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Dr. Eva Simmons O’Brien received her MD from Yale University and is a board-certified dermatologist. With over 30 years of experience, she has worked for hospitals, established her own private practice, and consulted for organizations such as the FDA. Today, Dr. Eva runs her own practice in addition to serving as our Chief Science Officer.

What Causes Oily Skin

What Causes Oily Skin

What Causes Oily Skin



Your skin feels like an oil slick, and no matter what you do nothing helps. Washing repeatedly doesn’t work, and your face feels greasy to the touch. It’s not sexy, and you want answers. Good news, we’ve got them. 

Oily skin can be a result of improper skin care, climate changes, or even genetics. We’ll talk about what’s causing your oily skin and what you can do to tame it.

How Do I Know if I Have Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, chances are you already know it, and have tried everything to get rid of the excess grease hanging out on your face. However, it can still be helpful to determine if your skin is naturally oily, or if it’s oily as the result of a product you might be using. 

There’s an easy way to tell. Wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat it dry. Don’t apply any other products to your face like lotions or moisturizers. Wait one hour, then blot your face with a tissue. If the tissue looks damp with oil, you likely have oily skin. 

Acne and Blemishes

Oily skin is also prone to acne and blemishes. 

Acne is caused by excess sebum (your skin’s natural oil) that mixes with dead skin cells and dirt to clog your pores. Oily skin naturally produces more oil, which can leave your skin more prone to breakouts. 

What Causes Oily Skin?

Obviously, oily skin is caused by too much sebum floating around your face. But what makes that sebum crop up in the first place? There are several reasons why your sebaceous glands could be working overtime. 


You thought you were done with hormone issues once your voice (finally) changed and you outgrew peach fuzz on your chin. Bro, that was just the start. Hormones control numerous processes in your body, and they change constantly. 

Androgens, like testosterone, are especially aggravating to your skin. These hormones cause your sebum to be thicker and stickier, making it easier for it to latch onto dead skin cells and dirt and clog your pores. 


So much of our skin is related to our DNA. If you have a family history of oily skin or acne-prone skin, you’ll probably have oily skin or breakouts, too. 

Genetic disposition to oiliness doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution, it just means you need to focus on using skin care specifically designed to work synergistically with oily skin. 

Oily skin is also associated with larger pores sizes. If you can see your pores when you look in the mirror, you probably have oilier skin. Larger pores tend to allow sebum to pass more freely onto the skin.

Environmental Factors

Every time you vacation in Miami you get a breakout, and there’s a reason why. 

Hot, humid climates cause your skin to react differently than it does when you’re out on the arid Vegas strip. Your skin may be oily in both locations, but when your skin secretes oil in a desert atmosphere, the dry air literally wicks it from your face. 

In tropical climates, the air is already heavy with humidity, allowing the oil on your skin to remain. Your skin will also feel sweatier, because there is no dry air to absorb the sweat. 


If you're still a young buck, you might be dealing with oilier skin than you will when you get a little older. As you age, your skin naturally produces less oil (and less collagen and elastin). The products you use now may need to be changed the older you get. 

For what it’s worth, oily skin isn’t a bad deal. Oily skin usually shows fine lines and wrinkles less than skin that is naturally drier. Consider your oily skin an investment in Future You looking younger than your peers. 

Wrong Products

The wrong skin care products (or let’s be honest, a lack of skin care products) can also contribute to oily skin. Many times the products that are marketed to people with oily skin contain harsh chemical ingredients that strip the skin bare and leave it dehydrated. 

When your skin becomes dehydrated, it naturally produces more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture. When you continue to use the same drying products on your skin, you’ll get the same overly oil results. It can become a vicious cycle.

How to Deal With Oily Skin

Even if your skin leaves a greasy tattoo on your pillow, there’s a solution. Here are three ways you can combat oily skin.

1. Use the Right Products

The right products make all the difference with oily skin. It’s tricky though, because some products that are made to sop up oil can work a little too well and end up leaving your skin dry and dehydrated. 

Look for products that are natural, plant-based, and not packed with harsh, pore-clogging chemicals that could cause you to break out

Follow a Consistent Skin Care Routine

Your skin care routine matters, and if you don’t have one, it’s time to get one. Disco makes it easy by offering you products that are specifically formulated to work perfectly with the pH balance of a man’s skin. 

Our products help keep your skin’s moisture levels balanced with plant-based ingredients that are gentle yet effective on the tougher, thicker skin that men have. FYI, most products you find at the drug store are formulated for women’s skin and then rebranded and labeled to be sold to men. 

Good skin care begins with using products specifically designed to combat oil but still allow your skin to stay hydrated. Lucky for you, those are the types of products we can get in your hands (and on your face). 

It’s also important to make sure you aren’t over-washing your face. Washing your face more than twice a day can cause your skin to dry out, which can cause it to create more oil. You only need to wash once in the morning and once in the evening. If you workout or engage in a sweaty activity, you can throw in an extra wash.

Use a Mask

You can further reduce oil and help your skin regain moisture balance by using a twice weekly mask that contains oil-reducing ingredients. A mask helps keep your pores clear which can help you avoid breakouts, too. 

Disco’s Purifying Face Mask contains bentonite clay to remove excess oil from your pores. This naturally occurring clay absorbs oil without stripping your skin dry. Charcoal helps pull out impurities while willow bark extract makes sure your skin is soothed and deals with irritation. 

Let’s Disco

Oily skin isn’t something you can’t handle. You can easily control your oily skin by using better skin care products. If you aren’t using any skin care products, our Starter Set is for you. It’s the easiest way to get great skin care in less than five minutes a day with just three simple products. 

You can have better, healthier (read: less greasy) skin if you just give it some attention and use good skin care products. Disco can help you get started so you can say goodbye to shiny skin. 



Acne - Symptoms and causes|Mayo Clinic 

Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options|NCBI 

How to control oily skin|


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