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Oily Skin SOS: Strategies for a Matte Finish

oily skin vs matte skin

Having oily skin can sometimes feel like a daily battle. Just imaging spending a fun-filled day with your besties, and while they are still looking fabulous, your face decides to go all shiny, and your hair? Well, let’s just say it is embracing the greasy look. And, to make things even more amusing, your oily skin tends to make an unexpected appearance in flash photos.

Understanding oily skin

You have probably asked yourself why your skin seems to be oilier than others. Let’s start by getting the lowdown on oily skin. Our skin produces a natural oil called ‘sebum’ and, sebum is not exactly bad. In fact, it is the body’s way of keeping our skin healthy, nourished and nicely moisturized. The hitch comes when our sebaceous glands kick into overdrive, pumping out more sebum than necessary, leading to oily skin.

Several factors contribute to this overproduction:

1. Genetic predisposition

Your genetic makeup plays a significant role in shaping your skin type, and if your parents had oily skin, chances are you are inherited a similar predisposition. Genetics can influence the size and activity of your sebaceous glands, impacting your skin’s oiliness.

2. Hormonal influences

Hormones wield substantial influence over your skin’s behavior. During life stages like puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations can stimulate sebum production.

Androgens are a group of hormones, primarily testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), that play a significant role in the development and regulation of male sexual characteristics. However, they are also present in females, albeit in smaller quantities, and have various functions in both sexes. Androgens can influence sebum production in the skin, especially DHT, can bind to receptors on the sebaceous glands and stimulate them to produce more sebum. Androgens can also lead to the enlargement of sebaceous glands. Larger glands have more capacity to produce sebum, resulting in increased sebum release. Vast majority of androgen excess in women is caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common chronic condition that affects up to 10% of all women. Rarely, adrenal or ovarian tumours can also cause hyperandrogenism.

3. Environmental factors

Climate has a significant impact on your skin’s oiliness. Hot and humid weather, common in tropical regions, can stimulate your sebaceous glands, leading to increased oil production. Conversely, dry environments can cause your skin to overcompensate by producing even more oil to counteract the dryness.

4. Skincare product choices

Using products that are too harsh or not suitable for your skin type can disrupt its natural equilibrium. Harsh cleansers or products containing alcohol can strip away too much oil, prompting your skin to react by producing even more sebum to compensate.

5. Dietary influences

Your diet can have a significant impact on your skin’s oiliness. Food high in saturated fats and trans-fat, like fried items, can kick start inflammation in the skin, leading to increased oil production and potentially causing acne. Items like milk products, butter, cheese can also have an effect on your hormones, potentially acting as triggers for oily skin.

Oily skin does not travel alone; it often brings along a couple of companions,

such as acne, a lackluster complexion and enlarged pores. Let’s take a closer look at how oily skin can lead to these additional challenges.

oily skin, large pores, acne, dull skin
This photo shows a lady troubled by oily skin, enlarged pores, acne and dull skin.


Excess sebum can clog pores, creating a perfect breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria and then causing inflammation. This can result in acne and blemishes that can be frustrating to deal with.

Dull skin

Oily skin can also contribute to a dull and lackluster complexion. The excessive oil on the surface of your skin together with trapped dead skin cells can build up and lead to a dull and tired-looking complexion, far from the radiant glow we all desire.

Enlarged pores

While oily skin can manifest in a shiny complexion, it can also bring about this concern: enlarged pores. When your skin produces an excessive amount of sebum, this oil can mix with dead skin cells and other impurities. Over time, this mixture can accumulate in your pores, causing them to stretch and become more visible, giving the appearance of larger pores.

Other conditions associated with oily skin:

Sebaceous hyperplasia

sebaceous hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a harmless skin condition characterised by the enlargement of sebaceous glands. It occurs when hair follicles become blocked. Blockage can arise due to an excess of sebaceous glands or because these glands are producing an excessive amount of sebum compared to what your skin requires. This then leads to the appearance of small, flesh-coloured or yellowish bumps on the skin’s surface. It can potentially affect any part of your skin, most frequently observed on the face. While oily skin can play a role, there are also genetic factors involve in the development of sebaceous hyperplasia, making some individuals more predisposed to this condition.

The appearance of sebaceous hyperplasia can be reminiscent of non-inflamed acne, leading to potential confusion with comedonal acne. However, if you look closely, you can notice a central depression or indentation within the bump. You might also see tiny blood vessels inside the bump. These features serve as indicators that you are likely dealing with sebaceous hyperplasia instead of acne.

Seborrheic dermatitis

seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common, noncontagious skin condition that manifests as itchy red patches and oily scales on the skin, often accompanied by white or yellowish crusts or powdery flakes on the s

seborrheic dermatitis

calp. When occurs on scalp, it is commonly known as ‘dandruff’. Individuals with inherently oily skin have an increased susceptibility to developing this form of dermatitis. Additionally, if you have family history of psoriasis, the risk is higher. Seborrheic dermatitis can also appear on other parts of the body with high sebaceous gland activity. These areas include the chest, upper back, face especially forehead, the creases around the base of the nose, behind the ears, belly button, eyebrows, under the breasts, and in the folds or bends of the arms, legs and groin. It is a lifelong condition that may come and go with treatment and can experience periodic flare-ups.

Milia (also known as oil seed)


Oily skin itself is not a direct cause of milia, but there can be an indirect relationship between oily skin and the development of milia. Milia are typically caused by the trapping of dead skin cells and keratin (a protein found in skin, hair and nails) beneath the surface of the skin. While oily skin does not directly cause this trapping, it can contribute to the conditions that make it more likely to occur.

So, how can we address oily skin?

The key is to strike a balance between having too much oil and maintaining your skin’s natural moisture.

What you can do for yourself...

1. Gentle cleansing is key

Steer clear of harsh, alcohol-based cleansers. These can strip away your skin’s natural oils and lead to more oil production. Stick to a simple rule: cleanse your face twice a day, unless you find it excessively oily during the day, in which case you can clean up to 3 times a day.

2. Opt for skin care products that suits oily skin

For oily skin type, the texture of your moisturiser is important. A thick, creamy moisturiser can act as an occlusive, trapping oil on the skin’s surface. Occlusive products are those with formula that forms a seal over the surface of your skin to prevent water loss. This is beneficial for those with dry skin who struggle to retain moisture, but they can be overly heavy for individuals with oily skin types.

Also, when it comes to choosing skincare, opt for products that sports the labels “oil free” and “non-comedogenic”. These labels indicate that the products, whether they be cleansers, moisturisers, or makeup, will not clog your pores or spur acne. In addition, go for water based makeup for a skin-friendly choice that won’t exacerbate oiliness.

3. Maintain a regular exfoliation routine

Exfoliation is key for oily skin but using gentle chemical exfoliants is preferred. Physical exfoliants can damage the moisture barrier and lead to dryness that cause skin to produce more oil. Consider exfoliating 2 to 3 times a week with gentle exfoliant that contains either salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid. This routine can effectively clear impurities, sebum and clogged pores, minimize blackheads, and reduce the occurrence of breakouts.

4. Opt for blotting papers on the go

For a quick fix during the day, reach for blotting papers. Simply press the paper gently against your face and let it sit for a few seconds to soak up the excess oil. Avoid rubbing the paper on your skin, as this can inadvertently spread the oil to different areas of your face.

5. Avoid unnecessary face contact

Resist the urge to touch your face during the day. While it might be tempting, this action can transfer dirt, oils, and bacteria from your hands to your face.

6. Cut down on food that increase sebum production

As mentioned previously.

Treatments for oily skin




Microdermabrasion is a skin treatment that effectively eliminates dead skin cells, excess oil and surface impurities. Through the removal of excess oil, microdermabrasion aids in balancing sebum production, thereby minimizing the oily sheen. Furthermore, by eliminating dead skin cells, this treatment unveils a brighter, more radiant complexion.

Chemical peel

Chemical peel is also a way to treat oily skin with clogged pores. It involves the application of chemical agent on your skin that results in exfoliation of skin followed by regrowth of new skin leading to skin rejuvenation.


Rejuran comprises polynucleotide (PN), which are segmented DNA extracted from salmon. It has the ability to balance oil and moisture, making it a favorable choice for addressing oily skin while providing essential hydration to your skin.


Minute quantities of botulinum toxin can effectively diminish sebum production in the skin while preserving the ability to engage in natural facial expressions. Furthermore, botox offers the added advantage of reducing perspiration, leading to a decrease in the amount of sweat and oil that can lead to makeup smudging and skin breakouts.

Oral isotretinoin

This is commonly known as Accutane. It works by suppressing the function of sebaceous glands and altering the process of keratinization when taken at therapeutic doses. This medication has been found to decrease both the size of sebaceous glands and the production of sebum. It is among the most effective inhibitors of sebum production, but some people cannot endure or are unwilling to accept the side effects such as dry lips, dry eyes, peeling skin due to excessive dryness, thinning hair and sun sensitivity. Some are also contraindicated for its use. However, dosage of isotretinoin can be adjusted to minimize undesired side effects.

Antiandrogenic medications

Antiandrogenic medications are drugs that are designed to reduce the effects of androgens, specifically testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), in the body. These medications are used in various medical conditions where excessive androgen activity is a problem, and in this case, excessive sebum production. One example of antiandrogenic medication include spironolactone, a diuretic medication that also has antiandrogenic properties. It is also used in women with hormonal acne. Certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) contain hormones that have antiandrogenic effects, helping to regulate sebum production.

Note that the use of these oral medications should be carefully supervised by a healthcare provider, as they can have potential side effects and interactions with other medications. The choice of medication and treatment plan will depend on the specific condition being treated and individual patient factors. Therefore, consultation with qualified healthcare professionals is essential.

Treatments for oily skin- related conditions

Sebaceous hyperplasia can be managed with oral isotretinoin, but recurrence is possible once the medication is discontinued. A fast and effective way to remove sebaceous hyperplasia is by ablative laser treatment.

Ablative laser treatment can also provide immediate results for milia removal. Alternatively, a needle can be used to puncture the milia and squeeze out its contents. This should be performed by a professional in a clinical setting, and not at home to mitigate the risk of infection that arises when not conducted correctly.

Seborrheic dermatitis, caused by the fungus known as Malassezia Furfur, is typically treated with antifungal medication.


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