What Is Sebum and Why Does It Build Up on Skin and Hair

What Is Sebum?

Sebum is a natural oil secreted by the sebaceous glands (the small glands located at the base of your nose). These are located in your skin and hair follicles. They produce a clear liquid that coats your face, neck, chest and even inside some body parts such as the eyes. Some of it comes from sweat while other part comes from bacteria living on or near your skin.

How Do You Get Sebum On Your Face?

You get sebum when you shower. Most likely you have noticed that your face gets oily after washing your face with soap and water. This is because most of the time, you do not wash off all the dirt and dead skin cells which accumulate on your face during daily activities like brushing teeth, shaving, etc. When these cells die they release oils into the air that make our faces feel greasy.

When you wash your face with a facial cleanser, you may notice that the sebum level increases. The reason behind this is that the cleanser removes dead skin cells and oils from your pores and leaves them exposed to air again. So if you want to keep your face feeling fresh, then make sure that you use a good quality facial cleansing product.

How Much Sebum Is Too Much?

It is normal to have some sebum on your face especially if you have a good diet. The right amount of it prevents dryness by keeping your skin from becoming dry and cracked. If your skin becomes dry, then the sebaceous glands produce more oil to keep it moisturized.

Note that there are people who produce too much sebum on their face and this can lead to acne breakouts. This is the reason why it is important to find a facial cleanser that works for you. Most people will tell you to try benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or sulfur.

Sebum And Acne

Acne is a skin condition in which hair follicles and sebaceous glands are blocked or infected by bacteria (usually staphylococcus). The result is blackheads, whiteheads and pimples.

Research has shown that there is a link between sebum and acne. This is the reason why it is important to manage your sebum levels. Sometimes, you may have too much of it and this can lead to breakouts. Other times you may not have enough and this can result in dry skin that is prone to flaking and wrinkling.

Also you should note that sebum production does not stop when you reach adulthood. Some people believe that when you reach a certain age, your body stops producing sebum. This is not true because even though the rate of production may decrease with age, it never stops completely.

Some people have the misconception that sebum causes acne and this is not exactly true. Studies have shown that overproduction of sebum does not necessarily lead to breakouts.

So what causes acne?

Acne is caused by genetics, your diet and stress level. When one or more of these factors are thrown off balance, your skin’s natural bacterial balance is affected. This leads to breakouts in areas where your pores are the deepest like your face, neck and back.

What’s The Best Way To Control Sebum?

The best way to control sebum is to keep your stress low, eat a healthy diet and use the right combination of skin care products. Some people are able to control sebum through exercise. This helps reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Some people have no choice but to use anti-acne pills or lotions. These formulas contain ingredients that fight bacteria and regulate oil production. If you do decide to go this route, be sure to speak to a dermatologist before taking any medication.

Now let’s talk about the different approaches to controlling sebum.

1: Maintaining A Healthy Diet

Your diet has a big impact on your skin’s oil production. For most people, consuming a lot of sugar and carbohydrates results in more oil on the skin’s surface. This is because when you eat a lot of sugary foods, your body breaks it down into simpler forms of sugars called ‘simple carbs’. This causes an insulin spike and this, in turn, tells your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.

Some people also experience problems with oily skin when they eat too much dairy. The reason for this is that some people are lactose intolerant and this causes excess gas which leads to a buildup of pressure inside the body. This pressure is released through the pores resulting in a greasy complexion.

You can solve this problem by taking lactase supplements or eating less dairy on a daily basis. Some people have no problems when eating healthy amounts of dairy but these people are few and far between.

Other foods that can cause your skin to produce more oil are nuts, avocados, sunflower seeds and other oily foods. The only way to determine if a certain food causes breakouts is by doing an experimental diet. Cut out the food in question for at least a month and see if your skin gets better. If it does, then you’ll know that it was most likely a problem food for you.

To avoid breaking out due to your diet, you should limit the amount of sugary foods you consume and avoid eating too many fatty or oily foods. Some people may have no problems with a diet that is rich in fats but most people will experience some breakouts as a result. Even if your diet isn’t causing you to have visible signs of oily skin, it can still be contributing to serious internal health problems in the long run.

2: Regulating Your Stress Levels

Your body releases a hormone called cortisol when you’re stressed out. Cortisol has many functions but one of the most important ones is that it shuts down non-essential systems in your body. This would be a great thing if it wasn’t for the fact that it also shuts down your sebaceous glands which are responsible for producing skin oil.

As a result, people who are under a lot of stress tend to have dry skin. This is especially true for people who worry a lot. The obvious solution to this problem is to find ways to keep your stress levels low. Most people don’t realize just how much stress can impact their skin in a negative way. If you haven’t been keeping track of your stress levels, I highly recommend that you do so.

Some people are able to manage their stress through meditation or yoga. Others find relief in listening to music or spending time with friends and family. Others may turn to vices such as smoking or drinking in order to escape reality. The key is to find a way to keep your stress levels at a manageable level throughout the day.

Related Read: 7 Steps To Manage Stress And Anxiety

3: Using The Right Cleanser

The type of cleanser that you use can make a world of difference in terms of how your skin looks. Using the wrong cleanser can lead to increased oil production and cause breakouts. It can also dry out your skin which, as you now know, can also lead to problems. Your cleanser should be mild and non-drying.

If you’re still having problems with dry skin, you may want to consider using an oil-free moisturizer such as Cetaphil or Cerave. Be sure to avoid products that contain alcohol as this can lead to redness and irritation. Products that contain salicylic acid are good for oily skin but can be a bit harsh for those with dry skin.

If you’re unsure of which cleanser to buy, head over to your local pharmacy (such as Walgreens) and ask one of the pharmacists for some recommendations.

4: Using The Right Toners And Topicals

After you wash your face, you may want to use a toner or astringent in order to remove any traces of dirt or oil that your cleanser may have missed. Using a toner isn’t necessary though so it’s completely up to you whether you want to use one or not.

You should always apply a moisturizer or an acne treatment product (such as benzoyl peroxide) after you wash your face. You shouldn’t apply another cleanser after doing this because you’re just going to end up removing the moisturizer or acne treatment that you applied.

You may want to consider getting an acne treatment product or a moisturizer that contains salicylic acid in order to help treat your acne. This is especially true if you have sensitive skin and cannot use benzoyl peroxide.

5: Avoid Touching Your Face

This piece of advice can be applied to everyone, not just those with skin problems. No one really knows why we humans touch our faces but it seems to be a habit for most people. This habit can lead to more acne and cause your skin to look worse.

When you touch your face, you’re bringing all sorts of bacteria from your hands to your face. Some of these types of bacteria can lead to pimples and blackheads. It’s also just an unhygienic practice that can lead to the spread of all sorts of nastiness on your face.

If you catch yourself touching your face a lot, try to get in the habit of keeping your hands out of the way by putting them in your pockets or behind your back. It can take some time to form this habit but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

6: Exfoliating Your Face

A lot of people believe that “exfoliating” (or scrubbing) their face on a regular basis is the best way to get rid of acne. While exfoliating your face won’t necessarily hurt and can help unclog pores, it’s not really a cure-all solution to your problem.

In fact, for some people, exfoliating their face too much can lead to increased oil production and cause more breakouts. It can also end up damaging your skin which can result in the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish (i.e increased sensitivity, dryness, etc).

If you’re going to exfoliate, do it no more than once a week at most. If you’re still getting breakouts then don’t exfoliate at all and see if that helps.

7: Avoid Tight Clothing

If you wear any article of clothing that’s too tight (like a pair of spandex), it can cause discomfort and even lead to breakouts. This is especially true if the clothing is made of synthetic material. (Synthetic materials like spandex can also cause irritation and rashes if you wear them for too long).

Clothing that is too tight can also contribute to acne because it can cause your skin to get irritated. Irritated skin can lead to blocked pores, which can eventually lead to breakouts.

8: Use A Mattress That Doesn’t Irritate Your Skin

If you’re in the habit of sleeping on your stomach, you may want to consider switching to another position. The reason for this is because when you sleep on your stomach, the weight of your body is concentrated on a smaller area. This can cause your skin to stretch in certain places and even cause breakouts.

If you sleep on your stomach, try sleeping on your side instead. Not only does sleeping on your side prevent acne, it’s also a healthier position to sleep in.

9: Use Cleansing Towelettes

These are probably one of the handiest ways to clean your face. These pre-moistened wipes are great for cleansing your face anywhere at any time. They can be found just about anywhere like supermarkets, convenience stores, and discount stores.

Just be sure to check the ingredients before you buy them. The cheaper ones tend to contain more chemicals so you may want to spring for the more expensive brand even if it costs more.

10: Use A Humidifier

Using a humidifier in dry weather can improve your skin’s ability to retain moisture and keep it from drying out. Dry skin can lead to all sorts of problems like itching, flaking and even cracking.

For those reasons, you should use a humidifier all year round. If you don’t have the money to buy a humidifier, you can always make your own. Just boil a pot of water, let it cool down, and put it in a container. Put a dish underneath to catch the overflowing water (make sure it’s on a flat surface).

Other Ways To Prevent Acne

Besides these ten ways, you can also try the following tips to help prevent acne:

1. Don’t shower or swim for at least two hours before you plan on going to bed.

2. If you have to shower in the morning, use warm — not hot — water.

3. Make sure you remove your makeup before going to bed.

Even if it’s just eye makeup, you should still take it all off. Remember that dirt and oil clog your pores so you need to get all of it off of your face before going to sleep.

4. If you’re really concerned about breakouts, you can always use a washcloth and some cleanser when you’re done showering.

5. After you remove your makeup, use a toner or astringent to remove any leftover residue.

Make sure not to get any of it in your eyes though!

6. Try not to lay down on any oily surfaces as this will just transfer the dirt and oil straight onto your face.

7. Whenever you’re done with your make up, wash the brushes you’ve been using to apply it.

This lessens the amount of bacteria that can build up and will keep your pores from getting clogged as quickly.

8. Whenever you take a shower or bath, use some exfoliating gloves to remove dead skin and unclog your pores.

You should only do this 1-2 times a week.

9. Before going to bed, wash your face with warm water.

You can splash it with cold water to close the pores but don’t keep them open too long.

10. If you’re a guy, avoid shaving right before bed as this can also clog your pores and cause acne.

Acne can be a real pain but by using these tips and suggestions you can prevent future breakouts.

Acne photo available from Shutterstock.

How To Get Rid Of Acne Fast

As a teenager, nothing is worse than waking up with a pimple on that special day or having it ruin your perfect attendance at school. While some people are lucky enough to never have to deal with acne, others aren’t as fortunate. If you happen to be one of the many who struggle with acne and want to know how to get rid of acne fast, there are some steps you can take.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to start monitoring what you eat. You may think that you keep your diet in check but you’d be surprised at the foods that can lead to acne. Anything with high levels of sugar can cause breakouts so it’s best that you limit the amount of soda you drink and candy you eat. Fast food is also known to cause acne so you’ll want to stay away from that as well.

Second of all, you’ll want to pay attention to your personal hygiene. As much as we all like to pretend we have a good sense of personal hygiene, the truth is most people don’t. This can lead to clogged pores which can cause acne. If you’re one of these people who doesn’t take showers on a regular basis or doesn’t like to wash their face then you NEED to start doing it on a regular basis. Keeping on top of your hygiene can help prevent acne from occurring.

Third, you’ll want to start washing your face on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to use a mild acne wash. Acne washes are great as they not only get rid of bacteria and dirt that build up on your face but also prevent future breakouts from occurring. You can get these at most local drug stores and they’re relatively inexpensive. You can also try making your own wash by combining common household products like tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and dishwashing liquid.

Fourth, you’ll want to start using a moisturizer on a daily basis. This helps prevent future breakouts from occurring as it keeps your skin from drying out. You can also use a moisturizer that contains salicylic acid as this helps to get rid of dead cells and unclog pores.

Finally, you’ll want to keep your hands off your face. This may be a no brainer for most people but it’s surprising how many people still do this. Anytime you touch your face you increase the chance of spreading bacteria and clogging up your pores. It’s best that you avoid doing this whenever possible.

While these steps may not get rid of acne immediately, they will limit the chances of getting more pimples in the future.

Acne No More Review

Acne No More

Acne is perhaps one of the most common skin conditions known. It affects people all around the world and can occur at any age, although it mostly occurs in puberty when people are going through hormonal changes.

If you’re living with acne right now, you are definitely not alone. In fact there are about 65 million people living in the United States who are suffering from acne. That’s right, more than 1/10 people living in the US are currently suffering from this condition at this exact moment. And even more alarming is that the number of people suffering from acne is increasing by 4 million each year.

What’s perhaps even more disturbing is that nearly 10% of these people have severe acne that leaves permanent scars on their face. Even worse, the number of those with severe acne is also increasing by 4% each year.

So what exactly is acne and what causes it?

Acne (or pimples) are caused by trapped dirt, dead skin cells, and oil underneath the skin. This buildup causes the pores to get clogged which then leads to infected pimples.

There are several factors that can trigger your chances of getting acne. Your genes are one factor, you can also develop acne if you eat a poor diet, or have a weakened immune system. If you have oily skin, or you use a lot of electronic devices like computers, playing video games, or watching TV for long periods of time. And finally stress is also a major factor that can trigger the occurrence of acne.

If you want to get rid of your acne, you’re going to have to make some lifestyle changes and follow an effective treatment routine. Although there is no magic cure that will make your acne go away overnight, there are still a few things you can do to fight your acne and get rid of it as quickly as possible.

The first step in your treatment is to make some lifestyle changes. Stop touching your face as often as possible as this will only make your acne worse. Be sure to wash your hands frequently and always remember to wash them before you eat.

Also try your best to maintain a stress free lifestyle. Although this is easier said than done, even small amounts of stress can trigger the occurrence of acne so it’s important that you do everything that you can to keep your stress levels low.

If you’re living with a person who is causing you psychological stress, you may also want to consider moving out, as this will be good for your mental health and it will also help with your acne.

Once you have changed your diet and removed yourself from any sources of psychological stress, you’ll want to start treatment routine designed for battling acne. In order for this treatment routine to be as effective as possible, you need to follow all steps each day without missing a single one.

Your treatment routine will include the following steps:

Wash your Face

You should wash your face twice a day. In the morning, use warm water and soap to lightly rub your face for about a minute. At night, use warm water and soap to thoroughly clean your face for at least two minutes. Remember to always use your fingers for washing and not a cloth so that you don’t aggravate your skin further.

Use a Toner

After you wash your face, using a toner is the next step in your treatment routine. Toners are specifically designed to tighten your skin and reduce the chances of clogged pores. After you wash and dry your face, use a cotton ball or pad to apply it evenly across your face. Wait for it to dry before applying the rest of your regimen.

Exfoliate your Face

If you want to get rid of your acne quickly, exfoliating your face two to three times a week can make all the difference. It helps remove dead skin cells that will clog your pores and cause acne. Be sure not to scrub too hard as this can lead to broken blood vessels and injuries to your face. Use a exfoliating mitt in small circular motions until you see the dead skin cells come off.

Treat your Acne with Benzoyl Peroxide

Acne can often be the result of clogged pores, so if a toner doesn’t work for you, you may want to consider using benzoyl peroxide to unclog your pores. Many dermatologists agree that it is the best way to make acute acne disappear quickly. It works by getting rid of the “insiders” and the “outsiders”.

Sources & references used in this article:

Use and properties of perfluoropolymethyl‐isopropylethers in skin and hair cleaning; system stabilization and interference with sebum redistribution on skin and hair by L Rigano, S Savonelli… – International journal of …, 1989 – Wiley Online Library

‘Bad hair days’, scalp sebum excretion and the menstrual cycle by MP Birch, A Messenger – Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 2003 – Wiley Online Library

A non-endocrine control of sebum secretion by A Archibald, S Shuster – Archiv für dermatologische Forschung, 1973 – Springer

Selective removal of sebum components from hair by surfactants by J Clarke, CR Robbins, B Schroff – J Soc Cosmet Chem, 1989 – Citeseer

Baseline sebum IL‐1α is higher than expected in afro‐textured hair: a risk factor for hair loss? by RA Beach, KA Wilkinson, F Gumedze… – Journal of cosmetic …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library

Pharmacokinetic profile of orally administered itraconazole in human skin by G Cauwenbergh, H Degreef, J Heykants… – Journal of the American …, 1988 – Elsevier