3 Common Skin Issues With Oily Skin: Blackheads, Breakouts, and Blemishes

3 Common Skin Issues With Oily Skin: Blackheads, Breakouts, and Blemishes

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are five skin types: normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive. Out of these, oily skin is the most troublesome, often causing three common skin issues.  

Generally, men have more active sebaceous glands than some women, leading to oily skin and potential skin problems. However, black men face more concerns with their skin due to their high levels of melanin and elevated amounts of testosterone. These concerns result from skin issues causing enlarged pores, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation.

In this article, I aim to tackle the three common issues individuals with oily skin face, which often lead to blackheads, breakouts, and blemishes.

The Issue With Oily Skin 

Understanding the causes of oily skin can be frustrating and make individuals self-conscious about their appearance. The issue with oily skin is that excess oil can weaken the skin's structure, thus inviting bacteria and fungi to attack. Those with darker skin tones and complexion tend to face these problems, particularly those with increased amounts of sebum.

Too much sebum can be a nuisance as dirt can cling to the lipids making it easy for debris and environmental pollutants to get embedded in the pores. Unfortunately, this also makes it simpler for debris, environmental pollutants, and dead skin cells to adhere, leading to further skin problems.

When dead skin cells accumulate, sebum can penetrate deeper into the follicle, resulting in significant skin issues. Dead skin and sebum block the pores, limiting the functionality and ability to stabilize its oil production. 

For black men, it is crucial to regulate oil production to prevent trauma to the skin that can take years to reverse. Given its tendency to cause acne, oily skin can be difficult to manage once oil production is out of control. Properly regulating the production of skin oils can help minimize these problems from occurring.

While attempting to regulate oil production to prevent issues, it's important not to over-dry the skin as it can have side effects on the integrity of the skin. Although oily skin causes problems, there are some positive benefits to having oily skin. 

Why Is My Skin Oily?  

When the sebaceous glands are overactive, the skin is oily. Excessive amounts of sebum are present on the surface, causing the skin to look shining, greasy, and inflamed. 

There are several causes of oily skin, including genetics, hormonal changes, and environmental factors. Through generations, oily skin traits are passed down thus producing more sebum Hormonal shifts caused by lifestyle choices can also increase sebum production. It's essential to keep in mind that skin type can be influenced by genetics as well. 

If one of your parents has oily skin, you will likely inherit the trait of their oily skin. However, both men and women with oily skin can experience hormonal shifts caused by stress and lifestyle choices, including diet. Poor eating habits can directly impact oil production, and stress can contribute to skin issues.   

Remember that stress can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more oils. As pressure increases, the hormone levels directly correlates with increased amounts of sebum. Medication, breath work, and reading can help relieve stress helping you decompress from the outside world of the hustle and bustle when feeling overwhelmed.  

Lifestyle plays a vital role in dealing with the skin and maintaining healthy skin. Reducing oily skin may require a lifestyle change by staying on top of your skincare regimen, eating clean, and reducing stress.  

Oily Skin Characteristics 

The characteristics of sebum is a waxy substance that may appear whitish or yellowish depending on the amount of oils being produced. It can leave the skin clammy, greasy, and shiny, forming pimples, blemishes, or whiteheads. When excessive sebum is present on the skin, it may feel warm, flushed, and sticky. While washing, blotting, and wiping may provide temporary relief, overdoing it can cause irritation and other skin conditions.

The Onset of Oily Skin Acne

Combination skin is characterized by oily T-zone, forehead, chin, and nose area with cheeks and outer face dryer. Although natural oils keep the skin moisturized, they can get out of hand and not appropriately managed, thus causing acne. Acne is a skin condition caused by oily skin; however, not all oily skin is acne. Although acne is common and affects individuals of all ages, it can appear differently in adults.  

Adolescent acne hits when puberty begins; the surge of hormones leads to increasing amounts of sebum production, thus leading to the rite of passage for acne. The T-zone areas are common among teenagers dealing with mild to severe cases as hormones fluctuate.  

Adult Acne has become a phenomenon that has surprisedly caught adults beyond the age of puberty. Adult acne tends to hit the lowercase, jawline, and neck areas, particularly in women who experience hormonal fluctuations. Men may also experience adult acne due to male hormone androgen levels, poor skin habits, and shaving when the hair follicles get clogged, causing irritation and inflammation leading to pseudofolliculitis barbe, a skin condition known as "razor bumps."  

I recommend taking the skin quiz to find the right solution for oily skin.

Three Common Skin Issues

Breakouts, blackheads, or blemishes are three common skin issues with oily skin. Because black men have larger sebaceous glands, producing more sebum, they usually deal with all three simultaneously. The reason for such severity is elevated pigment and coarse facial hair texture resulting in breakouts, blemishes, and blackheads all at once.  

Below are the three common skin issues with oily skin.

1. Breakouts are commonly known as acne, occur when hair follicles become blocked with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Characteristic: Inflammatory lesions like papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. Usually red, swollen, and painful.  



Causes:  Infectious bacteria invade the skin and can lead to acne. Inflamed oil glands occur when oils and dead skin cells clog the hair follicles.  

a. Genetics can increase an individual's susceptibility to breakouts. 

b. Stress can trigger hormonal unbalances that lead to flare-ups and acne breakouts. 

c. Daily consumption of unhealthy food has been lined to increased acne risk. 

2. Blackheads are a prevalent type of non-inflammatory acne that plagues individuals of all ages. The black coloration arises due to oxidation, not dirt, as commonly misconceived.

Characteristic: They are characterized by small, dark spots that form when hair follicles get clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and impurities.


Causes: Clogged follicles caused by excessive oils, dead skin cells, and dirt build inside the pores.  

a. Overproduction of sebum, an oily substance screwed by the skin, can lead to clogged pores and the formation of blackheads.   

b. Dead skin cell buildup contributes to pore blockage. 

c. Hormonal changes can trigger increased sebum production and blackhead formation.

3. Blemishes are the aftermath of acne lesions, which can leave unsightly marks and uneven skin tone. These post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) spots are common and can take several months to fade naturally. 

Characteristics: Dark spots, raised scarring, or discoloration.   


Causes: Trauma from picking, popping, or poking at the skin, causing hyperpigmentation on the skin.

a.  Inflammation caused by acne breakouts triggers the skin to produce more melanin, leading to discoloration.  

b.  Long-term exposure to UV rays causes the skin to darken the trauma areas, delaying healing. 

How To Prevent Skin Issues? 

Blackheads, breakouts, and blemishes are skin issues that flaw the skin's surface.   Although conditions are benign, they contribute to skin irregularities that damage the skin’s epidermis, the outermost protective layer.  Here are 5 ways to prevent skin issues from occurring.  

1.  Properly cleansing, exfoliating, and hydrating the skin will help prevent skin issues.  

2.  Avoid squeezing any breakouts or blackheads

3.  Adopt a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein to support good skin health.  

4.  Use topical treatments that can treat hyperpigmentation and prevent damage, such as Vitamin c, Niacinamide, and alpha Arbutin 

5.  Consult with a licensed professional for treatments to improve overall skin texture.  

Although using proper skincare products is a start, knowing what products to use and how can save your skin the drama.  Blackheads and breakouts are the major cause of oily skin issues, and blemishes are the aftermath of these conditions.  Neglecting to address or properly care skin your skin type can lead to visible imperfections and cause premature aging.  Contrary to belief, oily skin can be more sensitive, making the skin susceptible to all skin issues that ruin the skin's overall appearance.   

Blackheads, breakouts, and blemishes can affect individuals of all skin types and ages, causing distress and diminished self-confidence.  Thus black men dealing with oily skin want to know how to get clear skin.  Understanding the underlying causes and implementing effective skincare strategies can help combat these issues and pave the way to clear healthy, and radiant skin. 

Also, consulting with an expert specializing in melanin skin can help you find effective solutions for your skin.






American Academy of Dermatology Association, How to Control Oily Skin, 2023 
Patel, Rema; Huzien,  Medical News Today Jennifer “19 Ways To Get Rid of Oily Skin” Jan 11, 2023, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-get-rid-of-oily-skin
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