Oily skin

What causes oily skin?
A combination of factors, including hormones, genetics, diet, and environmental factors

How can I manage my oily skin?
Gentle, soap-free cleanser
Light, non-comedogenic moisturiser
Topical retinoids, niacinamide, salicylic acid
Oral medications in some cases

It’s a bit of a myth that only teenagers have oily skin, as it commonly persists into adulthood. Whilst it isn’t a dangerous problem, it can cause difficulties in keeping makeup and sunscreen on the skin, and can lead to acne. Fortunately, it’s a problem that can be improved with some simple skincare tips, over the counter products, and in some cases, oral medications.

What exactly is oily skin?

Oily skin, also known as seborrhoea, is common, and can lead to congestion and acne. It’s due to excess sebum, or oil production, from sebaceous glands, which are most abundant on the face, scalp, chest and back. 

Why do I have oily skin?

The amount of oil produced by the skin is influenced by hormones, age, genetics, diet, and environmental factors such as humidity. Using comedogenic skincare products and makeup can make oily skin worse, as can excessive cleansing and exfoliating of the skin. 

What can I do to reduce the oiliness of my skin?

It may seem counter-intuitive, but using a gentle cleanser and a non-comedogenic moisturiser is best for managing oily skin. Harsh cleansers that dry the skin too much can actually result in an increase in oil production.

Topical retinoids, salicylic acid and niacinamide can all help reduce oil production. If more severe, oral medications such as hormonal medications or isotretinoin can be very effective.

Endly DC, Miller RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(8):49-55.

Sakuma TH, Maibach HI. Oily skin: an overview. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2012;25(5):227-35.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…