Without a doubt, one of our all-time most frustrating skin concerns is blackheads, those unsightly dark plugs of oil that always make our complexions look less than their best. It seems like the one time your skin is free from the tyranny of blackheads is for about 10 minutes right after your facial, where a skincare expert has carefully and methodically removed them with care. You might think you should replicate your spa treatment at home by removing blackheads yourself, but experts say that’s the one thing you should never do to your blackheads.
“Blackheads are caused by overactive sebum production–excess sebum, combined with dead skin cells block the pore of a hair follicle,” says Dermatologist Dr. Fayne Frey. “Oxidation at the skin surface turns the plug black. Hence the name: blackheads. Do not pick, squeeze, or attempt to ‘pop’ blackheads. This physical manipulation of the skin may lead to skin inflammation and potential scarring of the skin.”
Another thing that doesn’t work on blackheads? Attacking them with the harshest chemicals and scrubbing devices you can find. As hard as you try, you just can’t buff blackheads away.
“Do not use harsh abrasives, or attempt to exfoliate blackheads with irritating coarse sponges, scrubs or other devices,” Frey says. “It is ineffective and again, may lead to further inflammation and facial scarring.”
Blackheads are a common skin care issue, one many people tend to see forming around the t-zone area and particularly around the nose, says Dr. David E. Bank, founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. The most effective solution to prevent and get rid of them involves caring for your skin with ingredients that are designed to target excess sebum.
“The best way to get rid of blackheads is to break down the oil in the clogged pores by using a beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic) or combination peel that contains salicylic acid,” Bank says. “Glycolic acid can also help clear dead skin and debris on the surface. You really do not want to squeeze the blackheads, this can make the skin inflamed, infected and can even cause scarring. Steam extraction facials can also be extremely helpful to extracting and exfoliating the skin. They can also help pop some blackheads and zits that are not commonly seen by the naked eye. Keep in mind that it’s not a cure for acne or chronic blackheads.”
If over-the-counter products keep failing your skin and blackheads continue to resurface, Frey suggests visiting a dermatologist who can prescribe FDA preparations that are more effective that OTC options.
“These topical creams and lotions often contain vitamin A derivatives that decrease sebum production and affect cell turnover, which reduces comedonal formation,” Frey says.
Remember: hands off your face and don’t resign yourself to having to battle blackheads for the rest of time–smarter skincare is the solution.
For more skincare tips, check out 7 skincare mistakes that are aging you and are skincare drinks and NutriCosmetics the next big thing in beauty?
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