Blackheads 101: What Are They And How To Treat Them

Emma.QuinceEmma.Quince
May 7
Probably one of the biggest skincare concerns we hear at the moment is… “Help! I have Blackheads, how do I treat them?” And just like you we’re not sure there's anything more annoying than Blackheads!
Blackheads are one of the most common skincare complaints, yet there are a lot of myths about exactly what Blackheads are and how we can get rid of them. Well look no further as we give you the 411 on those dark little clogged pores on your face.
What Are Blackheads?
Blackheads are small bumps that are formed on your skin due to blocked hair follicles. These small bumps are called Blackheads - simply because the head is black. Blackheads are in acne’s family and will usually form on your face, but they can also appear on your back, neck, arms and even shoulders.
Blackheads vs Spots
Spots and Blackheads are both caused by blocked pores, but spots are created when the hair follicle is completely sealed, blocking the sebum and dirt in the hair follicle from getting to the surface. So, if the pore is just clogged but not sealed, the oil and dead skin in the pore can reach the skin's surface. When it connects with air, the sebum turns a black colour forming what we know as a blackhead.
Blackheads vs Whiteheads
There are actually two types of Blackheads: Blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are open comedones which look like tiny black dots. Whiteheads are closed comedones which look like tiny grains of rice and because the pore is closed, the sebum cannot reach the surface which makes the head look white and lumpy.
What Causes Blackheads?
Blackheads can be formed by many factors. Not only that, but the way they appear, are created, or how often they develop, depends a lot on many specific characteristics. Basic things that you might not think about like your skin type, age, gender and hormonal factors will have an effect on blackhead formulation.
3 steps to a blackhead forming
  • Excess sebum production inside the skin's pores makes it hard for the sebum to reach the surface of the skin - resulting in blocked pores.
  • As the flow of oil begins to block, it mixes with dead skin cells that haven't exfoliated as properly as they should have which then narrows the hole of the pores so that the sebum does not produce naturally.
  • If the pore is still slightly visible, the mixture of excess sebum and dead skin cells are able to be affected by oxygen which turns the product black, forming a blackhead.
How Do I Effectively Treat Blackheads?
Whether big or small, Blackheads are definitely stubborn! Even though there are an overwhelming amount of products on the market that all claim to get rid of your annoying black dots once and for all, Blackheads are pretty much part of life - and almost everybody will experience them at one point in their lives.
So realistically, they're inevitable, but there is definitely some strategy when it comes to handling and treating them - patience and consistency is key! There are a few different ways you can attack Blackheads but first you’ll need to be patient with your skin and know that consistency is key. 
Don’t pick your skin
We know, It’s easier said than done - but it’s incredibly important. Harmful bacterias and oil are on your hands, and anytime you touch or pick at your skin you’re transferring it to your face. Picking at your skin can also cause irreversible scarring. We know it’s hard, but please try to resist!
Choose the right products
If you’re serious about putting an end to pesky Blackheads, be mindful about the products you put on your face. Using non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products can help reduce your blackheads. Make sure your moisturizer has at least 30 SPF or above and avoid oily facial products. A good rule of thumb is that, the thinner the product, the better. Anytime you apply a product to your skin it has the potential to clog your pores.
Use an alpha or beta hydroxy acid cleanser
Alpha or beta hydroxy acid, are best known for their skin care assistance properties. We recommend a salicylic acid wash (once a day) - you may even find medicated face wipes that contain AHA’s!
Be careful of pore strips and facemasks
If you remember not too long ago, the charcoal face mask phase didn't end too well for most, so you’ll know to tread carefully. Adhesive nose strips and facemasks often have the instant pleasure that most people are looking for - peeling it off your nose and physically seeing your blackheads all standing to attention - but most often these products won’t solve your hidden skin issues and will cause repeat offenders. 
Exfoliate correctly
Exfoliation is and should be an important part of every skin care routine, but it’s very easy to overdo it so we recommend just a couple of times a week will be enough. Glycolic acid acts as a great exfoliator, helping to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells – and obviously those annoying Blackheads.
Manual extraction
You may have had a facial and had your Blackheads manually extracted before and noticed how clear your face looks and feels. So sometimes a good course of action for those pesky black dots is by manual extraction, but it should always be done by a professional, otherwise you risk scarring your skin for good. Ask your dermatologist about a chemical peel and microdermabrasion too.
How Do I Prevent Blackheads?
Every skin type is different and should be treated that way. So when it comes to clearing Blackheads, prevention is key.
 4 top tips to prevent Blackheads forming:
  • Choose skincare products with a liquid formula or in a gel texture.
  • Avoid using products that will irritate your skin such as alcohol, peppermint, menthol, lemon/lime and eucalyptus.
  • Get rid of excess sebum by using a mask regularly to absorb sebum, particularly on the more oily parts of your face.
  • Visit your beautician as they will safely remove your Blackheads and give you the right tips to prevent them in the future.
References:
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/blackheads
  • https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/alpha-hydroxy-acids
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