What Are Blackheads? At some point in our life, we’re all bothered by those certified complexion-ruiners; blackheads. And while usually a good clay mask or foaming face cleanser can keep them at bay, it is sometimes necessary to bring out the big guns.
What Causes Blackheads?
Despite what you may think, the skin has many different layers. The top, most superficial layer, is known as the epidermis. This layer is always shedding dead skin cells and refreshing itself with healthy, brand new ones. The follicles within your epidermis tend to contain a hair and a sebaceous gland that produces a natural oil. This oil, known as sebum, is what helps keep your skin soft and supple.
However, an overproduction of sebum can cause blockages, and the follicles will become clogged with keratin debris, dirt, and dead skin cells. If the blockage is closed, the bump is called a whitehead, which can expand into other forms of acne vulgaris.
If the skin of the blocked follicle remains open though, the debris is exposed to the air and turns black in tone. Blackheads are most often found on the nose and chin but can affect the neck, arms, back, chest, and shoulders too. Embedded blackheads are a whole different beast too as they live beneath the epidermis layer.
There are a number of factors that can increase your chances of developing blackheads and acne, these include:
- Hormonal changes: Puberty, menstruation, birth control, and the menopause can all affect skin conditions - Skin irritation: Lack of exfoliation can cause dead skin cells to build up and irritate the hair follicles - Medication: Certain drugs such as corticosteroids, androgens or lithium can cause skin problems and increased comedones - Skin overproduction of oil and Propionibacterium acnes bacteria: Linked to the cause of acne; too much of either are the symptom roots of blackheads.
Blackheads are sometimes confused with sebaceous filaments, which cover the oilier areas of skin. These filaments usually have a light grey or tan tone to them (as opposed to the dark black of a blackhead). They also tend to be less visible and smaller than a blackhead.
What Is Inside a Blackhead?
Keratin debris which is a mix of sebum, dead skin cells, and dirt.
CoLaz strongly advises against taking matters into your own hands and popping blackheads. Wherever they are, and however painful they are, this can make the situation worse rather than better.
If you’re feeling self-conscious or are plagued by blackheads in unusual places set up a free consultation with CoLaz today to discuss the many options available to you. Many of our skin-care treatments are specifically designed to target problem skin for all ages.
Blackhead Removal Tools/Blackhead Extractors
Between shops on the high-street and the internet it’s now possible to easily purchase blackhead removal tools anywhere. Forcefully squeezing out all the keratin debris from below the skin’s surface provides all the same benefits as popping spots and pimples though—which is to say, none. While you can buy these blackhead extractors, also known as comedone extractors for use at home, that doesn’t mean you should. CoLaz advises against this practice and suggests leaving such procedures to expert beauty technicians to avoid scarring.
You can further spread bacteria, injure facial skin cells, cause new infections, and more. Facial scars from blackhead extraction are quite common if the procedure is done incorrectly and such scars are the consequence of damage to the deeper layers of skin—which means they will take a long time to fade too. To avoid being left with angry, red skin, it’s definitely a technique best left for the experts.
Small ice pick, box or rolling scars are often the results of aggressive squeezing or blackhead extraction. Such extraction processes aim to remove the keratin or dead skin cells which fill the pore but if not completed professional can be overdone. Post-extraction, the pores can seem smaller, since it is no longer filled with the keratin and dead skin debris.
Seven in ten people have visible scarring from acne. When a blackhead is extracted, the pore ruptures. The action discharges the sebum, keratin debris, and bacteria deep within the dermis; the layer of skin beneath the outer epidermis. The eruption prompts an inflammatory response that can affect the collagen in your skin. The side effect is an acne scar that can be difficult to reduce and treat.
Aggressive extraction can also attempt to squeeze out more than just whiteheads and blackheads. Sometimes, you may inadvertently be squeezing what appears to be a spot. It can seem white, looking like a small piece of rice, but it is not actually the keratin debris found in blackheads and whiteheads. Often this is usually a tiny piece of fat or hair follicle, which if removed from the skin will leave an indentation or scar.
For more on acne scars and their treatment, read here.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads
1. Implement an Effective Daily Facial Routine To minimize and prevent blackheads from appearing in the first place, it’s essential to establish a healthy facial routine. As part of your routine, incorporate a benzoyl peroxide cleanser, a toner containing salicylic acid, and for more extreme spot treatments, prescriptions that include retinol. Retinol products work to speed up your skin cell turnover rate which encourages consistent and healthy exfoliation. Deeply embedded blackheads will require professional attention.
- Wash with a foaming cleanser morning and night to get rid of any accumulated dirt and skin cells
- Thoroughly remove makeup at the end of the day to prevent any build up in the skin’s pores
- Follow up with a gentle moisturizer designed specifically for the face to prevent your skin from producing too much oil
2. Blackhead Removal Masks
There are plenty of blackhead removal masks on the market ranging from the inexpensive right up to top-end quality priced ones. If you’re feeling particularly environmentally friendly here’s a great article on making your own natural blackhead removal masks with products you can find in your kitchen.
Here at CoLaz, we’ve spent a lot of time and energy ourselves researching and creating a unique brand skin care range designed to work in harmony with your epidermis.
3. CoLaz Skincare Treatments
To effectively battle blackheads, CoLaz recommends microdermabrasion and chemical peels to remove the top epidermis layer of your skin to uncover fresh skin beneath.
- Microdermabrasion helps the skin by basically acting like sandpaper to smoother out the skin’s surface and physically removing the dead layers of the epidermis.
- Chemical peels work to vastly improve skin texture and condition. In both cases, when the skin repairs itself, your blackheads will be much less noticeable.
- The Dermapen treatment is another option, similar to micro-needling, which uses incredibly fine needles to promote skin rejuvenation.
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