Oily Skin: What is It and How Should You Take Care of It?

Oily Skin: What is It and How Should You Take Care of It?

Greasy skin can arguably make or break a person’s impression of you, and it could take you on the wrong path to making a lasting, fresh, and attractive impact. Just imagine meeting someone who has prominently shinier and oilier skin than you. Doesn’t that change your impression of them just a bit?

You don’t want that to happen to you at all, do you? Having oilier skin could mean that you aren’t taking care of your skin enough: it could make you seem less organized than you actually are. Plus, for some people, it would already make you look grubbier and messier一it’s also a sign of uncleanliness to them.

But, what can you do? Is oily skin really as natural and inborn as some people think? Oily skin is definitely in your control; you just have to know exactly what’s causing it and make some lasting changes to your lifestyle. It won’t be easy, but this article will show you many ways to counter it according to your unique habits. If you don’t have oily skin, please check face wash for men for more details of other types of skin.

What is oily skin?

A lot of people would assume that oily skin is caused by poor skin maintenance. While that’s not completely wrong, oily skin is actually a natural bodily product (Beaudoin, 2019). There’s a particular type of gland called the sebaceous gland. These are in charge of producing the skin’s natural oil, scientifically called sebum, which is comprised of fatty acids, wax, and cholesterol esters (Beaudoin, 2019).

The sebum doesn’t just cause unattractive oily skin; it also serves as a way for the body to maintain your skin’s moisture and bounciness (Beaudoin, 2019). Meaning, everyone has it since we do need it to stay healthy. It’s just that every person has a unique amount to themselves, which would indicate how oily their skin is.

Why do I have oily skin?

You could have a very similar lifestyle as someone一eating the same types of food, having the same workout routine, living in the same area一but their skin could still look entirely different from yours. This is because various factors such as biological makeup, cosmetics, diet, environment, and activity are what causes oily skin, so it’s impossible to have the same exact characteristics with someone in every one of the categories (Beaudoin, 2019).

Biological makeup

Pore size

You have many inherent attributes that got passed down from one generation to another, and the size of your sebaceous glands is one of them (Beaudoin, 2019). According to Beaudoin (2019), those who have bigger glands have larger pores, which makes sebum production and secretion more noticeable.

More than that, bigger pores are also clogged more frequently as compared to smaller ones because dust particles and other types of dirt can enter them relatively easily (Beaudoin, 2019). Then, the buildup of these can produce acne: pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, etc.

If you’re at that stage wherein your acne is a bit uncomfortable, you still have to keep in mind that you can’t pop or prick them. Doing that will only worsen your skin since they could get infected and inflamed, making your face’s skin cells damaged (BD Editors, 2019). This would mean that not only will it look unattractive aesthetically but it would also make your skin heal a lot more slowly.

Biological sex

Your biological sex could also change your skin’s oiliness (Beaudoin, 2019). What makes skincare for men marginally harder than women’s is that men are more likely to produce more sebum (Beaudoin, 2019). If you’re male, your testosterone levels are generally a lot higher than those of females, and this would increase the production of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) (Beaudoin, 2019). If you’ve noticed, men generally tend to have oilier skin in their puberty years since testosterone levels are at their peak (Beaudoin, 2019). This oiliness in pubescent boys’ skin could actually reach up to five times of pubescent girls’ (Beaudoin, 2019). Basically, you have to also consider your stage in life whenever you’re considering starting a skincare routine of your


Skincare products

Most skincare routine for men requires you to use a lot of products that could change your skin’s complexion. Whether that be moisturizer or toner, you might have to rethink your purchases before actually putting them onto your face.

You should look at the product’s ingredients to make sure that they won’t make your skin worse than it was. For example, some moisturizers can just aggravate your already oily skin and pores (Xue, 2020). Instead, you should look for an oil-free moisturizer alternative.

To make sure that everything is done correctly, the best way to approach this problem is to consult a dermatologist about their opinion on your skin. Ask for suggestions and advice, and stick to them since they’re doctors who know what they’re doing.


Some make-up products have different compositions that could make your pores clogged when applied to your face (BD Editors, 2019). According to the Biological Dictionary Editors (2019), you should look for the “non-comedogenic” label at the casing of the product to avoid that.

Generally speaking, oil-based products are really not for people with oily skin (Lane, 2021). It would just make your skin shinier, and it could even slide off your face when the weather is too hot. Even worse, some dyes or pigments can actually irritate your skin when they enter your pores (Lane, 2021).

Remember that your pores are larger when there’s more oil production, so you really have to keep in mind that anything could get into them if you’re not careful (Beaudoin, 2019). You must look through each product you put onto your face to avoid any infections that could cause inflammation or acne.


If you’ve tried various skincare routines to get rid of your oily skin but noticed that none of them seem to work, perhaps it’s best to approach the issue differently. You can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to slow down your sebaceous glands’ sebum production, and in the process, your oily skin.

Fried food

It’s a given that eating oilier or greasier food can make your body secrete more oil (Beaudoin, 2019). When you eat fried foods, which are high in saturated fat, your body’s fat tissue will temporarily get inflamed, and the body’s reaction to that is to produce more oil to lessen that swelling (Burcham, 2021).

If you want to avoid the negative effects but still enjoy the crunchiness that fried food brings, you can invest in an air fryer. Instead of oil, the air fryer will blow extremely hot air into the food to “fry” it. This is such a healthy alternative, and it won’t even cost that much.

Foods that are high in sodium

As mentioned above, your skin produces sebum to keep the skin moist and hydrated (Beaudoin, 2019). Following that, extremely salty foods can dehydrate your body very easily, and your body’s response would be to equalize that dryness with sebum (Burcham, 2021).

There are many low-sodium variations of some foods in the supermarket that you can buy instead of seasoning your food with salt. Moreover, there are also liquid aminos that serve the same purpose as soy sauce but with less sodium content (Julson, 2019). Still, you have to make sure that the one you buy is coconut-based, and check the nutrition facts for the exact composition.

Foods that have high sugar levels

Sugar increases your insulin levels, which, in healthy amounts, is positive since it prompts growth (Levy, 2018). However, sugar in excessive amounts could cause inflammation in the body (Caporuscio, 2019). As mentioned above, your body would secrete more sebum with inflammation, making your skin more oily (Burcham, 2021).

More than that, your liver would produce more fat if there’s a lot of glucose in your system (JoJack, 2021). This, more than just causing oily skin, could cause type 2 diabetes, a chronic illness (JoJack, 2021). Evidently, there are so many negative effects to consider whenever you’re consuming a lot of sugar, so you can adjust your diet however you need.

Instead of adding sugar or glucose into your foods for flavor, you can substitute them with artificial sweeteners instead. There are a lot of variations in the market, and you just have to find the healthiest one for your body. Taking these small steps in your food choices can reduce your risk of various illnesses and conditions.

Food that is high in saturated fats

Some red meats like pork and beef are high in saturated fat, which can stimulate excessive oil and sebum production (Moll, 2020). A good way to avoid this is to find leaner cuts of meat like the loin (Moll, 2020). Plus, you can also choose white meats like chicken and fish instead. These have less fat and depending on the type, could have more protein as well (Joseph, 2021).

Some dairy products like butter, cream, and cheese also have a lot of saturated fats, which could make your diet more unhealthy if you consume them in excessive amounts (Moll, 2020). Milk is still something that you need to sustain yourself, but you just have to ensure that the fat content is as little as possible. For example, you can switch out your ordinary full-fat milk into low-fat instead.


Whenever you go to a spa to get a facial, the specialist would usually have you go on a steamer for a short while before starting the treatment. It’s because your pores are also quite sensitive to higher temperatures and humidity levels (Beaudoin, 2019). The larger and softer your pores are, the easier the dirt and particles would come off (Beaudoin, 2019).

The same concept would apply when dirt enters, though (Beaudoin, 2019). When you live in a relatively hotter or more humid environment like a tropical country, your pores are more likely to be larger. In a way, you would be more prone to having acne and oily skin.

If you live in a colder climate, you’re still not an exception. Your area could still have higher humidity and temperatures during the summer, but that’s not all that could change it. Storms and snow could also raise the humidity since it would generally be wetter and damper.

How to get rid of oily skin?

You’ve just read about the many ways you can adjust your lifestyle to avoid making your oily skin worse, but you can surely still do more and take some extra measures to take care of oily skin. Further on into this article, you’ll read about some products and a skincare routine for men that could help you create your own regular regimen.

It’s both effective and practical since there are so many products you can choose from, and each one has different ingredients and compositions. We’ll give you positive options, yes, but the more you research and understand the ingredients, the more safely and efficiently you can improve the oiliness of your skin. Again, everyone is unique in their own way.

Recommended men’s skincare routine for oily skin

As we discussed above, men generally have larger pores and oiler skin, making their routine different from women’s (Beaudoin, 2019). Here is a short sample guide approved by Dr. Guha (2020) that you can follow to start your skincare journey.

Step 1: Wash your face

Before doing anything else, you have to wash your face to remove any dirt, pollutants, and excess oil that were collected throughout the day. Kakar (2020) recommends washing your face twice a day一once in the morning when you wake up, and once in the night before you sleep.

A lot of people actually think that their skin is cleaner the moment they wake up since they’ve just stayed in bed the whole night. The bed and pillows are clean, anyway, right? What else could infect the skin aside from them? Well, this assumption is actually wrong (Lindberg, 2020).

The skin actually sheds off any dead cells throughout the entire day, including the night, of course (Lindberg, 2020). When the sebaceous glands produce oil, they also create new skin cells, which would eventually get rid of the older, dead skin cells in the process, which is why it is incredibly important to wash your face as soon as you start your day (Longhurst, 2018).

Every single month, your skin would completely shed off a layer of skin (Longhurst, 2018). Because of the sheer amount of them, they could easily clog your pores if you aren’t careful (Lindberg, 2020). The best way to approach it is to clean your face regularly (twice a day), but make sure that it isn’t overwashed.

Overwashing could damage your skin cells, and it could irritate any acne that you might already have (Mackenzie, 2018). This一as the name implies一can be caused by washing your face too frequently, but it could also be due to very strong facial cleansers (Mackenzie, 2018).

If you’re worried about not knowing when it’s already too much, you can check if you feel like your skin’s already too dry (Mackenzie, 2018). You can also see some external signs like red patches or flaky dead skin cells, while you can also feel some itches on your skin (Mackenzie, 2018).

Types of facial wash for oily-skinned men

Oily control cleansers

This type is the most efficient cleanser for oily skin since it’s made to balance your pH levels: how much acid you have on your skin (Kakar, 2020). Plus, doing this can reduce your acne breakouts since these oil control cleansers are great at removing any excess or unnecessary sebum on your skin.

Exfoliating cleansers

As you’ve read earlier, the skin regularly sheds off any dead cells and creates a film of oil or sebum in the process, so it’s best to exfoliate to clean your face off them (Lindberg, 2020). Basically, exfoliating cleansers not only wash your skin off any dirt and excess oil, but they’re also textured to rub off the material with friction一that’s why most of them have small and hard particles in the cleanser (Longhurst, 2018).

Essential oil cleansers

Some products for oily skin are too harsh, especially for those who have sensitive skin, so essential oil cleansers might be worth the try. You can look for those that have peppermint or tea tree oil to soothe your skin while still washing off any bacteria (Kakar, 2020).

Foaming cleansers

Foaming cleansers are very similar to oil control cleansers; it’s just that they have more of a bubbly feel. According to Kim (2020), it’s similar to when you’re using soap to wash your face. It’ll immediately remove oil and sebum, and you will be left with drier and bouncier skin.

It also balances your pH levels, so they also serve the same purpose as the oil control cleansers (Kim, 2020). You just have to decide on which texture or finish you want on your face.

Gel cleansers

If you want a safe deep cleansing experience, you can use gel cleansers. Their consistency is made so that they can reach further down your pores (Kim, 2020). Plus, they’re also a good way to counter any acne breakouts: they have anti-bacterial properties within them (Kim, 2020).

Even more than that, you don’t have to worry about any possible irritations or excessive dryness because gel cleansers can soothe your skin in the process of washing your sebum off (Kim, 2020). They’re really the best option when you want to be efficient and safe with your skincare routine.

Step 2: Moisturizing your face

Remember that sebum is produced on your skin for a reason: it keeps the skin moisturized, soft, and bouncy (Beaudoin, 2019). Once you’ve finished removing all layers of oil through the cleansers, you’d essentially be depriving your skin of the moisture it needs to stay healthy.

Moisturizers are made to become a substitute of a sort for the sebum that you’d be cleaning off. Plus, it’s also quite anti-aging because it keeps your skin looking healthier and more radiant (Clark, 2019). People’s ability to produce oil will slowly lessen as they grow old, so you should really start moisturizing even if you don’t physically and externally see your need for it (Clark, 2019).

According to Clark (2019), moisturizing right after your bath would be the best time since your skin is still slightly damp. This makes you absorb the moisturizer more easily and effectively (Clark, 2019). You also have to make sure you don’t rub it into your face aggressively since it could also damage it一just pat it down gently with your hands, and you’re good to go (Clark, 2019).

When picking out the best moisturizer for you, you should consider your lifestyle. There are some that are heavier than others that could make you a bit uncomfortable, and some incredibly lightweight they aren’t packed with moisturizing ingredients. At the end of the day, it would be trial and error on your end, but make sure that you can commit to using it every single day.

Types of moisturizers


These are made to be a wall between your skin and the outside environment (Eroglu, 2020). In a way, they’re supposed to trap in the moisture that’s already on your skin and not feed it with ingredients just like most moisturizers do.

Occlusives aren’t usually chosen in the cosmetics world since they’re generally heavier and thicker than most (Eroglu, 2020). More than that, they’re also not as aesthetically pleasing to look at since a lot of them are shinier (Say, 2020). If you don’t mind that, though, occlusives are a great choice if you’re looking to really moisturize your skin fully.

It’s recommended that you apply a very thin later on your skin since these can clog up your pores even more when in large amounts (Say, 2020). You should also do this before you sleep instead so that you wouldn’t really feel the stickiness of it all while you’re going about your day.


Humectants actually don’t have ingredients of their own to hydrate and moisturize your skin: they draw in the moisture from the environment instead (Eroglu, 2020). They’re great if you live in a more humid area since there are so many water particles in the air.

If you live in a drier environment, though, it might do more bad than good since they would just bring empty air into your skin, making it drier and flakier in the process (Say, 2020). Plus, they aren’t the best at keeping the water in your skin, so it’s recommended to use it with another type of moisturizer like the occlusives or emollients (Eroglu, 2020).


If you want the middle ground between these two, you should consider emollients for your skin. While they don’t necessarily draw in moisture from the air, they have their own hydrating ingredients that your skin could absorb (Say, 2020).

They’re also incredibly lightweight, so you wouldn’t even feel them on your skin, making them really convenient to wear on the go (Say, 2020). Also, they can retain the moisture on your skin just like the occlusives, just that they also have their own rejuvenating properties (Eroglu, 2020).

Step 3: Apply a toner

There might still be some leftover dirt after you’ve cleansed your face, and toners are made to soak these up (Valenti, 2016). It just serves as a precaution to make sure that your face is actually sanitized fully (Valenti, 2016). More than that, toners are also great at oil control since they also get rid of any oily residue (Valenti, 2016).

As you’ve read above, your pores might just naturally be larger than most, biologically or caused by your environment (Beaudoin, 2019). Toners can help make them smaller and tighter so that your skin could become less oily more permanently (Valenti, 2016).

Plus, it serves as a kind of barrier between your skin and acne since it’s also anti-bacterial (Kakar, 2020). They’re also inflammatory, which means that they can soothe your already present acne to make them look less red and visible (Kakar, 2020).

Using toners is basically the last step of your skincare routine since they have almost all the properties of cleansers, just in smaller doses, and more. They’ll be both your precautionary measure and safety wall throughout the entire day.

(Optional) Step 4: Using blotting papers

Sometimes, your environment and activities can still make your face oily even after your routine. The best way to counter this and still stay healthy is by having a product that can serve as your oil control on the go.

Blotting papers are generally a lot cheaper than other oil control products, and they’re also quite convenient to use. As the name implies, you can just blot these pieces of paper onto your oily nose or oily T-zone to lessen the amount of accumulated oil whenever you wish (Lindberg, 2020).


You should definitely take care of your oily skin to prevent skin damage and infections in the long run. And while you’ve just read many ways to prevent having oily skin, it would all be unproductive if you don’t fully understand what causes it. You would need to reflect on and look closely at your current lifestyle to identify the root of it all一hopefully this short guide was able to help!

The article aims to make you more aware of the possibilities and help you come to terms with your skin一it’s not uncommon, after all. A lot of people actually go through the same dilemmas as you, but it’s how you approach it that will influence the result of your skin.

Commitment and consistency are key whenever you’re trying to fix something, and they’re really necessary when you want to improve your oily skin! You don’t have to take radical or big steps in your lifestyle right away. You just need to have a foundation and adjust very carefully with small, simple steps in taking care of your oily skin.


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