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What Causes Oily Skin and How Do You Manage It?

These common culprits may be the reason for excess shine.
  • Cat Matta
April 11, 2024

Oily skin is pretty easy to spot—it often feels greasy or has a slick, shiny appearance. If you have oily skin, you may also deal with skin concerns like large pores and breakouts or struggle to keep makeup from melting down your face throughout the day. While these concerns can be frustrating to deal with, knowing what causes oily skin can help you determine the best way to manage it.

Ahead, we’ll reveal some common oily skin causes and share some tips to help you deal with a visibly oily face. Plus, we’ll also introduce you to a few of our favorite skincare products for oily skin to help you along the way. Get the scoop below.

What Causes Oily Skin?

Several factors can influence your skin’s oiliness, from genetics to environmental conditions. Additionally, the amount of oil (sebum) your skin produces can fluctuate over your lifetime, which means you may experience oilier skin at certain stages of your life (or even during certain times of the year). Read on to learn more about some oily skin triggers you should be aware of.

Environmental conditions

The climate you’re in (both seasonally and geographically) can influence your skin’s natural oil production. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), skin tends to produce more oil during the summer months, when temperatures and humidity are at their highest. Increased oil and sweat during the summer may leave you more prone to clogged pores, excess shine, and greasy-feeling skin. If you live in a hot, humid climate year-round, you may also be more likely to have oily skin.

On the other hand, winter weather brings low humidity and freezing temperatures that can have a drying effect on your skin. While “drying out” your skin may seem like an intuitive way to get rid of oily skin, it can actually have the opposite effect. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), drying out your skin can cause your sebaceous glands to react by producing even more oil. This can, in turn, contribute to an oily appearance or leave you vulnerable to clogged pores and breakouts.

Skipping moisturizer

When you’re already struggling to reduce oiliness, it’s normal to wonder if moisturizer might make matters worse. However, moisturizer is an essential step in any skincare routine, even if you have oily skin. Interestingly, oily skin can benefit from proper hydration in its own unique way. When your skin is hydrated, your sebaceous glands are able to ease up on oil production. This, in turn, can help support more balanced skin and keep excess shine under control.

For your morning and evening skincare routine, we recommend reaching for a water-based moisturizer, like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. The lightweight formula helps skin attract and retain moisture to promote a plumper, healthier-looking appearance. Plus, it’s suitable for all skin types and absorbs quickly without leaving behind a greasy residue.


According to the AAD, feeling stressed can cause your body to produce higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). This, in turn, may cause an increase in your skin’s natural oil production and even trigger breakouts.


Hormonal fluctuations may contribute to oily skin and breakouts. These changes can be tough to manage, so if you suspect your oily skin concerns are due to hormonal imbalances, it’s best to speak with a dermatologist.


According to the AAD, people with oily skin should generally aim to cleanse twice a day (morning and evening). It’s also important to wash your face after working out or doing any activity that causes you to sweat. Your skin produces oils that, when mixed with dirt and other grime, can clog your pores and lead to breakouts. Cleansing regularly can help keep your oily skin feeling refreshed and balanced.


While cleansing is essential for those with oily skin, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Washing your face too frequently—or using harsh, drying cleansers—can irritate the skin and strip away important natural oils. Balance is key.

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If you’re looking for a gentle yet effective cleanser to add to your oily skin routine, we suggest L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleanser. It helps remove oil and makeup and gently exfoliates to reveal a smoother, brighter appearance over time.

Water temperature

When it comes to washing your face, water temperature does matter. Using water that’s too hot can dry out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils (much like over-cleansing). As we mentioned earlier, dehydration may trigger an increase in oil production, which can make your skin look oily or greasy. So, whether you’re in the shower or washing your face at the sink, it’s important to turn down the water temperature. In general, lukewarm water is your best bet.

Lifestyle factors

Eating a well-balanced diet is a key part of any healthy lifestyle, but it may also impact your complexion. According to the NIH, following a diet high in simple carbs (like white bread, sugar, and white rice) can lead to high serum glucose levels and elevated levels of insulin—the latter of which can increase sebum production. However, more research is needed to determine the link between certain foods and your skin’s appearance.


According to research published by the NIH, some people have sebaceous glands that naturally produce more sebum than other people—these folks are categorized as having an oily skin type. However, if you have this skin type, it’s still possible for your skin’s oil production to be impacted by any of the oily skin triggers mentioned above. A board-certified dermatologist can help you identify the cause of your oily skin and help you curate a routine that suits your needs.

How To Manage Oily Skin

If you frequently find yourself looking shinier than you’d like, chances are good you’re wondering how to get rid of oily skin. While there’s no surefire way to get rid of oil (you need some for healthy skin), there are some “do’s” and ”don’ts” that can help make oily skin more manageable. It all comes down to finding the right balance between maintaining your skin’s natural moisture and reducing excess oil.

Wash your face twice a day (and after sweaty workouts)

As mentioned above, it’s important to cleanse every morning, evening, and after sweating. Try to resist the urge to scrub too hard, as this may irritate your skin or disrupt your skin barrier. And, to help prevent clogged pores, always remember to remove any makeup before heading to bed.

For a convenient cleansing option on the go, we recommend the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Wet Cleansing Towelettes. These gentle exfoliating cleansing cloths with vitamin E are specially formulated to nourish your skin while removing impurities and makeup. They leave your skin feeling clean and smooth while promoting a more refined, radiant-looking complexion.

Choose products that are formulated for oily skin

To help keep your skin feeling balanced and healthy, you’ll want to look for skincare and makeup products that are formulated specifically for oily skin. That means checking labels carefully to ensure any formulas you’re using are non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog your pores) and designed to help address your specific skin concerns.

If you have oily skin and enlarged pores, for example, consider adding the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum to your daily routine. The non-greasy, fast-absorbing serum instantly increases radiance and helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and enlarged pores.

Another option to consider—particularly if you’re prone to breakouts (and post-blemish marks)—is the L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum. It helps visibly fade dark spots and discolorations and absorbs quickly with a lightweight, non-greasy feel.

Hydrate your skin

As we mentioned earlier, oily skin needs plenty of hydration, too. After applying your facial serum, you can dive right in with your moisturizer. Or, for double the hydration, consider layering serums. We love L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum because it boosts hydration, plumps the skin, and helps lock in moisture without leaving behind a tacky residue (plus, it’s non-comedogenic). Just keep in mind that if you do opt to layer serums, you’ll want to allow each layer to sink into your skin before your moisturizer.

Wear sunscreen every day

No matter what type of skin you have, it’s essential to protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, rain or shine. We love using the L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion, a lightweight, non-greasy sunscreen with vitamins C and E. This formula helps protect your skin from sun damage while resisting sun-induced signs of aging. With consistent use, your skin will feel moisturized and appear brighter, smoother, and more even-toned.

Give blotting papers a try

Blotting papers are an easy way to help keep an oily face in check—especially if you notice your skin getting extra oily and shiny throughout the day. Gently press a blotting sheet onto any greasy spots for a few seconds to absorb excess oil. Just be careful not to rub the paper on your skin, as doing so can spread oil to other parts of your face.

Avoid touching your face throughout the day

You may not even notice you’re doing it, but we’re all guilty of touching our faces throughout the day. In fact, one study found that participants touched their faces over 20 times an hour! Touching your face can spread oil, dirt, and bacteria from your hands to your face, making you more susceptible to breakouts. Try to make a conscious effort to stay hands-off whenever possible, and always wash your hands before touching your face.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

A healthy diet can help support skin that looks and feels its best. This means eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. However, if you have any concerns or questions about your diet’s effect on your skin, it’s best to consult a board-certified dermatologist or nutritionist.

Manage stress levels

Try to take some time for yourself each day to unwind and destress. (We know, it’s easier said than done.) Whether it’s soaking in a warm bath or practicing other types of self-care—like meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga—taking some time to unwind can be an excellent way to take care of your mind and your skin.

Next Up: Why Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid Are a Skincare Power Duo

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