When it comes to your skin, there’s a not-so-fine line between a healthy, radiant, glowing look, and a shiny, oily sheen.
It can feel frustrating trying to find that elusive, healthy balance that sits between a dry, dull epidermis and the kind of shine that makes you want to reach for another scrub.
Oily skin is a frustrating problem, but medically it can be the symptom of a few different (and even opposite) problems.
If you have excessively oily skin or acne, there’s definitely an imbalance that needs to be addressed, but to understand what the imbalance is (and how to fight it), first you need to understand why your skin has any oil in the first place.
The Role of Oil on and in Your Skin
Oil, sebum, lipids — they’re all names for an often misunderstood part of your everyday skin health. Oil is an important product in the upkeep of your healthy skin.
Your pores produce oil, or sebum, through the sebaceous gland. That gland is there in the first place to produce oil, which can help your body wick away dead skin cells. And when everything is working correctly, it keeps the dead skin from accumulating and helps your overall skin look healthy and glowing.
But things go awry, and when part of the process gets out of balance, oil production can go out of whack. Suddenly, your pores are overflowing with an oily buildup — one of the common ways acne bacteria can prosper and form pimples and lead to a breakout.
The Not-So-Simple Oily Skin Problem
It may seem counterintuitive, but your oily skin may not be so easily solved by, well, drying it off.
Oily skin suggests an imbalance in the natural processes carried out by your skin, namely the dislodging of dead skin cells and the healthy regrowth of new layers.
But increased sebum production and excess sebum can be caused by a lot of things, from closed and unclean pores, to overly dry skin, to vitamin and protein deficiencies and even imbalances of a hormone like androgen. There’s really no one source — and it’s not so simple as scrubbing harder, or cutting greasy foods out of your diet.
It would make sense then that the remedy isn’t just to dry the skin out further, but to treat the cause of the excess oil. That way you can return to a balanced, healthy look with...