If you have oily skin, you know it.

Make-up doesn’t stay put for long; your skin has a constant shine, your pores tend to become enlarged or clogged easily, and you’ve become good friends with blotting papers and rice powder.

It can seem as though all your attempts to squelch oil production just make the issue worse.

So, exactly why does skin become oily in the first place?

Sebum, the term for skin oil, is produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands (which are located in the dermis) in order to protect the surface of your skin and make it waterproof – so that it wont dry out and age prematurely.

The sebum is excreted via your hair follicles (sweat is secreted from the pores of the skin), which is why you will never see anyone with “oily palms.”

When your skin becomes dehydrated, or threatened in any way, the reaction can be overproduction of sebum. This is because your skin’s priority is protection of itself and protection of the body.

Water is not produced by the skin and body and when there is not enough to go around, your body reserves as much water as possible for your brain, which leaves your skin high and dry.

Sebum, however, is produced very easily in an effort to protect your skin cells…so that is exactly what your skin does.

Keeping your skin clean and free of excess oil is important, but do not overdo it!

Stripping all oils off your skin’s surface with harsh astringents, acids and synthetic cleansing agents will make matters worse. Your skin will produce even more oil as a result.

In order to balance an oily skin condition, you must eliminate the stress and hydrate your skin.

  • Treat your skin with care and cleanse without stripping the skin
  • Drink lots of clean water throughout the day
  • Reduce your stress
  • Balance your diet to limit digestive stress (more fruits and veggies, less meat and dairy)
  • Eliminate toxic food which will spike blood sugar and cortisol and create stress and free radical damage
  • Balance hormone levels (if they are off balance due to menopause or medications) – visit your local nutritionist or Naturopathic doctor for info
  • Use gentle cleansers with enzymes and plant based cleansing agents
  • Stay away from harsh astringents containing alcohol and other skin stripping ingredients
  • look for lightweight hydrating products with calming and antibacterial properties (aloe, sodium hyaluronate, lavender, tea tree, etc)

The Bright Side:
Sebum protects your skin from premature aging, which means that sufficient amounts of sebum on the skin’s surface will help prevent fine lines and wrinkles – so control the over-production of sebum without completely eliminating it, and you are well on your way to beautiful skin!

written by Jennifer Laz, Licensed Esthetician, bien-être spa

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