Blackheads... a not so nice discussion point in the skincare community. But let’s be real, who among us hasn’t pondered how to get rid of them at some point? They’re small, pesky and can really affect our self-esteem. Sometimes it seems that no matter how meticulous we are with our skincare routine, they just stubbornly remain, leaving us totally at a loss with how to treat them. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, read on to get clued up on what blackheads really are, what causes them, and how to treat them.
What are blackheads?
Similar to other types of blemishes you may experience, blackheads are pores that have become clogged by debris, such as dead skin, oil, or dirt and other environmental pollutants. This can lead to what is known as an open comedone or blackhead, which is a pore or hair follicle filled with such debris which is then oxidized by oxygen in the air which causes the sebum to become black, hence the term blackhead. They tend to occur mostly in the areas where our pores are larger, like around the nose, jawline, and forehead. Any of us can get blackheads, so it’s nothing to feel any shame about! It’s just a matter of knowing how to deal with them when they emerge.
What causes blackheads?
Blackheads are caused by a build-up of oil, dead skin, and dirt, however there can be greater underlying causes than just this. If our skin is faced with an overproduction of oil, blackheads are more likely to occur. This can be attributed to our hormones, which are another factor that can lead to blackheads. Stress can also contribute to blackheads by affecting our hormonal balance. It is also important to look at the beauty products you’re using if you’re experiencing an unusual increase in blackheads, as your skin may be reacting to them.
How can I treat blackheads?
The big question we all have is “how can we treat blackheads”. Blackheads can be difficult to get rid of, and sometimes it is a good idea to go and see a professional to have them dealt with. But let’s be real, not all of us have time to pop down to our favorite beauty-clinic every time we have a skin concern. Fortunately, there are things you can do yourself at home to keep your skin in check...
One of the best ways to deal with blackheads is to use a chemical exfoliant. Salicylic acid is a type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is commonly used to treat blackheads. It works by penetrating deep into the pores of the skin and breaking down the build-up of dead skin cells, oil, and other impurities that can cause blackheads to form. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce redness and inflammation associated with blackheads.
Another way to treat blackheads is to use retinol. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that is commonly used in skincare products to treat blackheads. It works by unclogging pores and exfoliating dead skin cells, which helps to prevent the formation of blackheads. Retinol also stimulates cell turnover and collagen production, which can help to improve the overall appearance of the skin. To use retinol for blackhead treatment, it is recommended to start with a low concentration product and gradually increase the strength as your skin becomes acclimated. It is important to use a moisturizer and a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day to protect your skin from the potential side effects of retinol, such as dryness and sensitivity.
Antioxidant rich skincare
Using antioxidant rich skincare is an important step for preventing blackheads before they appear. Blackheads appear black or grey on the surface of our skin due to the oxidisation that takes place when the oil and sebum in our pores encounter oxygen in the air, so we can see in the name ‘antioxidant’ that this type of product will effectively help to treat and prevent blackheads.
Those of us with oily skin may be familiar with clay face masks. Clay face masks are formulated to draw dirt, oil, and other impurities out of the skin. However, some clay masks, such as those containing kaolin clay, can help to unclog pores and reduce blackheads by balancing oils in our skin. Because these masks can be drying, it is important to follow up with a rich moisturizer and use them sparingly, once a week at most.
Yes, whilst blackheads are irritating, there are ways to treat them. If going to a professional doesn’t suit you, give any of these methods a go to reduce the appearance of blackheads and help you achieve smooth and radiant skin!