Sebum Build Up: What It Is and How to Treat It

Posted December 16, 2022 by in Beauty

Sebum build-up can be a frustrating problem for many people. Sebum is the waxy, oily substance produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands that helps protect and lubricate it. While some sebum production is good, too much can lead to skin that feels greasy and looks shiny due to clogged pores. 

Here are some facts about sebum build-up you need to know to keep your skin looking healthy and feeling great:

What is sebum?

Sebum is an oily/waxy substance secreted from the sebaceous glands. Its primary function is to protect and lubricate the skin, but it can also trap dirt and bacteria. The sebum produced varies from person to person, increasing during puberty as hormones become more active.

What causes sebum build-up?

Sebum build-up occurs when too much sebum is produced or when your pores become clogged with oil, dirt, makeup, dead skin cells and other debris. This blockage traps the sebum underneath the surface of your skin, leading to acne breakouts and a greasy complexion.

How to tell if you have sebum build-up?

One of the most apparent signs of sebum build-up is a waxy build-up on your scalp or oily or shiny skin that feels greasy. You may also experience clogged pores, blackheads and pimples.

What are the benefits of sebum?

Sebum is essential for keeping your skin hydrated and protecting it from environmental factors such as UV radiation, bacteria and pollutants. It also helps keep your skin youthful by maintaining its elasticity and preventing wrinkles.

How to prevent a sebum build-up?

The best way to prevent sebum build-up is to maintain a healthy skincare routine that includes gentle cleansing with a mild cleanser twice daily and moisturizing with an oil-free moisturizer. Additionally, it would help if you tried to avoid wearing heavy makeup or using pore-clogging products.

What ingredients in products are most effective?

The best ingredients for treating sebum build-up can help unclog pores and absorb excess oil, such as salicylic acid, tea tree oil, clay and charcoal. Additionally, look for moisturizers with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to replenish hydration levels.

How can you exfoliate to prevent sebum build-up?

Exfoliating your skin regularly can help reduce sebum build-up by removing dead skin cells, dirt and debris from the surface of your skin. You can use physical exfoliants such as scrubs and brushes or chemical exfoliants like AHAs, BHAs and retinoids.

The best way to remove sebum build-up

A clay mask or facial scrub is the best way to remove sebum build-up. Clay masks can help draw out impurities from your skin and absorb excess oil, while facial scrubs can slough away dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores.

How to treat a sebum build-up at home

At-home treatments for sebum build-up include:

  • Using gentle cleansers twice daily.
  • Exfoliating regularly.
  • Applying clay masks or scrubs and moisturizing with an oil-free product.

Additionally, you can use over-the-counter acne medications to help reduce breakouts.

What are the best professional treatments?

Professional treatments that can help treat sebum build-up include chemical peels, laser therapy and microdermabrasion. A dermatologist best does these treatments so that they can be tailored to your needs and skin type.

How to reduce sebum production

You can take several steps to reduce sebum production, including avoiding heavy makeup, keeping your skin hydrated with moisturizer and limiting sugar intake as sugar increases oil production in the body. Some natural remedies, such as aloe vera gel and green tea, may also help reduce sebum production.

Are there any natural remedies?

Several natural remedies can help reduce sebum build-up and treat acne breakouts, such as witch hazel, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar. Also, honey has antibacterial properties that help clear pores and reduce inflammation.

What foods help?

Eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants is essential for reducing sebum production and treating acne breakouts. Foods that may help include green leafy vegetables, fruits high in vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids from fish or nuts.

What are the benefits of essential oils for sebum build-up?

Essential oils such as tea tree oil, lavender and rosemary have antibacterial properties that can help reduce sebum build-up and treat acne breakouts. They can also help soothe redness and inflammation while leaving your skin refreshed.

Does excess sebum production have side effects?

Excessive sebum production may lead to acne breakouts or other skin conditions such as rosacea or psoriasis. It may also cause pores to become clogged, leading to black or whiteheads forming on the skin.


Sebum build-up is a common problem for many people, but it can be quickly addressed with the proper lifestyle and skincare habits. The key is keeping your skin clean, exfoliating regularly, using the right products, and nourishing your skin with a healthy diet. Professional treatments such as chemical peels or laser therapy may also help reduce sebum build-up and treat underlying skin conditions. 

You can balance sebum production with the right approach and achieve clear, healthy-looking skin.