Are you one of those people who literally half an hour after applying a perfect face of makeup, you start to ‘glow’, and thirty minutes after that, your face is a full-on oil slick?

We caught up with Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Sharon Wong, recently and she shared her expertise on the causes of too-oily skin and how to deal with it.

Why do we get oily skin? 
Oily skin is caused by over-production of the skin’s natural oils known as sebum. While it is mainly a genetic trait, hormone changes can upset the balance, such as increased amounts of male hormones (androgens) in the system, which occur in puberty and in the condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Androgens stimulate the grease glands in the skin resulting in excess production of sebum.

Other external factors that may aggravate the problem include changes in climate and also using products that disturb the natural oil balance of the skin, for example, some makeup and beauty products can trigger over production of oils.


What are some effects of having oily skin? 
Most women are not fond of the shiny appearance which is the key indicator of oily skin and it also results in make-up not lasting for as long as it could. When you add skin-surface debris and dead skin cells, the sebum on the skin can clog the pores, making it prone to breakouts of acne.


6 top tips to combat oily skin! 38627377 - sepia image of a contemplating african woman.
Image Credit:


How can I treat/deal with my oily skin?

I would recommend you follow the following six simple steps to deal with oily skin:

  1. Master your skincare routine: Wash your face twice a day, in the morning and evening only and ensure all makeup is removed before going to bed. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid in face washes can help to cut through grease but also effectively unclogs the pores and ensures a deep cleanse. Oily skin has nothing to do with poor hygiene so washing more frequently is not necessary and if anything, doing this can dry out your skin too much and actually trigger even more sebum production. Toners are not a necessity. In fact, many toners contain alcohols which can damage the barrier function of the skin making it more sensitive and irritated.
  2. Make sure you moisturise: Although the skin is overproducing grease it still requires hydration to maintain a healthy skin barrier. Many anti-acne products dry out skin so it is important to rehydrate the skin to prevent it from producing more sebum to combat the dryness. Avoid heavy moisturisers and opt for oil free creams or serums instead.
  3. Exfoliate but don’t over-do it: Exfoliation encourages healthy skin turnover. It also helps to remove surface dead skin cells and prevent blocking of pores but again being overaggressive with exfoliation can leave your skin sensitive but can also cause a breakout.
  4. Treat your skin: Using a retinoid (Vitamin A) based product at night and have regular light chemical peels (e.g. glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid peels). These can reduce the oiliness of the skin and prevent breakouts of acne.
  5. Carefully select your makeup: Avoid heavy foundations and look for key words like matt-effect, oil-free and non-comedogenic when choosing your makeup. Oil control blotting paper or pads can be helpful on-the-go for those greasy areas that break through in the middle of the day.
  6. Watch your diet: Cutting out refined sugars, highly processed foods and saturated fats can help in some individuals to reduce sebum production.
Find out more about Dr Sharon Wong:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.