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Updated: June 14, 2012 16:42 IST

Oily woes

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Woes of summer. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
The Hindu
Woes of summer. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Shibani Vasundaran tells you how to remove the excess oil from your face this summer...

Summer throws up a lot of skin problems; the most common being sun burn, oily skin and acne. Even the most well behaved skin can break out during summer due to the extreme heat and the skin tends to become excessively oily.

Those who have oily skin experience acute oiliness on the forehead and the upper lip because most sebaceous glands are found in these areas. These sebaceous glands produce a skin lubricant called sebum.

An over-active sebaceous glands producing excessive sebum makes the skin heavy and thick in texture. The oil helps to keep needed moisture locked into the epidermis (outermost layer of skin). Oily skin is typified by shine, blemishes and pimples.

The negative aspect of the oily-skin type is that it is especially susceptible to clogged pores, blackheads, and build up of dead skin cells on the skin surface. Oily skin can be sallow and tends to have large, clearly visible pores everywhere, except around the eyes and neck.

Choose right

The goal of treating oily skin is to remove excess surface sebum without completely removing skin lipids. Severe degreasing treatment can foster an actual worsening of sebum secretion, which defeats the aim of cleansing.

One method of cleansing oily skin is to use a natural face cleanser formulated especially for the skin type. The cleanser's pH should be 4.5 - 5.5, since the skin's pH value is approximately 5.4. Gel cleansers work best on oily skin.

Products for oily skin should contain very little natural oils. They should not contain waxes or other synthetic lipid agents that could aggravate the condition. A toning lotion should also be natural and have a pH of 4.5-5.5 and formulated especially to help balance and hydrate oily skin. Some cleansing products have lower concentrations of hydroxy acids, which remove dead cells from the upper levels of the stratum corneum. Those products should be used on a regular basis to work adequately

What causes oily skin?

Sebum [oil] production is controlled by androgen hormones. Oils help lubricate skin, protecting it from environmental assaults (such as extreme weather conditions). Excess androgen hormones (due to puberty, monthly cycles or menopause) trigger an overproduction of oil, creating a shiny appearance.

How does oily skin contribute to acne?

When sebaceous glands produce too much oil, it spills onto the skin's surface, creating a slick, greasy appearance. This excess acts as a binder, holding on to dead skin cells that were meant to be shed. The follicle becomes clogged with a mixture of oil and dead cells, preventing oxygen from entering. This creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which leads to swelling, redness and inflammation around the follicle, resulting in acne.

Importance of exfoliation

The shedding of dry, old, hardened skin cells is called exfoliation; the body does it naturally so new cells can come to the surface. Exfoliation is especially helpful to those with oily skin. In addition to smoothing, improving skin tone and enhancing the skin's receptiveness of oil-controlling ingredients, exfoliation helps rid oily skin of dulling skin cells to help keep skin clear.

A professional skin therapist may recommend exfoliating with physical scrubs or chemical exfoliants, or both to deliver the desired result, can advise you on how often to exfoliate, and how to successfully incorporate exfoliation into your regimen.

Control the shine:

Make a few adjustments to your skin care routine to help control oil production from morning until night.

Use a clay-based cleanser to help mop up oil on the surface.

Once or twice a week, apply a clay-based mask to help control sebaceous gland secretions and clean out pores.

Exfoliation can help control oil production, improve skin texture, and help prevent clogged pores that lead to breakouts. It also helps prep the skin for maximum treatment from oil-controlling ingredients.

The author is Director, Anushka Salon and Spa.

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