Skin Talk: Beating Blackheads

Blackheads can be pesky and persistent. What’s worse is the mis-information companies propagate about “solutions” for getting rid of them. Read below for the truth about what blackheads are, what causes them, and how to get rid of them.

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What are blackheads?

Most people think a blackhead is dirt caught in your pores. But those pesky dots actually have nothing to do with dirt. Blackheads consist of oil and dead skin cells that have reached the pore’s surface. When it’s exposed to air, it oxidizes, causing the black dot you see in your skin.

What causes blackheads?

Hormones cause excess oil production inside the pore, preventing the natural flow of oil to the surface of your skin. Oil gets backed up, mixes with dead skin cells that aren’t shedding normally, and eventually oxidizes when it reaches the skin’s surface.

How do I get rid of blackheads?

Getting rid of blackheads and keeping them from re-forming requires restoring the natural shedding of oils and skin cells from the skin.

First, manually exfoliate with a washcloth or gentle scrub. Next, use a light-weight moisturizer that has BHA (salicylic acid) in it. The BHA will encourage exfoliation. Stick with this daily routine and you should see results in 2-4 weeks.

You can also use a comedone extractor to manually remove stubborn blackheads. But be gentle. Squeezing, scraping, or pressing too hard will only damage your skin. After washing your skin, place a warm (not hot) washcloth over the area you want to treat for 2 minutes. Dry off your skin. Then press the comedone extractor gently over the center of the blackhead and move it in a downward motion. When you are done, apply the BHA moisturizer.

What you shouldn’t do:

Many products on the market that claim to get rid of blackheads not only fail to do so but damage your skin too.

The worst culprits are toners with alcohol and pore strips. Alcohol is a big no-no for skin. Besides, alcohol dries out the skin, which will only encourage more oil-production. Pore strips just pull the surface of the skin off. They don’t actually remove the entire blackhead, so it will just re-surface. Plus, pulling at and stripping the top layer of skin damages it.

So remember: a gentle cleanser + a BHA moisturizer = fewer blackheads.

Be bright, be beautiful!

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