Are Those Tiny, Black Freckles?
While many men and women are spared the unfortunate malady that is cystic acne, most men and women suffer from some amount of blackheads. Blackheads are typically more difficult to pinpoint than whiteheads, as they are generally quite small, but tend to congregate on the nose, forehead, chin, and occasionally in the ears. Although they are not as large and cumbersome, it is often more difficult to fully eradicate these bothersome spots.
An Introduction to the Blackhead
Blackheads are, like whiteheads, a form of acne. Unlike whiteheads, however, blackheads are generally embedded deep within skin, and form when dirt becomes trapped beneath or within the sebum produced by your body. As such, they can be more difficult to remove—and even more difficult to eradicate entirely. There are, however, several methods used to take these unsightly blemishes out. The most common methods include:
- Dissolving blackheads using oils or other solvents
- Squeezing the affected area
- Using a blackhead extractor
- Seeing a skincare professional
Unlike many cases of whiteheads, blackheads do not seem to discriminate based on age or gender. .
The most common method used to dissolve blackheads is the oil cleansing method. Unlike regular face washing, using a bar soap or formula, oil cleansing involves opening the pores and using oil to cleanse one’s face. This is generally done in the evening, and can be done using a number of different oil combinations. The most common base is castor oil, followed by coconut, avocado, grapeseed, or jojoba oil.
Because sebum is a natural oil, proponents argue that water and soap cannot dissolve oil; only oil can. Therefore, opening the pores through placing a hot rag over one’s face and rubbing the oil mixture in will result in a more effective disseminating of one’s natural oils. The exact process entails placing a hot rag over one’s face for 2-4 minutes, followed by a thorough massage using the oil mixture, placing the rag over the face again for a period of 2 minutes, then removing the oil using only warm water and patting dry. Though this seems counter-intuitive to some, many men and women swear by this treatment.
Squeezing is arguably the most common method of removing blackheads—but can also be the most dangerous. Although squeezing is usually effective in removing the dirt and sebum trapped beneath the skin, it can prove traumatic to the skin, resulting in leaving a small portion of the dirt behind, and causing redness and scarring. To correctly and effectively squeeze blackheads, be sure to place fingers below the blackhead and push upward, rather than simply squeezing skin together. Failing to do this properly may result in pitting and permanent red scarring.
Using a Blackhead Extractor
Blackhead extractors are long, metal tools with a small hole at one end. This hole is placed over the area in need of extraction, and pressure is applied until all of the dirt and sebum has been removed. Because tools place pressure on the surrounding area, blackhead extractors are typically considered more effective and safer than simply squeezing with one’s fingers. It should be noted, however, that failing to fully remove a blackhead may result in repeated blackhead development or excessive redness.
Seeking a Skincare Professional’s Help
Although many blackhead cases are able to be contained through changes in diet and hygienic routine, some men and women have found that their troubles with blackheads have turned cystic. Those men and women may want to consider seeking out a dermatologist or other skincare professional, as some hormone production can cause excessive sebum production, resulting in more blackheads. A skincare professional may be able to provide hormone therapy or topical treatments designed to target the overproduction of sebum and corresponding acne.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads On…
The nose is the most common site for blackheads to form—compounded by many people’s habit of fiddling with the area throughout the day (rubbing, wiping, etc.). As such, it is especially prone to the development of blackheads and the depositing of dirt and waste. Many different methods of removal exist for the nose, the most popular being nose strips. Nose strips are laid against a damp nose (warm water works best, to open the pores) and left for fifteen minutes, or until hard. The substance found on the underside of the strip dips into pores, grabs a hold of the dirt and sebum, and lifts it out when the strip is torn away.
Although strips have been made for the chin, the area is more difficult to effectively use strips on, due to the curved, sloping nature of the face. Instead, acne sufferers should use oil cleansing; because the area is typically home to a multitude of blackheads rather than just one, it is best to use a large-scale approach to removal.
Ears are often neglected. Because of this, the first step in removing blackheads is remembering to wash the ears while in the shower or during a morning or night routine; though they are frequently forgotten, ears are just as susceptible to trapping dirt and oils. Because ears are not usually large sites for blackheads, the one-by-one removal method works best. Be sure to remove blackheads carefully by hand or using a tool, cleansing both your hands and the area thoroughly before, during, and after extraction.
Stubborn Blackheads and Prevention
The best method of dealing with blackheads is, of course, prevention. Be sure to wash your face carefully and thoroughly at least once a day (preferably twice) using a mild cleanser. Avoid using makeup or products containing heavy oils, as these can aggravate the body’s natural oil production. Avoid touching your face as much as possible throughout the day; human hands and nails are among the dirtiest surfaces your face comes into contact with. Don’t forget your inside, either. Engage in a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet and performing consistent exercise.
If you are suffering from stubborn blackheads, however, a more aggressive approach may need to be taken; rather than using a single removal method, consider using all. Apply a mask or strip intended to remove blackheads. Follow with a thorough oil cleanse, and clean up any stragglers using either your fingers or an extraction tool. Stubborn blackheads may require some repeat treatments, but remember: skin is often sensitive, and too-intense treatment may worsen the problem. If you experience excessive redness or irritation, cease the protocol and try again in 2-3 days.
Blackheads can be difficult to eradicate completely. Despite their small size, they can be quite a nuisance, as a small grouping of them lends a dull, unhealthy appearance to skin. Using the techniques and tips above, however, men and women both can be well on their way to clearer, brighter skin.