Natural treatments for oily skin and seborrhoea

A greasy or oily skin type typically presents with open pores and an oily surface, which predisposes one to pimples, blackheads and potentially also acne (see pages in gardeners health) But before you despair, there is some good news: ‘oiliness’ of itself will keep your skin looking younger for longer.

When it comes to reversing oiliness – The first trick is to prevent dirt and bacteria from causing blackheads and more worrisome pore-damaging issues. The second trick is to not rely too much on commercial products, which chemically strip the top layers of skin in the process of treating oiliness, or indeed on harsh home-made remedies. Both will result in the loss of too much moisture and your sebum glands will only produce more oil to counteract that.

Greasy skin is simply the result of the overproduction of sebum, the oily substance secreted by the natural oil glands in the lower layers of the skin. The normal role of sebum is to lubricate the skin against friction and to act as a waterproof barrier – to prevent the loss of water from your body. It also protects your skin from bacterial and fungal infections.

You may naturally have oily skin or it may be a result of your lifestyle. For instance, too much secretion can be caused by a harsh beauty regime or by using inappropriate skincare products for your skin type or by being overenthusiastic with their application. Some cosmetics and oil-based make-ups can clog pores or generate oiliness themselves. Fast food and a fat-laden diet are not helpful. It’s not just the bad fats but also the iodine and other chemicals that can contribute to spots and other reactions. Also, if your gastrointestinal tract is overloaded it has no other recourse but to send excess fat to the sebum glands for elimination.

Try a Garden spa – Many common culinary herbs such as rosemary, thyme, mint and yarrow are natural astringents and make excellent face washes or spritzes to close pores and regulate sebum release. All four also help to combat bacteria, cleanse and clarify. Calendula flowers are often used in skin preparations where cell regeneration is called for, but also in infusion washes or petal poultices that regularise and normalise the production of sebaceous secretions.

Employing calendula oil does all that and deep cleanses. A paste of jasmine flowers (or essential oil of jasmine if you don’t grow this fragrant gem) increases blood circulation to the skin, not only bringing oxygen and nutrients into the cells but detoxifying them too. This is brilliant in creams or masks to help control overactive oil glands.

Rock rose is a strong astringent and is cleansing, too. Used in a vinegar or hydrosol, it would be beneficial to greasy skin. Aloe has the potential to moisturise dry skin, but it can also be used to clean and moisturise greasy skin without leaving it feeling oily.

Try a Kitchen spa – Olive oil as a face cleanser may sound like a far-fetched, frugal attempt at a home-made beauty product, but not only is olive oil remedial to skin, it is the perfect choice for greasy skin and, far from being parsimonious, its inclusion in your routine is prudent. You have heard the saying fight fire with fire; well, in a sense this is what it does.

The truth is that simple washing does not work with greasy skin as oil and water don’t mix; this is why many commercial facial washes have chemicals and solvents to degrease your face. But oil and oil do mix. The olive oil, while feeding your skin’s vitality, mixes with the sebum, dirt and all that gunk we call grease, so that when you wipe it away with a cotton pad or cloth it takes the bad stuff with it.

Some helpful homemade remedies:

Fiann’s Enthused oil-infused cleanser
Why should only teeth and feet get the peppermint tingle? Torn and infused in some olive oil (for one to two weeks), peppermint foliage generates a fresh feeling but is also an antibacterial cleanser for greasy skin. Combine with the extra punch of healing and sebum controlling calendula for a super treatment.

Method- Simply add 4 calendula petals to ½ cup of torn/chopped peppermint in a jam jar or Kilner jar, cover completely with olive oil and allow to infuse on a sunny window ledge for at least one week. You can continue the infusing process until the calendula petals lose their colour, yielding a more potent oil. Then strain to remove the solids. Store in the bathroom cabinet and use as part of your daily regime or as a regular night-time cleanse.

Jasmine, rose and witch hazel floral facial toner

This is a natural solution for oily skin, helping to detox skin cells and regulate sebum production. It is also a tonic for ageing skin, sensitive skin, combination skin and acne.

• 2 tablespoons fresh jasmine flowers
• 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerine
• ⅓ cup rose water
• ⅓ cup witch hazel extract

Use a blender to combine the ingredients. Apply as you would a normal toner. This also makes a great base for both clay and salt masks. Any surplus will store in the fridge for 3 days, and longer if you substitute essential oil for the fresh jasmine flowers. Shake well before use.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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