Blackheads are one of those skin afflictions that can creep up on just about anyone. Even if you have "great" skin – not too many breakouts, and only a few dark spots – blackheads can still crop up along your nose and chin. In the summer, the tiny clogged pore dots become even more prevalent – and it's not cute! To put it simply, blackheads are a common skin affliction that nobody wants to deal with. They can be difficult to get rid of and covering them up only means clogging them up even more.
But there's good news, too: Treating existing blackheads and warding off future ones can be achieved if you follow the right plan of attack. Get The Look is offering you everything you need to know to keep blackheads in check – and off your face!
WHAT ARE BLACKHEADS?
To be successful in the fight against blackheads, it's important to know what exactly they are. A blackhead – otherwise known as an open comedo – is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. The combined effects of inflammation, bacteria, excess sebum and excess proliferation and abnormal sloughing off of cells that line the pore leads to plugging up the follicle. What makes blackheads different than other forms of acne is that they have a wide opening at the surface so you can see the contents of the blockage.
Anyone can get blackheads (even those with perfect skin!) and they can occur anywhere on the face, but the most common area is the T-zone, at the center of the face, which tends to be most oily.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT THEM?
To start, take a look at your skin-care products. Avoid any comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients, like synthetic oils, cocoa butter and coconut oil. These heavy moisturizers can be contributing factors when it comes to blackheads. When shopping for anything from sunscreens to moisturizers, hair products, and makeup, look for the non-comedogenic label.
It's also important to exfoliate regularly to prevent buildup of dead skin cells that can lead to clogged pores.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
If you do end up with a blackhead or two, this is where a dermatologist or aesthetician comes in: Both can perform extractions to remove blackheads, but don't try extractions at home! DIY extractions are often not performed correctly and can wind up spreading bacteria, causing infections and more inflammation. This can create scarring and a vicious cycle of skin issues.
If you absolutely must do it yourself, here's how: Wash your hands and use a warm compress to open the pores, then gently squeeze or use a comedone extractor that's been sanitized in alcohol. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to traumatize the skin. Finish off by swiping a calming, anti-bacterial toner over the area. Prevent blackheads from showing up on your face by using the products mentioned above!