THE IMPORTANCE OF SEBUM & WHY YOU NEED IT

What is sebum and why should it matter to you?


If you have ever suffered from oily skin, breakouts, acne, or all of the above, you may have found yourself googling causes of these issues. Found yourself down a bit of an internet black hole? We hear you!

There is a lot of confusing information out there, as it affects a vast majority of people at some point in their lives, so we want to clear up any uncertainty about one of the most common factors in this issue: sebum.

Sebum is an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. It coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin. It’s also the main ingredient in your body’s natural oils.

So, what exactly is sebum made up of? Sebum is a complex mixture of fatty acids, sugars, waxes, and other natural chemicals that form a protective barrier against water evaporation.

Sounds important, right? And we do need it!
But the downside?

Many of us have over-excited sebaceous glands, which produce excessive amounts of sebum, leading to overly-oily skin.

Causes of excessive sebum

This can be due to a range of factors, such as:

  • Incorrect skincare - Harsh chemicals in your cleanser, toner, moisturizer and so on, can lead to overproduction of sebum as these will strip away these natural oils and trigger your glands to produce more.
  • Genetics - meaning your parents can pass down oily skin to you.
  • Hormones (aka puberty - fun fact: sebum production during puberty can increase up to x500!), age - sebum production will decline as you age.
  • Gender - Males tend to have higher levels of sebum than females.
  • Your environment - living in a hotter, more humid environment can lead to more oily skin  

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What happens when you have too much sebum?


The main problem with an over production of sebum is breakouts, acne and just too-shiny skin! There is a proven correlation with excess sebum and presence and severity of breakouts. Sebum can cause plugs in your pores, as dead skin cells, bacteria and dirt build up on your skin, sticks together with the excess sebum and block your pores from the outside, and sebum continues to rise underneath. From there, acne bacteria thrives in the airless conditions, feeds on the trapped oils and creates, you probably guessed it, a pimple. Or ten.

So we can all agree that breakouts, acne and oily skin are not ok.

But we still need to understand just how good sebum is for your skins health, and why we just need to help balance it.

Sebum and the acid mantle

Sebum plays a very important role in maintaining your acid mantle.

But what is the acid mantle?

This is the thin film on the skin’s surface that helps act as a barrier against bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants. It also holds in moisture and liquid, retaining the skin’s hydration levels. The acid mantle is actually made up of sebum. When the acid mantle is mixed with amino acids from sweat, this creates our skin’s happy pH level. What happens when you strip away all sebum and essentially, your acid mantle, with harsh skincare? Nothing good!

Signs of a disrupted acid mantle:

  • Dryness/flaking
  • Redness/inflammation
  • Sensitivity
  • Clogged pores/blackheads
  • Acne/breakouts

Read more about the acid mantle here.

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How do I maintain my acid mantle, but avoid oily skin?


Finding balance can be tough, but fortunately, science comes to the rescue!

This is why we opt for oil cleansing. Oil cleansing breaks down EXCESS oil, but does not completely strip away all the natural oils on the skin, as a harsh cleanser does. The oil that makes up the acid mantle is therefore still able to do its job and protect your skin! Coming back to basic science, it can be boiled down to: Like dissolves like. Oil dissolves oil. Make sense?

So by using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals that heal, protect and nourish your skin. All this while maintaining the natural pH levels of your skin, and keeping your acid mantle intact and working.

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