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Definition: Sebum

Sebum, which comes from the Latin word for "fat," is an odorless oil produced by the sebaceous glands. The substance contributes to oily hair and skin, while overproduction of sebum can cause acne. As sebum breaks down, the bacteria gives off an unpleasant smell, which can contribute to body odor.

Sebum isn't all bad, though: It's also what coats your hair to make it nice and shiny. In addition, sebum protects skin from infection and keeps it from dehydrating. Sebum production slows down with age, so post-menopausal women produce less sebum.

One common misconception is that powder and blotting papers can reduce sebum production. Though these products will remove oil on the surface of your skin, they will not decrease the amount of sebum your body makes.


Join The Conversation
german-girl german-girl 10 years
amen to that sailing chick! the toner opens up the pores and the moisturizer closes it up.
Princess-Rebecca Princess-Rebecca 10 years
Guess i'm doomed for a very long time...
sailing-chick sailing-chick 10 years
Making sure you have clean hands before you wash your face is also very important and that you are using a clean towel that you only use on your face to dry. Also make sure you use a toner and cream afterwards specificaly for your skin type
Michelann Michelann 10 years
Last year I got several laser treatments on my face. They are supposed to curb acne by making your skin produce less sebum. It must do it, because my skin looked so great while I was getting the treatments. Too bad they were $150 per session... I need to start doing it again, but I don't know if my wallet can handle it!
german-girl german-girl 10 years
yes, and the only way to minimize/ help with this is washing your face. the sebum is what causes blacheads-- (if the pores are open,it turns black) and whiteheads (if pores are closed). try biore blackhead warming wash and neutrogena wash. i swear by them. :)
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