When you see small dark spots appear on your nose, forehead, or cheeks, these are blackheads—an irritating imperfection that can dull your youthful glow. Before you run to the mirror and start popping blackheads one on one, you should know there are ways to prevent blackheads without ruining your skin's integrity.
So, what are blackheads? They're a common skin blemish impacting 10-20% of all adults. Although common in adolescents, they can pop up on your skin at any point in your life.
When you're tired of dealing with blackheads, adjust your lifestyle and build a skincare routine that combats this annoying skin issue. We're here to walk you through everything you need to know about blackheads, why they form, and what steps you can take to eliminate them.
What are Blackheads?
Blackheads are blemishes that form from clogged hair follicles. They commonly occur on the face but can also appear on your arms, legs, and other body parts containing hair follicles.
There are over 5 million hair follicles on the body. These follicles live in the top two layers of your skin, including one hair and one sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland produces sebum, which is a beneficial oil that your skin naturally makes to protect the skin and keep it hydrated.
However, when your skin sheds dead skin cells, the hair follicle and the sebum can form a sebum plug. These plugs are pushed to the skin's surface and cause unwanted blemishes.
If the bump is closed, it's called a whitehead. Whiteheads have a yellow, white, or clear-ish appearance. They sit directly under your skin with minimal oxygen exposure. If the sebum plug is exposed to oxygen, it oxidizes and becomes a blackhead. The good news is that dark grey, black, and brown color is just a chemical reaction, not a speck of dirt.
Blackheads are a form of acne, and just because you have them doesn't mean you're dirty or there's actual dirt in your pores. They are considered a milder form of acne and typically don't have any pain or inflammation associated with them. If you feel discomfort, you likely have whiteheads or other forms of acne.
Why do Blackheads Form?
Whether it's a lifestyle choice, hormonal changes, or your unique skin type, the main reason blackheads form is an excess of sebum or oil.
To understand why you have blackheads on your nose or anywhere else, you must establish why you have excess sebum on the skin's surface.
Here are four reasons why blackheads form:
Androgen Levels Increase
Acne affects nearly 85% of teenagers, and when teenagers go through puberty, their skin produces more sebum as androgen levels change. Androgens make your pores larger, leading to excess sebum, clogged pores, whiteheads, and blackheads. Women also experience a rise in androgens during pregnancy, ovulation, and menopause, explaining why many women suffer from hormonal acne at different stages of their life.
Oily skin is a sign of natural sebum production caused by genetics, hormonal changes, stress, or your climate. If you have oily skin, revise your skincare routine and avoid products contributing to the problem. For example, stay away from irritants, fragrances, coconut oil, and cocoa butter to prevent sebum overproduction.
If you don't exfoliate at least twice a week, dead skin cells will gather, leading to clogged pores, excess oil production, and blackheads. Individuals should aim to use a physical or chemical exfoliant at least twice a week. Before you run to the drug store and grab the first one you see, research the product to ensure it contains beneficial skin ingredients.
Keratin is the protein in your skin, hair, and nails. When your body produces too much, it can lead to blackheads on the skin's surface. The excess keratin paired with the sebum will clog your pores and block your hair follicles from forming.
Not Washing Your Skin Regularly
Excess bacteria on the skin's surface can also cause problems, including whiteheads, blackheads, breakouts, inflammation, and irritation. To prevent bacteria from gathering on your skin's surface, use a gentle cleanser at least once daily to eliminate bacteria, dirt, grime, and residual makeup.
How to Effectively Get Rid of Blackheads
When you're struggling with blackheads, know you aren't alone. There are ways you can adjust your routine to meet the needs of your skin.
Here's how to get rid of blackheads:
Hydration is a must-have for keeping your skin healthy. Think of your daily moisturizer as a barrier on your skin's surface. It protects you from outside factors, retains hydration, and eliminates the excess oil causing acne and breakouts.
The Light Cream is our gentle, mattifying moisturizer expertly formulated for oily complexions. Using this moisturizer daily will balance sebum levels and reduce the appearance of pores while preventing moisture loss. During our 12-week clinical trials, individuals noted a 38% reduction in skin sebum, with 54% less noticeable pores.
Exfoliation eliminates dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin's surface. If you aren't exfoliating, these dead skin cells will gather in your pores, leading to blackheads and whiteheads.
If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, you may be worried that some exfoliants are too harsh on the skin. The Essence is a gentle 3-in-1 exfoliant, hydrating essence, and toner. It contains a mild blend of phytic acid and salicylic acid, so you can buff away dead skin cells while protecting your skin's barrier. This lightweight formula helps regulate sebum secretion to help you achieve a balanced and glowing complexion.
Incorporate Retinol Into Your Routine
Retinol is the go-to for its anti-aging effects. It's a great add-in for your nighttime routine to help eliminate wrinkles, fine lines, and other premature signs of aging. However, it can also be a great ingredient to help combat acne breakouts. Retinol is an acne-fighting ingredient that can remove bacteria, unclog your pores, and help you achieve a brighter, healthier complexion.
The Retinol Serum features a hydrating texture that helps optimize the skin microbiome, reduces the appearance of acne scars, and keeps your skin hydrated. During our clinical proven trials, individuals saw post-acne marks were visibly reduced by 90%, and pores looked 95% less noticeable.
The Don'ts of Blackheads
When you're afflicted with blackheads, adjust your routine and rid yourself of bad habits that cause your acne or blackheads to worsen. Here are five blackheads issues you should avoid.
Don't Pick, Poke, or Touch
As tempting as it is, don't touch or try to pop your blackheads! Your hands can transfer more bacteria and grime to your pores, worsening the inflammation and irritation. Popping blackheads also keeps them from disappearing, leading to more blackheads and unwanted acne scars.
Don't use Hydrogen Peroxide
Don't believe everything you read on the internet! When constantly battling blackheads, online blogs may tell you that hydrogen peroxide is a great alternative to treating acne, but this is wrong. This common household item exacerbates irritation and worsens acne scars.
Don't Overwash Your Skin
Overwashing can strip your skin of its natural oils, and regular overwashing can destroy your skin barrier and dry out your skin. If you have acne or oily skin, your sebaceous glands will work in overdrive, causing a surplus of sebum on your skin's surface.
Always use a gentle cleanser once or twice a day to help eliminate the build-up on your face and maintain your skin's integrity.
Don't Use Alcohol or Irritant Skincare Products
Skincare products that contain alcohol are harsh on the skin, and regular use can lead to enlarged pores and a greasier-than-usual complexion. Some alcohols also dry out the skin, which leads to breakouts and irritation.
Instead, look for alcohol-free options that only use clean ingredients. So you can get the peace of mind you need, knowing that your go-to skincare products aren't contributing to your blackheads and acne.
Say Goodbye to Blackheads With Augustinus Bader
Blackheads on the nose or anywhere else on your body are common acne you can live with. When you struggle with blackheads and want to revive your complexion, start building a skincare routine that meets your skin's needs.
Start with the three must-haves: Cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen. From there, add serums, toners, and exfoliators to help you target skincare concerns and achieve the glowing complexion you crave.
At Augustinus Bader, 30+ years of research and clinical trials underpin our formulas. Our skincare products are alcohol and irritant-free so that you can get the peace of mind you need when investing in a skincare regimen that delivers results.