Image Via: Raphael Lovaski
By Shilpa Bhim
Blackheads. Most of us have had to deal with them, and we can all agree that they are the worst! Every time you squeeze one out, a whole bunch more pop up in its place.
Well Zovers, enough is enough. It’s time to get rid of those pesky blackheads for good … with help from the experts of course.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE BLACKHEADS?
In order to get rid of blackheads, it’s important to understand what they are.
Dr Dinh explains that blackheads are open comedones, and that comedones are the small lumps and bumps (aka papules) under the skin. They are most common in acne prone skin and usually appear on the chin or forehead.
Blackheads are formed when the opening of a hair follicle (aka a pore) becomes clogged with dead skin cells and oil (sebum). When melanin pigment, which is found in the sebum produced by our oil glands, makes contact with the air at the top of an open comedone, it oxidizes and turns dark. Hence the name “blackhead”.
HOW CAN YOU TREAT OR REMOVE BLACKHEADS?Dr Dinh has two key tips:
- Have a good skincare regime to help prevent the formation of comedones
- Get your blackheads removed by a professional
“Once we have established good skincare habits, existing blackheads can be gently extracted by a trained therapist (please do not try this at home!), often in combination with exfoliating peels or calming skin treatments.”
CERTAIN SKINCARE INGREDIENTS ASSIST WITH TREATING BLACKHEADS
The good news is you can use skincare that’s aimed at addressing the cause of your blackheads.
“Introducing ingredients that will improve cell turnover (gentle exfoliating products to reduce dead skin cell build up) and to regulate or reduce excess oil production are key to reducing the formation of comedones and manage breakouts,” says Dr Dinh.
So what ingredients should you be using to treat your blackheads? Dr Dinh breaks it down for us:
Salicylic Acid (a Beta Hydroxy Acid) - think of it as a scrubbing brush for your pores. “This ingredient is oil-loving and keratolytic which means it can penetrate deeper in the skin to help dissolve the oily plug,” says Dr Dinh. She also notes that salicylic acid slows down the shedding of the skin cells inside the follicle to reduce blockage.
Dr Dinh’s top tip is to incorporate salicylic acid in a serum or cleanser, and to start slowly so you don’t over exfoliate or irritate the skin.
Retinoids (Vitamin A) – Dr Dinh highlights that retinoid creams can be prescribed to improve skin cell renewal and turnover and reduce keratinisation of skin cells (aka the process where keratin is deposited in cells which results in a tougher, more resistant structure).
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) – “This is an excellent addition as it works to regulate sebum production, reduce inflammation and helps the skin tolerate the more active skincare described above,” notes Dr Dinh.
THERE’S A KEY TIP TO KEEPING BLACKHEADS AT BAY
Dr Dinh notes that there may be a number of factors affecting your skin and causing blackheads. These could include using occlusive skincare and makeup, smoking, diet (especially dairy and processed sugars) and hormones.
Pay attention to these factors and how they interact with your skin. But this isn’t the key ingredient to keeping your blackheads at bay.
As with many things in life, the key ingredient here is patience!
Dr Dinh recommends seeing a skincare professional and having a skincare plan prescribed for your skin type and concerns, which combines active skincare ingredients with regular skin treatments. “Stick to the plan and be patient.”