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Oil Prone Skin - Knowledge is Power. Control. Clarity. Balance.

An oil prone complexion is a lifelong journey, a battle for some. It is something that unites many in their frustration to achieve one objective; balance.

The truth is, it does not need to feel like a life sentence, there are ways for ALL of us to optimize our skin health, whether dry and thirsty, or more on the oily side.

Understanding more about the biology of our skin is the first step to achieving a more harmonious relationship with the reflection that greets us the mirror. Acceptance, understanding and figuring out what triggers your skin personally will help achieve that balance.

The skin, hair, nails are all part of the integumentary system - our exterior protection system.

The sebaceous glands are exocrine glands (def: secrete a substance through a duct to the surface) located along the hair follicle in the dermis. Sebum is secreted up the hair follicle to lubricate the surface. The sebaceous glands are part of the pilosebaceous unit - formed from the hair follicle, shaft and erector pili muscles (responsible for goosebumps!).

Our skin naturally produces sebum in order to moisturize our skin, keep it supple, and protected. Sebum also helps in maintaining hydration, keeping pollution out, while helping the regulation of removal of toxins. Sebum contains squalene which is a naturally produced antimicrobial substance that helps protect from bacteria.

Sebaceous glands work with your sweat glands, especially in times where the body is exposed to more extreme temperatures. When hot, they work to regulate evaporation and when cold, the sebum contains more lipids to shield from heat loss.

The glands are not evenly distributed across the skin surface. The greatest concentration of sebaceous glands is on the face and scalp (up to 400–900 glands/cm2), the palms of the hands and soles of the feet are the only without sebaceous glands.

When the skin has overactive sebaceous glands, the characteristic appearance to the skin is shiny with a more pronounced or enlarged pore size. Comedogenic issues arise when the pores are obstructed by an accumulation of impurities, dead skin cells, and sebum - which can then lead to breakouts.

The good news is, oily skin is less prone to premature fine lines and wrinkles, so skin appears plumper and more youthful for longer.


What causes oily skin?

Genetics - good old familial predisposition is one of the more likely reasons for experiencing oilier skin.

Over cleansing - there was a time when it was encouraged to wash your face more regularly if you experienced overactive sebum production to be “squeaky clean”.
We know more nowadays. But, the mistakes of previous generations are often handed down with mistakes repeating themselves for many.

Over cleansing and often with the wrong, harsh products, actually exacerbates the issue. ‘Squeaky clean’ results in the continual interruption to the hydrolipidic film, the skin’s natural barrier for protection and retention of moisture. This means the skin compensates by producing more sebum to balance as it becomes rapidly dehydrated. Dehydration is symptomatic of environment and treatment - a lack of hydration, not a genetic predisposition.

Dehydration - lacking in water (symptomatic)

Dry - lacking in lipids (genetic) 

Exfoliation - physical scrubbing of skin is harsh, as with cleansing with the wrong products, it can result in sensitized skin, inflammation and imbalance due to over-stripping of the acid mantle.

Diet & Lifestyle - what we feed our bodies with will unsurprisingly affect the behavior of all major organs, of which skin is our biggest. Poor dietary choices and exposure to pollutants, environmental and lifestyle stress have fundamental physiological effects that cause inflammation, reactivity and trauma response in skin systems.  Poor dietary choices and exposure to pollutants, environmental and lifestyle stress also weaken defenses and alter the natural protective system.

Hormones - as we hit puberty, sebaceous glands increase in size and begin to secrete sebum, this peaks between ages 15-35. Sebaceous glands are controlled by androgens and sex hormones such as testosterone. There is research into understanding more about the part estrogen has to play in regulation and suppression of sebum production and how these fluctuate monthly in an attempt to further understand regular “hormonal breakouts”. What we do know is that throughout life, our hormonal shifts and cycles affect the behavior of our sebaceous glands.

Comedogenic ingredients - choosing products that contain ingredients that are known to contribute to pore congestion, heavy oils, rich buttery textures, silicones….


Management Techniques:

Diet - switch trans fats to good, healthy fats like fish, avocado, and nut oils. Many derma-experts suggest avoiding dairy as it is a trigger.

Lifestyle - keep stress in check, be aware of environmental stress factors and pollutants that will contribute to skin clarity concerns.  

Product Choice - choose appropriate products and use regularly - avoid comedogenic ingredients.

But, what exactly does the term ‘non-comedogenic’ mean?

Fair to say, the skincare industry is guilty of a number of terms that are intentionally cryptic and often unpoliced in relation to their claim. Do we know fully, as consumers, what that actually means? Can we identify if it’s a fair commercial claim or not for ourselves?

What is a comedone after all? Simply put, it’s a blocked pore. An open comedone is a blackhead and a closed comedone is a whitehead, flesh-toned inflammation is more likely to be acne/pimples.

In order to avoid blocked pores, it is key to cleanse appropriately, regularly apply treatments with decongesting ingredients that will not over stimulate or irritate the acid mantle, to rid the pores of potential build up and hydrate.

Treat. Change scrubs for acid tonics and clay masks - chemical exfoliants that naturally draw out and dissolve impurities and deliver a clarified complexion.

Hydrate. Choose lighter textures, avoid heavy creams to optimize absorption.

Why not give our Purifying Face Cream  and Purifying Face Mask a go if your skin suffers from pollution exposure, if you have an oil prone skin type, or if you’re looking for re-balance and control day to day.

Simple, perfectly harmonized ingredients that will bring skin back to a place of calm and control naturally, effectively and ongoing.