What Causes Oily Skin

Megan Dominion

While many of us dream about dewy, glowing skin – a shiny face is a major concern for those suffering from oily skin. It’s a complicated skin type that can have a plethora of underlying causes such as humidity, generic preconditions or your age. Everyone has pores in their skin. These are sebaceous glands that produce sebum. Some people have more pores, larger pores or overactive pores. It mostly depends on the cards you were dealt in your DNA!

If your skin always looks shiny and you find yourself constantly blotting or trying to get rid of a greasy shine – then you probably have oily skin. If you struggle with breakouts, then you could have oily skin, too! This is because your natural oils are mixing with dead skin cells and causing your pores to become aggravated, inflamed or clogged.

Having oily skin comes with good news, bad news, AND solutions – so let’s dig in!

How to manage oily skin

Firstly, having oily skin could require a lifelong maintenance plan and even when putting a few “best practice” tips in place, it can still take at least a month to see results. There is no quick, permanent fix but there are loads of methods, easy switches and products that can get your oily skin under control. We’ve identified the most popular “oily skin maintenance tips” that are recommended by both skincare influencers and dermatologists!

Girl covering face with hands

  • Use the right products for your skin type. You shouldn’t use creams that are too rich, thick or heavy. Water-based moisturizers are highly recommended for oily skin types
  • Change your skincare routine every season. Your skin will dry out slightly during winter months (yay) BUT you’ll need to remember to adjust your moisturizer. It seems so annoying, but your ‘already oily’ skin might produce even more sebum in colder or dry weather, so be prepared to switch it up in the skincare routine.
  • Don’t exfoliate too much! You might be tempted to strip your face of excess / shedded skin, but the more you dry your face out – the more oil it’s going to want to produce! Stick to exfoliating a max of twice a week.
  • Don’t wash your face too much. Dermatologists often recommend not washing oily skin more than twice a day – no matter how tempting it may seem. Use blotting paper sheets instead!
  • Find a sunscreen that isn’t greasy. Many people like using moisturizers or foundations that have a sunscreen in them, which might be a good solution if you want to apply less products to your skin, but we always recommend using a separate sunscreen with SPF30 or higher
  • Don’t skip the moisturizer! It won’t cause oily skin. Find a lightweight option that works with your skin. You can always try to get samples before committing to the product.
  • Look for medicated or oil-free products when shopping for skincare
  • Retinol, niacinamide and Vitamin C serums might help to improve your skin’s balance, but always introduce them to your skin in a gradual way.

Does oily skin cause acne

While oily skin isn’t necessarily the main or only cause of acne, it definitely doesn’t help. This is because your skin’s oils (sebum) are mixing with shredded skin on your face’s surface. It’s an unfortunate combo that can cause blocked or clogged pores.

Look at products like retinol or medicated treatments like accutane (vitamin A) that could assist with the amount of oil that your skin is producing. A doctor or dermatologist may also prescribe other topical treatments, so it’s best to get advice before acne or breakouts cause any permanent scarring or damage to your skin.

Does oily skin age better?

Here comes the good news! Yes – it absolutely does. While your skin produces less sebum as you age, those with baseline oily skin should have normal – combination skin later in life. All skin produces less collagen as we age, and your skin cell turnover rate and sebum production slows down with it. When skin is dry, then fine lines and wrinkles are much more noticeable and prominent. So while people may have normal – combo skin in their 20s and 30s, they’ll most likely have dry skin in their 40s and up.

While this might be great news for you, you should also remember to adjust your own skincare routine as you age, so that you can finally enjoy your natural, dewy glow and all the skin health benefits that go along with it.

Girl looking in mirror smiling


Still worried about your oily skin? Make an appointment to see a skincare professional for a full assessment and definitely speak to a doctor or dermatologist if you’ve suffering from acne. While you may have gorgeous skin in your late 30s and 40s, you don’t want to be left with any permanent scarring.

Have a glowing day, and remember to take good care of your skin!

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.