what hormones cause oily skin

What Hormones Cause Oily Skin, and What Can I Do About It?

Sometimes, our hormones can really F**K with our skin!
Updated: June 4, 2024
Article Contents:

Have you ever looked in the mirror halfway through the day and noticed your face shining like a disco ball? Trust me, I know the feeling. Oily skin can be a real nuisance. But did you know that hormones play a significant role in how oily your skin gets? Let’s explore which hormones are the culprits and what you can do to keep that shine under control.

Understanding Oily Skin

First things first, what exactly is oily skin? Oily skin happens when your sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, the oily substance that keeps your skin hydrated. While sebum is essential for healthy skin, too much of it can lead to clogged pores, acne, and that unwelcome shiny look.

Common signs of oily skin include:

  • A shiny or greasy appearance
  • Enlarged pores
  • Frequent acne breakouts, especially on the face, chest, and back
  • Blackheads and whiteheads

Hormones and Oily Skin

Now, let’s get to the root of the problem: hormones. Several hormones can trigger excess oil production.


These are male hormones present in both men and women. Androgens increase the size and activity of sebaceous glands. When your androgen levels rise, so does your sebum production. This is why oily skin is common during puberty, pregnancy, and other hormonal changes.


A specific type of androgen, testosterone, also ramps up oil production. During puberty, both boys and girls experience a surge in testosterone, leading to those dreaded teenage breakouts. Additionally, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can lead to higher testosterone levels in women, causing oily skin and acne.


Known as the stress hormone, cortisol can also affect your skin. High levels of stress cause cortisol to spike, which can lead to increased oil production and, consequently, more breakouts. When you’re stressed, your body produces more cortisol, prompting your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.

Estrogen and Progesterone:

These hormones, primarily associated with the female reproductive system, also influence oil production. Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause can lead to increased sebum production.

Other Factors

While hormones play a significant role, they aren’t the only factors at play. Genetics can also influence how oily your skin gets. If your parents had oily skin, chances are you will too. Additionally, environmental factors like humidity and pollution can exacerbate oily skin.


Your diet can have a profound impact on your skin. Foods high in refined sugars and dairy can increase oil production and lead to breakouts. Processed foods and sugary snacks can cause spikes in insulin levels, which in turn can increase androgen activity and oil production.

Skin Care Habits:

Using the wrong skincare products or over-cleansing can strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to produce even more oil to compensate. Harsh cleansers and astringents can disrupt your skin’s natural balance, leading to increased sebum production.


Certain medications, such as hormonal birth control, can affect your skin’s oil production. Some birth control pills can help reduce oiliness by regulating hormones, while others might have the opposite effect.

Managing Oily Skin

So, what can you do to manage oily skin? Here are some practical tips:

Cleanse Gently:

Use a gentle cleanser twice a day to remove excess oil and impurities. Avoid harsh soaps that can strip your skin and cause more oil production. Look for cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help to control oil and prevent breakouts.


Yes, even oily skin needs moisturizer. Opt for lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizers that won’t clog your pores. Gel-based or oil-free moisturizers are great options. They hydrate your skin without adding excess oil.


Exfoliate regularly to keep your pores clear. Use products with salicylic acid or glycolic acid, which are effective at removing dead skin cells and reducing oil. Be careful not to over-exfoliate, as this can irritate your skin and cause more oil production.

Use Oil-Free Products:

Choose makeup and skincare products labeled “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic.” These products are less likely to clog your pores and contribute to breakouts. Look for mattifying products that help control shine throughout the day.

Blotting Papers:

Carry blotting papers with you to absorb excess oil throughout the day. These handy papers can quickly reduce shine without disturbing your makeup.

Clay Masks:

Using clay masks once or twice a week can help absorb excess oil and reduce shine. Look for masks containing ingredients like kaolin or bentonite clay.

Lifestyle Changes

Your lifestyle can also impact your skin’s oiliness. Here’s how to make a difference:


What you eat affects your skin. A diet high in refined sugars and dairy can lead to more oil production. Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, can help reduce inflammation and improve skin health.

Manage Stress:

Since stress increases cortisol levels, managing stress is crucial. Try yoga, meditation, or even just a walk in the park to keep stress in check. Mindfulness practices can help you manage stress and, in turn, reduce cortisol levels.

Exercise Regularly:

Exercise helps regulate hormones and reduces stress. Plus, sweating can help clear out your pores (just be sure to cleanse your skin afterward). Regular physical activity promotes overall health and can contribute to better skin.

Stay Hydrated:

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. When your skin is well-hydrated, it can help regulate oil production. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.

Professional Treatments

Sometimes, home remedies aren’t enough. If you’re struggling with oily skin, it might be time to seek professional help.

Dermatologist Visits:

A dermatologist can offer treatments like chemical peels, laser therapy, or prescription medications to manage oil production. They can provide personalized advice and treatment plans based on your skin type and concerns.


Regular facials can help keep your skin clear and reduce oiliness. Look for treatments that include deep cleansing and exfoliation. Professional extractions can also help clear out clogged pores.


In some cases, your dermatologist might prescribe topical or oral medications to control oil production and prevent breakouts. Retinoids, for example, can help regulate oil production and improve skin texture.

Hormonal Therapy:

If hormonal imbalances are the root cause of your oily skin, your doctor might suggest hormonal therapy, such as birth control pills or anti-androgen medications, to help regulate your hormone levels.


Managing oily skin can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable. Remember, a bit of shine is normal and even healthy. By understanding what causes oily skin and how to manage it, you can keep your skin looking its best. Embrace your skin, take care of it, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Next time you feel that midday shine, you’ll know exactly what to do. Here’s to a glowing (not greasy) complexion!

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