Beauty and Lifestyle Expert
What are blackheads, what causes them and how to get rid of blackheads — all common questions for the beauty inclined! To get to the bottom of it, we asked Emma Hobson, Dermalogica Skin Expert, to share her top truths and myths to nixing blackheads.
A blackhead is an over active oil gland (aka sebaceous follicle) that is clogged with oil/sebum, dead skin cells, tiny hairs, and sometimes bacteria that combine to make a ‘plug’.
The surface of the plug being in contact with the air at the opening of the follicle oxidizes and turns black, Emma explains. “That’s why when you remove a blackhead the top is back but the rest is a whitish colour.”
The accumulation of daily dirt, combined with poor skin cleansing and exfoliation procedures – or even incorrect product use – can exacerbate the problem.
Blackheads are most common on the back, behind the ears and of course, the face, says Emma. “The forehead, nose and chin are the main areas but they can also found on the cheeks — often caused by comedogenic blusher.”
Blackheads can appear from adolescence onwards, but you can grow out of them. “Since our oil flow decreases as we age we get less open pores so therefore less congestion causing blackheads,” says Emma “That said, as we age our skin also loses turgor so we can find if we do not cleanse and exfoliate our skin as effectively as we should we can then have more ‘isolated’ but larger blackheads forming.”
Treating blackheads comes down to the right ingredients and diligence. “Use treatment products that clear and decongest the skin such as cleansing oils, clay-based cleansers, clearing masques, overnight clearing gels, antibacterial skin wipes, and oil absorbing mattifiers is essential, says Emma. “A key ingredient to use in the effective treatment of blackheads is Salicylic acid, as this is the only exfoliating ingredient that can work on the ‘inside’ of the follicle losing the impaction so the blackhead is released,” she says.
Leave ‘extraction’ to to the professionals, urges Emma.
Skincare therapists can remove them quickly and effectively without causing any trauma or damage to the skin (which can cause pigmentation and scarring). “Since a blackhead is the precursor to a spot they are better out than in!” says Emma.
It’s not just what you do in the bathroom that can banish blackheads, it’s what you do within your kitchen too. “Avoid processed foods!” urges Emma, referring to the possible link between the consumption of high levels of processed sugars proving a trigger for some, due to the stimulating effect on acne-prone skin. Taking a Zinc supplement may also help balance your skin as it is a great aid in skin healing.
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