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Get Rid of Oily Skin...Forever

Updated on August 19, 2011

As a person who has always battled oily skin, I can completely sympathize with anyone trying to reduce or get rid of really greasy skin. It's shiny, makes you look and feel unclean, and can lead to zits. Although the luck of the (genetic) draw has a lot to do with it, you do have a degree of control over your skin. And having dealt with this vexing problem for decades, and having been to several dermatologists over the years, I can share what I've learned and what has worked well for me.

Sometimes your face can feel so oily that it can seem you could fry an egg on it! Not cool...
Sometimes your face can feel so oily that it can seem you could fry an egg on it! Not cool...

Causes of oily skin

Let's start by looking at the most important factors that cause oily skin. Some of these you have no control over, and others you do:

  • Genetics - Oily skin tends to run in the family, so while you might want to blame mom or dad, there's not much you can do here
  • Age - While in puberty, your hormone levels increase and can go haywire, so until you get older and your hormones settle down, there's not much you can do about this, either
  • Diet - Your diet has a fairly important impact on the oiliness of your skin, and your likelihood of breaking out, but maybe in a different way that you might have thought. Sugars and simple carbs send your insulin levels skyrocketing, which can boost sebum (oil) production in your skin.
  • Overcleaning - Being too aggressive in your cleaning, including overuse of harsh cleaners like astringents, can irritate your skin and provoke it into creating more oil, even if the cleaner strips away oil at the beginning.
  • Certain medicines - Birth control pills, and other medicines that affect your hormonal balance, can affect the oiliness of your skin.
  • Stress - Stress in your life causes hormonal turbulence, and hormone levels going all over the place and stimulate your oil glands to produce more.

Washing your face with warm (not hot) water and a mild (not harsh) cleanser, followed with a cool water rinse, helps tame oily skin and breakouts.
Washing your face with warm (not hot) water and a mild (not harsh) cleanser, followed with a cool water rinse, helps tame oily skin and breakouts.

What you can do to end oily skin...or at least tame it

There are some things you can do to improve your skin. See which of these are applicable in your case, and try them out!

  1. Clean your face regularly, but not harshly. Using warm (but not hot) water and a mild cleanser, wash your face at least twice daily. After washing and before patting your skin gently with a towel to dry, be sure to splash your face a couple of times with cold water. This will reduce any surface inflammation and close your pores, delaying the recurrence of oil production.
  2. Blot your face regularly throughout the day (gently). Either use blotting papers (available in drugstores) or use a clean napkin to gently press on your skin to transfer oils from your face onto the absorbent paper or napkin. It's important to do so gently and not rub; rubbing will irritate your skin and cause it to become oily again quickly.
  3. Minimize sugar and simple carbohydrates in your diet. When you eat sugary, starchy food, it causes your insulin levels to shoot up, which can wreak havoc on your skin. Insulin spikes can cause your skin to produce more oil, so anything you can do to minimize the consumption of foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates (i.e. foods high on the Glycemic Index), will help tame your body's tendency to produce too much oil.
  4. Keep your stress levels down. Stress also makes your hormone levels go haywire, so, in addition to negatively affecting your health, stress can give you unnecessarily oily skin, too. To the degree that you can, try to keep yourself calm and steady, and take the time to get out and relax a bit. You'll feel better and your skin will show it, too.
  5. Change your medicines. If you're taking birth control pills, steroids of any kind, or any medicine that affects your hormone levels (including growth hormone, insulin, etc.), talk to your doctor about trying different varieties of the same medicine that might have less of an impact on your skin. Sometimes switching brands or making slight tweaks to your dosage can have noticeable effects on your skin.
  6. Consider Accutane. If you are plagued with extremely oily skin and really bad acne, one prescription you might want to discuss with a dermatologist is a course of Accutane. A high dose of isotretinoin (a chemical relative of Vitamin A) over the course of about 6 months will permanently reduce the size of your sebaceous (oil) glands and reduce both acne outbreaks and oily skin. However, there are side effects, the most obvious being extremely dry skin during treatment. Accutane is not safe for expectant mothers, and might have permanent side effects if you're still growing.
    You'll have to discuss all the pros and cons with a dermatologist, but it really is a permanent solution to oily skin. I went on Accutane when I was 24 years old and despite a very dry 6 months where I was moisturizing constantly, when I finished, my skin was far less oily and far less prone to breakouts than before. I personally don't regret using it.
    Note that while Accutane is a chemical derivative of Vitamin A, it is not the same thing, and high doses of Vitamin A will not only not help your skin, they might be hazardous to your health!

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    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 

      4 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      I grew up in the 60s and it seems to me there was a great deal more really acne-ravaged complexions. I agree with your points around what to avoid and what to try, but would add in the importance of hydration with water and cutting out (or at least cutting down) dairy and other animal foods and fats, while increasing fresh fruits and vegetables/greens. Check out the skin of health-conscious older long-time vegans and vegitarians to see what good skin looks like.

    • Nare Anthony profile image

      Nare Gevorgyan 

      6 years ago

      Excellent! My friend has oily skin too and just yesterday were thinking of what to do! Thanks for the help :)

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I believe in skin care.. since I was 21 and I am 60 now I make sure my face is washed with a good skin care product and moisturized. twice a day. I have never had problem with my skin. Plus you are right it is diet too. to much grease or chocolate not enough greens and fruits in your diet it makes a difference.If you let this go then one day you are going to wake up and look in the mirror and say "WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED TO ME"

      excellent ARTICLE.. VOTED UP AND EXCELLENT

    • dabneylewis profile image

      dabneylewis 

      7 years ago from Boston

      I'm facing the same issue, my skin is very prone to acne which makes me very dishearten... I'm going to try these tips and if they worked I'm surely gonna to comment again...

    • Beautybykrista profile image

      Beautybykrista 

      7 years ago from Sherman Oaks, CA

      Great information! :) Please view my bio, I'm very new to Hubpages. Thank you!

    • powerofknowledge1 profile image

      powerofknowledge1 

      7 years ago

      Great hub and very informative. Thanks for sharing

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      7 years ago from Northern, California

      Direct and clear step by step information that will help many who suffer with excessively oily skin. This is a really helpful hub LL! I will make sure my nephew gets a chance to read it. Thanks for doing the research.

      Shalom,

      K9

    • Maggie.L profile image

      Maggie.L 

      7 years ago from UK

      Very useful and informative hub. I have two teenage daughters so will pass this info on to them and perhaps alter their diet a bit. Thanks for sharing.

    • Uriel profile image

      Uriel 

      7 years ago from Lebanon

      great pointers, well-written and very informative and useful ! [thank you so much for sharing :D]

    • livelonger profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Menayan 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Interesting. I look forward to your Hub, Michael, and I'm happy to link to it from this one, too!

    • Michael Willis profile image

      Michael Willis 

      7 years ago from Arkansas

      Yes, oily skin and skin yeast will cause Tinea Versicolor outbreaks. When the body begins to create less oil as you get older, the less the problem with this skin condition.

      Again, thanks for sharing this hub. It will be useful as I finish my Hub on Tinea Versicolor. I will add a link to this hub as it may help others with the same condition to find solutions to their oily skin problems.

    • livelonger profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Menayan 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      I wasn't aware these 2 conditions were related! I hope some of these tips work for you. :)

    • Michael Willis profile image

      Michael Willis 

      7 years ago from Arkansas

      Very useful hub. I am a person who has lived with oily skin, which in turn causes me problems with Pityriasis (Tinea) Versicolor.

      I will see if your methods listed in this hub may help me to reduce the over-production of oil from the skin. This should help with the Tinny problem I live with.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 

      7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I like the tips. I should have paid more attention to the simple carb foods in my teens. Although, the ingredients in the processed foods nowadays is far worse. Thanks

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 

      7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Great tips! This is not a problem I've ever had to deal with but nearly everyone else in my family does....I'll have to pass this on. Thanks!

    • kafsoa profile image

      kafsoa 

      7 years ago

      I agree with you Lilly rose, we used to live in a high humid climate and my daughter was suffering from oily skin, but now we're back home and it's much better.Thanks live longer, this topic is really useful for me.

    • gracenotes profile image

      gracenotes 

      7 years ago from North Texas

      I was interested to see this.

      As a person with oily skin, I've only found one thing that reduces the oil a lot -- and it involves the diet. What helped was 4-5 small meals per day, no sugar, and only consuming the best complex carbs that I could. That is, baked potatoes, brown rice, etc. No processed foods, no refined carbs, and eating low-fat only. The small, complete meals help keep the insulin level steady throughout the day. It's basically a good weight lifter's eating plan.

      Frankly, I can live without refined carbs like bread, but I am not getting rid of the oils in my diet. I simply like olive oil too much! And olive oil is good for you in many ways.

      Eating the way I described is a price too steep for me to pay.

    • profile image

      laura 

      7 years ago

      I got a weird tip a few months ago...

      I use apple cider vinegar as a tonic on my skin after cleaning. After that I apply night or day creme. It smells bad (before it dries) and it can sting a bit at first. (you can mix it with water or green tea, to make it less stingy) but it helps with the ph of my skin and it kills bacteria! I've ben using it for a few months now and my skin is in better condition and have a lot less breakouts.

      You can

    • livelonger profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Menayan 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Very true, Lily Rose. And me, too, Sinea!

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      7 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Oh, if only I had known about the sugars & simple carbs when I was a teenager. Great information!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      These are excellent tips. I think I have a habit of washing my face in water that's too hot, and rubbing it instead of patting it dry. I'll be changing my ways now!!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 

      7 years ago from A Coast

      Great points. Living in a very humid climate, oily skin has always been an issue for me - the humidity just seems to draw it out! Btw, love that first picture!

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