How to control oily skin

Oh, the joy of oily skin. Make-up that slides off, shiny photos, larger pores, and skin prone to blackheads and breakouts. For those of us that experience oily skin on a regular basis (and btw oily skin is not just for teenagers) it can feel like oily skin is never fully under control. But the good news is that there are lots of steps you can take to make oily skin more manageable, without ending up with more skin issues than you started with.

What is sebum?

how to prevent oily skin

Your sebaceous glands (holocrine glands) are microscopic organs in your skin that secrete sebum, an oily substance that helps to both keep skin soft, while waterproofing the skin to help it retain moisture. They are found everywhere on the body apart from areas like the palms and soles of your feet. The biggest and highest number of sebaceous glands are found on the face, scalp and top of your torso (chest and back). Sebum is pulled up through the hair follicle to the skin’s surface.

The sebum substance itself is made up of elements like fatty acids, waxes and squalane, and does have a positive role in helping to protect skin. But when you start to see that shine appearing on skin you might be experiencing an excess of sebum production resulting in oily skin, and this can be caused by a number of different reasons.

What causes oily skin?

Sometimes hormonal imbalances can lead to excess sebum production. According to Healthline when you hit puberty, the change in hormones can cause sebum production to increase by up to 500%. Pregnancy, the menopause, stress and skin that’s too dry can also lead to your body producing more sebum. Basically, due to the number of factors that can impact sebum production you can experience this issue at any age, and some people are just more genetically prone to it.

So if sebum helps to protect skin, then what’s the problem? Well, if your skin starts to produce too much the excess sebum can mix with dirt, dead skin cells and sweat on the skin’s surface, which can lead to clogging up of pores, blackheads and breakouts. Even if you are lucky enough not to experience blemishes with your oily skin, not all of us are happy with the skin shine that comes with oily skin.

So what can you do about it?

How to control oily skin

Persistent oily skin needs a supporting skincare routine to help you feel confident in your skin and help prevent potential breakouts and blackheads. The main thing to remember is to be gentle (as over stringent products and ingredients can mean you end up with more issues than you started with) and give any new skincare time to work its magic.

Our top tips are:

Wash you face 

Giving skin a gentle wash with a mild face wash helps to remove excess oil, and is best done in the morning and evening (especially if you need to remove make-up). It is also good to give the face a gentle wash after exercising too to remove a build up of sweat and oil that can lead to blocked pores. Remember, scrubbing can cause dryness and irritation so be gentle! A cleanser containing a BHA (Salicylic Acid) is a good idea to help to remove excess oil and unclog pores, it helps to leave skin feeling fresh and clean without you needing to wash too hard.

Use warm water, as high temperatures can cause irritation.

Use a toner 

Toners are sometimes debated by skincare experts, as overly astringent ones can actually damage your skin barrier which can result in excess sebum production again. However, many dermatologists recommend a toner containing ingredients like lactic acid or glycolic acid for oily skin. Ingredients like these will gently exfoliate skin by removing the build up of oil and skin debris, which in turn reduces the risk of blocked pores and breakouts.

Did we mention that our Clear Skin Days Clarifying Toner contains Lactic Acid?!

Hydrate with an oil free moisturiser

When you have oily skin its really tempting not to moisturise, as you can worry that you are overloading skin or that moisturiser will make skin feel even more greasy. However, a lightweight oil free moisturiser is 100% recommended for to help manage oily skin and breakouts. If skin isn’t kept hydrated, then glands can produce more sebum to compensate which can result in increased breakouts. In addition, some moisturisers can contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as Niacinamide or Aloe Vera which can help to calm irritated skin.

Use blotting paper

Blotting paper is back (and if you need proof then check out Fenty Beauty's range…if its good enough for Rhianna…). If you need a quick fix when out and about, there are now also plenty of plastic free, biodegradable or hemp fibre blotting paper options out there. Choose one that has additional skincare ingredients in such as charcoal or white clay for extra absorption - just press gently and don’t rub to prevent oil spreading on the face.

Use a face mask

If your skin is oilier than usual, then a good old fashioned charcoal, French green clay or kaolin clay face mask can provide some temporary relief by helping to absorb excess oil. If you have both dry and oily skin then you can apply these just on the t-zone if you really just need to target oily areas.


We hope these tips help - as always, there is no one proven way to tackle any skin issue as its always about finding out what works for your unique skin. Whatever you decide to do, we always recommend being consistent so that you give any new skincare time to work.

If you want to know more or need a bit of advice, get in touch and say hi at We’d love to hear from you and help where we can!


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