What Is the Primary Function of Sebum?

By Michael Signal

Internal glands produce sebum, which helps to form an important oily coat on the surface of the skin. Excess sebum, however, can lead to undesirable effects.

Sebum helps to form a barrier on the skin.


Sebaceous glands in the skin produce sebum, which is made of a combination of the body's lipids.


Sebaceous glands are located on most parts of the body. The glands open into pores or hair follicles, transporting sebum to the skin.


Sebum forms part of an oily surface that coats the skin to prevent it from drying and provides a barrier against infection.


The body produces more sebum at puberty. Sebum production decreases later in life.


When excess sebum is produced in puberty it leads to acne. Sebum also can contribute to body odor when it decomposes on the skin.