How to stay shine free with these oily skin care hacks | 8 causes and solutions

Oily skin

Oily skin can be improved.

It is because in most cases, people get oily skin as they get older or due to temporary reasons.

Oily skin is a skin condition in which the skin is abnormally shiny or constantly sticky.

The majority of the reasons for abnormally shiny and oily skin are due to the “skin barrier function being impaired.”

Sebum, which is the source of shiny or sticky skin, exists to protect our skin and plays an active role in secreting a lot of it.

If our skin did not need to be protected, sebum production would not be so active.

Therefore, if we take care of our skin to improve the skin barrier,  the sebum would not have to be so active, which would help us achieve the goal of improving oily skin. 

In other words, once your skin is strong enough on its own, it doesn’t need to produce excess oil to shield it from dryness and external stimuli.

In this article, we’ll introduce 8 WAYS you can revise your skincare and lifestyle habits to stay shine-free and say goodbye to your oily skin concerns.

Implement these skincare and lifestyle changes, and achieve smooth, shine-free skin!

Why is my skin shiny and oily?

The cause of your skin being oily is… excess sebum on your skin’s surface.

When your skin barrier is not functioning properly, your skin produces excessive amounts of oil.

With that being said, here are 4 potential causes for why your skin barrier is not functioning normally.


The amount of sebum production varies with age. Sebum production is most abundant between puberty and around the age of 20.

Between puberty and the age of 20, secondary sexual characteristics develop. Male hormone levels increase among both men and women, which activates the sebum glands and leads to greater sebum production.

That’s why many teenagers struggle with acne.

Excessive sebum production during the secondary sexual period is inevitable. It’s normal!

However, after the age of 20, the changes caused by male hormones decrease. Instead, excessive sebum production after the age of 20 is most likely caused by your skincare and lifestyle habits.

Hormone imbalance

For women, menstrual cycles change the amount of sebum production.

The two female hormones are progesterone and estrogen.

2 weeks before your period, up until your period, progesterone levels increase. Because progesterone increases sebum production, your skin will temporarily be oily.

Your skin is particularly oily, shiny, and prone to acne 2 weeks before your period because your body has more progesterone during this time.

After your period, until ovulation, estrogen levels increase. You’ll have a good and stable skin condition.

It’s important to understand these hormone differences.

Let’s say you conduct skincare that suppresses oil when progesterone levels are higher and your skin is temporarily oily. If you continue to do this same skincare when estrogen levels are higher, you’ll damage your skin’s moisture balance.

For women, it’s important to conduct skin care based on the hormone changes that occur every 2 weeks.

Incorrect skincare

One of the primary causes of ‘acquired’ oily skin is incorrect skincare.

Because people with oily skin assume that they need to remove oil to prevent shininess, they tend to wash their faces and remove TOO MUCH oil.

This only causes your skin to produce MORE oil to protect the skin, which creates a vicious cycle of oily skin.

Without understanding the causes of oily skin, you cannot conduct the correct skincare that your oily skin needs.


Compared to non-smokers, people who smoke have greater sebum production and are more likely to develop pimples.

This is because smoking alters your fat metabolism, causing sebum to be overproduced.

Due to this sebum overproduction, your pores become clogged and increase your chances of developing acne.

Smoking is also thought to make your pores more visible, as well as accelerate your skin’s aging.

Skin type

People with oily skin or combination skin types tend to have shiny T-zones (forehead, nose, chin areas).

However, by finding a skincare routine that suits their skin, people with oily skin or combination skin can also be shine-free.

Here’s how you can check your skin type.

3 easy steps: How to check your skin type

After washing your face, gently dry it with a towel.For 5 minutes, do not apply any product to your face. Monitor your skin condition.Check which out of the 4 skin types matches your skin.
  • Normal skin: Your skin doesn’t feel tight and is not shiny. There are no significant problems, even without applying or doing anything.
  • Oily skin: Your forehead and nose are greasy.
  • Dry skin: Your skin feels tight, and is especially dry around your mouth and cheeks.
  • Combination skin: Your forehead and nose are greasy, but your mouth and cheeks are dry.

Now, let’s take a look at the causes of excess sebum production for each skin type.

Oily skin

Oily skin is a skin type where excess sebum is produced from the sebaceous glands in the skin.

Sebum is essential to protect the skin. However, EXCESS sebum production is caused by a weakened skin barrier.

Functions of sebumSmoothes skinMaintains hydrationMaintains skin at a low acidity and prevents bacteria from enteringProtects skin from external stimuli and irritationPrevents toxic substances from entering

But it’s counterproductive to conduct skincare that focuses on removing sebum and oil. This type of skincare overstrips your skin’s natural oil content, which will only cause it to produce MORE oil to compensate.

Later on, we’ll introduce the correct skincare to keep your oily skin shine-free.

Dry skin and combination skin

Dry skin is a skin type that naturally has low sebum content.

Dry skin may seem unrelated to oily skin. In reality, dry skin tries to compensate for the lack of hydration by overproducing sebum. This is called combination skin.

Combination skin is a skin type where sebum production varies depending on the area of the face. Generally speaking, the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin areas) is oily and the U-zone (cheek area) is dry.

At first glance, combination skin may look like oily skin. That’s why many people with combination skin don’t realize that they actually have dry skin.

However, with combination skin, the inner layers of the skin are extremely dry. Only the skin surface is oily because your body tries to compensate for the dryness.

If you don’t solve your skin dryness and your body continues to produce excess sebum, you may develop a skin condition called inner dry. Inner dry is when the skin is actually dry but becomes oily like combination skin.

Revise your skincare to keep your oily skin shine-free

Excessive sebum production can be caused by incorrect skincare.

Skincare is fundamental and essential to keep your skin healthy, especially cleansing and moisturizing.

Below, we introduce the correct way to cleanse and moisturize, as well as to remove makeup.

What is correct skincare?

The correct order for skincare is the following:

  1. Cleanse and wash your face
  2. Apply lotion
  3. Apply milky products and creams

It’s crucial to moisturize within 10 minutes after washing your face. Make sure to moisturize with water-based AND oil-based products.

After applying lotion, apply an oil-based product to prevent the hydration from evaporating. Just because oil-based products may make your skin feel greasy, does not mean you should skip this step! If it bothers you, decrease the amount of milky products or cream you apply.

Regardless of skin type, everyone needs to moisturize their skin to strengthen their skin barrier.

How to cleanse your face the correct way

Thinking that it will help your oily skin, do you cleanse and wash your face in the following way(s)?

  • Wash your face more than twice a day
  • Use a cleanser with strong cleansing properties
  • Rub skin harshly
  • Not washing the cleanser off immediately

If any of these apply to you, you must revise your skincare. The above habits do not help your oily skin. Rather, they’re making it worse.

Correct way to wash your face
Step 1: Wash your handsBefore washing your face, wash your hands. Our hands are covered in bacteria so they must be clean when you touch your face.
Step 2: Apply lukewarm water to your faceApply lukewarm water to your face and wet it. It’s important to use lukewarm water because our skin’s temperature is usually around 34°~36°C. By wetting your skin first, your pores will open up, making it easier to remove the dirt inside. It will also reduce stimulation caused by the cleanser.
Step 3: Prepare the cleanserIf using a foaming cleanserTake an appropriate amount of cleanser and foam it until it forms stiff peaks. You should foam the cleanser to reduce stimulation and irritation on your skin.If using a non-foaming cleanserFollow the instructions written on the cleanser bottle.
Step 4: Apply cleanser to your face, starting with the oily areas. Don’t spend too much time!Start with your T-zone then your cheeks. Gently apply the cleanser, starting with the oily areas first. DO NOT scrub or rub your skin harshly. Be quick – don’t spend too much time cleansing.
Step 5: Wash off the cleanser with lukewarm waterWash off the cleanser completely with lukewarm water. Make sure there is no residue, especially around your hairline and around the nostrils.
Step 6: Gently pat your face dry with a clean towelWith a clean towel, pat off the water to dry your face. DO NOT rub the water off.

The most important thing is to not overstrip your skin’s natural oil content. Remember, sebum is essential to protect your skin.

If you use water that is too hot, it will remove too much of your skin’s natural oils, which will result in sebum overproduction. Even during the winter, make sure to only wash your face with lukewarm water.

How to remove makeup the correct way

Removing your makeup incorrectly can also result in excess sebum production.

Let’s start with how to choose the right cleanser.

Type of makeupType of makeup remover
Full glamPoint makeup remover (for eyes and lips)OilBalm
Natural, ‘no-makeup’ lookGelMilkLotion

If you are wearing a full face of makeup, use a point makeup remover and a cleanser with high cleansing power, such as an oil-type or balm-type. On the other hand, if you have natural makeup on, use a gel-, milk-, or lotion-type that is gentle on the skin.

Now that you know when to use which cleanser, let’s move on to the correct way to use these cleansers.

Correct way to cleanse your face
Step 1: Wash your handsBefore washing your face, wash your hands. Our hands are covered in bacteria so they must be clean when you touch your face.
Step 2: Remove makeup on eyes and lipsBefore cleansing your entire face, remove any point makeup on your eyes and lips. If you remove point makeup and base makeup at the same time, you are more likely to rub your skin harshly and damage your skin.
Step 3: Check the correct amount of useCheck the correct amount of use for the product. It’s important to use the correct amount to avoid additional irritation and damage to your skin.
Step 4: Apply the cleanser and let it absorb into your makeupAfter spreading the cleanser to your entire face, gently absorb it into your makeup. When doing this, imagine drawing circles on your face with your fingertips. Start from your forehead, nose, then chin.
Step 5: Wash off the cleanser with lukewarm waterWash off the cleanser completely with lukewarm water. Make sure there is no residue, especially around your hairline and around the nostrils.
Step 6: Gently pat your face dry with a clean towelWith a clean towel, pat off the water to dry your face. DO NOT rub the water off.

Because makeup is primarily made up of oil, it can’t be completely removed with just face washing.

Whenever you wear makeup, make sure to cleanse AND wash your face.

Revise your lifestyle habits to keep your oily skin shine-free

Apart from skincare, your lifestyle habits can also result in excess sebum production.

Even if you revise your skincare, it’s virtually pointless if your lifestyle habits are irregular or unhealthy.

When revising your lifestyle habits, there are 3 pillars of health that you should focus on: nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

When these 3 pillars are disrupted, it can affect your skin condition negatively. Make sure to revise each one and achieve smooth, shine-free skin!

Good quality sleep

Sleep is incredibly important.

A healthy skin condition is maintained through a turnover cycle. When this turnover cycle is disrupted, old skin cells fail to flake off. This can lead to skin irritation and skin troubles.

The turnover cycle is activated when growth hormones are released from the pituitary gland. And when are these growth hormones released the most? When sleeping!

Growth hormones are released the most 3 hours after falling asleep. Specifically, it is released when you are in non-REM sleep, which is a state of deep sleep.

Sleep quality is equally important as sleep length.

To improve sleep quality, it is said that basking in sunlight in the morning is effective. Doing this will prompt the release of a hormone called melatonin at night, and naturally make you sleepy.

Balanced diet and supplements

Excess sebum makes your skin more susceptible to clogged pores, acne, pimples, and other skin troubles. When sebum oxidizes, it causes inflammation, which leads to acne and clogged pores.

The following is a list of nutrients that are said to be good for your skin:

  • Iron
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic acid biotin
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin C

For nutrients that are difficult to intake with food, it may be good to replenish them with supplements.

It is best to choose supplements that support your skin’s barrier function and contain ingredients that maintain healthy mucous membranes, rather than supplements that control sebum production.

Moreover, for excess sebum production caused by hormone imbalances, it may be effective to intake isoflavones, which support the effectiveness of female hormones.

However, keep in mind that supplements are not medicine, and are merely products that support health. It does not mean that you will be healthy just by consuming supplements.

Personally, I couldn’t see results with supplements. But after consistently consuming protein and vitamins, I feel like my skin has become firmer!

UV protection

UV rays not only cause sunburns and tans but also affect sebum production.

When your skin is exposed to UV rays, it strips your skin’s natural moisture. In order to compensate for the dryness, your skin produces excess sebum.

Not to mention, UV rays oxidize sebum and create lipid peroxides, which are incredibly harmful.

Thus, it’s important to do UV protection all year round.

What happens if you don’t do anything to the excess sebum on your T-zone?

If you leave the excess sebum on your T-zone untreated, it can clog your pores and cause acne. It will also make your pores more visible.

Excess sebum only causes skin troubles. The longer you leave it untreated, the longer it will take to care for it.

FAQ regarding shiny and oily skin

Q1: Why is my skin shiny, even though I use oil blotting sheets frequently?

Answer: By removing too much sebum, your skin produces more sebum to compensate for the dryness.

Instead of using multiple blotting sheets and forcefully rubbing all the sebum off, use 1-2 sheets and gently press the sheets only on the especially shiny areas, such as the T-zone.

Q2: What are astringent lotions, which are known to help oily skin?

Answer: Astringent lotions contain ingredients that tighten pores and reduce sebum. They prevent excess sebum production so it’s recommended for people who struggle with shine and grease.

However, astringent lotion can also cause dry skin. If you’re going to use them, use them only on the especially shiny areas, such as the T-zone.

Q3: Until what age does shiny and oily skin last?

Answer: Women reach their peak sebum production in their 20s, while men reach their peak between their 20s and 40s. After that, sebum production slowly decreases with age.

When women reach their 30s, the oil content in their skin decreases and it is very common to have dry skin. However, for men, they can still have abundant sebum production in their 50s.

(Dprogram, n.d.)


The best way to solve your shiny and oily skin problems is to revise your skincare and lifestyle habits.

Your body overproduces sebum to protect the skin. In other words, if you strengthen your skin barrier, you can prevent it from produding excess sebum.

  • Understand the causes of excess sebum production
  • Know your skin type
  • Discover a skincare regimen that suits your skin and needs
  • Understand the correct ways to cleanse and wash your face
  • Revise your lifestyle habits, specifically the 3 pillars of health

Of course, it’s difficult to make these changes all at once. But by gradually revising your skincare and lifestyle habits, you’ll be able to control your oily skin and keep it shine-free.

Excess sebum production can’t be solved in a day or with one product. It will take time, but stay consistent with your changes and you will see results in no time!

ReferencesDprogram, n.d. “How to deal with shine and sebum on the face.” Quick facts from a dermatologist [online]. Available at:,%E3%81%AB%E3%82%82%E5%A2%97%E5%8A%A0%E3%81%97%E3%81%BE%E3%81%99%E3%80%82.