What Causes Oily Skin and How to Keep It in Best Condition

To fight this condition, it’s important we investigate what causes oily skin and the natural remedies that will keep it looking its best.

Most of us can relate to that irksome feeling of pressing your face to a window and leaving behind a “face fingerprint” in grease, or feeling like your face is always shiny. No amount of blotting with paper (which, by the way, is a myth) or washing our face seems to make any sort of difference.

So we naturally scrub our faces more, buy new products and pray that our skin magically dries out. Little do we know that the products themselves as well as the daily foods we eat are what’s contributing mostly to our oily skin.

While we can’t completely get rid of the possibility for oily skin, there are some environmental factors we can take out of our daily lives, as well as natural herbal remedies to lessen the blow. It’s time to learn what causes oily skin.

oily skin

Causes for oily skin

The most common cause for oily skin, unfortunately, is genetics. While this isn’t something you can help, there are many things later in the article you can do or not do that will lessen the triggers that cause oily skin for you. The second most common cause for oily skin is over-washing your face with soaps and acne creams.

By drying out your face, your skin produces more oil than necessary to make up for this and the cycle repeats. So stop washing your face so often, because even though a greasy face makes you want to clean your skin, it’s not helpful.

The third biggest cause is seasonal changes, which can also have a hand in making your pores work overtime as changing temperatures dry out your skin. In an effort to make up for the dry skin, your already oily skin creates more oil, contributing to the issue at hand.

Stress and unstable hormonal shifts also affect the amount of oil on your skin because they unbalance your body’s responses, and oily skin is one of them. Other than washing your face too much, there isn’t much you can do to halt these causes other than pray that puberty is quick or that your DNA changes.

Since neither of these sound like an easy fix, it’s better to focus on diet and natural remedies that are a lot easier to manage.

oily skin

Foods to eat

Adding more water into your diet and eating foods that hydrate your skin can really change the results you see. While hydrating your body and subsequently your skin stands as the most effective way to cut down on oily skin, there are also three foods that can contribute as well.

By drinking a bottle of water when you wake up and when you go to bed, you are already setting yourself up for success and giving yourself the kind of skin boost you need to combat facial oil.

1. Cucumber
Adding cucumbers to your diet, which are already 95% water, will give your face that fresh glow you have been searching for. The vegetable has tons of antioxidants in the skin, and seeds that are known to fight oily skin. A great way to incorporate cucumbers into your daily diet is to put them in a pitcher of water and let them soak for a few hours and then drink the water as you usually would.

While, to notice the effects, you have to do more than just drink some of their nutrients, it’s a good start, especially if you don’t like the taste of cucumbers. If you don’t mind the taste, they are a great addition with fresh dill on light vinaigrette salads. Their light crunch and refreshing taste is a welcome addition to diversify any salad with an already bitter dressing like vinaigrettes.


2. Avocado
Putting avocados on the menu can rejuvenate tired looking skin and cut down on oil production in the pores. The healthy meat of avocados is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the “special ingredient” for youthful skin.

As we age, we lose elasticity or the youthful fat in our skin that keeps it looing plump, young and wrinkle-free. By adding these fats back in naturally with avocados, you can reduce your skin’s oil as well as refresh your youthful appearance.

Try eating a fresh avocado with a sprinkle of sea salt and a few slices of turkey to add omega-3 fatty acid into your life. It tastes great on sandwiches and on top of salads and isn’t a hard addition to your usual eating habits.


3. Grapefruit
The final food that can combat oily skin is grapefruit. While not as tasty as the other two foods because of its slight bitter citrus flavor, it can make up for its taste with the added benefit of fat burning. While grapefruit is good for burning belly fat it also has high water, fiber, and vitamin C content, which all pack a punch in defeating oily skin.

This one isn’t as easy to add into your lunch plans, but with some creativity can still be tasty. To make a tasty midday snack add crumbled feta with pecans and a few slices of grapefruit instead of a chocolate protein bar. Your stomach and your skin will thank you.


Foods to avoid

Most people would be surprised, but dairy products have multiple negative effects on our bodies, most noticeably on our skin. Dairy increases the skin’s oil production maximizing its susceptibility to acne. Along with giving us zits, consuming too much dairy can make our skin look old.

Yes, that’s right, that glass of milk we were promised was good for our bones is actually contributing to wrinkles and our skin’s lack of elasticity. While milk is high in calcium and it can’t be ignored that our body needs a certain amount in order to thrive, it can be found elsewhere.

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts have more calcium per unit than cow’s milk does. By switching up that glass of milk for a few more greens, you can help your skin be less oily and look more youthful.

dairy products

Along with dairy, salts and fats are what cause oily skin too. Sadly, the things that taste the best also ruin our skin. Fatty meats like beef and pork have too much animal fat that bombards our pores with grease and clog them.

By switching to lean beef and pork, if you can’t imagine your diet without these two meats, you can dramatically decrease the amount of animal fats collecting in your skin. It doesn’t surprise us that greasy, fried foods are bad for our skin.

That handful of greasy potato chips not only hits our waistlines, but our faces as well, and is better left on the grocery shelf and away from our carts. Potato chips and fried foods are a double skin-attack because they are both high in fats and salt. While no evil here is worse than the other, it’s definitely something to cut back on if you are having skin issues.

potato chips

White flour also affects those with skin conditions and problems with greasy faces. It’s no coincidence that people with gluten and dairy sensitivities tend to get acne when they eat too much milk or white bread. I’m not saying you have to give up all breads and milk right now, but making a few switches to lessen the amount of stress these foods put on your body can’t hurt.

Instead of always eating noodles in your meals, switch them out for multi-grain rice, couscous, or quinoa. Not only are these different tastes than the usual white and wheat noodles, but in certain dishes I would definitely recommend them as the tastier options.

white flour

Natural remedies

While there’s no absolute natural fix to an oily face, there are a lot of herbs and options that, when combined or even used alone, can do wonders for your skin. All of these ingredients can be found at a natural foods store or online for cheaper bulk prices.

While most of these ingredients are on the list because they are astringents, (something that constricts body tissues aka pores) they each have unique healing qualities.

Witch hazel– Once used by Native Americans to treat skin burns and tumors, witch hazel is an astringent that, when applied to pores, cleans them and causes them to shrink. It is also used to fade bruises, shrink swollen bruises, prevents razor burn, stall bleeding woods, cool bug bites and sunburns.

This is a useful herb that everyone should have on hand in his or her house. By adding a mixture of 1/3 cup witch hazel, ¼ cup lemon juice (another astringent), and 2 tbsp. rubbing alcohol and adding ½ cup of water to dilute the mixture, you can shrink nose pores and prevent blackheads (instructable.com).

witch hazel

Sage– Throughout ancient history, sage has been thought to be the secret of a long life by gypsies and the Chinese. Its benefits to the skin are that it instigates healing and acts as a skin equalizer.

If parts of your face are oilier then others, this is a great herb to help make your face more even. It can also darken greying hair, slow heavy menstrual bleeding, eliminate body odor, alleviate sore gums or throats and relieve fevers.


Peppermint– Another anti-inflammatory herb, peppermint, is thought to reduce face oil because it relaxes the pores that produce oil. It has also been known to alleviate herpes, freshen teeth, act as a decongestant, alleviate headaches, and reduce asthma inflammation and sore muscles.


Hyssop– A member of the mint family, this plant works as a complexion toner, but also a helpful natural ingredient to cut down on facial oil production. Make sure if you use this herb you boil it and strain it before using, to maximize its potential. Its anti-inflammatory properties also make it useful for arthritis relief, wrinkles and cramps.


Lavender oil– This oil is one of the best and most common treatment ingredients in acne creams, but sometimes, using the herb directly instead of with other chemicals is best. This plant decreases the amount of sebum the facial pores make, which is what creates acne and contributes to facial oil.

By decreasing the amount of sebum and acting as an antibacterial agent, lavender oil is an impressive skin ingredient that can transform your skin from oily into a comfortable level of clarity.

lavander oil

Ground dry oats– After grinding the oats and sifting through them to create a fine powder, use it to create an exfoliating scrub that if rubbed into your pores will remove the dead cells that often clog pores around the nose and forehead.

To make this mixture even more efficient, adding a tablespoon of water and witch hazel will make a paste that can be applied, let dry for ten minutes, and should then be washed off.

ground dry oats

Egg white mask– By mixing the egg whites with a tbsp. of honey, you can tighten the facial skin as well as unclog the pores. Leave the mask on for ten minutes, until it starts to cake and dry, and then wash it thoroughly from your face. Adding mango pulp to the mixture is thought to enhance the mask’s ability to unclog pores in Indonesian cultures.

egg white mask

While there are many ways to both manage and get rid of oily skin, it’s still an issue many people will have to come to terms with. It’s not as simple a fix as dry skin, which can be handled with a good facial lotion or coconut oil. There’s no absolute cure, because there’s so many causes that affect people in varying amounts.

Comment below with your own tried and true natural methods for managing oily skin and share it with anyone else who is also dealing with greasy skin issues.

About the author

Raichel Jenkins

Raichel is an ambitious free spirit who loves poetry, hiking, and a decent amount of carbs. She is a Journalism student at Ohio University with a passion for women’s rights, sappy love stories, and intricacies of the human experience.

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