How To Battle Your Blackheads
A few weeks ago someone tagged me in the comments of a 55-minute long video on Facebook. In the video, a medical professional removed what seemed like hundreds of blackheads from someone's face using a stainless steel skin tool. Disgusting? Absolutely, but I watched all 55 minutes because I'm weird and because I, like most people, have blackheads of my own so I thought that the little steel tool might be a good investment. Some people, like the person in the video, are afflicted a lot worse than others but for the most part, blackheads are something everyone is going to have to deal with. They're an unfortunate fact of life.
That's not to say you have to resign yourself to having them and there's nothing you can do. With the help of a dermatologist and some decent skin products, you can minimize and expel blackheads from your life. And I'm going to give you some good tips on how to do this.
What Are Blackheads?
Blackheads are a type of acne and, like all forms of acne, they are caused by a clogged pore. When dead skin cells or other gunk get into the pore, they mix with the skin's oil and cause a clog. Unlike their poppable brethren whiteheads, when the sebum oil mixes with air, it oxidizes and turns into a blackhead. The most common place for blackheads to take up residence is your nose, closely followed by your chin and forehead but as the body has over five million pores, they can pop up literally anywhere, like on your chest or back or arms and legs.
What Causes Them?
While they're not as obvious to the naked eye and their pus-packed siblings, the cause is still the same: blocked pores. What propagates blocked pores can vary. Things like pollution and dirty towels don't help but some causes are a little less obvious. Some of the products that you are using on your skin could be causing, rather than helping to prevent, breakouts. Grooming products with a thick greasy consistency can clog pores so those who suffer severely with acne should seek out skin products labelled ‘non-comedogenic', which means they don't clog pores.
How To Prevent Them
With blackheads, offence is the best form of defence because the zit you see today actually started around two weeks ago. To avoid them, you should use a gentle daily cleanser with salicylic acid. And don't forget to moisturise either. While it might seem counterproductive, not using a moisturiser can actually lead to an overproduction of sebum oil, causing more breakouts and more blackheads.
How To Remove Them
Popping zits and squeezing blackheads can be extremely satisfying but due to their size and usually awkward location, it can be very tricky to do without aggravating the skin. The best do-it-yourself methods involve using a face wash, pore strips, exfoliators and face masks to suck out all the gunk from your pores. Look for products that contain active ingredients like salicylic acid or sulphur to stem the production of sebum oil and fight bacteria. Alpha hydroxy acids work to remove dead skin cells and prevent them from clogging pores. Colloidal sulphur and kaolin clay reduce blemishes and absorb oil. If you want to have a go at removing them manually then please don't start digging at them with your fingernails! Wash your hands and use a clean steel skin tool to apply pressure to the area. When you've removed to bugger or buggers, apply tea tree oil to the area to stop the spread of bacteria.
The other alternative is to leave it to the professionals. Now I know some guys would dread the thoughts of going to a beauty therapy clinic and getting a facial but it's 2018 and we all want to look good so man up and sort your skin out. The process of getting blackheads professionally extracted isn't how most people would envisage a facial. Instead of nodding off with cucumber slices on your eyes, someone is having a dig around in your face under a forensic light. It's totally worth it though and while your skin will be redder for a little while afterwards, it should ultimately be clearer than you've ever seen it.
Some of the best products for getting rid of blackheads would include an exfoliating cleanser, which used daily will rid your face of surface dirt and dead skin cells helping to avoid clogged pores, a deep cleanse face mask which used once a week gives a deeper cleanse (as the name suggests), peel off nose strips which will pull out clusters of blackheads together (so satisfying) and the aforementioned steel skin tool and tea tree oil.