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Greasy Skin

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Faculty of Medical, Clinical and Veterinary Sciences

Skin Problems

Human Skin | Dry Skin | Psoriasis | Eczema | Greasy Skin | Dandruff | Acne | Rosacea | Seborrheic Dermatitis | Skin Cancer | Non-melanoma Skin Cancer | Melanoma | Hereditary Skin Cancer | Sensible sun exposure

To provide an effective waterproof barrier, the skin naturally produces oils (sebum) to keep it in good condition. Sometimes though, the control for oil production can go awry and leave the skin excessively greasy, causing the skin to look shiny, often resulting in outbreaks of spots or blackheads, open pores and acne.

Having greasy skin is often associated with teenagers, the hormone rush during puberty stimulates the sebaceous glands which then produce more oil. But the problem isn't confined to that one age group - the hormone ups and downs of pregnancy can change a woman's skin type quite drastically, and some people simply are more inclined to have greasy skin no thanks to their genes.

It's not much consolation that oilier skins don't show their age nearly as badly. There isn't much that can be done to cure the problem, but its effects can be controlled and minimised.

The most important thing is to keep the skin clean and unclogged. A good diet will help the general condition of the skin, but chocolate and chips will not make it any worse. Drinking plenty of water will also help.

Using a clay mask on a regular basis helps to draw the dirt from the pores. Be prepared for a period of more spots than usual for a few weeks, as the gunk rises to the surface.

Exfoliating removes some dead surface skin cells, which helps pores stay clear. There are physical exfoliaters - either ones with grains in them or rough sponges used with a cleanser (avoid the really rough ones, and don't try to sand your face off when you use them). There are also chemical exfoliaters - hydroxy, fruit acid, glycolic products - which loosen the dead skin cells. Stronger is not always better - a milder version that doesn't irritate the skin and can be applied daily should help more.

Don't fall into the trap of overdrying the skin. The skin can overreact to harsh cleansers and toners1 by producing even more oil to counteract the dryness...

There are many different brands of make-up on the market particularly suited to oily skin. Some will help control shine, some will help minimise the appearance of open pores, but the most important thing about any of them is that they should be removed completely at night2.

Tea tree oil-based products are very popular - the natural antiseptic properties help to kill the bacteria that causes spots. As one Researcher has found:

A mixture of tea-tree and lavender oil can dry out a spot in a matter of hours. The smell is a little strong - as anyone who uses tea-tree oil can tell you - but, I will never go back to over-the-counter stuff. This mixture clears up those stubborn breakouts that always happen in the same area on your face, and it's all natural. Plus, a little bottle lasts forever.
1Regular soap and anything with alcohol in it should be avoided.2Only glamorous soap stars can pull off the trick of waking up with perfect makeup anyway, any other mere mortal will simply look like they've gone ten rounds with Frank Bruno.

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