Oily Skin: Why It Happens and How to Fix It

Deep under the surface of the skin and attached to hair follicles are sebaceous glands, which produce sebum (what we usually call oil) to protect and moisturize the skin. In people with oily skin, these glands overproduce oil, leading to a shiny face throughout the day. Causes of oily skin can be out of a person's control, such as genetics, hormone changes, and stress. Other people get greasy because they wash their face too often, constantly removing healthy oils and cueing the sebaceous glands to make more and more. 

The solution to oily skin is drying it out slightly, but not too much. How? Make sure to wash your face twice a day but not more often! Washing too frequently leads to a dry top layer of skin… and then the oil glands below kick into action. Click here and here to read more about how often you should wash your face!  

What you wash your face with is as important as how often you wash it. Avoid using products that contain drying ingredients like alcohol or fragrances. The first time you do it, your skin might look great, but a day later it’s usually a greasy mess. People with oily skin should still wear moisturizer and sunscreen, although it might help to find an oil-free version of these products. 

If you have really oily skin, you are not alone! Lots of people, especially teens, struggle with oily skin. There are lots of ways you can manage it, starting by talking to a health care provider. Skin doctors, called dermatologists, can recommend a skincare routine and special products for you to use. Oily skin can definitely break out with patches of pimples. A dermatologist (or even your pediatrician!) can recommend products that will help get the situation under control. 

One important side note about oily skin: it is not caused by the foods we eat. Yes, a healthy diet makes the skin look and feel better. However, greasy food does not literally lead to grease on your face.


Oily skin diagram

*image taken from (

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