Everyone dreams about clean and healthy skin, but pollution, oily complexion and makeup can worsen its condition and lead to pore clogging, and, as a result, to blackheads, whiteheads or acne. This chain of unfortunate events, though, can be stopped, but you have to act in the right moment. This of course doesn’t mean that you have to quit going out and doing your makeup. You have to focus on your pores and learn how to remove blackheads first.
What are blackheads?
Blackhead, also known as a comedo, is an oxidized combination of sebum and dead skin cells, or to put it simply, it is an open pore (hair follicle) which becomes clogged with oil, skin cells and bacteria and turns black under the influence of the air. Blackheads usually appear on nose, forehead and chin.
What is the difference between whiteheads and blackheads?
Both sit in your pores, but whiteheads are in closed pores, whereas blackheads reside in the open pores (and thus become oxidized).
Why does it happen?
Hair follicles secrete sebum thanks to sebaceous glands. It protects your skin and moisturises it with oil. The excess of sebum, however, can lead to several skin conditions such as oily skin, which gives you an unhealthy look, or blackheads and acne, which are the results of clogging of pores and coming into contact with oxygen. Mind you, that the secretion of the sebum is an ongoing process and is not bad for your skin and health, so you shouldn’t be too harsh on your skin or try to stop it. The excess of sebum is nonetheless an issue which should be accurately dealt with.
Proper blackheads treatment
First things first – don’t overdo with squeezing blackheads, as it may lead to inflammation, scarring and spread of bacteria! Although it might be hard to resist, you should leave this task to an extraction facial specialist. There is however a way to do it at home with your fingers covered with a tissue (because, let’s face it, you hands can transfer a lot of bacteria) but we urge you to focus only on the oldest, hence the blackest, blackheads – new ones tend to be quite resistant to squeezing, and thus prone to damage and contamination.
Prior to this process, take a hot bath or shower, or simply lean your face over the bowl of hot water to let the steam open the pores. Remember to squeeze around the pore – doing it only on the same two sides of the pore may be painful and lead to breaking of the walls of the follicle. If the blackhead is not coming out, don’t try to force it. Since it often happens that blackheads are stubborn and don’t come out easily, this process may lead to inflammation. It’s better to book a visit at beautician’s and have your pores cleaned by an expert who will do it skilfully and gently to your skin.
However, regular visits can be costly, therefore you should definitely try some do-it-yourself methods! With help of well-matched cosmetics and systematic washing and scrubbing routine, you can combat oily skin and clogged pores. Here are some dos and don’ts of blackhead removal.
- Moisturise – oily skin often gets treated with products that dry out skin. Use a light moisturiser to level hydration of your face.
- Use oil-free cosmetics – your face already cares for covering your skin with protecting sebum, you don’t need to add up to it. Noncomedogenic (meaning not clogging your pores) cosmetics are also highly recommended.
- Wash – cleanse your skin twice a day (especially in the evening after the whole day in makeup and exposure to polluted air) with a gel that focuses on removing blackheads. Opt for oil-free formula.
- Balance the pH – use a pore-closing toner after that will normalize your skin condition and helps it regain neutral pH after washing your face with gel and water. It will prepare your skin for a moisturiser.
- Exfoliate – use a scrub or an enzymatic peeling if you have sensitive or prone to redness skin at least twice a week to remove dead skin cells that may clog your pores. Go for cosmetics with AHA (alpha-hydroxy-acids) ingredients which are the best blackhead removers, like lactic acid that absorbs the oil, or BHA (beta hydroxy acids), like salicylic acid, which enhances the exfoliation of outer layer of your skin cells. Read more about the wholesome properties of salicylic acid here.
- Put a mask on – use a blackhead remover face mask or a blackhead extraction paste once a week, for example a clay mask which helps with inflammation, detoxifies and absorbs the dirt and oil out of your pores. Need additional help? Try pore strips, especially on your nose, that will peel off your blackheads – they essentially draw the dirt out of the pore. Apply a soothing, anti-inflammation cream afterwards.
- Consult with dermatologist – in some cases clogged pores need to be dealt with help of a specialist and medicine. A dermatologist will prescribe you suitable for your skin condition cosmetics which will scrupulously clean and care for your complexion, like for instance with retinoid or retinol which fight blackheads and increase exfoliation (in case of these products, remember to be patient, since it is a long-lasting treatment, but worth the wait).
- Wash too frequently – oily skin can be burdensome and you may want to have it under control by washing the oil away too many times a day. In turn, this may dry out your skin. Use a mattifying papers instead that will absorb the excess of sebum.
- Scrub too hard – exfoliation is important, because it helps get rid of dead skin cells, but don’t be too harsh on your skin. Use a gentle scrub or enzymatic one, if you notice that a thick-grained peeling irritates your skin.
- Overdo with salicylic acid – although it is recommended to incorporate this acid in your exfoliating routine, you should be careful since this substance may dehydrate your skin and lead to overproduction of sebum. Once or twice a week (and not too long on your skin!) will be sufficient, if not too much – observe your skin and if you see that it starts scaling, put salicylic acid away for a while.
- Use only mattifying cosmetics – although it may be tempting, try not to use oil-controlling gels, toners, creams, scrubs, masks, primers, foundations and powders. Phew, that’s a lot of cosmetics that may dehydrate your skin! Include a nourishing, but pore-closing toner and a soothing, but oil-free moisturiser.
Blackheads on face are upsetting, make your skin look unhealthy and can cause further skin conditions, therefore you should do your best to close your pores and don’t let them become clogged. Keep in mind, though, that this is not a one-time process. Even if you succeed and remove your blackheads entirely, they will reappear after couple of weeks again, so you should make pore cleaning routine your habit.