How Do You Get Rid of Blackheads?
What are blackheads?
A blackhead is a hair follicle that has been clogged-up with oil and skin debris (also known as Keratin). The scientific name for a blackhead is ‘comedo’. The skin is open over a blackhead. If the skin closes over the top of a blackhead, it becomes a whitehead. An inflamed blackhead or whitehead is, essentially, acne.
Why are blackheads black?
It is a common misconception that the discolouration of a blackhead is caused by dirt or grime. It is actually caused by the oxidation of the material at the surface of the follicle. This is the same process that takes place when you take a bite out of an apple and set it aside.
Why do I get blackheads?
There are a number of reasons that you might be prone to blackheads.
You have oily skin
If you have oily skin, you’re more likely to be visited by the dreaded blackhead fairy. So, you should be investing in a skincare and facial health routine designed for the oilier skin type.
Wash your face two to three times each day
Use gentle cleansers. Ironically, harsh cleaners will remove too much oil, which will encourage your skin to go into oil-production overdrive, making matters much worse.
Keep blotters handy. When you can't wash your face, blot. This is a very gentle way of removing the excess oil that can lead to blackheads, whiteheads and acne.
Yep, more irony. You need to avoid dry skin or dry skin patches because, as we've said before, dry skin provokes oil overproduction. But be sure to use a light, non-oily moisturizer. There are lots of these on the market. The important word to look out for on any moisturizing product is 'non-comedogenic'.
The easiest way to keep your skin moisturized without having to resort to too much in the way of creams and lotions, is to drink lots of water.
You’re prone to flaking
This isn’t necessarily at odds with point 1. Oily skin and flaking often go hand-in-hand. The desire to tackle oily skin results in overwashing which creates dry and flaky skin for a time. This period of dry skin is usually short-lived as the skin goes into oil-production overdrive, but it is sufficient to produce the kind of debris that is particularly good at blocking-up pores.
This should be part of your skincare routine, anyway, but it is very important for those of us prone to blackheads.
You’ll need to use the gentlest exfoliator available, as rough scrubs can aggravate the skin and produce an oil-production reaction. And when you apply your exfoliator, just remember you’re not sanding down a piece of timber. Again, scrubbing in a manner which causes obvious friction is going to exacerbate oil production.
But how do I get rid of existing blackheads?
All of the above is all well and good for reducing the occurrence of blackheads, but had do you get rid of the ones that have already taken up residence upon your beautiful face?
There are a number of methods
Blackhead removing strips
Blackhead removing strips can be very effective at removing blackheads, and there’s very little in life more satisfying than seeing that ‘gunky stubble’ all over the strip and knowing that said ‘gunky stubble’ is no longer living rent-free on your skin. And, because the strip is adhesive, it’s also very good at removing the kind of debris that can block pores and lead to even more blackheads.
The important thing to remember with this solution is preparation and aftercare. Make sure the area to which you are applying the strip is thoroughly cleaned (in accordance with the instructions above) before and after the deed is done. This can be quite a harsh treatment (you’re effectively waxing your skin!) so be sure to apply something soothing like aloe vera and a light non-comedogenic mosturizer.
Blackhead removal tools
Blackhead removal tools can look a bit intimidating, like something a dentist might use. Or a deranged interrogator in a spy movie. But they’re easy and safe to use. They have the advantage of being precise and targeted, so you not attacking an entire area of your face like you would with a strip or cleanser; you’re just attacking each blackhead once at a time. Because these tools work by downward pressure, they don’t result in the same swelling that can come about by squeezing at blackheads with your finger tips.
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You can also use a blackhead removing vacuum which sucks the blackhead out. Again, avoids the crushing damage that can be caused by squeezing with your fingers. It also can help increase the blood circulation to the effected area which can result in healthier skin more generally.
The same rules for preparation and aftercare apply as for using blackhead removing strips, as outlined above.
Blackheads, prevention and cure, summary:
Prevention: Keep your skin clean, control your oil levels and remove any debris from the skin. Remember, oil and debris are the fundamental constituents of a blackhead.
Removal. Preparation and aftercare are essential, and try to target the blackheads themselves rather than opting for a ‘whole area’ approach.