Why Your T-Zone Is Trying To Ruin Your Life

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The T-zone: It’s named for the T-shaped area it covers on your face, but it might as well be named for The Twilight Zone, considering how weirdly it acts compared with the rest of your skin.

For so many of us, the skin on the forehead, nose, and chin has a mind of its own, behaving very differently than the cheeks, jaw, and neck. More often than not, that behavior includes excessive oiliness, blackheads, and whiteheads, even when the rest of your face is clear and matte, or even dry. But, why? Why must the T-zone act out like an eternal teenager?

“The T-zone may look shinier or greasier than the rest of the face, as it has a higher content of oil glands producing more oil and sebum, leading to a higher probability of breakouts and clogged pores,” explains New York City dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD. “This usually results in what we call combination skin, where some areas are greasy while others are dry.”

Getting your entire face to cooperate can be a challenge, but it’s not an impossible one. Through trial and error, you can find a regimen that encourages skin harmony. We want you to deal with as little error as possible, though, so we’ve rounded up some of the best products and techniques for getting your T-zone under control.