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Oil and Acne…what’s the deal?

September 12, 2012

well…certainly no acne here!

I’m surprised that I often get emails from curious customers asking if Stark’s oil-based products are really, actually ok for acne-prone skin (yes, they really, really are MORE than ok!!). I’m surprised because to me, the whole oil/acne myth is pretty laughable, but then again, I didn’t always think this way.

The idea that oil automatically equals acne is a very narrow-minded approach to solving the whole oil-acne problem, and has become the belief of many due to strategic marketing campaigns from years and years of Big Beauty brainwashing. They’ve got some very bad chemicals with some very nice profit margins to sell you. And, they work. In the short-term, and with a ton of bad consequences.

Yes, drying out a zit can shrivel it up and kill it, but think of what it’s doing to the parts of your skin that aren’t swollen and oozing?

Here’s the thing. Yes, oily skin can lead to acne. But, so can dry skin. So can dehydrated skin. So can combo skin. So can “normal” skin.  Any skin type can legitimately breakout, as all skin types are structurally similar. We’ve all got the same parts.

Acne essentially happens when there is a blockage in the sebaceous  gland of a hair folicule, and this blockage is full of bacteria. Bacteria…not oil! Bacteria will cause the area to be rushed with white, then red blood cells, then the area becomes inflamed, and voila, you’ve got yourself a new pet zit. White heads and black heads are similar, but instead of bacteria, we’ve got some oxidized sebum. Yum!

So what causes these blockages to happen in the first place? Hormones, of course. But why do we sometimes have acne, and sometimes not, despite hormones?

Well, I like to say that the skin simply can’t breathe, and the reason it’s being stifled is not natural oil, whether from your own sebaceous glands or Argan oil, but something that’s just not meant to be there. You see, I get rashes if I overheat and am wearing synthetic fabric, especially when I am hormonal….I feel it’s like the same deal.

Hormones are such a delicate process, and I firmly believe that when anything gets in their way, there’s usually hell to pay, and the same is true when I’m PMSing and in the grocery store full of slow-moving people, or when a sebaceous gland is being smothered by something full of silicones or petro-chems. Get out of my way, clogging things, or I will blow up at you.

This isn’t extremely scientific, obviously, but I think and live skin enough to really trust my gut on this one. Because the truth is that there’s not much scientific evidence that proves my little theory otherwise. Hormones cause acne, blockages cause acne…but how? Skin is being smothered! Let it breathe, she needs space before she ruptures!

By “breathing”, I don’t mean that the skin is dirty, or needs to be washed more often. No! Overwashing can make it all so, so much worse, which is one reason why I don’t make anything sudsy for Stark (well that and the fact that if something is sudsy, it needs a harsh preservative. Non, merci.). Skin breathes when it can naturally slough off dead cells, and replace those with fresh new cells. Try to slough while wearing a skintight polyester disco-suit. I dare ya. Slough!  Although it’s debatable, I firmly believe that when skin is being choked by a synthetic coating, such as Vaseline (petrochem), thick makeup or a disco-suit, it’s going to react. And if you’ve got a grumpy sebaceous gland or 2, you can welcome your new mini-volcanoes in no time flat.

Alas! Back to oil.

Yes, some oily substances can make you breakout, but certainly not all. And yes,  sometimes very oily skin tends to have blocked pores, because they are so over-active that the glands get backed-up, then bacteria is introduced, and you know the rest. However, often sebaceous glands are over-active because they are starved of nutritious oils. Skin needs oil for a healthy, normal function, and skin that over-produces it is a little confused into thinking that it’s not getting enough. Which is why plant-based oils, which are bioactive (basically meaning that they’re still living…so not processed) and are completely compatible with (most) skin types are a total godsend. These oils provide nutrition and protection to animal skin, while also signalling to workaholic sebaceous glands to calm the eff down and take a lunch break. (I’m picturing some Argan oil going like “guy! It’s ok, I’ve got this, alright?” to some sebum and sebum just trembles off, a nervous wreck, and Argan oil rolls his eyes behind his back. Yes, I actually think these things….and anthropomorphising oil. Crazy!)

Alright to bring this back to Stark products, Cypress Purity + Defense oil is truly made for oily skin! Cypress and bergamot actually help regulate over-active sebaceous glands, and the Argan, camillia, and other nut oils are healing, nutritious oils whereas Rice bran oil is a great natural defense against UV rays!

 So, what’s your take on this? Are synthetic oils just a disco-suit for your hormonal skin, or did I just make up the weirdest theory ever? ‘Cause I’m going to stand by this one, you guys.