Stop The Shine

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Unilever Beauty Talk | Teen Life

By Maui V. Reyes for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Teachers from hell, dealing with boys, and avoiding mean girls. Being a teenager is hard work as it is, and the last thing a girl needs is a face oily enough to fry an egg on.

Now here's the cliché you've heard a dozen times before: you're not alone. Every other teenager on the block is dealing with oily skin, some even riddled with acne. And just like P.E. class, sporting a shiny face is, unfortunately, something you can't escape.

Blame it on the hormones

Sebum—the oil on our skin—is actually produced by sebaceous glands, which are found under our dermis. Now, before you start hating on these sebaceous glands, keep in mind that they actually mean well. Sebum keeps your skin and hair lubricated, protecting them from dehydration and irritation. Without sebum, you'll have dry, dull, and wrinkled skin (which is something you wouldn't want, unless you want a permanent role on The Walking Dead). Sebum also maintains the skin's acidic PH, which helps protect it from bacteria.

Alas, too much of a good thing does more harm than good: sometimes, our sebaceous glands tend to produce more oil than we need. You can thank the hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) for that. Levels of DHT—which triggers glands to produce more oil—rise when you hit puberty. They also tend to spike after ovulating, which explains why your face gets extra oily during your monthly period.

How to treat it

The good news is, there are several ways to keep that shine at bay:

Cleanse regularly. And by regularly we mean once in the morning, and once at night. Ditch the ordinary bath soap and reach for cleansers formulated for acne: they usually include ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acid—which all help cut oiliness. Don't wash your face more than three times a day, though. Trying to "rub off" the oil this way will only strip off essential fatty oils, and could end up irritating rather than helping your skin.

Many dermatologists still can't agree on whether alcohol-based toners should be used for oily skin. While some believe it's the best in "mopping up" oil, others are convinced that alcohol is too harsh and may irritate the skin. Plus, stripping the skin of its moisture will only signal your glands to produce more oil. Since sebaceous glands are more abundant on your T-zone (that would be your forehead, nose, and chin), play it safe by applying an alcohol-based toner on these areas, and a water-based toner on the rest of your face.

Moisturize. It's a common misconception that having oily skin gives you a free pass from using moisturizers. While it's true that you already have an abundance of natural skin hydrators, that doesn't mean you don't need the extra help. Moisturizers do more than just keep your face from drying up—they also act as a barrier, protecting your skin from dirt and bacteria. The trick is to pick one that's oil-free, water-based, and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores.

Apply sunscreen. No, this is not because your skin has developed the ability to bounce off light…it's really to protect it. The sun's harmful UVB rays can cause your sebaceous glands to create more sebum—sometimes up to four times the amount it's already churning out! (Hence, the super shiny face when you're out under the sun.) Since drugstore-variety sunscreens tend to go on thick, look for water-based ones, which are lighter and won't clog your pores. Many makeup companies are also infusing SPF into their products, so you can opt to use powder of foundation with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Blot. Every girl should have a supply of oil-control blotting paper in her purse. While this doesn't stop your skin's sebum production, it does help keep it under control. Just remember to blot, not rub—the idea is to "soak" up the oil with a light touch, not mop it up by digging into your skin!