7 Things Your Oily Skin Is Trying To Tell You

by Gina M. Florio
Asian woman in bathroom with facial mask, Home spa and skin care concept.
staticnak1983/E+/Getty Images

Women who have had oily skin all their lives have a special connection with one another. We've all battled a shiny T-zone in ways that folks with dry skin will never understand. We've all run to the bathroom every half hour during a social event to blot our greasy nose. We've all had cruel family members crack jokes about how they could fry an egg on our forehead.

I've had oily skin for as long as I can remember, but I never bothered until recently to inquire as to why I possess this particularly annoying characteristic. This is pretty common for us women who have moved mostly past the acne phase of our lives — we know that oily skin is linked to our genetics; the overproduction of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) gets passed down from someone, and there's nothing we can do about it. Other than that, we just take our oily skin for what it is.

However, there might be some things you're unknowingly doing to yourself that are causing your skin to be shinier than it needs to be. After all, when it comes to skincare, everything matters, from what we eat to what we moisturize with. That's also the good news, though — it puts you in control of your own greasy fate.

Here are seven things your oily skin is trying to tell you.

1. You're More Stressed Than Usual

Try: Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Cleansing Pads, $7, Amazon

So, you're anxious about a new project at work, or you're going through a big fight with your SO. That kind of pressure causes your body to produce extra amounts of the stress hormone called cortisol, and one of the most common side effects of extra cortisol coursing through your system is a whole lot of oil on your face.

You'll likely see some acne too, as the excess oil clogs the hair follicles and produces zits and pimples. A 2007 Singapore study of high school students found that the kids going through high-stress exam period had way more acne than the ones on summer break. Not surprising.

Dr. Flor A. Mayoral, dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, told Science Daily that "stress can aggravate the skin," and even those who have never complained about oily skin see an increased production of oil.

2. You're Not Using The Right Kind Of Face Wash

Try: Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel, $13, Amazon

There comes a point in every girl's life when she realizes she can't live off stealing her roommate's soap forever. But a person who battles the monster of oily skin has to put in even more effort when selecting a face wash. Be careful of strong anti-acne ingredients, as those can actually prevent your skin from producing the right amount of oil.

Dermatologist Sam Bunting told Elle UK that women with combination or oily skin should reach for gel formulas. The more grease you see on your face, the lighter the foam you should decide on. Sulfate-free, paraben-free, oil-free, and perfume free washes are helpful characteristics to look for as well.

3. You're Washing Your Face Too Often

It's a perfectly normal response. When you see a whole lot of shine staring back at you in the mirror, you feel like you have to wash everything off and start all over again. If you're cleansing your face more than twice a day, though, you are your own worst enemy.

The ingredients in your face wash, especially the chemicals and drying agents, are stripping your skin of its natural oils, which makes you produce even more than you would normally need. Wash in the morning and at night, and resist the urge to add anymore cleanses to your daily routine.

4. You're Consuming Too Much Dairy

Lotsa milk and cream wreak havoc on the delicate balance of hormones in your body. Levels of testosterone and progesterone— and nearly 60 other hormones — rise in the body when you consume dairy, causing too much oil to build up beneath the surface of your skin. This is why so many experts recommend cutting back on anabolic-hormone-packed milk if you're struggling with acne.

There are more than 60 different hormones in just one glass of milk, and studies show that skim milk is actually the worst when it comes to producing acne. The sebum causes a greasy T-zone, and wouldn't be nearly as prominent if you cut dairy out of your diet — or at least cut back on your daily intake.

5. Your Makeup Is Clogging Your Pores

Try: Aveeno Clear Complexion BB Cream, $24, Amazon

You may not have been cautious enough with that foundation purchase. When you use cosmetics, like BB creams, moisturizers, and even serums, that are too heavy for your skin type, it locks in all your natural oils. This causes your skin to go into emergency mode and produce an excess of oil, resulting in a stubborn glisten along your T-zone, and potentially making you break out.

It's time to make a more conscious effort to pick out a makeup product that is suited for oily skin. Go with something light, oil-free, and non-comedogenic. A major bonus of choosing the right one is that your makeup will last longer than those other ill-fitting cosmetics, because you won't be dabbing it off all the time.

6. You Aren't Using The Right Kind Of Moisturizer

Try: La Roche Posay Effaclar Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer, $32, Amazon

First of all, know that you have to use a moisturizer, no matter how stubborn and oily your skin may seem. If you don't hydrate, your skin will think it's not doing its job, and that greasy forehead won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

There are a couple things you can try out. A light, oil-free moisturizer could do the trick, rather than purchasing a thick cream to slather on. Humectants like glycerin encourage water to come to the surface of your skin, resulting in less oil getting trapped. When you pick up your gel-like face wash, consider the gel or liquid moisturizers in the same section.

Additionally, there is the opposite end of the spectrum, which works really well for some people, including myself. Something like organic, raw, cold-pressed coconut oil can loosen the sebum stuck in your pores and reduce the overall level of grease. Natural oil like this tricks your skin into thinking it's producing plenty of oil, so why would it need to give you anymore?

7. You're Drinking Too Much Alcohol

When you think of booze, you probably think immediately of dry, less radiant skin, which is certainly a side effect for many people. But there are plenty of times when excess amounts of alcohol equal excess amounts of oil on your skin. Dr. Arleen Lamba, a skincare expert, once told Bustle, "When you consume alcohol your heat index rises, which means you actually do get warmer and sweat more." You better expect clogged pores and oil, oil, oil.

Cut back on your drinking if you've been recently going overboard, and see if it doesn't cure your oily skin blues. It may sound like a lot of things to worry about, but as long as you get the right products on your bathroom shelf and don't live off of milk and wine, your oily skin should start to mend itself.

Images: staticnak1983/E+/Getty Images; Giphy