A Touchy Subject: What Causes Oily And Dry Skin?

Oily And Dry Skin

Oily skin is not a new subject for many. It’s something people have struggled with when they were teenagers or even something they were born with. While oiliness is something that affects many, it isn’t the only skin problem people face. Dryness is just as notorious, as it’s something that tends to make the skin itch and look unhealthy.

Both oily and dry skin can affect people of all ages, but the latter can be seen as a sign of aging while the former gets linked to acne-ridden adolescence. Regardless, these are skin conditions that you can keep in check so that your face will at least look presentable. In order to effectively remedy oily or dry skin, you must first understand what causes them.

Weather Or Temperature

Dermatologists explain that you end up with dry skin if your face lacks too much oil or water. Living in hot weather or during summer seasons without ample hydration can cause dry skin because moisture dries up quickly. Staying in one place with air conditioning for prolonged periods can dry up your face as well. The dry air pumped by the AC reduces the humidity in the area, and along with it the moisture needed by your skin to not get dry.

Besides dryness, weather or temperature can also cause oily skin. Being in summer or hot temperatures can trigger the sebaceous glands and lead to increased oil production. This explains why the T-Zone, the area comprised of your forehead, nose, and chin, often feels shiny and greasy under the sun. Because your face secretes oil and sweat in the heat, there’s a chance that you’ll end up with clogged pores, thus, and pimple breakouts.

Try not to go outdoors as much in hot weather. If you have to, wear sunscreen or bring umbrellas to at least protect your skin from sun damage. If you need to spend time at an office or somewhere that’s air-conditioned, make sure to moisturize your face to keep it from drying.

Stressful Situations

Stress counts as another cause of oily skin, due to how it changes the body from the inside. Dermatologists say that being in stressful situations causes a hormone called cortisol to increase. This component of your body then triggers more sebum production leading to oily skin. Staying up late to cram for an exam or chase a deadline are examples of stressful situations you wouldn’t want to get into often. This could lead to bad skin, characterized by oiliness, dark under-eyes, and such.

It’s important for you to know when to step out of these stressful situations. If necessary, consult a therapist if you’ve been bothered by specific problems. You can also Not only does stress cause oily skin; it could cause premature aging as well.

Hormonal Changes

Speaking of hormones, changes in their levels affect your skin. Hormones, simply defined, are chemical substances that can affect the activities of various parts of your body. In a way, they act as messengers that tell these body parts or organs what to do. A change in certain hormones, be it a lack of or a rise of such, could lead to oily skin. A common example would be menstrual periods in women, wherein hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone change and cause your oil glands to produce more sebum.

Improper Washing

It’s a given that washing your face is recommended by dermatologists. After all, this helps scrub dead skin cells and other impurities from your face. However, it’s important that you not overdo or underdo it. Washing your face too hard or too often could irritate it and trigger increased oil production. Using harsh soaps or skin products with aggressive ingredients could lead to the same result.

On the other hand, insufficiently washing your face might not remove enough sebum from your skin, leaving it still oily-looking. Meanwhile, temperature levels can also affect the skin by drying it out. Washing with hot water could strip your face of its natural oil, leaving it dry. To help avoid these mistakes, you can use products suited for your skin type. If you’re a makeup user with excess sebum, pick primers designed for oily skin. If you have dry skin, use foundation designed for this skin type.


What you eat also affects oil production in your body, which makes sense. Experts discourage people with oily skin from eating foods high in sugar, fried, or full of dairy, as these will trigger more sebum than necessary.

It’s also recommended not to eat these food types right before going to sleep because your body won’t have a chance to fully metabolize or get these out of your system unless you’re awake. In a nutshell, you should stick to a healthy diet consisting of fruits, greens, and non-greasy or non-fried foods. Avoid eating a lot of oily, fried foods (in fact, avoid eating food) shortly before sleeping.

Prolonged Immersion In Water

People with occupations that require them to immerse themselves or their body parts in water tend to suffer from dry skin. These include swimmers, nurses, and hairstylists, among others. When the skin gets prolonged contact with water, it could strip the lipids or natural oils from the skin. This then causes moisture locked inside the skin to leak out, leaving the skin looking dry. This is the reason skin might look wrinkly or “pruney” when it’s been drenched for too long. To avoid this, monitor and limit the time you spend soaking yourself, your hands, or other body parts in water.

Skin Conditions

Sometimes, dry or oily skin can get traced to an underlying skin condition. Common examples include psoriasis and eczema, both of which leave noticeable marks on the skin. People afflicted by these might have skin patches that appear red and itchy. While there is no cure yet for eczema or psoriasis, there are medications available that can treat the symptoms and keep it from flaring.

A Subject Worth Touching On

Learning the factors that lead to oily or dry skin helps you understand and get over them. Basically, the causes could be due to external factors like weather, air-conditioning, diet, or stress. In other cases, oily or dry skin could be caused by something inherent such as genes, skin diseases, or hormones. Considering the depth of information surrounding it, oily and dry skin causes proves to be a subject worth touching on.

Resources – L’oreal Paris USA, Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Dermatologists

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Rudy Mawer is a certified sports nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). He has a first class bachelor's degree in Exercise, Nutrition and Health and a Master's degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science. Rudy has worked as a sports nutritionist and trainer for 7 years and has helped hundreds of people transform their physiques. He has worked with many professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, professional bodybuilders, world triathlon gold medalists, and Hollywood celebrities. Rudy bridges the gap between science and real-world application. He applies the latest research into his writing and consulting practices.


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