sweetietooth asked: What are your favorite products for getting rid of blackheads, specifically on the sides of one's face?
A blackhead, or open comedo is a wide opening on the skin with a blackened mass of skin debris covering the opening. Despite their name, some blackheads can be yellowish in color. A comedo is a widened hair follicle which is filled with skin debris (keratin squamae), bacteria and oil (sebum).Blackheads are said to be the first stage of acne. They form before bacteria invade the pores of the patient’s skin. A blackhead can develop into a pimple, which is also known as a papule or pustule.
Blackheads, and acne in general, usually develop after puberty, when hormone levels surge and reach the skin. The presence of higher levels of hormones in the skin triggers the stimulation of the sebaceous glands, which produce oily substances. The sebaceous glands produce too much oil in the pores, which accumulates and gets stuck. When the occluded oil is exposed to air it becomes black.
Several conditions and circumstances can cause blackheads, or make them worse, such as the use of topical oils and make up. Blackheads can affect people with any type of skin, but are generally more common in those with oily skin.
- Check your makeup – The truth is, what you put on to cover blackheads up might actually be causing more of them! If you wear lots of heavy foundation or use thick face creams, you could be contributing to the problem with your products! In general, if you have a problem with greasy skin and clogged pores, consider using as few products as you can. The fewer layers of stuff that you put on your face, the better.
- Lots of water & healthy eating – Cliche’, maybe, but it’s so true. What you put into your body shows on the outside. Simple as that. If you eat lots of greasy crap, your skin is not going to look as good as it would if you ate more veggies and drank more water.
- Use BHA – BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy Acid, which is an exfoliant that removes the dead layer of skin from your face. If you’ve ever seen a skincare product that contains salicylic acid, that’s BHA. BHA is important for getting rid of blackheads because it goes into your pores to clean out the excess oil and dead skin cells that make up blackheads.
A great product that i use is Neutrogena Acne Stress Control (about 5 bucks) I put it on at night after washing my face, and when I wake up, my skin always looks better and better. I have less blackheads, and as a bonus, my skin is clearer and softer than it was before. Because my skin (and most people’s) changes when the seasons do, I change up from using the Neutrogena in the spring and summer to Murad’s Exfoliating Cleanser in the fall and winter.
- Do a clay mask once a week – This is only for those of you with oily or combination skin. Dry skin, obviously, needs all the oil it can get. Blackheads are partially caused by excess oil on your face, so if you have greasy skin, a good quality clay mask will help sop up some of the grease and keep your pores clearer. Using it once a week is enough – you don’t want to over-dry your skin, because this could lead to even more problems!
- Don’t bother with a pore strip – First of all, they’re basically useless for getting rid of anything that’s stuck deep in your pores. Second of all, they can actually damage your skin! I know these things look like miracle products, but save your money because they aren’t really going to help.
- Squeeze, but do it carefully! - This is one situation where picking your face may actually help instead of making things worse. Don’t take this as permission to pick at your face all you want! There is a right and a wrong way to squeeze blackheads and it’s really important that you do it the right way.
First, wash your face with a gentle cleanser. (I like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.) Next, cover your face with a warm, wet cloth for 10 to 15 minutes. Pat your face dry, then wrap tissues around your fingers to prevent slippage. Use GENTLE pressure to press down then up around the sides of the blackhead. If nothing happens after one or two tries, stop. That means the blackhead isn’t ready to come out yet. Whatever you do, don’t pinch, use your nails or press too hard. This can damage your skin and might even lead to scars!
- See a dermatologist – If all else fails, a derm can really help you out. They can prescribe things like Retin-A, antibiotics or Accutane, which can all help with blackheads. Procedures like microdermabrasion are also said to be effective, but I recommend trying the above steps first because the problem can usually clear itself up without these extreme treatments.
At the end of the day, blackheads are kind of an ongoing battle. For those of us who are prone to them, light makeup, gentle cleansers and BHA treatments are necessary to get rid of them and keep them away. There isn’t any magical cure that will rid you of them forever, but taking good care of you skin on an ongoing basis will work wonders.