Reasons why your skin is always oily - and what you can do about it

Nine reasons why your skin gets oily and what to do about it

Greasy skin stems from excessive sebum production by your sebaceous glands.

Sebum has its benefits. It maintains your skin's natural moisture barriers and protects it from bacterial and fungal infections.

But excessive sebum will clog pores which could result in problems like bacteria growth, acne, whiteheads and blackheads.

Here are nine reasons why sebaceous glands go into overdrive.


Imbalances or changes in hormonal activity can influence how much sebum is produced. For women, if you notice your skin becoming oilier at a particular time every month, it is likely due to your menstrual cycle.

Hormones like androgen (responsible for oil production), progesterone and oestrogen come into play during menses.

When menses approaches, androgen levels spike and oestrogen levels fall, leading to a surge in sebum production.

If you are familiar with when your oil glands go into overdrive, switch to an oil-control beauty regimen and keep blotting paper with you.


Using unsuitable skincare products can trigger oily skin and acne. If the facial cleanser you are using is worsening your complexion, it is likely that the cleanser is too harsh. Such products may cause your skin to produce even more sebum to compensate for the lack of moisture.


Your oily complexion could have been passed on from your parents or grandparents. Don't worry, there are skincare products that can help.


Greasy fried foods top the list of culprits behind an oily complexion. But dairy products can also lead to increased oil production, as they contain high levels of natural hormones such as testosterone that can result in greasiness and clogged pores.

The sugars in dairy products will also increase your glycemic index and that can triggers sebaceous glands to produce more oil. If you are prone to acne breakouts, cut down on dairy.


When you are stressed, the stress hormone known as cortisol spikes, which can lead to an increase in oil production. The surge in cortisol levels also deceives your brain into believeing that you need more energy, making you crave sweet and fatty foods, which would lead to a greasier complexion.


If you use make-up to conceal blemishes from oily skin, give your skin a break. Your make-up products could be clogging up your pores. But if you really must have make-up, use non-comedogenic products and apply them lightly.


The heat and humidity in Singapore triggers sebum secretion. Even if you are in a cold climate, it does not mean you are free from grease as cool and dry weather may cause oil glands to go into overdrive.

The key is to use appropriate skincare products to cater to the changes in the environment.


If you do not usually have oily skin, it could be due to the medication. Oral contraception and hormonal medication may trigger oil production. If so, don't fret, your skin should return to normal once you're off your meds.

9. AGE

The different stages of your life will affect your skin. Androgen will fluctuate during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Generally, your complexion will get less oily as you grow older.