Everyone gets them, everyone dreads them. Some of us are lucky enough to have them disappear on their own, and some of us have to live with them for much longer. Here’s the good news: your face can be free of black heads, and that too, without having to undergo complicated procedures and using thousand-dollar serums.
In the first part of this two-part series on blackheads, we’ll look at what you can do on an everyday basis to prevent blackheads from appearing in the first place, and give your face a smooth,even look. In the second post (coming soon), we’ll look at what you can do to ease them away from your face – without aggressive treatments.
It’s important to understand that blackheads are not dirt sticking out of pores, that can be yanked away or scrubbed away. Medically speaking, blackheads are “small, dark spots on the skin, caused by a small blockage in the opening of a pore (follicle)” - US Library of Medicine. So they are actually spots on your skin – pigmented spots, to be precise.
Your skin produces an oily or waxy matter called sebum which helps lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair. This sebum naturally emerges from the pores in the skin (too much sebum = “oily” skin, too little = dry skin). Sometimes, this sebum is produced in excess and the pore gets blocked. Sebum contains melanin (Oh! That pigment that gives us our skin color). When exposed to air, melanin oxidises and becomes dark. And that’s what you see as a blackhead. So it’s not dirt or just a blocked pore that’s visible as a blackhead – it’s actually a pigmented spot, which is why it's a little tricky to get rid of...
Going by the above, blackheads can occur to any of us (just like anybody can catch a cold), but yes - people with oily skin and combination skin are more susceptible. Very often, people with otherwise dry skin have a cluster of blackheads on their nose tip, because sebum production is highest in that area (why that is so is a topic for another day :P)
The good news, finally. Blackheads can be prevented to a large extent if you follow (and don't follow) some basic do's and don'ts on a daily basis. Here we go!
Blackhead extractors are best used by qualified aestheticians - we don't think it's a good idea to use them at home because of the risk of infection and permanent scarring. And remember, with an extractor, you are treating the symptom, not the cause.
The same holds for blackhead removal strips - it's alright to try them as a first-aid or emergency use against blackheads, but they are hardly a permanent solution, or a sustainable cure. It's best to understand what causes blackheads, in the first place, and prevent them from happening!
We'll be back with another post soon on things you can do to get rid of blackheads after they've happened.
What has been your experience with blackheads? Have you tried something that's worked or hasn't? We'd love to hear from you - do share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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