What you might call your body's natural oils is actually a complex mixture of fatty acids, sugars, and natural chemicals known as sebum. Aside from your palms and soles, sebum covers your whole body, protecting every strand of hair.
Sebum is probably not something most of us talk about too often. We may be self-conscious that our skin looks too oily, or, too dry. Even the term itself, "sebum," sounds vaguely icky.
But sebum has dramatic effects on our hair and skin that we cannot deny. The sebaceous glands start producing sebum just after we are born. For the first three to six months of life, a baby produces as much as an adult. Then, the body produces less throughout childhood, until puberty, when production can increase by up to five-hundred percent.
More active sex hormones trigger the body to producer more sebum, which can block the glands and cause acne infections to come on. Patches of skin on the forehead, chin, and mid-back have the greatest number of sebaceous glands per square inch on the body, so these arease are prone to clogged hair follicles.
However, sebum doesn't always lead to acne. The pores on your nostrils store a great deal of sebum, and people often mistake these dilated pores for acne. Yet, in actuality, this is only natural buildup and not an infection.
Still, oily skin can feel like the bane of existence, especially to a teenager. But, in the long term, sebum brings more benefit than harm, protecing our hair and skin from drying out as we grow older.