Ah, blackheads. We all know them, and let’s face it, we all hate them. If you’re on a mission to clear your skin of blackheads and restore a smooth, even tone, you’re in the right place.
First, let’s take a look at what causes blackheads. Understanding the cause of any skin problem, whether it’s mild acne or something more serious, is an essential first step in dealing with it.
What are blackheads?
Blackheads are a mild type of acne. They appear when hair follicles get clogged with excess oil, or ‘sebum’. In the skincare world, these clogs are called ‘plugs’.
Sebum is useful for keeping your skin soft, but when too much of it builds up, sometimes combining with dead skin cells, it forms a bump under the skin. If the buildup stays underneath a layer of skin, it’s called a whitehead. You know the type. If the follicle opens, the top layer of the plug will be exposed to oxygen in the air and turn black. Enter, blackhead.
These pesky spots usually appear on the face, particularly around the nose, forehead, and chin, although they can also appear on the:
Because of their dark brown or black colour, this type of acne is usually easy to spot on the skin. Unlike other bacterial pimples, blackheads aren’t painful, inflamed, or red around the edges.
Who gets blackheads?
Some people are more likely to suffer from blackheads than others. You might get blackheads more often if you:
- Have naturally oily skin
- Are prone to acne
- Are undergoing hormonal changes like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or because of birth control
- Are taking certain medications
Some research suggests that acne, and therefore blackheads, can be linked to food intolerances. This might include dairy, gluten, and other common intolerants. However, this hasn’t been proven, and lots of scientists doubt the connection.
How to get rid of blackheads
Blackheads aren’t harmful, although lots of people don’t like the way they look and want to reduce or remove them as soon as possible. Luckily, there are a few straightforward ways to manage blackheads when they do appear. If you’re prone to blackheads, it can be a good idea to find a treatment that works for you and stay on top of your blockages as part of your regular routine.
Over-the-counter blackhead treatments
There are lots of acne medications available, and you can find some good ones at a pharmacy or health shop. These include creams, gels, and liquids which you apply directly onto your skin to help remove blackheads. This type of treatment works by fighting bacteria and drying up excess oil.
Prescription acne medications
If your acne is bothering you and over-the-counter treatments don’t seem to be working, your doctor can prescribe something more robust. Prescription blackhead treatments can stop blockages from forming in hair follicles and promote quicker cell turnover. These medications will be applied directly to your skin.
Manual blackhead extraction
Head to Instagram if you aren’t sure what this is. The internet is bursting with videos of dermatologists squeezing blackheads out of patients, which can make it seem more straightforward than it actually is.
An expert dermatologist will create a small opening in the blockage, which means the blackhead buildup will slip out when pressure is applied. Don’t try this at home. With the wrong tools and technique, you might end up making your breakout worse.
Microdermabrasion involves using a rough instrument to remove dead cells from the top layer of your skin. This helps bring blackheads to the surface to remove the plug. Visit a professional for this one.
How to prevent blackheads
It’s one thing knowing how to get rid of blackheads once they’ve appeared, but wouldn’t it be better if we could stop them from appearing altogether? While there’s always a chance of new blackheads forming, there are some ways you can minimise your chances of getting them.
Keep your face clean
The first and most obvious way to prevent blackheads is to keep your face clean. Wash regularly with a gentle cleanser to prevent oil building up in pores and hair follicles. Harsh soaps and exfoliants can irritate and dry out your skin, which might make acne worse. So always be gentle and choose a product that’s right for you.
Stay away from oils
While these products can be excellent for some people, if you suffer from blackheads, chances are you don’t need and extra oils in your routine. Consider choosing oil-free or water-based products to keep your skin clear.
Exfoliate once or twice a week to help remove blockages from pores and hair follicles. Don’t be too rough! You should aim to gently remove oil buildup, not to scrub away an entire layer of skin.
Discover our complete collection of facial treatments for lots of ways to prevent and treat blackheads. Whatever way you manage your skin care, we’re sure you’ll be feeling great in no time.
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