23 Foods That Help And Hurt Oily Skin

Although oily skin is beneficial, producing excess oils might lead to acne, breakouts, and a greasy look. And like other body organs, the food you eat affects the state of your skin. It might be why no matter what chemical you use to treat your oily skin, nothing's changing, or it's getting worse.

Identifying the right and wrong foods for oily skin and understanding their impact will help you know what's causing your oily skin and how you can help fix it. In this article, you'll learn about foods for oily skin, why you have oily skin, and more.

16 Foods That Help Your Oily Skin

Good foods for your oily skin keep it in its optimal healthy state where you notice few to no skin issues even without using many cosmetic products. 

Bad foods for oily skin promote the production of excess sebum, an oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands.

The foods below keep your sebum productions balanced. They mainly consist of fiber-rich foods and those with high moisture content. Moreover, they contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that promote healthier skin.


This vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin A and C. As a boost, its antioxidant properties protect the skin cells against any radicals that can promote excess sebum production to damage the skin.

Since broccoli has anti-inflammatory effects, it reduces puffiness that can otherwise increase the oily look on the skin. Furthermore, it's rich in fiber that inhibits excess production of oils and promotes an overall healthy state of the skin.

Here are ways to incorporate broccoli into your diet:

  • Make a salad with spicy vegetables if you want to mask its taste
  • Include in juice and smoothie blends
  • Steam and serve with vinegar or olive oil to taste
  • Roast it
  • Mix with pasta or make pasta sauce

(Source: Healthline)


Pineapple has Vitamin C and beta carotene. These elements help improve the overall texture of the skin hence reducing excess oil production in the process. In addition, it has bromelain, which reduces anti-inflammatory properties and alpha-hydroxyl acids that reduce pimples.

You can consume pineapples for great skin by:

  • Eating the fruit whole
  • Juicing the fruit
  • Adding pineapples to fruit salads

(Source: Medlife)


This source of citric acid may be what you need to dry out any excess oils you produce. Lemons help flush out toxins from body organs, which promotes healthy and clear skin. And their detoxifying nature helps your skin improve if exposed to other poor diets and harsh environmental conditions.

You can use lemons:

  • To make lemon juice
  • By incorporating it in baking
  • Squeezing it on salads

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is not only tasty but also a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. With the help of other antioxidants, this substance reduces oil production by the skin and promotes a clean, supple look.

Dark chocolate also promotes cell growth by increasing collagen content. It promotes the circulation of blood and reduces stress in the body that could otherwise promote oil production. This is due to its high magnesium content that suppresses the release of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Here's how you can use dark chocolate:

  • Consume high-quality chocolate bars
  • Mix with your ice cream
  • Add into your baking recipes
  • Grate over cereal or fruit plate

(Source: Best Health Magazine)


As the main source of beta carotene, carrots are a great source of antioxidants helpful for oily skin. They promote overall healthy appearance and inhibit the effect of toxins on the human body. That's why they're used in many cosmetic products to promote a healthy look.

You can use carrots for good skin in the following ways:

  • Baking
  • Soup making
  • Creating jam ad blending juices
  • Making salads


More than 75 percent of a cucumber is made up of water. This property enables the flushing of toxins and promotes optimal secretion of hormones, which in turn leads to healthy levels of skin oil production. And it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that benefit oily skin.

To ensure a healthy oily skin with cucumbers, you can: 

  • Eat them whole
  • Juice them
  • Use in recipes
  • Add to salads
  • Eat them after pickling


This is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy oils for the skin. Avocadoes are also full of fiber, which aids other components to flush out body toxins before they reach your skin to clog pores. Since they contain a healthy dose of vitamin E, which fights off wrinkles, they maintain your skin's elasticity and keep the puffy oily look at bay.

You can utilize avocado by:

  • Eating them whole
  • Adding to smoothie ingredients
  • Making avocado toast
  • Using in baking
  • Using as a substitute for  mayonnaise


Eating bananas and even applying them topically is good for oily skin. These fruits have phosphates, potassium, and vitamin E in abundance to inhibit toxins and improve overall skin health. Eating a banana every day helps diminish pores, which accentuate the oiliness of the skin.

For healthy oily skin with bananas:

  • Eat one each day
  • Bake with them
  • Make milkshakes
  • Use in a fruit salad


Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote overall skin health. No wonder it's the third most popular fish in the US. These fatty acids are good at reducing inflammation, which is where acne stems from. 

These fatty acids also strengthen the protective layer of your skin so it can weather harsh external conditions appropriately. You can incorporate salmon on your weekly diet consistently.


Oranges have detoxifying components like citric acid to help flush out toxins that may promote excess oil production. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) also revealed that people who consistently consumed oranges had fewer wrinkles. This is because they have properties that boost skin health.

Ways to use oranges for healthy oily skin:

  • Drink orange juice
  • Eat oranges regularly
  • Bake with them
  • Use in salads

(Source: AJCN)

Whole Grains

Rich in fiber and antioxidants, whole grains should be the main part of your daily diet. The fiber improves digestion, which causes the body to function optimally instead of inducing oil production due to stress.

Whole grains have all the three fundamental parts which include:

  • Endosperm: The biggest part of the grain, which consists of carbohydrates and protein. It provides nourishment to a sprouting plant.
  • Germ: This is the embryo part, which usually grows to be the plant itself and is rich in Vitamin B and unsaturated fats.
  • Bran: The multilayered outer layer consists of plenty of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Here are ways to add whole grains in your diet:

  • Find whole-grain cereal with high dietary fiber
  • Substitute your staples like white rice with brown rice
  • Snack on whole-grain like popcorn
  • Use whole-grain bread and other baked goods

Come up with other creative ways to consume a more whole-grain diet. Do it gradually and with things you're used to eating.

(Source: Harvard Health Publishing)

Leafy Green Vegetables

Vegetables like spinach have high water content, which helps flush out excess oils and overall toxins that may hurt your skin. If your body has enough water to moisturize, it won't overcompensate by producing excess oils.  

Here's how you can add more leafy greens to your diet:

  • Make green juice or smoothies
  • Make vegetable sandwiches
  • Add spinach and kale to your pizza
  • Make vegetable soup
  • Make hummus
  • Eat salad


You may have heard of people taking selenium supplements to get rid of acne. Well, this vital substance is abundant in onions and can help reduce inflammation and subsequently promote healthy oil production levels. Onions' antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory nature makes it great for oily skin.

You can eat onions daily by adding them to any recipe.  Onions in an omelet, soups, and other daily delicacies can be tremendously beneficial to your oily skin. You can also add them to salads if you like eating them raw. 

Nuts And Flaxseeds

These contain ample omega-3 fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory component that promotes overall skin health. Their anti-inflammatory properties also reduce oil production by flushing out toxins and reducing inflammatory reactions.

Snacking on nuts and flax seeds can have a great impact on your skin. You can also add them to anything from cereal during breakfast to your ice cream dessert. Watch what you eat daily and find a way to fit it into that diet.

Coconut Water

Like briefly mentioned earlier, hydration of the skin is important since it inhibits overcompensation by sebaceous glands in an attempt to moisturize the skin with excess oils. 

Coconut water improves the body's water content and also tones your skin. Remember that coconut water is the blurry liquid in coconuts and not the coconut milk you extract from squeezing the juice out of the white copra.


Lentils contain fiber and ample healthy protein. This helps maintain the levels of blood sugar, which may fluctuate and prompt sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum. Using lentils during breakfast, lunch, and dinners are completely possible. You simply have to find out which type you may like.

7 Foods That Hurt Your Oily Skin

These foods come in different forms, but they all lead to overstimulation of the sebaceous glands hence causing overproduction of sebum, which manifests in oily skin. Most of them are foods that bring other medical problems.

Sugary Foods

Excess sugar intake is not only harmful to the heart but also the skin. As you consume sugar, the pancreas releases insulin to ensure its absorption. However, the body can only absorb a certain amount of sugar, and the rest can cause inflammatory reactions. This could lead to a puffier, oilier look.

Moreover, when artificial sugars become excessive in your body, they can sometimes attach to collagen and break it down. This process is known as glycation. Since collagen improves elasticity and ensures a smooth, supple look, when it breaks down, oily skin prone to Glycation and Skin Aging breakout may form.

Furthermore, when your body notices a high spike in sugar levels, it triggers the production of oil to moisturize the skin. However, since you already have oily skin, it becomes excessive and clogs pores.

Most sugary foods that include processed sugar are the most harmful. According to the American Heart Association(AHA), you need to consume less than nine teaspoons of added sugar per day if you're a man and six teaspoons if you're a woman. This means you'll have to balance what you'll add to your foods and ready-made sugary food you consume per day.

Here are healthy sources of sugar you can use to satisfy your cravings:

  • Fresh, dried, or frozen fruit
  • Dark chocolate
  • Legumes 
  • Yogurt
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Roasted nuts

Some of the foods above work by making you feel full, while others help you satisfy your cravings with healthy sugar. 

(Source: Biodermis, Howstuffworks, AHA)

Dairy Products

With the presence of highly saturated fats, dairy products are extremely disastrous to oily skin. Also, they have lactose, which is a form of sugar that raises the glycemic index and causes the skin to produce more oil than necessary.

Although dairy with added sugar may be more disastrous, even taking too much-unsweetened milk daily can hurt your oily skin. Also, some experts blame oily skin issues to the pregnancy-related hormones available in animal milk even though the theory is unclear.

However, keep in mind that different people react to dairy products in diverse ways. You can stop using them for some time and observe your skin reaction. If you notice your skin looking better, you might be better off without dairy products. Christine Allaire, editor at Vogue reported that her oily skin acne vanished in under a month after giving up dairy.

Here are substitutes to dairy you can use:

  • Instead of dairy milk, use almond, coconut, oat, soy, hemp, cashew, and other plant-based milk
  • In place of butter, you can use olive oil, coconut oil, bananas and avocados
  • Instead of dairy cheese, use plant-based cheese or nutritional yeast
  • Dairy-free yogurt
  • Plant-based ice cream

Most of these substitutes aren't as flavorful as the dairy products. However, you can come up with ingenious ways to take on a dairy-free diet according to your preferences and make it work.

Refined Grain

Even when there are no chemicals involved, refined grains have a drastic effect on your oily skin due to lack of fiber. You may eat more refined grains foods due to the low fiber content, which raises the glycemic index and load as the calories increase.

In addition, the absence of fiber in your diet doesn't help with digestion, which subsequently stresses the body and produces cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, provokes the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands and leads to excess oiliness. 

While these linked processes may be mild, when added to the other negative effects of certain foods on the skin, it may produce a drastic effect. You'll find refined grains in the pasta, white bread, cake, and ground cereals. If you consume more whole grain foods mentioned earlier, your oily skin might become healthier than before.


Consuming too much-caffeinated content dehydrates the body. However, instead of your skin drying up, it tries to moisturize by producing excess oils. However, since you're still dehydrated, you might experience breakouts and ruin the suppleness of your skin.

Also, if you use too many sugars plus dairy products with your caffeinated drinks, the mild effects caused by one of these issues become strong enough to feature as an oily skin problem. But you can check your caffeine intake and also use less of the foods that hurt your oily skin.


Although topical application of salt solutions can improve the texture of your skin, eating too much salt hurts it. It creates dehydration and leads to your skin's overcompensation with oil production. Too much salt can increase high blood pressure, which releases the stress hormone, subsequently triggering excessive sebum production.

(Sources: Healthline, Blood Pressure UK)

Processed Foods

These foods contain numerous sugars, which can lead to the overproduction of fats by raising the glycemic index. The salt in these foods dehydrates the skin and stresses it into producing excess oils. Also, chemicals in these foods may bond with collagen, breaking it down to increase inflammation, among other issues that promote oily skin.


Alcohol increases urine production hence considered as a diuretic. Unless you're topping up a lot of water, it will cause dehydration that may increase sebum production. 

Overindulging in alcohol can make you skip your normal healthy routines and eating habits. Overall, alcohol isn't great for skin, so if you do have a cocktail or glass of wine, be sure to drink water, too.

Why You Have Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you tend to have a shiny appearance, which is sometimes accompanied by acne and breakouts. This means that your sebaceous glands produce more oil than your skin needs. 

This oiliness is sometimes stressful since you may feel less confident in your looks, especially in a world where you are surrounded by airbrushed-perfection.  And sometimes, you may ask yourself why you have oily skin in the first place. 

Apart from a poor diet, the following are some main reasons why your skin is oily:


If your parents and other siblings generally have oily skin, then that skin type could be inherited. Just like looks and other hereditary qualities, oily skin can be passed on through generations.

Here are characteristics of oily skin you should know:

  • Large pores: If you can see your skin pores easily with the naked eye, chances are, you have oily skin. 
  • Frequent development of shine: Although mostly during midday, when the temperature is at its peak, your face normally develops shine over time. 
  • Regular acne development: Acne is an inflammatory disease that stems from the overproduction of sebum, which clogs pores. If you've always had acne outbursts on your face and/or other body parts, you likely have oily skin.

If you notice the above characteristics in most members of your family, then this condition is affected by genes, and you can't permanently rid yourself of it. However, keep in mind that oily skin comes with advantages such as slow aging, UV protection, and appears thicker and smoother without applying numerous skin products.

(Sources: Mayo Clinic, Live About


The weather around you also affects how your skin oil production turns out. In hot and humid climates, your pores open up, releasing sweat and hence causing dehydration. This prompts the skin to produce more oil to moisturize, and as a result, you become shinier.

If all you've ever lived in is a hot and humid climate, you might experience all-year-round oily skin. But that may change if you move to a colder place. Some people, however, produce more oils to compensate for the lack of moisturization, and as a result, their skin becomes oilier even in cold places.

(Sources: Howstuffworks, SebaMed)

Excessive Cleansing

If you have oily skin, you may be tempted to wash your face frequently to get rid of the oils. However, you might see no changes because the skin replaces the lost oil moments later. 

Overwashing your skin with abrasive chemicals, scrubs, or too many actives leaves your skin excessively dry. This, in turn, triggers the overproduction of oils as the skin attempts to protect itself. Therefore, for healthy-looking skin, gentle cleansing twice per day is enough.

You can use this gentle Kale Cleanser twice per day. It's perfect for oily skin since it's also vegan and non-toxic. Whatever product you choose, always check what it contains and whether it's made for oily skin.

(Sources: Healthline, Bioclarity)

Under Cleansing

Your skin needs to be cleaned around twice a day, so if you only do it once, chances are, it'll become excessively oily. The oils it has produced today may be insufficiently cleaned the next day, so you might experience oilier than normal skin. It's also good to incorporate scrubs at least once every two weeks if you wish to cleanse your skin appropriately.

Hormonal Changes

Sometimes, your skin gets oiler even though your lifestyle remains the same. During these times, you probably are experiencing hormonal changes. The main hormone responsible for the production of sebum is an androgen and may increase due to various cycles like menstruation, puberty, and even diseases.

(Source: Vibrant Dermatology)


The things you apply to your body might be the cause of your oily skin. Some have harsh chemicals that may trigger excess production of oils. That's why you need to avoid poor quality cosmetic products if you desire healthy skin.

Also, If you have oily skin, you should seek products that have little oil content or are entirely oil-free. This way, you can maintain your natural oil content and mask the excess for effective makeup.


According to published research by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), if you're stressed, the increase of the cortisol hormone can trigger oil production. This may be why you notice your overall look deteriorating during times of stress or depression.

(Source: Science Daily)

Your Oily Skin Questions Answered

Although oily skin is a common phenomenon, numerous myths surround the concept. Debunk some myths you've heard with answers to the following common questions. 

Can You Get Rid Of Oily Skin Permanently?

As you can see in the above reasons for oily skin, some things can be remedied while others can't. 

  • If you do excessive face-washing, you can remedy that habit so you might have a healthier, less oily skin. You can also fix the under cleansing to achieve the same results.
  • In the case of an environment related to oily skin, you can use products that maintain optimum levels for your skin where you are. 
  • If it's summer and your skin is trying to overproduce oils for moisturization, you can use an oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. 

You can also use the right cosmetics for your skin when you notice any problem you can change. This should, of course, be accompanied by eating healthy because surface fixing of skin issues isn't as effective as ensuring your body systems work well for healthy skin.

However, some of these fixes may have a mild effect on the oiliness of your skin, and genetics have the greatest impact on the look of your skin. In such cases, completely getting rid of oily skin is impossible.

Nevertheless, you can control how you look by practicing the healthiest lifestyle for your skin. Take care of your mind and body if you want your skin to look its best. To combat stress-related oiliness and rejuvenate your skin health, you can try this soothing Adaptogens Superfruits Mask

Do I Need To Use Moisturizer If I Have Oily Skin?

Oily skin isn't always hydrated skin. The explanations above clearly show you that sometimes the skin tries to compensate dehydration by increasing oil production. However, that still means you need to moisturize because the solution of dehydration isn't oiling, it's hydration.

You can hydrate your skin by drinking water or eating water-rich foods like cucumber. To ensure optimal hydration, you may have to use a moisturizer. This Adaptogens Superfruits Moisturizer may be what you need to keep your oily skin hydrated.

Do I Need To Use Oil When My Skin Is Oily?

Using natural oils on your skin is beneficial for your skin, oily, or not. Using light natural oils with a moisturizer will help your skin stay hydrated and also oiled enough. This will, in turn, prompt optimal sebum production and enhance your skin health. 

You don't have to do away with oil altogether because you have oily skin. Doing so might overstimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oils, which can hurt your skin.


Oily skin has its pros and cons, like any other type of skin. However, good foods for oily skin have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hydrating properties that help keep it in its utmost healthy condition. 

Bad foods, on the other hand, promote inflammation, dehydration, and stress, which all lead to the overproduction of oils. With the insights you now have, you can watch how you eat and ensure overall proper care for your oily skin.

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