Blackheads. Almost everyone who comes in asks about blackheads and how to make them go away for good. Today we’re discussing what blackheads are, what is commonly mislabeled a blackhead, the benefits of a facial service and homecare do’s and don’ts.
What Is A Blackhead (and What It Isn’t):
What are commonly referred to as blackheads are actually two separate things: blackheads (open comedones) and clogged pores (sebaceous filaments).
- The official term: open comedones
- blackheads occur when a pore becomes clogged with dead skin cells, p. acnes bacteria, and oil.
- They can appear anywhere on the body.
- The clog near the opening of the pore oxidizes due to air exposure and turns black.
- Blackheads are a form of acne.
- The official term: sebaceous filaments
- Clogged pores occur when the oil lining the pore expands and causes the pore to look larger.
- The oil also oxidizes and appears black, which is why they are commonly mistaken for blackheads.
- Clogged pores occur mostly on the nose, but can appear elsewhere such as in the ears and on the back.
- The biggest cause of clogged pores is mucus-forming foods.
How Regular Facials Help
Depending on the condition of the skin, the facial cleansing process can last from 10 to 15 minutes. Outlined below are the steps in a facial that addresses blackheads and clogged pores:
- Cleanse #1: This superficial cleanse removes makeup, sweat, really anything sitting on the skin.
- Cleanse #2: This is where the action starts – the deep pore cleanse. The oil and toner duo I use marries with your skin’s oil and begins to soften the impactions. A good portion of the clogged pores become unclogged at this point.
- Exfoliation: I use enzymes and sometimes massage a facial scrub into the skin.
- Extraction solution: This stuff stinks, but it helps soften and loosen the impactions even more making extractions easier.
- Ultrasonic device: This device uses ultrasound to gently vibrate the blackheads and clogged pores out of the skin. This device provides a pain-free experiences and doesn’t damage the skin.
Do I Need Extractions?
Yes and no. If you’re seeing a lot of blackheads or clogged pores, it is a sign your body isn’t eliminating or exfoliating properly and that you’re consuming too many suboptimal foods. Extraction will give the skin the opportunity to rebalance when the impaction is removed.
Keep in mind, extracting 100% of what you see will do more harm than good, it is too taxing on the skin.
If left alone, the body will eventually clear out the pore. To do this the body will send more oil to the pore, the pore will get larger, and you risk rupturing the pore. This could lead to infection at worst and a forever giant pore at best.
Why Do I Get Blackheads & How Do I Make Them Stop?
The short answer is: You’re made that way, and you can’t make it stop.
The long answer: Our skin is programmed to produce oil. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to move without breaking the skin and you would be susceptible to every bit of bacteria, viruses, or fungi that landed on your skin. Heck, you wouldn’t be alive if your skin stopped producing oil.
Alison, I Still Don’t Like Them, What Can I Do?
Regular facials and home care is the best combo. Using cleansers suited for your skin type will help keep the oxidized bits tamed. Do you know your skin type? Click here for my post on determining your skin type.
Below are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to blackheads.
- Cleanse your skin nightly with a cleanser suited for your skin type. If you’re using a cleanser I’ve recommended, then you’re all set.
- Deep pore cleanse: Go next level and use the Deep Pore Cleansing Duo for your skin type every evening. The oil and toner combo will soften the oil and help get rid of the oxidized portion of the oil plug.
- Eliminate, or significantly decrease, the consumption of mucus-forming foods such as alcohol, cow’s milk, cheese, processed sugar, deep-fried foods, soy, wheat, caffeine, and red meat.
- If you can’t make it in regularly, invest in an ultrasonic device. I can direct you to a good one to purchase and show you how to use it properly.
- If acne doesn’t clear with regular facials and eliminating dairy, sugar, and/or gluten, seeing a nutritionist or functional medicine doctor can help you get your gut health in balance which will help clear acne.
- Face masks: Use a clean mask daily (for oily skin, I’d change it out 2-3 times a day depending upon frequency of oil production). Switching to a cloth mask can help cut down on irritation.
Tuel Deep Pore Cleansing Duos are available for Acne, Dry, Combination, Mature, Oily, and Sensitive skin types.
Don’t attempt extractions at home. It is difficult to tell the difference between a blackhead and clogged pore. Using an extractor or your fingers at home can press the bacteria deeper into the skin, which can lead to infection & scarring. Leave the extractions to the pros.
Don’t exfoliate often. Our skin naturally exfoliates every 28-30 days, and it is best to let our skin do it’s thing. Too much exfoliation is a recipe for trouble with our skin.
Don’t wash with hot water, it will strip the natural oil from your skin. Always use warm (just above body temp) water to wash your face.