In the last post we have seen how the skin is made, its functions, the various types of skin and in particular the normal, dry and sensitive skin. Now I will talk to you about the seborrheic skin. In the next post instead I will deal specifically with the various types of seborrhea skin (dry skin with blackheads and blackheads, oily fat, mixed skin, acne-prone skin) and treatment tips.


What is sebum?

Sebum is a functional lipid substance that is formed by the disintegration of specific cells, the sebocites, just before they are secreted by the sebaceous gland. The sebaceous glands are exocrine glands located in the dermis, connected one by one to a hair follicle and, by means of a duct, they pour the sebum into the follicle canal up to the skin surface through the hair exit hole (follicular ostium ).

The composition of the sebum varies during the ascent through the follicular duct, it is enriched with fragments of cells, water, water-soluble substances, diglycerides, monoglycerides and fatty acids, the latter deriving from the action of esterases of both cellular and bacterial origin. The sebum formed is combined with the epidermal lipids produced by the destruction of desquamated cornea cells, also containing triglycerides and cholesterol, to form the superficial lipid film that covers the stratum corneum: it therefore contains a significant amount of free fatty acids that contribute to the acidity of the pH of the skin surface also conducting bacteriostatic and fungistatic activity.

Seborrhea and acne are skin changes often associated with each other that have in common the involvement of the sebaceous gland.

When the quantity of sebum increases abnormally (for example due to genetic, endocrine, environmental factors), a condition known as seborrhea (also called hyperseborrea or sebum hypersecretion) occurs.

Seborrhea and acne: the differences

While seborrhea indicates the hyperfunction of the sebaceous gland, the term acne indicates a dermatosis characterized by inflammation of the pilosebaceous follicle. The initial lesions of the acne process, as mentioned above, are: comedones (which appear when a plug of sebum and horny cells forms on the follicular ostia) and microcysts, which can turn into papules and pustules (so-called pimples) or more severe in nodules and scars.

What are the causes of seborrhea?

The causes of seborrhea have not yet been clearly clarified. Among the factors that favor the appearance of seborrhea we remember:

  • hormonal imbalances: The most important regulating factor of sebum secretion is the concentration of androgen hormones: in particular, in the sebaceous glands, there is an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which converts the delta 4-androstenedione into dihydrotestosterone, a metabolite capable of greatly increasing sebum secretion;
  • replacement disorders (feeding and elimination);
  • digestive disorders (hepatic and intestinal dysfunctions);
  • nervous factors and stress.

What does hyperseborrea involve?

When there is a problem of hyperseborrea, a different composition of the sebum promotes the proliferation of microorganisms, the sebum loses the self-sterilizing property and becomes hydrophobic, instead of hydrophilic, as it normally is. These factors, together with the stagnation of sebum, contribute to the formation of inflammatory processes in the follicles, which can give rise to “pimples” (to be combated with Serum anti imperfections!).

The most important microorganisms involved in the process of altering the sebum are Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pithyrosporum ovale and Propionilbacterium acnes. The latter is definitely the one most involved in the process of cleavage of triglycerides, this thanks to the fact of being anaerobic and to position itself at the exit of the glandular duct inside the follicle

Seborrhea gives the skin a shiny and oily appearance, sometimes affecting the scalp and upper part of the back, or a dry and rough to the touch. In this case we speak of asphyxiated skin, a problem that arises when the excess of sebum does not find an outlet outside the follicles and, stagnating inside them, leads to the formation of comedones.
The seborrhea also precedes and often accompanies acne lesions (but, attention, acne is the direct consequence of seborrhea!): closed comedones (white spots), open comedones (blackheads), papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

On the scalp, on the other hand, seborrhea can be accompanied by dandruff, alopecia and oily hair.

Various types of seborrheic skin

The exalted activity of the sebaceous glands is a fundamental prerequisite for the problem of seborrheic skin. Based on the extent of the phenomenon, it is possible to distinguish several types of seborrheic skin:

  • dry skin with comedones and blackheads (also called “asphyxiated oily skin”);
  • combination skin;
  • oily skin;
  • impure and acne-prone.

How can the seborrheic skin be treated?

Domus Olea, specialized in eco-cosmetics cosmeceutics in collaboration with the University of Florence, proposes the Sebo Lift line for seborrheic skin, which has been developed to achieve these objectives:

  • moisturize and cleanse gently so as not to compromise the natural hydrolipidic film and prevent the skin from reacting to excessive cleaning by producing more sebum (rebound effect, so that the skin is increasingly greasy and more dehydrated);
  • normalize the sebum production by counteracting the appearance of cutaneous oiliness and absorbing excess greasiness;
  • exfoliate the skin (with a combined physical + chemical action) to keep the pilo-sebaceous follicle free, guarantee the normal outflow of sebum and prevent the formation of blackheads and blackheads; promote cell renewal and restore brightness and smoothness to thickened and opaque skin;
  • counteract the bacterial proliferation responsible for papules, pustules and acne lesions
    favor the closure of the pores;
  • reduce redness, very frequent on this type of skin, especially on the sebaceous follicle;
  • protect against atmospheric insults, as the seborrheic skin is predisposed to redness;
  • visibly improve the overall appearance of the skin.

The main active ingredients of the Sebo Lift line (from plant species grown locally with organic farming) and their function:

  • oleuropein hydroxytyrosol from olive leaves, powerful antioxidants;
  • chestnut bark tannins, with effective astringent effect on the pores, sebum-normalizing and anti-irritation;
  • terpenes and flavonoids from fresh leaves and cypress twigs, with high specific antibacterial efficacy against Propionibacterium acne;
  • alpha and beta hydroxy acids, with delicate exfoliating action and stimulation of cell renewal;
  • Azelaic acid: antiseborroic, anti-irritation, antibacterial against Propionibacterium Acnes, keratolytic (it contrasts the anomalous thickening of the stratum corneum of the epidermis typical of seborrheic skin).

Also snail slime and portulaca oleracea are excellent ingredients for oily and combination skin: if you want look at  our posts and the cosmestics products Lumea and Erboristeria Como on our

For a focus on oily skin and combination skin, read also this post.

Dr. Laura Comollo

For any clarification or for more information Contact us.

Follow us on our Facebook and Instagram channels



  • Principi di tecnica farmaceutica (Michele Amorosa), Libreria universitaria L. Tinarelli, Bologna.
  • Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology 3rd edition, Edited by André O. Barel, Marc Paye, Howard I. Maibach

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This