Regardless of your skin type, your skin produces natural oils, known as sebum, as a way of keeping itself moisturized and hydrated. However, sometimes your skin produces an excessive amount of oil, leaving your skin with an unpleasant shine—you’ve got oily skin.
A lot of people think that diet plays a big role in how much oil your skin produces—they say the more unhealthy, greasy food you eat, the worse your oily skin will become. While diet does affect oily skin—not to mention waistlines—it’s only one small part of what causes oily skin.
One of the biggest factors in whether or not you’ll have oily skin is genetics. If many of your family members have oily skin, there’s a good chance that you will too. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands, and if larger glands run in your family, it’s probably one of the less pleasant inheritances you’ll receive from your parents.
Think back to your early teenage years, or ask any teenager—oily skin is one of the less enjoyable side effects of changing hormones in puberty. Unfortunately, your body goes through hormonal changes as you approach menopause as well, which is why many older women struggle with oily skin later in life as well.
Just because you haven’t hit menopause yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. Some women even report that their skin becomes oilier during their menstrual cycle due to the overabundance of hormones that their body is producing. The same thing goes for pregnant women—part of that mom-to-be glow could really just be oily skin from raging hormones.
Even your stress level affects hormones, and can therefore lead to oily skin. Don’t be surprised to see your face take on an extra sheen after an argument or intense board meeting. When you’re stressed out, your body produces a hormone called cortisol—higher levels of cortisol in the body lead to increased oil production, thus leading to oily skin.
Taking certain medications, such as birth control pills or steroids, can lead to oily skin. Because of the way they alter your physiological state, oily skin is often a side effect.
Physicians always stress the importance of sun protection. Since prolonged exposure to UV rays, including tanning beds, temporarily dries out the skin, the body goes into damage control mode, producing extra oil as a response to the perceived injury. This ends up leaving you with oily skin.
Incorrect Skin Care
If you’re not doing it properly, your anti-aging skin care routine can actually force your body to produce more sebum, which leads to oily skin. For example, if you use a cleanser that doesn’t match your skin type, it can lead to dryness and irritation. Certain skin care tools like rough wash clothes, cleansing brushes, hand mitts, buff puffs, and strips can also dry out the skin. To try and correct the problem, your oil production will naturally go into overdrive.