We’ve all been there. Looking at ourselves in the mirror only to find our skin looking oily and greasy. And it’s not the good, post-workout kind of shine. It’s all over your face and it’s extremely annoying and exhausting to deal with.
However, with little patience and research, we call all reach that happy state of balanced shine and moisture on our skin.
You might be wondering who’s responsible for this oily mayhem. A substance called sebum is the one to blame. If you want to find out how to get rid of excess sebum and all the causes behind it - just keep reading.
Sebum is the substance which is produced by our sebaceous glands located all over the body, especially on the face and scalp.
Commonly referred to as oil, sebum is often demonized in terms of skin health and its functions. It mainly consists of naturally occurring oils, but there are also sugars, fatty acids and other chemicals which are present in its formula. A normal amount of sebum will moisturize and protect your skin from any damage or over drying.
However, when the amount of sebum which our glands produce exceeds the normal amount, we can be left with a couple of problems in regards to our skin. This is a common problem for people who have oily skin since they already have excess oil in their skin.
Sebum doesn’t merely exist to torture our faces and cause acne breakouts. Believe it or not, sebum exists to protect the skin and hair from any harmful influences as well as to moisturize it.
So you might be wondering what the actual signs of a sebum overproduction are and how it differentiates between having oily skin. Here are the most common symptoms of a sebum overproduction:
People who live in hot and humid weather have a tendency to have oilier skin than those who live in cold and dry climates.
Some people believe that applying moisturizer on their skin might exasperate sebum production. However, it’s been proven time and time again that even people who have oily skin need to moisturize after cleansing their skin, especially if they use harsh chemicals on their skin such as Retin A or benzoyl peroxide. If you don’t moisturize properly, your sebaceous glands will get a signal that your skin lacks oil, and thus produce even more sebum in order to overcompensate.
So what can be done about this? Instead of skipping moisturizer altogether, try using one that’s appropriate for your particular skin type. Moisturizers and creams which are meant for people with oily skin are typically lightweight and don’t sit too heavily on the skin. They are also almost always oil-free since adding additional comedogenic oils in skincare products is rarely a good idea for oily skin types. Another label you should look for is the “non-comedogenic” label. This will ensure that you aren’t putting on products which can cause breakouts.
Enlarged pores can sometimes be the cause of the excess sebum on your face. Although this is a cause you can’t have a direct effect on, switching up some of your skincare products usually does the trick and gets rid of most of the excess oil.
Hormonal medications such as the birth control pill are notoriously associated with increased sebum production. In addition, hormone replacement medication can also cause excess sebum as a side-effect. Generally speaking, any medication has the potential to cause your skin to become oilier. If your medication is drying out your skin, then your sebaceous glands will try to overcompensate thinking that your skin lacks oil.
Parkinson’s disease has been correlated with high production of sebum.
Generally speaking, any conditions which involve the pituitary and adrenal glands can cause fluctuations in the amount of sebum your body produces.
As we age, the amount of our skin protein decreases, which is actually good news since it means that our skin becomes less oily the older we get. This is why some people’s skin completely changes once they are in their mid to late twenties. A complete change in skin types is also possible, which would require a completely new approach to skincare as well as new skincare products. This can be expensive for some people, but the end results are usually worth it. If your skin becomes overly dry, it’s wise to invest in effective anti-aging products.
There is some evidence to conclude that certain food can affect the body’s sebaceous glands and cause them to produce more oil. Foods like refined oils, dairy products, and processed sugar can have a negative effect on the skin. Dairy products, in particular, contain high levels of hormones such as testosterone which can lead to a sebum overproduction and congestion.
Instead, opt to increase the number of fruits, vegetables and whole grains you consume.
Is there a correlation between sebum production and your hormones? The hormones which are in charge of sebum production are called androgen hormones. These are produced mostly by your adrenal glands. The more proactive they are, the more sebum the sebaceous glands produce.
Another hormone which has a role in sebum production is progesterone. The higher your levels of progesterone hormone, the more sebum is produced.
What can be done in relation to this? If your skin is producing more oil than you’re used to, it’s best to visit an endocrinology specialist and get a blood test one in order to check your hormonal levels. If the abovementioned hormones are affected in any way, then your doctor might prescribe you hormonal medication so that an optimal balance can be achieved. And if your hormones aren’t to blame, then maybe you could look into the other causes.
If you have oily and acne-prone skin and you’re constantly suffering from breakouts, then you might think about going on Accutane. Isotretinoin is a part of a group of medicine called retinoids. These are essentially vitamin A derivatives which have the power to rewrite our DNA and permanently cause the sebaceous glands to shrink, and thus produce less oil than before. There are thousands of patient whose Accutane journey has been successful, but due to the serious potential side-effects and precautions that go along with it, it’s necessary to consult your dermatologist if you’re thinking about going on Accutane. They will inform you about the treatment process and the products you’re going to use topically.
If you’re not sure about the medicine yet, you can always try applying Retin A topically first. It can be found in many skincare products and it has a lot of benefits such as anti-aging properties, a decrease in acne and oil production.
Acne sufferers have heard the good old “You should wash your face more often” more times than they can count. However, if you’re going through an oily phase, the number of times you wash your face is important. It shouldn’t be overdone and you shouldn’t neglect it as a habit either. The sweet spot is usually two times a day, in the morning and before you go to bed. If you’re getting confused by some of these steps, click here for a comprehensive guide about creating your own routine.
Regular washing will remove all the dirt, sweat and bacteria sitting on top of your skin. If you’re a makeup user, using a good cleanser is the best way to remove makeup traces.
In terms of picking out a cleanser, opt for ones aimed for people with oily skin and ones that have an “oil-control” label on them. You could also go for ones which have either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in their ingredients, especially if you have acne.
Using a toner that’s meant to control excess sebum is one of the most important steps in combating oily skin. Toners can do a myriad of different things for our skin, and needless to say, they come with a lot of benefits. There are, however, certain things you should avoid when purchasing a toner. Don’t use toners which have bad ingredients in them like alcohol or fragrance.
As we’ve mentioned before, moisturizing is crucial if you want to avoid over-drying your skin which can inevitably lead to the formation of excess sebum. Pick an oil-free moisturizer that’s going to work wonderfully as both a hydrating product and a makeup primer.
There’s a certain tendency that people who have oily skin and wear makeup tend to have, and that is packing layers upon layers of powder on top of their foundation. This can be damaging for the skin because it can clog the pores and prevent the skin from breathing. There’s an alternative to this which is very practical and will keep away any breakouts. And that is to use blotting sheets on any shiny spots which appear on your face after you’ve applied makeup.
Blotting sheets are already a famous phenomenon within the makeup community, and for a good reason. They are easy to find, inexpensive, absorb all excess oil which doesn’t look good on makeup and don’t ruin your foundation all at the same time! What’s not to love? You can buy blotting sheets in most drugstores as well as some makeup counters.
Coffee is not only amazing for preparing us for the day ahead, but it can also aid your battle against sebum! Due to its high antioxidant content, it can lower sebum production. So, how should you use coffee on your face? There are a couple of different ways you can include it in your routine.
For one, it makes for an excellent exfoliator! It can promote a healthy glow, boost collagen production and help with premature signs of aging. Some even claim that it has antimicrobial benefits which can help fight off germs. In order to make this efficient exfoliator, simply combine ¼ of a cup of fresh coffee grounds with 30 grams of brown sugar and some honey in order to bring the two ingredients together. Gently massage the mixture on your skin multiple times a week. If you use the same mixture on your body, you can also notice some cellulite reduction.
It seems like every answer to a skincare question begins and ends with turmeric. This popular spice has been known for centuries to heal the skin and help many skin conditions including redness, acne, and eczema.
Turmeric helps with oily skin by lowering the amount of sebum that’s produced. This happens due to its ability to neutralize the chemicals in our skin. here is a simple face mask you can try the next time you have a pamper session.
Mix the ingredients together in order to form a paste. Apply the mixture on your skin and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes before washing it off.
Although oily skin is primarily due to genetics, there are some things you can do so that you can control excess sebum. One of the most important steps, in order to achieve this, is to create a consistent skincare routine which focuses primarily on lowering sebum production. There are other ways you can speed up the process, such as using certain medications and skincare products.
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.