As the summer approaches we become conscious of our skin, especially those with oily skin. I have oily skin, so, I understand the problem well. As the atmosphere becomes hotter our skin sweats more — oil secretion increases and our skin looks greasy and darker. Most of us think that oily skin is a curse and want to get rid of it, but that’s not the case — it’s not a curse. As a cosmetic researcher I will elaborate on the science about oily skin, detailing the main cause of the problem and definitely about the products to take care of and maintain it. Read on to find out more!
The Science Behind Oily Skin
To understand the cause of oily skin we need to know a little bit about the science of skin. The source of all the trouble is the microscopic sebaceous gland, safely hidden beneath the surface of the skin. Sebaceous glands are part of the pilosebaceous unit (hair + oil gland duo). These glands (think partially inflated balloons) lie deep within the dermis skin layer. They connect with the hair shaft and empty their contents onto the surface of the skin through the pores. Humans have sebaceous glands all over the body except the palms and soles. However, the area with the most oil-producing ability is the notorious T-Zone (forehead, nose and chin).
These sebaceous glands secrete an oily/waxy matter called sebum (meaning ‘fat’ in latin), to lubricate the skin and hair of mammals. Sebum is a complex blend of varied lipids (an assortment of fats) and dead sebaceous gland cells — the cells that manufacture the sebum. Fats found in sebum include triglycerides, wax mono-esters, squalane and free fatty acids. In the glands, sebum is produced within specialized cells and is released as these cells burst; sebaceous glands are thus classified as holocrine glands.
Problem and Root Cause of Oily Skin
Under normal circumstances, these glands should play a normal role in lubricating the skin and hair, protecting them from environmental challenges like dehydration and maintaining health and luster. In fact, sebum plays a crucial role in maintaining the acid mantle on skin to protect it from bacterial invasions, and also maintain the skin’s pH balance. So, it’s not correct to strip the entire surface sebum with your oil control products. Optimal sebum secretion enables soft, supple and glossy skin. Oily skin is a sign of healthy skin; it’s nature’s gift that manages dull, dry skin. But, sometimes the skin becomes overly greasy. Seborrhoea is the name for the condition of greasy skin caused by excess sebum. This excess oiliness leads to surface oil; blocking pores; causing blackheads and acne breakouts. Sometimes it may lead to pigmented scars as well which then becomes uncomfortable and cosmetically unacceptable.
The root cause of problematic oily skin can be:
Psychological — So-called stress in modern a lifestyle triggers oil secretion. In fact, The National Institutes of Health (USA) list stress as a factor that “can cause an acne flare.”
Diet — A high glycemic load increases the sebum production underneath the skin. Avoiding greasy foods, fried foods, and foods high in fat for example are likely to improve your skin and your complexion. A balanced diet containing whole grains, beans and nuts will help with your vitamin levels, or alternatively take vitamin supplements daily as vitamin deficiencies, particularly vitamin B2 and B5, can worsen an oily skin problems.
Hormonal Imbalance — Puberty, pregnancy, menopause or intake of birth control pills create a hormonal imbalance in the body. Some hormones can cause the sebaceous glands to become over stimulated, producing higher amounts of oil than usual. During adolescence body changes and the sebaceous glands become enlarged and lead to oily skin, blemishes and acne.
Genetics — If there is oily skin in your genes then your skin will appear oilier usually unless you control it.
Apart from the root causes we should also know about some additional factors about oily skin:
– Cleansing with alcohol products, strong soaps, or washing your face too often is not recommended as this can remove too much oil from your skin, which then overstimulates your oil glands to produce more oil making your skin worse
– Too much usage of oil-based, heavy products like makeup or regular cosmetics may lead to clogged pores and acne
– Skin exposure to excessive humidity or high temperatures for a longer time span may lead to greasy skin as well
– Smoking can enlarge pores allowing more oil to release on the skin’s surface.
Products That Can Help
There are a wide variety of products now available on the market addressing oily skin problems. Ideally, water-based makeup is good for oily skin. Talking about regular cosmetics: a lightweight, noncomedogenic range is a preferable choice. Some of the popular brands include the Neutrogena acne control range (includes cleanser, scrub, spot correction pen, lotion, toner treatment pads, etc.), Olay Shine Control range ( cleanser, wipes, face wash,scrub), Dr. Hauschka Daily Face Care Kit ($19.96; cleansing cream, toner, day cream, etc.), Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control Kit ($27.99; cleanser, moisturizer and spot treatment), Avon Clearskin Professional Acne Treatment System ($32.00; exfoliator, toner and lotion), Garnier Pure Active range (spot corrector roll-on, face wash, toner, scrub, moisturizer, etc.), Origins Zero Oil range (mask, treatment gel and pads, toner, oil-free lotion, etc.), Dermalogica Oil Control Lotion ($39.00) and Clinique Youth Surge SPF 15 Age Decelerating Moisturizer for Combination Oily to Oily Skin ($52.00) is another excellent product as well.
Some of the oily skin specific makeup brands include Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup ($12.49), MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation ($27.00) and bareMinerals SPF 15 Matte Foundation ($27.00) which gives an excellent, flawless finish without clogging your pores.
So, ladies, understand the science of your skin: Choose the appropriate product for your skin and maintain your healthy oil balance all year round.
-Rinki Pramanik, biotechnologist & cosmetic researcher
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