- What are blackheads
- What causes blackheads
- How to get rid of blackheads
- Ways you can prevent blackheads at home
- How to deal with blackheads that aren’t on your face
- The Dos and Donts
- Professional treatments
- How to remove blackheads
Blackheads are one of the most common skin concerns. They are generally considered the same as a spot, but they are slightly varied in how you can and should treat them. Any skin type can have blackheads, with oily skin being the more common to find blackheads a regular problem.
The downside of having blackheads, apart from the obvious, is that you can never completely rid yourself from them and will find that if you don’t care for your skin with the correct skincare products, you will have a hard time keeping those pesky so and so’s at bay!
The topic of blackheads is vast, and we could talk about them for an eternity, however, we have compiled the most common queries about them, mixed together with some facts and helpful tips to make you and your skin happy, so read on to find out everything you could ever want to know about blackheads.
What are blackheads?
Blackheads are a blemish which results from a build-up of dead skin cells, oils and other elements that clog the hair follicle, otherwise known as pores. The reaction of oxidation occurs causing the visible head to turn black, hence the name, blackhead.
Not to be mistaken to blocked pores, a blackhead is different due to the fact they do not appear due to dirt clogging the pores. A blackhead, (also known as a comedo) is called open which means there will be no bump visible, just the blackhead. Clogged pores, which are considered closed, generally result in an inflamed bump, also known as whiteheads. Whiteheads are caused by bacteria and are found deep in the pores which can also result in infections, compared to blackheads which are found on the outer (top) layers of the skin. To get an infection with a blackhead is unusual unless picked and squeezed. Both of these blemishes can occur with or without acne.
Although consider within the “acne” family, blackheads should be treated very differently to spots. Salicylic acid, also called BHA, which you will usually find in a liquid exfoliator, is one ingredient that will help combat blackheads best, as they are removed better with exfoliation which is not something found in other acne/spot fighting formulas.
What causes blackheads
There are a couple of factors that cause blackheads to develop, for example, the most common causes are hormonal imbalance and age, particularly during adolescent when there is a lot of hormonal changes which results in the level of sebum (the natural oil found on the skin) production going through the roof!
This doesn’t mean you are out of the woods once you’ve passed the turbulent teenage years. Pregnancy, menstruation and either the type of birth control pill are other causes for blackheads. Here are a few more for you to take a look at too.
- Too makeup blocking the pores
- Heavy sweating
- High humidity climates
- High volumes of grease in the environment
- Steroid-based drugs
- Any form of medication that will speed up the skin cell turnover
Overexposure to the sun and it’s UV rays will also result in blackheads, they are slightly different to the others I have previously mentioned, and are found in people of an older age who have sun damage due to the lack of sun protection. These blackheads also called solar comedones, and are found around the hair and eye area. Left untreated, these blackheads can develop rapidly on a mass scale. This is known as by dermatologists as Favre-Racouchot. Luckily, this type of blackhead can be removed very easily by a trained skin specialist.
Contrary to popular belief, blackheads are not a result of bad hygiene, as it is the hormonal imbalance and excess oils clogging the pores that can indeed start a blackhead breakout over the face, with the majority being mainly in the T-zone area such as the chin, nose and forehead.
How to get rid of blackheads
The best way to get rid of blackheads is to maintain a good skincare routine with a mixture of products that help exfoliate and cleanse the skin keeping it clear of excess sebum (the natural oil your skin produces) and build-up of dead skin cells. We have a dedicated blog post with all the information you needed for getting rid of blackheads, you can read more on it here.
Ways you can prevent blackheads at home
Maintaining a good skincare routine will work wonders for your skin and keep blackheads from forming too often, that includes, cleansing, exfoliation and moisturising. Below we are going to go into more detail about the good skin habits you can try at home to keep your skin clear.
- Wash your face
Yes, this sounds a little silly, but the easiest way of keeping on top of blackheads is to wash your face, twice daily and after the gym. This sounds a little too simple to make a difference, by ensuring your skin is cleansed of any excess oil that had developed throughout the day and after exercise will keep blackheads away.
- Use a pore strip
Pore strips can get some bad rep when it comes to skincare. Much like all other forms of skincare products, it is down to what works for you and your skin. Pore strips work best on the blackheads that have not been around for too long, so trying one out on a new breakout will result in you clearing the pores quickly and easily. Remember to not overuse them as this could result in drying out your skin.
- Exfoliate two to three times a week.
Using a scrub or liquid exfoliation two to three times a week will dissolve and buff any dead skin cells, that can lead to blackheads and also existing ones. You must remember to moisturise after exfoliating as it tends to make your skin a little dryer than normal. It’s best to opt for a scrub that doesn’t contain sharp fragments from fruit stones, Procoal’s exfoliating face scrub contains pumice and coconut oil coated activated charcoal bubbles that burst onto the skin absorbing impurities and buffing away dead skin cells and debris.
- Try at home microdermabrasion
At-home microdermabrasion is another way of keeping blackheads at bay, with a handheld machine that helps to give you a facial and vacuum away any skin cells that can lead to blackheads.
- Use a clay mask
Clay would have to be described as blackheads kryptonite. Detoxifying and purifying, clay can remove excess sebum and loosen blackheads making it a lot easier for them to dissolve. Activated charcoal is another wonder ingredient that knocks the wind out of blackheads. With its ability to detoxify the skin from any elements without irritating. Which is probably why we at Procoal have teamed charcoal and three different types of clay together to formulate the purifying detox face mask. This mask penetrates deeps into the pores removing any impurities and leaving the skin with an all-over healthy glow.
- Remove your makeup
Not removing your makeup is a bit like washing with your clothes on. It doesn’t make much sense, does it? Ensuring your skin is cleansed and moisturised before bed is simple enough to do, yet people are still hitting the hay with a full face of makeup on. Not only does this make the skin age quicker (I know right, scary…) but leaving a mask of makeup on the skin will disrupt its natural balance and clog the pores with the product, leading to, you guessed it, blackheads and even spots.
How to deal with blackheads that aren’t on the face
What you have to remember is wherever you have a hair follicle, you are likely to get a blackhead there. So, the only places you wouldn’t get them is the soles of your hands and feet.
Other areas of the body that are common for blackheads are the back, around the ears and hairline. It is in these hard to reach places that they can become a bigger issue, literally, with the size of them becoming a lot larger than those found on the nose etc, if left untreated as blackheads aren’t something that goes away in their own time. Keeping a watchful eye on areas such as your ears and hairline is the best prevention, including a good skincare routine and washing daily.
For backs, it is a little tricky to ensure it is blackhead free. Here are a couple of tips on keeping everything under control.
- Wash daily ensuring the skin is clean
- Use a body scrub or brush once a week to help buff away dead skin cells
- Use body moisturisers with no oil in them
- When you wash your hair ensure the conditioner is completely rinsed as the product left on your skin can cause blemishes
- Don’t wear too many tight layers of clothing and allow your skin to breath
- Pressure from backpacks or bags can cause a blackhead breakout
If you find that even after using the above tips you are still suffering from breakouts there are over the counter treatments available for you to try, or you can visit a dermatologist for advice also.
The Dos and Don’ts
Managing your blackheads can be very simple, you just need to practise a good skincare routine with the correct products for removing, treating and preventing the blackheads from becoming a bigger problem.
You may already cleanse the skin of makeup and build-up of daily aggressors but using an exfoliator will not only make your skin super soft, but you will also find that it will rid you of any dead skin cells that cleansing may have missed! Exfoliating products come in various forms and so finding the one that best suits your skin type will help maintain your skin at its most healthy and happy. For example, if you are more of a dry skin type, a liquid exfoliator would be the best for regular use without causing any irritation.
For oiler skin types, you may benefit from something that packs a bit more of a punch. Face scrubs are a great product to help with blackheads, they not only rid your skin of the dead skin cell build-up and oils but also work at dislodging and removing the existing blackheads.
Use salicylic acid
You will no doubt find liquid exfoliators contain salicylic acid, but if not, a topical treatment will also help. The acid will act like a none physical exfoliation (scrubs etc are physical) which will simply brush away the blackheads, settle the skin and reduce the oil production in the areas most prone to blackheads, such as the T-zone. Even after existing blackheads have disappeared, it’s advisable to continue using salicylic acid to help keep on top of future breakouts.
Keep things clean
It’s easy enough to forget about the items you use day to day, could be a contributing factor to your blackhead breakouts! Pillowcases and makeup brushes love absorbing up all that excess sebum from your skin. It’ll then just sit there and simply hop from face to brush/pillow and back again. Forming a continuous loop of blackheads. Regularly cleaning your makeup brushes with anti-bacterial soap and essential oil will keep the oil overdose down and brushes smelling super fresh. Keep your pillowcases clean by changing your bed linen once a fortnight.
Use a gentle pore strip
This next tip is hot for a debut, as some feel using pore strips is a huge no-no. This I feel has got to do with the results of using a strip containing extremely harsh ingredients, being too tough to remove and used too often.
You will find there are many strips available and so finding the best one for your skin type and not using them too often will benefit your blackhead problem. Using pore strips will remove the blackhead in one go leaving the pore exposed. This is when you need to take the opportunity to cleanse and moisturise the skin to keep the pores clear for as long as possible.
Seek professional help
If you are concerned about any blackhead breakouts you are suffering with, seeking professional help from a dermatologist will be the best option for you. They will be able to advise you with the best products to use and perform extractions that will not cause the pores becoming overstretched, infected and no scarring left behind.
Squeeze and pick
As tempting as it may be, keep those hands-off. Blackheads do not usually develop into any form of infection unless you start to pick and squeeze! It is also not safe to perform any at-home extractions due to the fact the visible blackhead on the surface of the skin, could be the sign of a cyst underneath the skin which need the proper extraction tools and skills to remove it all correctly.
Treat a blackhead the same as a spot
Spots and blackheads may be considered in the same bracket of acne, but are very different and need to be treated with different products. So before you start using a cleanser, face wash or anything other skincare product that has been formulated to treat blemishes (such as spots and pimples) don’t. In short, you will be wasting your money, as these products usually don’t include the right ingredients for the blackhead fighting task you are hoping for.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the excitement you have when you find a product that finally rid you of those pesky blackheads. First of all, you need to stay calm, use the products when it is suggested, to go in all guns blazing and using it a lot more than recommended will result in you stripping your skin of the oils and water it needs to remain comfortable, this will then lead in, guess what? More blackhead!
Professional treatments for blackheads
As previously mentioned, squeezing and popping blackheads is not something we would recommend as infection could be a result in all that interference! Seeking professional help with extractions will not only give you peace of mind that you know the blackhead would be removed without any worries of infection or complication.
However, it’s all very well saying not to squeeze or pop a blackhead, but I wasn’t born yesterday and know you lot will dash off and pop them once my back is turned. So here is how to remove a blackhead at home without causing too much trouble. I would, however, still recommend you visit a specialist.
How to remove blackheads at home
- Start by cleansing your face to help remove any surface impurities.
- Next place a warm, damp facecloth on the areas you have visible blackheads, then pat dry.
- For the next step, you will need a comedone spoon. Place the spoon over the blackhead and apply slight downward pressure whilst pushing the spoon forwards.
- If this results in nothing, then that means the blackhead isn’t ready for removal, come back to it in a few days.
- To avoid damaging the skin, leaving scarring and overstretched pores, do not overwork the skin and squeeze too hard.
- Once you have removed the blackheads apply a liquid exfoliate containing salicylic acid.
- Finish off with an oil-free SPF if you are removing blackheads during the day.
I don’t wish to sound like a broken record, but ensuring you don’t squeeze a blackhead too hard is very important for the aftercare of your skin. Too much pressure can result in infections, which generally are a lot more painful and could, on rare occasions, result in surgery.
We hope that this guide has answered some of the queries you may have about blackheads, with a topic so hugely vast this is a great starting point for you to understand why you are getting blackheads and the various ways you can treat and prevent them.
You know your skin best so taking the time to explore the options available online and in stores, with each product working best for your skin type.
Blackheads are something that can affect anyone, of any age, gender, skin tone and so on. Finding you have blackheads does not mean you have bad hygiene, it is simply a case of your skin functioning as it’s meant to by shedding skin cells and producing oil, it just so happens it needs a helping hand to stay in tip-top condition.
Should you happen to have any more questions, please continue reading our FAQ’s below and keep an eye on our Instagram for some videos coming to you soon.
Do blackheads go away naturally?
Blackheads generally do not go away on their own, it is a case of a good skincare routine that will help remove and prevent them.
What happens if you don’t remove a blackhead?
In some cases, the blackhead will just remain as it is, however this cannot be for certain as blackheads develop from sebum and dead skin cells. By not removing those can result in the blackhead becoming bigger. There have been some “unicorn cases” of an enlarged blackhead becoming so large it needs surgery to stitch the wound up once the blackhead (which resembles a piece of coal) has been removed.
Should a blackhead be popped?
The removal of a blackhead is good to prevent it from becoming bigger, however, the act of popping a blackhead can lead to infection. If you are overwhelmed with the urge to pop a blackhead, do so by cleansing the area and using a comedone spoon, remembering not to apply too much pressure to a blackhead that is not ready to be removed as this could result in scarring to the skin.
Is removing blackheads good for the skin?
It is understood that maintaining a good skincare routine, that includes exfoliation, cleansing and moisturising, as well as removing your makeup properly before bed, will mean your skin stays in a healthy state. Forcing a blackhead that is not ready for removal will cause scarring to the skin, and in worse cases, deep infections that could require surgery. If you find you have blackheads after having a good skincare routine, seeking help from a professional could be the next step for removing blackheads.
Does getting blackheads mean you have bad hygiene?
Blackheads develop from the skin producing oil (also known as sebum) that clogs the pores. The skin also has a layer of dead skin cells that it naturally sheds throughout the cycle of a month. Without the help of exfoliation, these cells tend to build-up and join the oil in blocking the pores, there is a reaction of oxidation. All of this happens in everyone’s skin and it has nothing to do with bad hygiene. Keeping a skincare routine that has a liquid exfoliation or face scrub will help to prevent any further blackhead breakouts.
How can I permanently close my pores?
Enlarged pores are a result of your skin type and genetics believe it or not. They can become larger by becoming clogged with bacteria turning into blemishes such as spots and blackheads. You will also find blackheads that are squeezed too much will also make the pores larger. The skin needs to have pores as they are where your hair follicles are, they also help maintain the skin’s health and balance. Closing them is not entirely possible, but keeping the skin cleansed, especially in humid climates and oil environments. Also not forgetting your skin type will affect the size of the pores. But a good skincare routine will allow you to stay on top of things and keep your pores a smaller, less noticeable size.