Updated: Dec 31, 2021
Prevention really is better than cure with most things in life but more so when dealing with persistent and recurring blackheads that just don’t want to go away. So how do you get rid of blackheads and what really, if any, is the best treatment for these difficult to hide pesky blemishes?
Blackheads also known as open comedones are pores congested with a build up of oils, sebum, debris, bacteria and dead skin cells. When the oily mixture in the hair follicle comes into contact with air, it oxidises and changes to a black colour.
It's worth mentioning that blackheads are stubborn and can take up to 3 months or more to banish them with a correct and consistent skin care routine, so patience is key.
Common causes of blackheads are:
Puberty - an increase and changes in hormones causes the sebaceous glands to increase production of sebum and this over zealous activity can lead to hair follicles becoming blocked. This is generally when the first signs of blackheads appear.
Incorrect skincare - thick occlusive creams, oil based products or highly abrasive products that strip the skin of its protective barrier.
Inconsistent cleansing, not cleansing the skin every am & pm and not using the correct cleanser for your skin type.
An oilier skin type generally has a more active sebaceous gland that produces more oil and this skin type has larger pores.
DIY at home treatments and prevention
Cleanse your skin consistently every morning and evening, As a rule always remove your make-up. A gentle cleanser with a low percentage of lactic acid (a Alpha Hydroxy Acid perfect for sensitive skins) or salicylic acid (a Beta Hydroxy Acid that is oil soluble) will offer a deep cleanse for your pores . The inclusion of lactic acid or salicylic acid will also offer a superficial exfoliation gently helping to remove the build up of skin cells at the surface of the skin. If you use a gentle gel cleanser then an exfoliating toner like the Cosmedix Purity Balance Exfoliating Prep Toner can be included and applied to the localised area of congestion. Remember to proceed gently and cautiously with these acids and they should only be used once a day. It has become a trend to exfoliate the skin daily into oblivion with acid cleansers, acid toners, acid peels etc ....but this can dehydrate the skin and disrupt the protective barrier function of the skin.
Retinoids - I recommend Retinaldehyde to gently prevent cellular build-up and prevents pores from getting blocked and acne forming. I encourage my clients to apply Retinaldehyde after cleansing at night. For skin that is dehydrated a light oil free moisturiser can be applied once the Retinadehyde has absorbed.
Use oil free moisturisers and make-up. Don’t be tempted to avoid moisturiser - maintaining skin hydration is important to ensure the protective barrier function of the skin remains intact. Your skin is intelligent and if it is stripped of its natural oils it will try to correct the imbalance by stimulating the sebaceous gland to produce more oil - this is exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve.
Avoid touching your face in order to prevent the spread of bacteria, dirt and oils from your hands to your face.
Change your pillowcases at least once a week - yes really, this simple level up on hygiene will have a significant impact on the clarity of your complexion and minimises the transfer of acne forming bacteria around your face. Sleeping on the same pillow case night after night for 8 hours each night means a significant build up of skin oils, sweat, dirt, bacteria and skin cells that are then reintroduced onto your face every evening.
Avoid the following ingredients as they can be comedogenic:
- Isopropyl Palmitate
- Isopropyl Myristate
- Coconut Oils
- Cocoa Butter
- Synthetic fragrance
In clinic professional treatments include:
1. Customised regular monthly deep cleansing facials that may include non inflammatory metabolic peels and professional extraction.