Oily skin. It’s a love/hate relationship. For those of us who have oily skin, we love it because we show less aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Yay! But we hate it for the inevitable shine breakthrough, enlarged pores and more often than not, acne breakouts. Boo.
What is facial oil?
The technical term is: sebum. Sebum is a material comprised of fatty materials secreted by the sebaceous glands. Sebum’s function is to protect the outermost layer of skin known as the epidermis against dehydration and bacterial invasion.
What actually causes oily skin?
- It’s a genetic thing. If oily skin runs in the family, you’re more likely to also have it. Thanks Mom and Dad.
- As the seasons change, so does our skin. In the heat and humidity, oily skin can go into overdrive. Likewise, in the cold months oily skin can become dehydrated from indoor heating which also ramps up oil production.
- Using products that are too harsh for your skin (i.e. alcohol-based toners). If you strip away your skin’s natural lipid barrier, guess what? It’s going to work overtime (by producing more oil) to replenish itself.
- Just like using incorrect products, over using the correct products is just as bad. No matter how much you try to wash, rub and scrub the oil away, it will come back and sometimes with a vengeance. Put away those wash cloths, facial scrubbers and any other “power tools” you’re using to banish the oil. As with anything in life, the key is finding balance.
- Medications can cause havoc for those with oily skin; especially hormonal medications such as birth control and hormone replacement therapy drugs. Basically ANY medication can cause dehydration in the skin which will cause oil glands to kick into gear.
- Ultraviolet exposure (a.k.a. sun tanning, tanning beds). Tsk Tsk. Please tell me you’re not doing this! Besides the obvious increased risk of developing skin cancer, sun exposure through sun burns and tanning (natural or artificial) sends a signal to the body that there’s a need for damage control. Can you guess what happens next? Yep. Oil glands to the rescue!
- Too hot! As in you’re showering, bathing and washing your skin with water that’s too hot. Hot water literally strips away moisture from the skin causing TEWL (transepidermal water loss) which leads to dehydration. Dehydration = oil glands working some serious overtime to compensate for the water loss, even though water and ‘oil’ are two different things.
- Hormones & Stress. Ugh. When hormones fluctuate and stress is high, oily skin can go nuts. Literally. A rise in androgen hormone levels (i.e. puberty, pregnancy, peri/pre menopause, as well diet) will cause oil glands to secrete an over-abundance of sebum.
In my next article I’ll discuss how you can bring balance to oily skin in just a few easy steps. Stay tuned!