Oily skin (seborrhea) is a common cosmetic problem that occurs when oversized sebaceous glands produce excessive amounts of sebum giving the appearance of shiny and greasy skin. This paper overviews the main concepts of sebaceous gland anatomy and physiology, including the biosynthesis, storage and release of sebum, as well as its relationship to skin hydration and water barrier function. We also address how skin oiliness may vary according to diet, age, gender, ethnicity and hot humid climates. The deeper understanding of this skin type provides the opportunity to better guide patients regarding skin care and also assist in the development of sebosuppressive agents.

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