Excessive oiliness of the skin is caused by too much sebum being produced in tiny glands just beneath the surface of the skin. Sebum is a natural lubricant which everybody needs for the health and good appearance of their skin but too much of it produces a greasy appearance which is often associated with spots, blackheads and a tendency to acne. This is often more marked in adolescence because sebum production is linked to the activity of the whole endocrine system, which is in a state of flux following puberty. At this very vulnerable stage in life, when appearances seem to be very important, it is small comfort to be told that a skin which is too oily in youth will age far more slowly than one which is relatively dry.
Essential oils can help these problems directly by reducing the amount of sebum produced, and indirectly by controlling the bacteria which thrive on the surface of an oily skin. Several oils combine both these actions, and are obviously the most effective. Bergamot, Cedarwood, Cypress and Sandalwood are the best examples, and of these use Bergamot and Sandalwood more than any other oil, partly because of their real effectiveness, and partly because they both have delightful aromas which are acceptable to men and women alike and are often familiar because they are used in commercial toiletries.
A primary choice of oils for an oily skin is Bergamot and Lavender, blended in equal proportions. Bergamot directly reduces sebum production and Lavender has a balancing effect: both are very antiseptic and will control bacteria on the surface of the skin. As it is not good to use the same oil for more than a week or two, you can vary this blend with Cedar or Sandalwood in successive treatments. Any of these oils and various blends of them can be made up into cleansing and toning lotions for use at home. Most commercial toners sold for oily skins have a high alcohol content and remove all, or almost all, sebum from the skin. This improves the appearance temporarily, but has the effect of eventually increasing sebum output, since the glands respond to the absence of sebum on the surface by making more.
Some people are puzzled by the idea of using oils to treat an oily skin, but of course essential oils are non-greasy by nature, and all traces of carrier oil should be carefully removed after a treatment.
Geranium oil has a balancing effect on the endocrine system and on the sebaceous glands. It is another valuable alternative to the oils already mentioned, or can be blended with one or more of them (Bergamot, Geranium and Lavender is a delightfully perfumed mixture as well as being very effective.) Because of its balancing nature, this is also a good oil to use for 'combination' skins where most of the face is dry, but there are oily areas, usually around the nose and chin, where the sebaceous glands are more numerous.
A good toner for greasy skin is to mix 5 drops each of Petitgrain, Lavender and Geranium with 25 ml of vodka and 75 ml of orange flower water or rose water. Let it stand for up to a month then filter. Apply twice daily.
An excellent basic purifying and rejuvenating face mask for greasy skin can be made by mixing 2 tablespoons green clay, 2 tablespoons cornflower, 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon evening primrose oil with 1 drop each of rosemary and lavender oil. Leave on the skin for 15 minutes then rinse off with cool water.
Facial steaming can be done Myrtle and Lavender oil (3 drops each). Greasy skin will benefit a lot with facial steaming, it can be done once in a fortnight. Follow steaming with a facial massage oil. To prepare the oil add 3 drops of lavender, bergamot and sandalwood oil to 1 table spoon of water based gel and mix it thoroughly.
See also ACNE, SKIN and SKINCARE.
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