An introduction to oily skin
At some point in your life, most of us will experience a bout of oily skin. Although it is a skin problem that is more attributed to adolescence, brought on by hormonal fluctuations, oily skin can still persist into adulthood.
The issue starts with the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum oil, helping to keep your skin lubricated and hydrated. However, episodes of oily skin can occur when these glands start to produce excessive amounts of sebum oil, which can then merge with dead skin cells to clog your pores and make you more susceptible to spots, blackheads and other blemishes.
The only good news for oily skin sufferers is that they are less likely to experience dry skin as they age, which can be a real problem when you grow older as your production of sebum oil can also slow down, making you more vulnerable to premature ageing, fine lines and irritation.
The symptoms of oily skin
The symptoms of oily skin are well-known and documented so it’s unlikely you’ll see any symptoms on this list that you have not already heard about or experienced.
However, as I shall elaborate, more serious symptoms should always be raised with your local GP or doctor, especially if the symptoms are recurring or show no signs of improvement.
- Larger pores
- Shinier skin
As I’ve mentioned these are just a few of the milder symptoms. If you do notice that any excessive redness or scaly patches it is important that you speak to your doctor. It may be that you are suffering from a bout of acne but it’s also possible that you could be experiencing Seborrhoeic eczema.
The causes of oily skin
So what can cause your sebaceous glands to start producing more oil? Well, unfortunately, a number of factors can influence a bout of oily skin, some of which directly relate to your diet and lifestyle, whilst others may be outside of your control. As always, though, it’s useful to identify any triggers so you have the best chance of possibly predicting when an outbreak will occur or what you can do to treat it.
Genetics: I’ll start first with the trigger that is completely beyond your control – your genes. Unfortunately, it’s possible that you may simply have inherited your oily skin from your parents and naturally have larger sebaceous glands which are capable of producing more oil. This is perhaps the most frustrating cause on this list as none of us can change our DNA, but the good news is that it is still possible to manage oily skin with lifestyle, diet and herbal remedies.
Hormones: There’s a reason that oily skin first starts appearing during puberty and it’s all to do with your hormones. Let’s start with androgens, male sex hormones that exist in both men and women. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), is a type of androgen which can stimulate your sebaceous glands, inspiring them to release more sebum oil. Unfortunately, as I’ve already mentioned, your levels of DHT can be dependent on your genes, but your levels of androgens can also be influenced by hormonal fluctuations around your menstrual cycle, including your period, menopause and pregnancy.
Stress: Stress can have a huge impact on your body and your skin is definitely no exception. When you experience stress, your nervous system will immediately be launched into ‘fight or flight’ mode and your levels of hormones such as cortisol will increase. Cortisol can increase your production of sebum oil so if you are going through a stressful period, you may experience a bout of oily skin. Stress can also weaken your skin’s protective barrier and impair its ability to retain moisture, making you more exposed to pathogens and bacteria.
Poor diet: ‘You are what you eat’ isn’t just a saying, it’s very much a fact. Certain foods such as dairy products, refined carbohydrates and sugar can affect your blood sugar levels, which will have a knock on effect on your production of sebum oil and even your hormones. Fortunately, changing your diet can be a very effective way of managing your symptoms and there are foods out there that may help.
Cosmetics: How you look after your skin can affect your oily skin symptoms and what cosmetics you use can have a big impact. Ingredients such as mineral oil, paraffin, lanolin and artificial fragrances can exacerbate your symptoms and irritate your skin, resulting in an outbreak of spots. It’s always best to cleanse you face regularly with natural, organic skincare products and to use light layers of make-up to avoid clogging your pores.
Oily skin treatments
Can oily skin be cured? It can certainly be regulated and there are steps you can take to reduce your symptoms so it might be best to start there before looking for an outright cure. Even if you are genetically predisposed to oily skin, there is still plenty you can do, such as lowering your stress levels and altering your diet.
These small steps can lead to big results for your skin so I wouldn’t underestimate them. As I shall explore in my treatments page, there’s also a lot to be said for traditional home remedies and changing your cosmetics too! But what about herbal remedies?
While we do offer remedies that can help to support your digestive system and liver, which by extension can have positive repercussions for your skin, we would recommend our Echinacea Cream in instances of oily skin. Prepared using organically cultivated extracts of Echinacea, traditionally used to support your immune system, this cream is ideal as an everyday moisturiser and can help to support spot-prone skin, keeping blemishes at bay.