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What is the T-Zone?

By Kristin Wood
Updated May 21, 2024
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The t-zone is an area of the face that consists of the forehead, nose, chin and sometimes neck. If the letter T was drawn across the face, these are the spots it would cover. The t-zone is often associated with a combination skin type, where one section of the face is oily while another area is dry simultaneously. For example, the t-zone might be shiny and prone to acne, while the sides of the face are dry and peeling. Those with troublesome combination skin struggle with how to care for their face properly.

The t-zone typically possesses a greater number of sebaceous glands, which can result in an extra production of sebum in those areas. Sebum is the body's natural oil. When sebum is produced excessively it encourages breakouts, whiteheads, blackheads and redness. The t-zone is also more susceptible to sunburns or other skin irritations. These extra glands and sensitivities require many people to care for their t-zone differently than they do for the rest of their face. More sunscreen might need to be applied, along with less moisturizer, for instance.

When fighting oily skin, a strong facial cleanser is generally necessary. Gel-based soaps often can effectively eliminate extra oil, and many facial scrubs come with small exfoliating beads in the mixture. These washes can help prevent blackheads along the forehead, nose and chin. Those with easily irritated skin might find that exfoliating scrubs are too harsh for their face, however.

For extremely oily t-zones that need more than just a decent cleanser, astringents might be the answer. Astringents typically should only be applied to the oily parts of combination skin to avoid over-drying or flaking. Oil blotting sheets can also be carried around to periodically remove shine throughout the day.

Stubborn blackheads can often be removed with pore strips. These are commonly used on noses, but can also be applied to foreheads or chins. When removed, the open unclogged pore should generally be closed with the use of a toner.

A partial face mask may be an effective weekly routine for those with problematic t-zones. A partial mask can help treat trouble spots in particular areas on the face. People struggling with acne may want to consider a product that has benzoyl peroxide or sialic acid. Tea tree oil also is used in some natural acne-fighting solutions.

Combination skin does not have to be a lifetime struggle. The sebaceous glands in the t-zone do not always produce such an excess of sebum. Especially during puberty, or other times of hormonal change, oily skin is common. The teen years, pregnancy and menopause can all result in frustrating, yet temporary, combination skin problems.

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