Oily skin is most common in teenagers because of hormonal changes. Many people have a combination skin — oily in certain areas and dry in certain areas. The area with the most sebaceous glands is usually the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin).
People with very oily skin typically have pores that are large in size and clearly visible. The skin, especially on the forehead, nose and chin, has an oily sheen. Blemishes like blackheads, whiteheads and acne occur frequently.
If you cleanse your skin, leave it bare for an hour, and then blot it with a tissue, you will see an oily residue. Skin becomes oily only hours after it has been thoroughly cleansed.
Oily skin is affected by pregnancy, birth control pills, diet and cosmetics.
Oily skin is hard to control because it is mainly the result of genetically determined hormonal changes. The hormones responsible for oily skin are called androgens, present in both men and women.
Pros and cons
Oily skin has its benefits too. It prevents age spots, wrinkles, fine lines and discolouration. Androgens stimulate healthy oil production. While that does benefit your skin, too much oil production is a problem as it makes the pores larger. Excess androgens can also cause the pore lining to thicken, which stops oil from getting out of the pore, and that can result in blackheads and white bumps. Caring for oily skin does not mean trying to dry the skin, because even oily skin may lack moisture.
How to manage it
Reduce oil in your diet: Avoid butter, cheese, high fat dairy products, biscuits, cakes, pastries, chocolates and greasy fast food. A deficiency of vitamin B2 can also lead to oily skin. Eat spinach, wheat germ and chickpeas, or take a B complex supplement containing zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause acne and oily skin.
Drink plenty of fluids: Eight to 10 glasses a day will detoxify your body and maintain your fluid balance by controlling sebum production.
Never sleep with makeup on: You risk clogging your pores and creating a bed for bacterial growth. Your skin needs time to breathe, especially when you are asleep and your body is in repair mode.
Lose weight: This itself will control oiliness. Avoid non-vegetarian food. It tends to be high in fat content and is also difficult to digest — giving rise to an oily skin.
Although there is an association between oily skin and acne, not all people with oily skin develop acne. Eating more fresh vegetables and their juices, passing motions every day and eating 3/4th of your full capacity will go a long way in cleaning up your skin.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre