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Why Your Skin Gets Oily — And What to Do About It

A little shine is very much welcome when it comes to beauty — a dab of gloss on the lips, a swipe of iridescent highlighter on the cheekbones, or a generous layer of topcoat on the nails, for instance. But oily skin is less welcome by most.  The first step in managing it is understanding the answer to one big question: Why does skin get oily?

Ahead, Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a board-certified dermatologist, shares the science of skin oils, what causes oily skin best practices for managing a greasy complexion and why oily skin can be a good thing, too. 

“... I've found that most people with oily skin seem to develop less wrinkles as they age.”

Skin Oils 101

“Most of the oils at our skin surface are considered healthy oils that work to trap in moisture and are an essential part of our skin barrier to protect our skin from environmental aggressors,” explains Dr. Ciraldo. Sebum is an oil that our sebaceous glands manufacture, which gives the skin its oily appearance and can cause bacterial overgrowth that leads to acne breakouts.

So, is having oily skin a bad thing? According to Dr. Ciraldo, not necessarily. “Many people with oily skin do have more acne, but this is not universally true,” she says. “The most common complaint about oily skin is that it looks very shiny, and for women, makeup doesn't go on well and evenly.”

Causes Of Oily Skin

Best Practices For Oily Skin

“The most common complaint about oily skin is that it looks very shiny, and for women, makeup doesn't go on well and evenly.”

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