What is Oily Skin?

A film of oil particularly along the forehead, nose, and cheeks (T-Zone) is an indication of oily skin. Of course, other areas of the skin can also be oily, but the T-zone tends to be the oiliest. In addition to looking shiny, oily skin also looks dull and the pores in the T-Zone look enlarged. Oily skin is caused by the over-activity of the sebaceous glands: Oil producing glands of the skin.

Sebaceous glands open into the hair follicles and produce a natural oily substance called sebum, which in normal levels, helps to keep skin supple and radiant. Over-production of sebum causes the skin to become too oily. This excess oil can get trapped in the follicles and harden. This is called a comedone. In common language, comedones are also called blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads look black because the outer portion of the oil clogging the pores gets exposed to oxygen, which turns it black. Whiteheads, however, are covered with a thin layer of skin. They look pearly white. When comedones get infected by bacteria they turn into red, pus-filled acne or pimples.

Oily skin tends to age slowly in comparison to dry skin. This is because of the presence of excess oil that helps the skin to be more elastic and less prone to wrinkles. A quick test to determine whether your skin is oily, is pressing a tissue against your nose, and holding it in front of a light bulb. If the tissue looks transparent, then your skin type is oily.

The biggest issue related to oily skin is acne. An ideal skin care routine aims to balance the skin’s sebum production while naturally disinfecting the skin so the acne causing bacteria don’t have a chance to grow and multiply. Unfortunately, skin care products crowding the market do just the opposite. A quick fix is to use harsh antibacterial ingredients that over-dry the skin. That degree of dryness challenges the skin, and the sebaceous glands mount a defense by quickly producing large amounts of sebum. As is clear, this worsens the situation by creating a cycle of excess oil, clogged pores, congestion, and acne.

More than any other skin type, oily/acne-prone skin must be cared for with great caution and discretion. Use products based on natural ingredients that are time-tested to heal and balance the skin. If the goal is to have balanced and healthy skin, falling for yet another harsh-chemical-based, anti-acne line may not even be an option.