Anatomy of a Hair Follicle
Image from www.merckmanuals.com
Got blackheads? Don’t worry – you’re not the only one who’s suffering from this skin problem. Blackheads are very common and are usually found on your nose. However, it’s not unusual to find them on the scalp, ears, nape, the back or the shoulders. This is because blackheads are essentially open hair follicles or open comedones that become filled with sebum, keratin (dead skin cells) and bacteria. The “black” part is caused by the oxidation of sebum when it is exposed to air by the open pore.
Image from www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Acne/
And the opposite of blackheads are – you guessed it right – whiteheads, which are closed comedones. Whiteheads are hair follicles that are completely blocked by the same material that causes blackheads, except that the blockage encourages the growth of the bacteria responsible for acne, resulting in inflammation and, voila, pimples!
Sebum isn’t bad
Sebum gets a bad rap these days but it’s a natural lubricant produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin and yes, it does feel like oil. This is because the role of sebum is to prevent water loss as well as moisturize, lubricate and protect your skin. When your skin feels dry, that means your skin isn’t producing enough sebum, and moisture is escaping. If you have oily skin, it means there’s an over-production of sebum that can lead to clogging and thus acne.
Here are 5 of the best ways to prevent and treat blackheads.
1. Daily Cleansing
Washing your face daily will help remove any surface dirt as well as excess oil from your face. While you don’t always have to use a cleanser, using one suitable for your skin type will help maintain the balance of oil and moisture on your face, which in turn will minimize the risk of developing pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.
Exfoliating once a week can help remove the build-up of dead skin cells and sebum on your face, and prevent it from worsening. Remember to use only gentle pressure when using facial scrubs because excessive friction can also harm your skin. Chemical exfoliation is another option, with AHA (alpha hydroxyl acid) and BHA (beta hydroxyl acid) being some of the most commonly used for mild exfoliation as they break down the oils in the blocked pores.
3. Use Clay Masks
Clay masks with charcoal, kaolin, volcanic clay, or even baking soda also help in unclogging pores. Let these products sit on your skin for a while. They’ll penetrate the skin, absorb the excess oil and gently exfoliate.
4. Practice Good Hygiene
Benjamin Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While cleansing and exfoliating can help reduce blackheads, you can minimize the risk of occurrence further by ensuring that your hands are always clean. Avoid touching your face and picking at pimple scabs to prevent re-infection. Use a mobile headset to prevent the screen of your phone from touching your face, because let’s face it (pun intended): your phone goes with you EVERYWHERE. Change your clothing, bath towels and bed linens regularly since sweat and dirt stick to these as well.
5. Visit a Dermatologist
A dermatologist is always your best bet when it comes to finding solutions to skin problems. They can recommend products and treatments that work best with your skin type, while minimizing the risk of any allergic reactions if you have any allergy or health issues that need to be considered. Micropeels, dermabrasion, laser treatments and other treatments are also best done by professionals. So when in doubt, consult your favorite dermatologist!
Looking for quick blackhead removal solutions? See the YesStyle beauty bestsellers below!
Blackhead Pore Strips and Masks
Scrubs and Peels