The Right Nutrient Combination for Oily Skin

Oily skin is the bane of a great many beauty-conscious people’s existence. This is true for both men and women, as it affects both genders in equal measure. Skin that is mildly oily can start to glisten after a few hours, and become more prone to dirt and grime compiling and damaging it.

Ahhh isn’t it great when your skin is a breeding ground for p. acnes (aka the pimple bacteria)?!

Excessively oily skin can be very inconvenient, because it starts to produce oil within a few minutes of cleansing, and eventually threatens to render ineffective even the thickest of concealers and makeup.

Yep, oily skin is a big beauty problem.


The Moisture Conundrum: Sebum and Skin Moisture

The oil produced by skin is called sebum, and it’s produced by the sebaceous glands, which lie under the second skin layer. These glands produce sebum to both waterproof the skin and protect it from outside elements. Oily skin is generally regarded as safer and more age-resistant than drier skin (shout out to my mom’s ethereal 50s skin!), however, the more oil the skin produces, the more of a – generally speaking – nuisance it becomes. This is mostly due to the almost unmanageable nature of overly oily skin, and the fact that it requires a different moisturizing regime, as compared to regular or dry skin.

Below are some of the main differences – in regards to moisturizer requirements – between oily skin and regular skin. (You can also go here for more details.)

  • Oily skin does not work well with moisturizers that do the work of sebum (e.g. mineral oil, vaseline and other occlusive agents), since it already produces more sebum than is needed. If you are using a traditional moisturizer, it will only worsen the glisten and shine that oily skin is prone to. (I, for one, love to shine like a glazed donut by using non-occlusive skin oils like SHINE, but that’s just me making lemonade out of lemons!)
  • Oily skin requires moisturizers that cleanse the pores and also remove all the accumulated dirt and grime from inside the skin (chemical exfoliation, BHAs.. you guys know the drill). Unlike moisturizers for dry skin, this makes for a much more complex moisturizing routine, and certainly one that combines various ingredients into what should be one step.
  • Dry skin needs to be moisturized several times a day and preferably daily, in order to maintain skin health. Oily skin, on the other hand, is completely different, and needs to be moisturized right after cleansing.

What’s an oily-skinned girl to do? Our skin type sure isn’t changing any time soon.

Let’s look to our diet for some guidance.


Which Nutrients are Best for Oily Skin?

Taking care of oily skin is not only complicated and extensive, but it also requires combinations of dietary ingredients that make for a change in diet as well.

Below are the main nutrients which you need to consume daily in order to control oily skin and prevent it from producing excessive amounts of sebum:


#1 – Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a requisite for any beauty routine, and not just one that leans towards the prevention of excessively oily skin. Antioxidants have more beneficial properties than just those associated with the skin, since they reduce the prevalence of free radicals, which damage and negatively affect the entire body. In other words, yes, antioxidants will prevent signs of aging by bonding to free radicals (from pollution, sun exposure, etc) but they will also generally protect the rest of your body from oxidative damage. Win-win, no?

The antioxidants necessary for healthy skin are different in the sense that they should have more water content  with respect to the nutrient sources. Cucumbers, melons, berries and other water-rich fruits and veggies are ideal for this purpose. Plus, water is the ultimate skincare game long con; you gotta hydrate daily for days, weeks, months and years to see the benefits. Might as well sneak in some extra water content when and where you can! Low sugar, highly anti-oxidative fruits and veggies are the perfect place to do that.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C increases the flow of blood to the various parts and ends of the body which usually do not get proper circulation. Oily skin is notorious in this respect, since it produces more sebum, which prevents exposure to nutrients, except from within.

Lemon juice is the perfect source of Vitamin C for the skin. While I wouldn’t necessary suggest putting lemon juice directly on the skin for a number of reasons, lemon juice nourishes the skin by way of improving hydration and circulation internally, which then prevents acne and maintains the freshness of the skin. Other sources of Vitamin C include grapefruit, oranges, limes, kiwi, pomelos and other citrus fruit.


Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Am I beating a dead horse yet?

I talk about Omega-3s ALL the time. Like here and here. I specifically formulate all the Amalie products with Omega-3s (like WINK and Persimmon Creme), because our diets are so unbelievably deficient in them. But eating Omega-3s for oily skin? Let’s see:

While it may seem counter-productive to consume Omega 3’s, especially when the skin already produces that much oil, consuming foods that have lots of Omega 3 fatty acids actually results in the skin becoming less dependent on sebum production.

Healthy sources of protein such as tuna and salmon are wonderful sources of Omega 3’s, and can be paired with the aforementioned antioxidant-rich foods for a very balanced diet as well. I love eating ROE and SUSHI (omg SUSHI!!) for Omega 3s.

Other vegan sources include Flax Seed, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Chia Seeds and Raspberry Seeds–which are freakishly hard to get your hands on but SERIOUSLY high in Omega 3s!


Takeaways: Best Nutrients for Oily Skin

So that wraps it up! To make your oily skin more balanced and less oily, you should.. well, basically just have a healthy, balanced diet!

Make sure to eat lots of antioxidants, vitamin C, Omega-3s and drink loooots of water.

Sounds familiar, right? Some things never change!

Until next time ~




Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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