Oily Skin Remedies: Tips, treatments and causes

Understand oily skin and its causes, facial treatments, remedies

By Liza Munson
Oily Skin Remedies: Tips, treatments and causes

Flawless, glowing skin. It’s something we all dream of. In today’s world of selfies and snapchat, a night out with friends means tons of photos and photo sharing. For those who suffer from oily skin, posing for a pic can bring on feelings of dread. The sad reality is while we seek glowing skin, no one wants to have shiny skin. If your skin appears shiny, your pores large and visible, and you suffer from breakouts and acne, you have oily skin.

Some people experience oily skin all over the face, while others have just an oily T-zone area. This is known as combination skin. T-zone, refers to the forehead area and the nose. Those with combination skin may even have dry patches on their cheeks and chin.

Understand oily skin and its causes, facial treatments, remedies

The bad news is that there is little anyone can do to address the causes of oily skin. The two main culprits are hormones and genetics. Teenagers often suffer from oily skin and acne as their hormones rage and their bodies change. Sadly, many adults for whom high school is a distant memory may still find themselves suffering from annoying breakouts. I remember a friend in her early thirties exclaiming, “I can’t believe I have both pimples AND wrinkles!”

The good news is that there are many professional as well as at home treatments and remedies that can help even the shiniest among us to minimize oily skin, reduce breakouts and achieve a perfect radiance. 

Causes of oily skin

Everyone’s skin naturally produces oil, called sebum. Sebum exists all over our bodies, with the exception of a few places, the palms of the hands, the souls of the feet and the lips. The purpose of sebum, which is largely comprised of vitamin E, is to serve as a natural protectant and moisturizer for the skin, which is a good thing. However certain factors, like genetics and hormonal fluctuation, can cause an overproduction of sebum resulting in oily skin. When sebum mixes with dead skin cells, makeup or pollutants from the environment, pores clog and become inflamed leading to those dreaded breakouts.

Tips on caring for oily skin at home

According to experts, the most important thing to remember when treating oily acne prone skin at home is to be extremely gentle. While it may seem tempting to resort to harsh scrubs and astringents, these products can actually cause the body to produce even more sebum. Here are some tips to help you care for your oily skin.

1. Remove your makeup

Completely remove your makeup. Every. Single. Night. Remember pimples are caused by sebum combining with dead skin cells and other irritants so gently removing all makeup from your skin before cleansing and before bed is essential. Try Neutrogena Cleansing Facial Wipes. They are alcohol-free and can help reduce oil while completely removing all traces of makeup.  

2. Use a gentle cleanser

Use a gentle cleanser twice a day. First, thoroughly clean your hands, then try a gentle face wash such as Neutrogena Oil Free Facial Wash.

3. Use a clean towel and pat your face dry

After washing, use a clean towel and pat your face dry. One article I read advised never using the same towel to dry your face as you used on your hair and body. Also, don’t ever use a towel to dry your face more than once without laundering it. An alternative to always having a fresh, clean towel at the ready might be to use a piece of paper towel and gently pat your face dry after washing. Or, if you have time you can allow your face to air dry.

4. Use a non alcohol toner

Use a toner but not just any toner. Remember the key word when managing oily skin is gentle so avoid toners that contain alcohol and other harsh ingredients. Instead, try a toner that lists salicylic acid as an ingredient.  Salicylic acid helps increase cell turnover, reduces inflammation and may even help limit sebum secretion. 

5. Moisturize

Moisturize. It may seem counterintuitive to moisturize oily skin. However experts say it’s a must for oily skin sufferers to moisturize each time after cleansing. Try a moisturizer with lighter ingredients such as glycerin or aloe.   

6. Keep your pillowcases clean

The ugly truth is that hair products, sweat, dust and other irritants live on our pillow cases. Wash your pillowcases often to minimize irritants that can cause breakouts.

7. Don't touch your face

Finally, don’t touch your face. This is a hard habit to break, trust me I know, but every time we touch our faces we are introducing germs, dirt, hair products and general yuckiness to the skin that we most want to protect. So make an effort not to touch.

The perfect diet to complement oily skin complexion

The recommendations are mixed when it comes to determining whether a diet containing the tasty yet unhealthy foods that we all love to eat such as fried foods, excess sugar, dairy and chocolate can cause oily skin to worsen.  However, it never ever hurts to maintain a healthy diet comprised largely of fruits and veggies and to limit our intake of greasy foods and sugar-filled desserts. All of the organs in our bodies, the skin included, are reliant upon vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food to stay strong and healthy.

Also important, be sure to drink plenty of water each day to keep the digestive tract and internal organs hydrated and running smoothly. If you are experiencing breakouts, try systematically limiting potential problematic foods from your diet such as fried foods, dairy, or sugar to see if symptoms lessen.

Oily skin remedies for summer

Summer, as much as we love it, can wreak havoc on the skin. This can be especially true for those who suffer from oily skin. Sun, chlorine and salt water all contribute to skin damage and can cause dryness. While it may seem tempting to purposely expose your face to the sun in an effort counteract oily skin, don’t! Doing so can cause sebum production to increase and can make oily skin worse. Be sure to use a good, light sunblock made specifically for the face religiously. Not only will you limit breakouts, but your future self will thank you for protecting against premature aging and worse, skin cancer.  

Try a gel-based facial sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 SPF with both UVA and UVB protection and reapply regularly while exposed to the sun. Be sure to continue to use a light moisturizer in the summer as well.

What works best for people with oily skin complexion

Everyone is different so when trying to minimize oily skin it’s best to figure out a bit by trial and error what works for you. However, a good skincare regimen that includes gentle cleansing, toner, moisturizer and the occasional face mask will certainly help. Also, getting plenty of sleep, drinking loads of water and eating a healthy diet are all essential. 


Blotting papers can also help to temporarily remove excess oil. These convenient packs of small papers are easy to keep in your purse to use at the office or anytime you notice excess shine. Blotting papers are a must during an evening out when it’s picture time. Try Tarte Not So Slick Oil-Absorbing Blotting Papers to remove excess oil while keeping your makeup fully intact.

Amazon.com : Tarte Not so Slick Oil-absorbing Blotting Papers : Beauty

Treatments for oily skin

There are several at home gentle and inexpensive treatments that can help you care for your oily skin.

1. Honey

Honey is a natural antiseptic which can soothe skin and help clear breakouts quickly. Simply apply honey in a thin layer to the face and leave on for about 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water. 

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal can also make a nice soothing mask for the face and can provide much needed healthy moisture. Simply follow the package directions using an all natural oatmeal that does not contain any sugar or flavor, and allow the oatmeal to cool fully. Once cooled, apply to the face for about ten minutes and then rinse off. You can add a little bit of plain yogurt or a beaten egg white to the oatmeal if you wish.


While oily skin can seem like a challenging problem, there are many remedies and treatments that can help keep sebum at bay, skin healthy and breakouts from occurring. If you’ve tried everything and are still suffering, try visiting a dermatologist to see what professional treatments and medications may work for you.