Understanding Oily Skin: Causes, Treatments, and Maintenance

Oily skin is a common dermatological problem that affects people of all ages. Also known as seborrhoea, it is characterised by excessive sebum production, resulting in a shiny, slick appearance.

In this article, we will explore all things oily skin, looking at the underlying causes, at-home treatments, salon treatments and tips for maintaining it on a daily basis.

What is oily skin?

Oily skin is a skin type that is primarily caused by an overproduction of sebum, a natural oil produced in the skin by the sebaceous glands – microscopic glands located in your hair follicles.

Sebum is essential for maintaining skin health, keeping it moisturised and protecting it from UV rays and other causes of damage. However, when the sebaceous glands produce an excessive amount of sebum, it can lead to a number of problems.

Characteristics of oily skin include:

  • Excessive shine -This is often most noticeable on the forehead, nose, chin and T-zone.
  • Enlarged pores – Oily skin tends to have larger and more visible pores because excess sebum can build up in the pores, leading to the formation of blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Acne skin and breakouts – Oily skin is more prone to acne breakouts as excess sebum can trap dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria in the pores, leading to the development of pimples, papules and pustules.
  • Uneven texture – Oily skin can have a rough, uneven texture.
  •  Make-up challenges – People with oily skin often struggle to keep make-up in place as the excess oil can cause it to slide off the face.

Take the Fresh Face Skin skin quiz to find out more about your skin type to find out whether you have oily skin or not.

What can cause oily skin?

To effectively manage your oily skin, you need to understand how it developed in the first place. There are several factors that can cause oily skin:

  • Genetics – Like many skin types and conditions, oily skin can be inherited. If your family has a history of oily skin, you are more likely to have it.
  • Hormonal changes – Hormonal changes such as those that occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can trigger an excessive increase in sebum production.
  • Environmental factors – Hot and humid weather can force pores to dilate and increase sebum production; this stimulation of the sebaceous glands can worsen oily skin.
  • Harsh skincare routine – Using harsh or drying skincare products can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to rebound oil production. Rebound oil production is when the skin produces more sebum to counteract the removal of the skin’s natural oils. This can lead to a vicious cycle of oiliness.
  • Diet – A diet high in sugar, fat and processed foods can contribute to oily skin as these foods can increase insulin levels, which trigger sebum production.

What can you do for your oily skin at home?

Now that we understand the underlying factors that can cause oily skin, we can work on managing it.

Dealing with oily skin is not as difficult as it seems; all you need is a consistent skincare routine that is tailored to the specific needs of your skin type. Here are some ideas to help you tailor your skincare routine to your oily skin.


Using a gentle, oil-free cleanser twice a day to remove dirt, make-up and excess oil from the surface of your skin is essential for maintaining oily skin.

Harsh or abrasive cleansers can strip your skin of its natural oils, so choosing a gentle cleanser will ensure an effective clean without disrupting your skin’s natural moisture balance.


Using exfoliating products that contain salicylic acid or glycolic acid can also help you treat oily skin by removing dead skin cells and impurities that block your pores. This will also promote cell regeneration and leave your skin looking healthy with a glow.

However, be careful not to over-exfoliate as this can damage your skin and increase oil production.


It is a common misconception that people with oily skin should skip moisturising, but in reality, oily skin still needs moisture to stay healthy. Using a lightweight, oil-free moisturiser will help maintain your skin’s moisture balance without adding excess oil.

Skipping moisturiser can cause your skin to overproduce oil to compensate for the dryness, leading to an increase in oiliness.

Clay masks

Clay masks are great for oily skin types because they can absorb excess oil and impurities from your pores. Using a clay mask once a week can help control oiliness, tighten pores and leave your skin looking and feeling fresher.


Sunscreen is essential for everyone, regardless of skin type. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can stimulate your skin’s oil production. Using a non-comedogenic sunscreen with at least SPF30 every day will protect your skin from sun damage and prevent excessive oil production in response to sun exposure.

Oil control products for makeup wearers

Oil control products such as blotting papers and oil absorbing foundations are particularly useful for makeup wearers. Blotting papers can quickly remove excess shine on the go without disturbing your make-up, while oil absorbing foundations create a matte base for your make-up to adhere to.

These products help to manage shine throughout the day without the need for excessive powder, which can leave your skin looking cakey.

Another way to make sure your oily skin is taken care of is to use high-quality products that are specifically designed for oily skin. Fresh Face Skin, for example, has soothing, gentle cleansers, serums and exfoliators that can address oily skin concerns, while keeping your skins barrier strong and your skin healthy.

What can you do for your oily skin at a professional salon?

For those seeking professional assistance in managing oily skin, there are several salon treatments available:

Chemical peels

Chemical peels use specific acids to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores and reduce oil production. They can help keep oily skin in check by preventing clogged pores and excess oil.


This method uses tiny crystals to gently exfoliate the outer layer of skin, making it less oily and improving texture. It also reduces the appearance of large pores, which are common in oily skin.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

For severe cases of oily skin, PDT uses light therapy to target oil glands below the skin’s surface. This treatment can help reduce sebum production but again is only used in severe cases.


Hydrafacials are an all-in-one solution for oily skin. They cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise the skin to keep it in balanced. They also remove excess oil and impurities while providing essential moisture. This helps to prevent excessive oil production and leaves your skin looking refreshed.

The above treatments are a good way to maintain and care for your oily skin, but they can also be expensive and not always available. Therefore, to effectively treat oily skin, there needs to be a balance between personalised skin care done from home and professional skin treatments when needed.

Another good way to prioritise which skin treatment or routine to choose is to look at skin treatment results and see if the results shown match your skin goals.

Managing oily skin requires consistency rather than complexity. It is important to choose treatments that you can commit to for the long term. Amelia Goff‘s skincare brand embodies this philosophy by offering affordable, straightforward, and sustainable solutions.

Ultimately, effective management of oily skin depends on finding the right balance in your skincare regime and creating a personalised treatment plan that meets your needs and achieves your goals.

Written by Steven

Steven is a young student from San Francisco who is obsessed with computers.

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