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What is Oily Skin?

The skin has glands called sebaceous glands. These glands have cells called sebocytes which work mainly to produce sebum (oil). Sebum is what we see as oil on our skin. It consists of different lipids, waxes, fatty acids, cholesterol and other products. Sebum can also be produced by cells found in our skin called keratinocytes . Overproduction of sebum is associated with hormones, age, gender and temperature.

Although oily skin can be a nuisance it has an important role in protecting our skin. 

Oily skin is often associated with acne vulgaris and enlarged pores. 

The benefits of Sebum
  • Sebum provides the skin with a barrier which reduces water loss. By reducing water loss sebum keeps the skin hydrated. It therefore, has a natural moisturizing property, moisturising our hair and body. It reduces wrinkles and prevents our skin from being dry. It also provides a barrier against microorganisms and stops toxic products crossing the skins barrier.  
  • Sebum contains a compound called squalene. Squalene protects the skin against sunburn and ultraviolet radiation.
  • Sebum contains and delivers Vitamin E to the skins' surface. Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant which  protects the skin from sun damage and free radicals.
  • The fatty acids and the cholesterol found in sebum maintain and repair damage to the skin's barrier.

  • Sakuma, T. H., & Maibach, H. I. (2012). Oily skin: An overview. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 25(5), 227. doi:10.1159/000338978

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