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Sebum and Its Role in the Acne Development

Sebum and Its Role in Acne Production

If your face exhibits a heightened sheen on the skin within a few hours of washing and cleansing it, it may be due to a crucial but often misunderstood substance called sebum. Sebum, produced by your skin’s cells, gets blended with the small particles in the air, sweat, and dead skin cells to give that shiny lustre to your skin’s surface.

Sebum is misperceived and a proven good substance for your skin only if produced in adequate amounts. The excess production leads to oily and can cause acne. In this blog, we will explore what you need to know about sebum and how it affects acne.

It’s important to address the underlying reason or you can end up worsening your skin condition.

What is Sebum?

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin, and essential for the protection of the skin’s surface. These glands are microscopic and develop on or near hair follicles in the dermis (the second layer of the skin) in thousands of numbers mostly on the face.

cross section skin structuresImage Source

Coming to its composition, sebum is 57% triglycerides, 25% wax monoesters, 13% squalene, 3% cholesterol esters, and 2% cholesterol.

Primarily they appear on your face and scalp, majorly everywhere where the hair follicles exist, except for the soles and palms, and protect you against bacteria, external aggressors, including ultraviolet rays, and other probable infections.

Think of it as the natural oil and protective barrier of the skin as it reduces water loss and increases moisture.

Sebum has been misunderstood as only an acne-causing substance, but it does much more than you require to know.

Why Is Sebum Important?

Sebaceous glands ensure that your skin is appropriately moisturised hence, keep producing sebum. It’s lubricating, and without enough sebum, your skin may become very rough, dry, or flaky.

Sebum does not let irritants enter the skin easily and makes it stronger. It possesses fatty acids with antibacterial properties to help protect the skin from infections. A study reveals that sebum lubricates and provides the skin against friction.

Sebum provide strong protection against fungal infections

We can definitely consider sebum critical to the overall skin’s health if produced in the right quantity. It prevents water loss and provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

Some skin experts even claim that sebum can also provide strong protection against fungal infections on the skin. How does it happen? Because sebum secretion creates an acidic film on the skin’s surface with a pH of about 4.5 to 6.0. This pH level is ideal to offer defence against bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms.

Surprisingly, dermatologists even say that it provides protection against the UVA rays of the sun. It happens due to one of the most important components called Squalene.

What are Sebaceous Filaments?

Sebaceous filaments are the healthy elements of your skin, and thread-like outgrowths or projections lining your sebaceous glands. They are not contagious at all and basically help the movement of oil from the glands toward your skin’s surface.  These filaments may become more remarkable when the skin produces a lot of sebum.

 Sebaceous FilamentsImage Source

Sebaceous filaments may look a lot similar to the blackheads but they not certainly not the same. Unlike blackheads, sebaceous glands are not the type of acne or have any plugs. Moreover, you can find sebaceous filaments like dark spots and flat, but they also appear grey or brown in colour.

Each of us has sebaceous filaments, the only difference occurs in their appearance. Typically, they tend to get produced more around your nose and forehead. But obviously, these are not restricted to these areas of your body. They appear on the chest, arms, breasts, etc, too.

What Affects Sebum Overproduction?

Overproduction of sebum may lead to underlying skin conditions and acne. But what are the causes behind this? Let’s check out the major causes leading to the excessive production of sebum in your body.

  • Environmental Factors: The summer season is not quite friendly with the sebum. Even humid climates also affect the overregulation of sebum, on your skin.
  • Medicines: If you are taking any specific medication, including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy might be encouraging your sebaceous glands to secrete more and more sebum increasing grease on the skin.
  • Race Type: Black people may have more tendencies to bear sebum as compared to other races.
  • Gender: The risk factor for oily skin may increase in males comparatively in females.
  • Hormones: Some health conditions can increase androgens further elevating the sebum production in the body. Particular types of disorders, including testicular and ovarian may also contribute.
  • Diet: Your food is critical to the skin’s health, including sebum overproduction. Refined carbohydrates must be avoided.
  • Genetics: If you get overproduction of sebum passed through your genes, there’s not much you can do about it. Unfortunately!

How Does Sebum Cause Acne?

Sebum is one of the major contributors to acne. When the sebaceous glands produce a lot of sebum, it gets mixed with the dead skin cells, and sometimes bacteria too, on the skin to clog pores. 

Sebum Cause Acne

When the sebum gets combined with the dead skin cells, it forms a sticky plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle on the skin. So sebum can be responsible for producing any kind of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, etc.

How to Reduce Sebum Production?

Reducing sebum levels is not an overnight task, however, you can be consistent and expect the results. Here are a few tips that might help you get non-greasy skin;

Never sleep with your makeup on: You put a lot of time into putting your makeup on, just spend even less time taking it off. Otherwise, it can contribute to the oil production on your skin’s surface.

Never sleep with your makeup on

Watch what you eat: Diet can have a direct impact on your face, so it’s highly imperative to know what you are eating. Adopt healthy eating habits, and avoid high-cholesterol-rich foods and carbohydrates.

Watch what you eat

Keep your face clean: It is a temporary solution to oily skin, but definitely works.
Don’t forget to use a gentle cleanser only.

Keep your face clean

Be happy: You should never be ignorant of your mental health conditions. It reflects on your hormones, skin, and overall well-being. Try to be calm and feel good

Be happy

Last, but not least, you must stick with a consistent and smooth skincare routine to avoid overproduction of sebum on your face and body.

Skincare Routine to Combat Sebum

Call it oil, sebum, or grease, but the required skincare routine remains the same.

Step 1: Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser

Try Clarifying Cleanser from DRSQ’s wide range of skincare products. It is a detoxifying acne wash that comes with AHA, activated charcoal, and tea tree oil to help you get rid of your acne while cleaning your pores thoroughly.

Step 2: Apply a serum

Feel refreshed and soothed with DRSQ’s Acne Clear serum. It has vitamin A, vitamin B3, and AHA to restore radiance to your skin white promoting the oil and acne-free skin simultaneously.

Step 3: Break the myth and moisturise

It’s a common myth that oily skin doesn’t need moisture, but that’s not true. You must hydrate your skin with a suitable moisturiser so that your sebaceous glands don't secrete excess oil. DRSQ has a wide range of moisturisers, you can choose accordingly.


Sebum is a natural component of your skin secreted by the sebaceous glands and is necessary. They help the skin to retain moisture loss and provide protection from microbial and other fungal infections. But the overproduction might be frustrating as it gives you an oily and greasy appearance naturally. There are tips and tactics to overcome excessive sebum production and you can always follow a skincare routine mentioned above religiously to combat oily and acne-prone skin.

Happy skincare!

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