickly.
So, if you have oily skin, it’s essential to follow a skin care routine for oily skin that addresses excess sebum production and helps keep the skin balanced and healthy.

04 How to Reduce Shine

Oily skin can be challenging, especially when it comes to reducing shine. However, there are several steps you can take to help control the amount of oil your facial skin produces and keep shiny skin at bay.
  • Cleanse Regularly: Washing your face twice daily with a gentle, oil-free gentle cleanser can help remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities from your skin. Be sure to follow all of the essential face cleansing steps. Avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers that can strip your skin of its natural oils, as this can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil.
  • Use a Toner: A toner can help to further remove excess oil from your skin and balance its pH level. Look for a toner that contains salicylic acid or glycolic acid, which can help to unclog pores and exfoliate the skin.4
  • Moisturize Properly: Even if you have oily skin, using a moisturizer is important to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Look for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer or a peptide eye cream that won't clog your pores or contribute to excess oil production on your face or around the eyes.
  • Use Blotting Papers: Blotting papers are a quick and easy way to absorb excess oil from your skin throughout the day. Gently press the paper against your skin to soak up any oil, being careful not to rub or irritate your skin.
  • Choose Oil-free Makeup: When selecting makeup products, choose oil-free and non-comedogenic, meaning they won't clog your pores. Avoid using heavy, creamy foundations and opt for lightweight, matte formulas or topical skin care products instead.
By following these tips, you can help to control the amount of oil your skin produces and achieve a healthy, balanced complexion.

05 How to Take Care of Oily Skin

Oily skin requires specific care to maintain its balance and keep it healthy. Cleansing is vital for all skin types, but it is especially crucial for oily skin. Without cleansing, oil and dirt can build up and further clog pores.

Do’s and Don’ts for Oily Skin

Caring for oily skin requires specific attention to maintain balance. The following are do’s and don'ts for caring for oily skin:

Do's for Oily Skin

  1. Cleanse twice a day: Use a gentle, oil-free gel cleanser twice daily to remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities from your skin.
  2. Exfoliate regularly: Regular exfoliation can help to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, preventing acne breakouts and maintaining a healthy complexion.
  3. Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer: Even oily skin needs moisture, so look for a lightweight peptide face moisturizer and peptide body lotion that won't clog your pores or contribute to excess oil production.
  4. Use non-comedogenic products: Non-comedogenic products are formulated to avoid clogging pores, so they're ideal for oily skin. Look for products that are labeled as non-comedogenic, including makeup, sunscreen, and moisturizers.
  5. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30: Oily skin can be more prone to sun damage and hyperpigmentation, so it's important to use sunscreen daily to protect your skin.
  6. Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in skin repair foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help to support healthy skin. If you are wondering how to reduce skin inflammation and oiliness, try avoiding processed foods, sugar, and excess dairy.

Don'ts for Oily Skin

  1. Don't use harsh products: Harsh cleansers or exfoliators can strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to produce more oil to compensate. Avoid using products with alcohol or abrasive ingredients that can irritate your skin.
  2. Don't touch your face: Touching your face can transfer bacteria and oils from your hands to your skin, leading to acne breakouts and inflammation.
  3. Don't skip moisturizer: While oily skin can feel greasy, skipping moisturizer can actually cause your skin to produce more oil. Look for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated without contributing to excess oil production.
  4. Don't use heavy, creamy makeup: Heavy, creamy makeup can clog your pores and contribute to excess oil production. Instead, choose lightweight, oil-free formulas that won't clog your pores.
  5. Don't over-wash your face: Overwashing your face can strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to produce more oil to compensate. Stick to cleansing twice a day to maintain your skin's balance.
By following these guidelines, you can help maintain your skin’s balance and achieve a healthy, glowing complexion.

06 OneSkin for Oily Skin

OneSkin products are designed for all skin types and all oils contained in the formulations are light and hydrating. Use PREP (OneSkin’s gentle daily cleanser) to remove oily buildup, makeup, and the everyday accumulation of grime to keep pores clean and clear. PREP contains prickly pear extract to gently exfoliate and cut through excess oil without disrupting the natural lipid barrier and microbiome. OS-01 FACE helps keep skin smooth and healthy, while OS-01 BODY nourishes the skin everywhere else.

OneSkin addresses the root cause of aging. Formulated for all skin types, OneSkin products are non-comedogenic and fragrance-free – perfect for oily skin.


  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002043.htm
  2. https://med.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Anatomy_and_Physiology/Anatomy_and_Physiology_(Boundless)/5%3A_Integumentary_System/5.3%3A__Accessory_Structures_of_the_Skin/5.3B%3A_Sebaceous_(Oil)_Glands/
  3. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/oily-skin/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5221538/
Back to blog