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How To Achieve Balanced Skin – Whatever Your Skin Type

How To Achieve Balanced Skin – Whatever Your Skin Type

Whether your skin is too oily or too dry, balancing your sebum is a major step towards healthier skin.

Sebum can be a real headache. Some of you might have too much of it, making your skin oily and annoyingly shiny. The rest of you might not have enough, causing your skin to be dry and maybe even a bit itchy. If only we could all have exactly the right amount to make our skin seem, well, normal.

Ha, normal. If only that were so easy. While normal skin is a type, just as much as dry, oily and combination, we’re not convinced that many people are actually blessed with normal skin. Know someone? Then lucky you/them.

For the rest of us, our skin type is all down to how much sebum is produced at a cellular level. Oily skin produces excessive amounts which can cause blocked pores, breakouts and excess shine; combination skin has too much in some areas and not enough in others resulting in potential pimples in the T-zone and dryness elsewhere (the worst of both worlds, some might say); while dry skin doesn’t produce enough sebum, making it sensitive, itchy, flaky and tight.

The truth is, you can’t change the skin type you were born with – because, genes – however, your sebum levels can be controlled (to a degree) by smart lifestyle habits and a good skincare routine.

So let’s delve deeper into the world of sebum, shall we?

What Is Sebum?

Sebum is a slightly yellow, clear, oily lipid that’s produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin’s dermis – the layer underneath the epidermis. Sebum is composed mostly of fatty acids, squalene, wax esters, glycerol and cholesterol and it reaches the surface of your skin via hair follicles. This is why most of it is concentrated on your face, scalp and genital area. The only area of your skin where you won’t find sebum to some degree? On the palms of your hands and soles of your feet because, surprise surprise, these are the only parts of your body that don’t have hair.

Why Sebum Is So Important For Healthy Skin

Although sebum can be super annoying because it rarely behaves itself, it’s actually extremely important in maintaining happy, healthy skin. Not only does it keep your skin lubricated and moisturized by sealing in hydration and preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL) but another important function is to help protect your skin from UV damage. It does this by transporting antioxidants to the surface of your skin. Smart stuff, right? Sebum also keeps your skin’s pH level in check and has antibacterial qualities which is extremely important for fighting infection and reducing inflammation.

5 Tricks For Regulating Your Sebum Levels

The amount of sebum your skin produces is mainly influenced by genetics. However, your age, hormones, skincare regime, diet, stress levels and the climate in which you live all play an important role in helping to maintain balance. So, while you can’t change your genes or stop Father Time, there are many other ways to take charge. Read on for four of the most effective ones…

1. Cleanse Regularly, But Gently

Start off right with an effective cleansing routine and your levels of sebum stand a much better chance of being balanced and more controlled.

But what is the right cleansing routine? Well, your choice of formulation depends on your skin type. But whether you go for a lightweight gel or a rich, creamy lotion like our new Soothing Cleansing Milk, know that the kinder your cleanser is to your skin, the better this will be for your sebaceous glands. It’s tempting to go for a super astringent product to reduce excess oil, for example, but anything that’s too drying will cause your sebaceous glands to go into overdrive, thus making your skin even oilier in the long run.

Cleanse twice daily, for sure, but keep your products free of synthetic fragrance, harsh preservatives and strong detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate. Your sebum levels will really thank you for it.

2. Choose The Right Moisturizer

Hydrating your skin with serums that contain water magnets like glycerin and hyaluronic acid is vital because these draw water to the skin’s surface and help to reduce dehydration. However, to truly help balance sebum, your choice of moisturizer is far more important.

If your skin is lacking in sebum, your job is to help prevent further dryness by embracing rich moisturizers that contain occlusive ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter and botanical oils. These help create a seal over the skin’s surface to stop moisture from escaping. Oh, and we love Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer in case you were wondering.

On the other hand, skin that has sebum coming out of its ears (not literally, of course!) should avoid heavy oils and butters because they can block the pores and encourage breakouts. Instead, you want to stick with emollient ingredients like vitamin E that help smooth the skin and regulate hyperactive sebaceous glands.

3. Eat Right

Eating a balanced diet isn’t just about keeping your weight in check and your health at an optimum. It can also have profound effects on your skin. Certain studies show that foods high in sugar or refined carbs, for example, accelerate a hormone called IGF-1 whose role it is to promote growth and yes, you’ve guessed it, stimulate sebum production. Similarly, trans fats have been linked to inflammation in the skin, which also overstimulates the sebaceous glands and results in excess oil.

Healthy fats, on the other hand, like omega-3s found in nuts, seeds, oily fish and avocados, are awesome for helping to regulate sebum production while improving the fatty acid composition in your skin and strengthening your skin’s barrier function.

Whatever your skin type, its best to limit your intake of sugar, processed carbs and nasty old trans fats, while upping your fill of omega-3s and brightly colored fruit and veggies which are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for all-round healthier skin.

4. Be More Zen

Stress. Even the sound of that word can increase your levels of emotional anxiety. And it’s true that chronic levels of stress play havoc with your hormones. But how do hormones affect the skin specifically? When your stress levels are high your body produces more adrenaline and cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone). Cortisol is well-known for screwing up your skin’s barrier function, thus causing inflammation and really messing with sebum production.

The killer blow is that this can go one of two ways. If your skin is dry in the first place, it’ll probably get even drier. Whereas if you have oily skin, this depletion of natural oils on the surface of your skin will stimulate your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil. Can’t. Win.

We get that reducing stress is easier said than done, but try introducing a little me-time into your daily schedule to address your emotional anxieties and take five. Go for a walk, do some yoga, even just read a book for 15 minutes. It’s amazing how concentrating on you for a moment can help ease your mind.

Oh, and make sure to get plenty of sleep. We can’t stress that enough. No pun intended.

More About This Article

Georgia Gould

Georgia Gould

Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.