Oily skin

Have you barely washed or applied make-up and your skin is already oily again? Oily skin can be challenging, but it also comes with some surprising benefits. Find out what you can do to combat oily skin and how to make your complexion matt and even again.

  • Oily skin is characterized by excessive sebum production.

  • The causes include a genetic predisposition, hormonal influences, diet and lifestyle.

  • Oily skin does not tolerate oily skin care products. However, it still needs sufficient moisture.

Fettige Haut - Ursachen und Pflege
From Head of Cosmetics:

From Head of Cosmetics:

Medically reviewed by:

Medically reviewed by:

Fettige Haut

What does oily skin look like?

Oily skin can be recognized by its typical oily sheen. In addition, the pores are often visibly enlarged and the skin texture may appear grainy or coarse. Oily skin is often prone to blemishes such as blackheads or spots. However, lines and wrinkles often form later than with dry skin.

The skin is particularly oily where the sebaceous glands are numerous and active. This includes areas such as the face, décolleté, chest and back.

How does oily skin develop?

You now know that overactive sebaceous glands are to blame for oily skin. But what makes them produce so much sebum?

Oily skin and the influence of hormones

Sex hormones in particular play a key role here. They dock onto the sebaceous glands and virtually move the regulator up or down. More precisely: male hormones (androgens) stimulate sebum production, while female hormones (oestrogens) tend to reduce it. This is why men are often more prone to oily skin.

Unfortunately, women are not spared oily skin problems because: We all have male and female hormones, just in different proportions. When the balance in women shifts towards male hormones, female skin also becomes more oily.

You may notice that your skin condition changes during your menstrual cycle. The skin often becomes more oily shortly before your period because oestrogen levels are lower then. The contraceptive pill can also have an influence on the appearance of the skin. There are products that tend to inhibit sebum production, but there are also products that actually increase it.

Individual influencing factors

But why doesn’t everyone get oily skin when the hormones in the body are having a party? There are also a number of other factors at play, such as:

Predisposition: Sex hormones do not always have to have such a strong effect on the skin. How much your sebaceous glands are stimulated by hormones is probably genetically determined.
Age: As we get older, the sebaceous glands become less active, so mature skin is generally less oily. Oily skin often turns into combination skin with increasing age.
Diet: There is clear evidence that unfavorable eating habits promote oily skin. Anything that causes the blood sugar level to rise quickly – i.e. sweets, white flour products or soft drinks – is problematic. Cow’s milk or industrially hydrogenated fats are also possible factors.
Stress: In addition to the sex hormones, the stress hormone cortisol is also likely to stimulate the sebaceous glands. Oily skin can therefore be a kind of stress barometer.
Season: You have probably already noticed that your skin is more oily in summer. In cold weather, on the other hand, when the skin is less well supplied with blood, the activity of the sebaceous glands tends to decrease.

When does oily skin become a problem

Even if you may find oily skin on your face unattractive: In general, oily skin is robust and less susceptible to disease or eczema than dry skin, for example. But she is more prone to
skin blemishes
. This is because the excess sebum provides a good breeding ground for bacteria, which break down the fat and produce skin-irritating waste in the process. If the pores become clogged with sebum, blackheads and pimples are not far away. In the worst case, the whole thing can develop into
which should be treated medically.

An often unrecognized problem is also
i.e. dehydrated skin. Oily skin is normally well moisturized because the sebum layer counteracts the evaporation of water. However, even oily skin can lose too much moisture under unfavorable conditions: for example, through frequent washing or if you have been heavily exposed to the sun. Oily but dehydrated skin is often tight and may even flake. This is why it can easily be mistaken for dry skin. However, it does not need more fat, but more moisture.

Oily skin: the right cleanser

So what to do about oily skin? An important first step is to cleanse your skin twice a day to remove sebum and flakes. For cleansing, you should use water and mild, pH-neutral products that are suitable for oily skin – such as a cleansing gel. Oil-based products are unsuitable. Also avoid using cleansing wipes that only rub sebum and dirt particles into your face.

If you are prone to skin blemishes, additives such as salicylic acid, which have a mild desquamative and anti-inflammatory effect, can be useful.

However, you should not degrease your skin too aggressively, for example by using facial toner with a high alcohol content. This may get rid of the oily shine in the short term, but your skin may become even more oily as a reaction. If your skin feels tight or red after washing, this may indicate that the product is too aggressive.

Oily skin: the right care

You should not overload oily skin with care products. But what is often forgotten: Oily skin also needs moisture. Your face in particular, which is exposed to many environmental influences, should therefore be treated with a moisturizer. Light emulsions on an oil-in-water basis or even fat-free gels are suitable.

Care tips for oily skin

Here are some tips on what you should look out for when caring for them:

  • Non-comedogenic: Choose skincare products with the words “non-comedogenic” on the packaging. This means that the products do not contain any substances that promote skin impurities, such as silicone oils or kerosenes. This is particularly important with sunscreen, which otherwise tends to cause spots to sprout.
  • Retinol: Oily skin benefits from skin care products with low doses of retinol (vitamin A). The substance can help you to achieve a finer complexion and has a mild anti-inflammatory effect. Retinol is also often used in anti-ageing skin care to prevent facial wrinkles and age spots.
  • Peelings: They can be useful to remove sebum and dead skin cells from your skin and thus smooth your complexion. Over-the-counter products often contain micro-fine abrasive particles or low doses of fruit acids. Pay attention to how your skin reacts and don’t exfoliate too often – once a week is usually enough.
  • Oil-free make-up: If you want to apply make-up, it is best to use a compact powder that binds excess oil. Oil-free foundations are also suitable. Avoid too thick a layer of make-up, however, as it unfortunately encourages blemishes.

One last tip: To get rid of annoying greasy shine during the day, you can use so-called blotting papers. In case you don’t know them yet: They work like a kind of blotting paper for the face and absorb excess fat. This way you avoid having to constantly re-apply powder.

Still have questions? Then we will be happy to advise you in person at GoAesthetic.

Any questions? Our FAQ section has the answers!

In general, the face is particularly rich in sebaceous glands. It is therefore normal for the skin on the face to become oily more quickly than on the arms and legs, for example. If you use too many or too oily skin care products and cosmetics, this can intensify. You may also simply have a predisposition to oily skin on your face or perhaps have an unfavorable diet.

Partly yes, because sebaceous glands react to sex hormones. This is why the skin often becomes more oily from puberty onwards. However, how strongly the sebaceous glands respond to sex hormones depends on your predisposition. In addition to hormones, other influencing factors also play a role, such as your diet, the time of year or your skincare habits.

Oily skin is a skin type you are born with. It can therefore be natural and healthy for you to have oily skin. Under certain circumstances, however, the increased sebum production promotes skin problems or even skin diseases: In particular, skin blemishes and acne occur more frequently in people with oily skin.

If you are currently eating an “unfavorable” diet, it may make sense to change your diet. The typical Western diet is considered unfavorable, i.e.: lots of sugar, white flour products, animal fats, hydrogenated vegetable fats and cow’s milk. The traditional Mediterranean diet is better for your skin. This means plenty of vegetables, pulses, nuts, fruit, high-quality vegetable oils such as olive oil, fish and some lean meat. However, special diets are not normally necessary.

Yes, because even oily skin can lose too much moisture, for example through frequent washing, UV radiation or dry air. A moisturizer is therefore particularly recommended for the face. However, it should have a light texture, i.e. a high water content and a low fat content.

More questions? Simply make a personal consultation appointment online.


Last updated: 01.06.2024