Disgusting! You look in the mirror and you spot one of those horrible little black marks. They can be on your chin, your nose, your forehead or anywhere else for that matter. They are gross and we wish they didn’t exit, but they do. So now what? First of all you have to know, that they are popularly called blackheads.
What Is a Blackhead?
The technical term for a blackhead is an open comedone. A sport with a little white head is known as a closed comedome. Blackheads usually have a little black spot (hence the name), although it can also be slightly yellowish. Blackheads on nose are the most common, but they can be found all over the face or elsewhere on the body too.
A blackhead occurs when the sebaceous gland is blocked. These glands are near your skin’s surface and produce sebum, an oily substance. Interestingly, the little black point at the top is not caused by dirt. Instead, it happens when sebum gets mixed with the dead skin cells, which makes it oxidize as soon as it comes into contact with air.
What Causes Blackheads
The glands we discussed really don’t like any hormonal changes or fluctuations. This is why women tend to develop more of them, particularly when they are going through pregnancy or the menstrual cycle. More hormones often means more sebum, ergo more blackheads. However, it is also possible the surface of your skin is too oily and dirty, perhaps due to using too many moisturizers or other cosmetics, or because you haven’t properly cleaned your skin.
Blackhead prevention, therefore, is mainly down to keeping your skin clean and being aware of any hormonal changes.
Blackhead removal is very easy to do. All you really need to know is how to clean your skin and how to extract the blackheads you already have.
Start by using a gentle cleanser before bedtime every night. Do not scrub your face, because that will actually damage it and remove the oils it naturally needs. The oils in your skin keep it supple and healthy (and young!), so don’t destroy that.
If you have a blackhead, steam your face so that your pores open up. Simply lean over some hot water in order to do this. You can even add some essential oils to your steaming water. Clary sage is great to balance your hormones, eucalyptus is antibacterial and cleans your skin, lavender is calming and soothing. However, do not use essential oils when you’re pregnant, particularly clary sage, which can cause the onset of labor.
Once you have steamed, clean your hands and put some tissue around the tip of your fingers so that your nails can’t damage your skin. Simply put some pressure on either side of the blackhead – yes, you get to squeeze them! – and that should be all. If you struggle to get the offending blackhead out, leave it alone for a while and try some other time, otherwise your skin might start to get inflamed. These are known as deep blackheads and can take a few weeks to fully come out.
You can also use a blackhead extractor to remove blackheads. This is a blackhead removal tool that you simply press onto the blackhead (after steaming), and the pressure pushes the oily substance back out.
Various cosmetic products are designed specifically to remove blackheads. Cleansing products that have a gentle exfoliate are particularly good, include microbeads or sea salt. These will make your blackheads loosen up. Furthermore, good cleansers contain alpha hydroxyl, lactic or salicylic acid, which can dissolve any oil or dirt still in your pores. Peeling masks or any other blackhead mask are great as well, and you can even try blackhead strips. All of these are designed to unclog your pores and remove any skin blockages as well.