By Sarai Jeremiah

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the skin's sebaceous glands to protect the skin and hair follicles. Sebum is secreted to protect your skin and hair from bacteria and to keep it from drying out; however, too much sebum may cause oily hair and skin. Too much sebum is also a common cause of acne on the chin, cheeks, forehead and back—where sebaceous glands are most commonly found. Although sebum production naturally reduces with age, there are ways to help remove excess sebum.


Eat more foods that are rich in sulfur, such as fish, vegetables, legumes, eggs and nuts to normalize the excessive sebum secretions on your hair and skin. Sulfur is a mineral obtained through diet to promote circulation and reduce inflammation.

Wash your hair with mild or natural shampoos instead of shampoos that contain sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates (SLS). SLS shampoos dry your hair out and cause more sebum to develop.

Give yourself a weekly hot oil treatment with jojoba oil and cedarwood essential oil to inhibit the excess activity in your sebaceous glands. Massage 1 to 2 tsp. of warm jojoba oil and several drops of cedarwood essential oil into your scalp. Cover your hair with a plastic cap and a warm towel. Allow the oils to penetrate your scalp for up to a few hours, then wash your hair with a mild or natural shampoo. Do not use conditioner on your hair after washing.

Rinse your hair with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice or grapefruit juice to neutralize sebum production. For best results, use this mixture immediately after shampooing your hair.

Wash areas of your skin prone to excess sebum, such as your chin, cheeks and forehead, twice daily with an antibacterial soap or a foaming wash that contains salicylic acid. According to, using a wash with at least two percent salicylic acid helps unclog pores and reduce sebum buildup.