Oil Overdrive: Look Within to Battle Acne


Clients with oily skin battle a number of skin issues on a daily basis. The struggle of continuous shine, greasy skin and oil build-up is a constant fight for oily skin types, but we can help as their skin care professionals.

Excess oil production and shine are obvious issues, but these clients often battle breakouts, enlarged pores and acne scars. Acne is aggravated by internal and external factors; therefore, professionals should consider looking deeper than the surface to get things under control. We should look into other situations that cause glands to go into overdrive and increase the chance of occasional breakouts.

Sebum and Acne

When the sebaceous glands are overactive, the skin produces too much sebum (oil), which not only makes it oily and shiny, but can also clog the pores and result in bumps and even acne. If left untreated, overactive oils weaken the skin and make it vulnerable to harmful bacteria. Environmental pollutants, dirt and debris stick to the surface of the skin and can get trapped by oil in the pores to cause blackheads. The skin’s defense is compromised, making it difficult to reject infectious bacteria that can cause cystic acne.

Constant blotting and wiping can be a nuisance to remove oil. While it can make skin temporarily less oily, it’s not enough to prevent acne. Oily skin is not to be taken lightly. Disregarding the build-up of oils can cause skin congestion for those suffering from excessive oil production. Acne develops when sebaceous glands mix with dead skin cells and dirt to suffocate the pores, causing infectious bacteria to thrive.

Men Vs. Women

Both men and women with oily skin are tasked with managing the production of sebum. Although some women are faced with oily skin, a large majority of men have it too. Because men are more likely to have oily skin, their attempts to control the oils are more aggressive than women. Due to their thicker skin, excessive sebum production, heightened hormones and day-to-day grooming regimen, men are subject to clogged pores, blackheads and acne. Men’s daily shaving routines strip their skin regularly of natural oils, making their skin produce more oil.


During early years, young boys and girls face skin issues due to the hormonal imbalances caused by puberty. Both males and females have increased male hormones called androgens during puberty to signal the oil glands to mature. Over-production of sebum may hit both boys and girls in those teenage years, commonly appearing in the T-zone area, nose, forehead and chin. Androgens usually subside after puberty, but it can persist into adulthood.

When men get older, not much changes with their skin. Yet, the traits of oily skin go far beyond puberty. An excess growth and activity of the hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is responsible for triggering sebaceous glands to produce sebum. In the past, acne was mostly seen in teenage boys and girls; however, a shocking number of adults are being diagnosed with acne.

Clinical studies reveal that more than 45% of adults over age 20 are diagnosed with oily skin. In addition, more than 54% of women have facial acne, according to The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.


When the body is under emotional stress, it produces an overabundance of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Stress also stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Suggesting ways to manage stress will help clients minimize their chances of oily skin, breakouts and acne.


Our lives are overbooked, forcing most of us to eat on the go. However, the convenience of unhealthy foods is causing an epidemic of adult acne among men and women. Diet has been linked to stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. A balanced diet filled with healthy choices and rich in antioxidants can help balance the skin.

There are many factors that contribute to the overflow of sebum; however, keeping things under control is simple. As we know, water is essential to life. Drinking plenty of water assists the organs to flush out impurities and toxins while renewing cells. Water keeps the skin hydrated and the body lubricated to help keep the skin healthy. In addition to water, eating fruits and vegetables that have a high content of water not only is a great source of nutrients but also balances the skin to fight against free radicals that cause skin problems.


Although there is no way to stop sebum production, the amount of sebum can be reduced. Although the temporary solution of reducing the production of oil helps, it shouldn’t be the solution for managing oils. Professionals should advise clients with oily skin of the pros and cons of having oily skin and offer treatments and products that cater to oilier skin types.

Over-drying the skin seems to be a great relief, but it actually sends a direct signal that the sebaceous glands produce more oil. Using alcohol-based products and harsh chemicals to dry the skin can be a temporary solution to controlling those overactive sebaceous glands, but it actually triggers the sebum to go into overdrive.

There are treatments, such as fruit acids and enzymes, that benefit both men and women with oily skin. To get to the core of the problem, it’s necessary to narrow in on diet.

The beauty industry is keeping a close eye on the demands for advanced skin care treatments and innovative laser equipment to prevent acne. As professionals, it is wise to stay well informed about the latest devices to help clients avoid acne.


In addition to all the cons about oily skin, there are great pros when it’s maintained and treated properly. First, it works as a protection against harmful UV rays. Oilier skin tends to burn less than drier skin types because of the excessive oil production.

Oily skin is said to have less wrinkles and the aging process is slower because of its prolonged hydration. The sebum delivers essential nutrients, such as vitamin E, to the skin, which is an antioxidant that protects humans from free radicals. Needless to say, there are some great benefits to having oily skin.

Consult With Care

Skin care professionals should work closely with their clients with oily skin to monitor daily activities that may provoke the production of sebum. Sitting down with your client to gather some personal information, such as family history, lifestyle and career, can make it easier for professionals to detect the cause. Consulting with the client beforehand will help both the professional and client develop an effective treatment and program that will reduce the chances of acne.

Eating fruits with a high water content balances the skin to fight against free radicals that cause skin problems.

Si Author C Patterson 300

Cole Patterson is a celebrity grooming expert and makeup artist specializing in male grooming in the film/television industry. She is also the founder of Cole Skincare for Men.

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