If your face looks shiny or greasy even after washing it, you may be dealing with oily skin. Oily skin is a common concern, so if you're feeling frustrated, you're certainly not alone. Just know that when it comes to the oil on your skin, it's all about balance.

Oil helps keep your skin healthy, youthful, and glowing. But when oil production goes into overdrive, it can lead to persistent shine, clogged pores, and unsightly breakouts.

Read on to learn what causes increased oil production and how to care for oily skin so you can feel more confident about your complexion.

Understanding Oily Skin

Oil glands are an important part of keeping your skin healthy. They release oil (also called sebum), which acts as a natural moisturizer. This keeps your skin hydrated, supple, and soft. However, too much oil can lead to a shiny complexion. The highest concentration of oil glands is on your face—especially in the T-zone—so that's where you'll likely notice shine most.

Common Causes

A few common causes of oily skin include:

  • Personal factors such as changing hormones, genes, age, and stress
  • Environmental factors like humidity
  • Some products, including makeup that contains oil and alcohol-based cleansers
  • Certain skin conditions, like acne and seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff on the face)

How to Care for Oily Skin

If you find yourself with a shiny T-zone, don't fret. You can build a skin care routine for oily skin and restore a healthy balance.

Young black man washing his face with water in wash basin in bathroom at home at morning time. Concept of domestic lifestyle. Idea of face care. Cropped image of bearded dark haired guy

1. Wash Your Face Regularly—But Not Too Much

Washing your face twice a day (and after exercise) is important. Just avoid cleansing your skin more often or using harsh scrubs, which can irritate your skin and strip away too much oil. Skip alcohol-based cleansers and opt for gentle foam formulas, like EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser. Follow up with a lightweight, hydrating toner like EltaMD Skin Recovery Essence Toner to further minimize oil and balance your skin's pH.

2. Moisturize Every Day

Hydrating your skin is crucial for all skin types. For oily skin, it's best to use lightweight, oil-free formulas. For example, EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Moisturizer contains ingredients like Squalane and Coconut Fruit Extract to nourish and hydrate your skin with a pH-balanced, nongreasy formula.

3. Avoid Touching Your Face

This can be a hard habit to break. But every time you touch your face, you risk spreading oil and dirt, making oily skin worse. In addition to breaking the habit, try only using your fingers to wash your face and apply products.

4. Choose the Right Skin Care Products

Certain skin care products can help—or worsen—oily skin. Stick to products and cosmetics that are oil-free and noncomedogenic (meaning they don't clog pores). One exception is oil-based cleansers. For example, EltaMD Oil-In-Gel Cleanser can actually improve oily skin by binding the oils from your face so you can effectively wash them away.

Avoid thicker ingredients that can clog pores, like Coconut Oil. Some ingredients can also help reduce or balance oil production, including Niacinamide, Retinol, and Salicylic Acid. But keep in mind that it's better to pick one product and stick with it rather than overloading your skin with too much all at once.

5. Simplify Your Routine

When it comes to oily skin, stick to the basics. It can be tempting to try and get rid of oily skin with extra washing and exfoliation. In reality, though, this can make things worse. If your skin is stripped of too much oil, it can overcompensate and actually produce more oil.

6. Wear Sunscreen

In addition to increasing skin cancer risk, sun exposure can dry out your skin, which may also heighten oil production. Opt for a lightweight, oil-free, mineral-based sunscreen like EltaMD UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40.

7. Use Products to Remove Oil

Blotting paper can absorb extra oil on your face quickly, making this your best bet for instant shine removal. If you don't have access to blotting paper, regular tissue paper can also do the trick. Clay or sulfur-based masks can also help eliminate extra oil.

8. Watch What You Eat

More research is needed on the link between diet and skin, but increasing your intake of fish and healthy omega-3s may help lower oil production. It's also a good idea to focus on whole foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, and minimize sugar and ultra-processed foods.

Oily skin is common, but it doesn't have to be your reality. No matter what kind of skin you have, you can build a routine for your skin type to address any concerns and keep your skin healthy and vibrant so you can move confidently through the world.



    Maria Robinson, MD, MBA is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over ten years of clinical experience. Dr. Robinson has a passion for nutrition and integrative dermatology, and is the co-founder of www.integrativederm.org, where people can explore holistic dermatology treatments. Through her writing, she strives to empower people with accurate health information so they can make positive decisions that lead to healthy and vibrant skin.

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