Blackheads – The Lowdown
I get asked all the time about blackheads, why do you get them and how to treat them. So here’s what you should know:
A comedone is a clogged hair follicle or pore in the skin. In the hair follicle you have an oil gland called the sebaceous gland and this naturally produces oil to moisturise and protect your hair and your skin. The problem occurs when dead skin cells and skin debris mix with your own oil to block this follicle. A comedone can be open which is the ones we know as blackheads and when the comedone is closed – these are the ones we know as whiteheads.
In the case of blackheads – the oil and skin debris have reacted with the air which literally oxidizes turning to the colour black – hence the name.
Blackheads should not be confused with sebaceous filaments which look like tiny blackheads and are made up of dead skin cells which form around the hair follicle. When these are expressed they come out like a creamy coloured hair like strand. However these guys do a job of channeling your oil production to the surface of the skin, allowing it to seep gradually to the surface.
Oil production increases during puberty causing comedones and acne. So if your teenager has them – listen on!
1. Poor hygiene or dirt does not cause blackheads. The oxidation causes the pore to turn black.
2. Washing or scrubbing the skin too much can make it worse.
3. Picking or touching the blackheads can cause irritation, inflammation, or even scarring.
4. Make up, fake tanning and ingredients such as coconut oil can cause blackheads.
What can you do?
1. The absolute best ingredient to help get rid of blackheads is salicylic acid. So look for cleansers that have salicylic acid. SA is a beta hydroxy acid which is oil soluble and this means that it will help clean out the pores.
2. Use oil free moisturisers. Yes I still think you need to moisturise even an oily skin. The only exception to this is where active spots are. I would use a light moisturiser over an oily/combination skin.
3. Cleanse your skin in the morning, after exercise such as a gym workout, and double cleanse at night before you go to bed.
4. Gentle scrubs may be used 2 or 3 times a week on the blackhead area to further help clean out the pores and make them more refined but no harsh scrubbing as this can damage the skin.
5. You must wear a sunscreen. If you leave your skin free to UV rays – these will damage the collagen making the skin more lax and this enlarges the pores – encouraging blackheads.