Wear sunscreen. Keep pores clear. Let skin breathe. Cover up your blemishes and scarring. Protect yourself from the sun. 

So many steps are part of a normal skin care routine for oily skin. And combination too, where the oily areas are in the "T" zone : forehead, nose and chin...
And yet, how is it possible to follow them all at once ? 

picto sebum photoderm campaign

Sebum's role in combination to oily skin 

Oily skin, shiny skin, dilated pores, blackheads and possibly pimples – it can all be a nightmare during waking hours! The oily and greasy look makes you feel unclean, and yet washing only seems to provide a short respite before the shine comes back. Embarrassed and annoyed, you search for care routines that dim your shine to a radiant glow of health and beauty.


picto - moisture photoderm campaign

Sebum : the bad and good 

A substance naturally secreted by the human body, sebum is composed essentially of lipids that come from the sebaceous glands. Often fought against because of blemishes and unwanted shine, sebum is nonetheless essential to skin balance. It is part of the skin’s hydrolipidic film, which keeps the skin hydrated, protects it, preserves the skin’s microbiota and limits the development of pathogenic agents. Sebum therefore needs to be protected, even if it’s sometimes necessary to check its excesses…*

picto - pimples photoderm campaign

From sebum secretion to pimples

Sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is responsible for the oil on the skin’s surface. Although the number of sebaceous glands that we have remains constant throughout life, sebum secretion rates are highest between 15 and 35 years old. They decline continuously after that1. There is the temptation to wash your face constantly to remove the shine and oil, but sebum replenishes itself immediately when it is removed.

1Jacobsen E, Billings JK, Frantz RA, Kinney CK, Stewart ME, Downing DT: Age-related changes in sebaceous wax ester secretion rates in men and women. J Invest Dermatol 1985; 85: 483–485.

woman sebum photoderm cover touch

Having combination to oily skin does not automatically mean that you also have blemishes. The skin is a fragile ecosystem whose balance can be upset by different environmental factors. Sebaceous glands can be influenced by internal factors including stress and hormones, and external factors such as pollution and UV rays. An imbalance in the sebaceous glands can result in them secreting too much sebum that is also poor in quality – known as dysseborrhoea. Bacteria colonise pores and thrive, and pimples multiply.


From adolescent to adult acne

Adult acne exists primarily in women, and is becoming more and more frequent, affecting up to 25% of women. It can be a continuation of adolescent acne or appears at around 25 years of age. It tends to concentrate in the lower part of the face. Nodules under the skin’s surface turn into a moderate number of inflammatory papules and then pustules – more commonly known as pimples. Stress and cosmetics are thought to exacerbate their appearance.


sun effects on combination to oily skin

Managing oily skin is one thing. You also need to protect it from the sun! For all the benefits that the sun brings - warmth, health and hapiness, to name a few - it can alson have more adverse effects on combination to oily skin and its appereance. 

Greater sebum secretion

Changes in temperature make sebum more or less viscous, and summer is the season when sebum secretion is at its highest – year-round if you happen to live in a tropical climate! A 1°C increase in the temperature leads to 10% more sebum being secreted.2

 2Cunliffe WJ, Burton JL, Shuster S: The effect of local temperature variations on the sebum excretion rate. Br J Dermatol 1970; 83: 650–654.


Increased pigmentation and more visible scars

Sun exposure brings melanin to the surface of the skin. Melanin is our natural protection from UV rays. Our tan helps to protect us from the sun’s more damaging rays – up to a point. UV exposure on recently healed lesions can cause post-inflammatory pigmentation, darkening scars so that they stand out more. This hyperpigmentation can be a real problem for people who have acne-prone skin.


Thicker Skin and More Acne

UV rays also thicken skin. The epidermis grows for further protection from the sun and can block pilosebaceous follicles. Sebum stays below the skin’s surface and bacteria multiply. Acne sprouts even worse!


 beautiful and protected

The urge to conceal

People with combination to oily skin naturally try to reduce shine by applying mattifying creams and powders. When there are also blemishes and scars, you may opt for a high coverage foundation. Silicon-based foundations cover up all evidence of oil, pimples and sun exposure… and also block pores. Your skin looks great, but may feel smothered and ready to break out. With all tinted creams, concealers and foundations, you need to be sure they are non-comedogenic, reducing the risk of further blemishes.


Protect your skin and keep pores clear

But more than covering up, you also need to protect your skin from UV rays, to limit the sun’s effects on combination to oily skin. A high SPF minimises hyperpigmentation and keeps skin supple. Sebum can evacuate to the skin’s surface and not stay inside the pilosebaceous follicle. And yet sunscreens are often skin irritants, with heavy, opaque and occlusive bases. Not great for combination to oily skin!

For a matte, unified and protected complexion, the cherry on the cake is to find a sunscreen that respects combination to oily skin’s specific needs. One that provides high UV protection and allows skin to breathe. And depending on the severity of your blemishes, one that also either evens out skin tone, or provides full coverage.