Skin Care Series: Sebum

I have become obsessed with anything that will get the gunk out of my pores. By “gunk” I mean sebum. I can’t help it. I have tried almost everything under the sun. If I wasn’t having really good results from the peel-off masks I use, I would save up to get a pore vacuum. I actually got my sister a pore vacuum for Christmas because I remembered that she told me she gets a lot of adult acne and has problems with oil. I found a pretty decent one at a very reasonable price.

Sebum is an oily and sometimes waxy substance that is produced in the body’s sebaceous glands and excretes itself mainly around hair follicles. Sebum is what our bodies produce to help water-proof and moisturize our skin. These sebaceous glands include the areas of the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back.

Too little sebum production will result in dry skin.

Too much sebum production will result in oily skin and more breakouts than normal or normal to dry skin.

Sebum often gets mixed up with dead skin cells and other pollutants that fall into your pores. This mix-up is responsible for acne breakouts or “sebum plugs”.

The most common type of plugs are whiteheads and blackheads. Whiteheads occur when sebum completely blocks a hair follicle. Blackheads or “comedo’s” are caused by pores that are partially blocked by sebum. Air gets introduced into said pore, which causes the sebum to oxidize and turn a dark color. Keratin plugs are meant to look like sebum plugs, but this type of “skin plug” is caused by a certain protein that, for some reason, builds up around the hair follicle and causes a sebum plug. This type of sebum plug shows itself often as something called steatocystomas, because it is a plug that has encapsulated itself in said pore by the means of what is called a “sack”, which traps dead skin cells and grows big enough to the point where it becomes a bump on the skin. This type of cyst is usually small and can be easily removed by a dermatologist. It is not recommended that one should try to “pop” a steatocystoma at home, because it only empties the sack and leaves room for more dead skin cells to shed. The sack has to be completely removed in order to prevent a reoccurrence.

Sebum is often extracted by certain tools:

Comedone extractors are the most popular way of dealing with whiteheads and blackheads. Here are some instructions on how to use them:

Other common sebum extractors are things like nose, face strips, and peel-off masks. Charcoal is the most popular ingredient of not just a peel mask but other skincare products in general It has ancient purifying properties. It is an ingredient also used in medicinal overdoses as an expectorant.

I personally find charcoal masks too aggressive for my skin, so I use other peel-off masks. My favorites are by these holographic peel-off masks by the company Freeman’s:

Skin Care Series: Rosacea

Rosacea is a condition that can happen to every skin color, man or woman. I inherited it from my mother, and I remember a black female classmate wound up getting rosacea back then (since black or brown skin cannot flush red, rosacea looks more like a combination of a rash with a cluster of pimples from what I remember).

The best over the counter ingredient for rosacea is an ingredient you are not going to like: sulfur. The first product I ever got specifically for rosacea is Prosacea.

It works fine, but it comes in a small tube and is rather expensive if you get rosacea breakouts like I have a tendency to have. I did some research and found out that buying the sulfur on its own is more effective and cheaper. The only drawback is, obviously, the smell.

I bought this on amazon:

I tried it as directed for a few weeks, and it works a lot better than the Prosacea. The only drawback is the slight rotten egg smell that comes with sulfur. It does fade, but I always try to only add just enough to cover my cheeks, nose, and chin.

Azelaic Acid and metronidazole are other active, less smelly ingredients. Azelaic Acid has anti-inflammatory properties, and metronidazole reduces redness and pimples caused by rosecea. From what I see, metronidazole is prescription only.

Anything with cucumber is great for rosecea.

Here are a few more over-the-counter products:

-Eucerin Redness Relief Night Creme

-Cetaphil Redness Relieving Night Moisturizer

-FaceTory Oats Calming Glow Weightless Facial Oil 

-Azelaic Acid 10% Facial Serum

Skin Care Series: Mature Skin: Part One

The number one thing you need to worry about with any skin type is moisture. Those with really oily skin are actually lucky in a way because that excess oil acts as a moisturizer in itself. Someone with really oily skin ages slower than someone like me, who’s skin can get dry to downright dehydrated. Lines, wrinkles, and elasticity are also factors to take into account.

The following ingredients are mostly naturally occurring properties in the skin that you lose more and more with age. There are other topical ingredients that do not occur naturally in one’s skin but are important. If you want to use products to avoid signs of aging instead of going to get a facial or any kind of plastic surgery, here are some tips.

When it comes to moisture, the number one ingredient that I have been using and my mother (who is in her 70’s) that has made a serious difference is hyaluronic acid. Don’t go for those tiny little one ounce dropper bottles that you see being advertised everywhere. You can get 8 oz size bottles of hyaluronic acid for very reasonable prices. I bought this brand because it came with a dropper. I refill the dropper and keep it in my skin care bag.

Retinol is a vitamin that belongs to the Vitamin A category. It smooths whatever wrinkles and fine lines you currently have and minimizes the chance of forming new wrinkles and fine lines. It is considered among all experts to be the most important topical anti-aging ingredient. The higher the dose the better.

Plant Stem Cells “have a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, helping to protect against sun damage and prevent wrinkles, according to dermatologist Dr. Sonoa Au. There is also evidence that stem cells can promote the production of new collagen, which can also make your skin appear more youthful.”

Plant Stem Cells

I use Beauty4Lyfe Apple Stem Cell Serum because it is the only plant stem cell serum that I could find that comes in an 8 oz size.

Vitamin C brightens dark spots and helps protect against sun damage.

“Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that brightens dark spots, smooths fine lines, and, importantly, scavenges free radicals from the environment, pollution, and UV radiation,” Sara Hogan, M.D., dermatologist at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica

Nine things you need to know about Vitamin C:

Collagen helps your skin from sagging. It is an important ingredient because it helps slow down the signs of aging. It naturally occurs in your body, but as we get older, collagen production decreases. A certain collagen called hydrolyzed collagen is the best topical version. This is an ingredient that you have to keep using, as its effects are temporary. This ingredient seems to work best on dehydrated skin.

Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble and are mostly derived from sugary fruits or lactic acid. They help to remove dead cells from the surface of your skin. They also aid in reversing sun damage. If you have mature or sensitive skin, it is better to use this instead of a scrub because it will not be as abrasive. Salicylic acid is the most common and most affordable form of AHA. It exfoliates the skin and helps to prevent acne. Beta hydroxy acids are more efficient in that they get through deeper layers of dry skin and help remove excess sebum from your pores. Poly hydroxy acids are milder, which is good for sensitive skin. PHA’s also help with skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.

Peptides reside in the amino acid category and are considered to be an important ingredient. They help with developing certain proteins in the skin (mainly collagen and elastin).

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