How to get rid of blackheads?

Blackheads: no one wants them, everyone has them. They emerge at puberty and, like weird ear hair (if you haven’t got it, trust us, it’s coming), they’re a fact of life. That’s not to say you should be resigned to allowing the sweat, oil and other gunk that causes comedones (to use their fancy name) to set up shop in your skin. With the help of a dermatologist and a few grooming products, it’s impossible to minimise and even evict these annoying dots from your face. Here’s how.
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You ask what are blackheads?

Blackheads are a type of acne and, like all acne, are caused by a clogged pore, when dead skin cells or other debris get into the pore, they mix with the oil and cause a clog.

However, unlike oh-so-poppable whiteheads, where the skin over the blocked pore remains intact, these darker pimples form when the skin around the bump opens. “When the sebum oil mixes with air, it oxidises and turns black.”

The most common places for blackheads to call home are the nose, chin and forehead – helpfully, right where your date/everyone in your business meeting can see. But as the body has over five million pores, they can pop up elsewhere too, like on your back and chest.

What causes blackheads?

Though blackheads aren’t as obvious as their pus-filled siblings, the acne-causing culprit is still the same: blocked pores.

What propagates these varies from pollution to unwashed towels, but there are also a few causes that fly under the radar, such as certain personal care products.

If what you slather on your skin has a thick, greasy consistency, it could actually be causing, rather than helping avoid, breakouts. Those who suffer severely from blackheads should look out for products labelled ‘non-comedogenic’, which is grooming speak for saying they don’t clog pores.

How to prevent blackheads?

Like all forms of acne, the blemish that you see today actually started two weeks ago, proving why, as with anything, offense is better than defense.

To avoid blackheads, you should be using a gentle daily cleanser with alpha and beta hydroxy acids (namely salicylic acid).

Don’t overlook the role a simply everyday moisturiser plays in keeping your skin clear either. Although it may seem counterintuitive, not using a moisturiser can actually lead to your sebaceous glands overproducing oil, causing more breakouts and blackheads. In other words, the best-looking skin is balanced skin.

How to remove blackheads at-home?

The battle to beat blackheads is one fraught with danger. Because of their size and awkward location, they can be tricky to eliminate without aggravating the skin. Especially if you’re tempted to have a dig with your fingernails (don’t do that).

The most effective at-home methods for removing blackheads involve using face washes, pore strips, exfoliators and face masks to suck all excess gunk from the depths of your pores. However, not just any old product will do.

If you want to remove individual blackheads or spots yourself, always wash your hands first. Use a clean skin tool (these have a loop at either end to allow targeted removal) and apply equal pressure to the area. Finish by applying an astringent, such as tea tree oil, to the area to stop the spread of bacteria.

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How to remove blackheads professionally?

  • Step 1: The skin is cleansed with salicylic acid to gently remove surface debris, including dead skin cells.
  • Step 2: The face will be steamed to open pores, and a gentle exfoliating serum applied to make extraction easier. A desincrustation mask is then used to soften the keratinaceous plug (the nasty cocktail of stuff clogging the sebaceous gland) prior to extraction.
  • Step 3: Once the extractions are complete, a gauze is used to exert firm pressure on the skin. Alternating different angles, the blackhead is gently lifted from the pore opening.
  • Step 4: An astringent is applied to extraction sites to reduce the possibility of infection, followed by a clay or sulphur mask to cleanse the pores and absorb any remaining oil.
  • Step 6: The process is finished with a non-comedogenic moisturiser and physical sunscreen to restore and protect the skin’s natural barrier function.

So there you have it – so many ways how to get rid of these annoying little things.

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