Blackheads 101!

Hi readers!  Hope your week is going well. 🙂

Nothing crinkles the nose faster than the sight of blackheads taking up residence on your face.  It’s expected during our teenage years when our body is going through changes but sometimes you find that they continue to form on your face well past your puberty stage. So, what are blackheads and more importantly, what can you do to manage them? Let’s take a look.

Blackheads/Whiteheads Defined 

Blackheads and whiteheads fall into a category known as comedones.  A comedone is caused when the follicle (pore) becomes congested with dead skin cells, sebum (oil), and other debris.

Open comedones, or blackheads, are open at the surface and exposed to air. This causes the sebum and debris to oxidize resulting in their dark color.  Closed comedones, or whiteheads, form when the pore is completely blocked and no air enters the plugged follicle.


Causes of Blackheads/Whiteheads 

  • Excessive oil production
  • Build up of dead skin cells
  • Improper cleansing
  • Using products that are not compatible to your skin type

How to Treat Blackheads/Whiteheads 

Thorough Cleansing 

Make sure that when you’re cleansing your face, you also focus on the hairline where blackheads and whiteheads can form.  Also, make sure that your not aggressively stripping your skin with a harsh cleanser as this can cause your skin to produce more oil to compensate for moisture loss.

Regular Exfoliation

Make sure to exfoliate your skin regularly, about 2-3 times per week, to help remove the accumulation of dead skin cells. *Note: Don’t overly scrub skin as this will result in further irritation and you can really damage skin.  Also, if you have inflamed acne, avoid using scrubs and opt for a BHA or enzymes to help with congestion.

Reducing Oil Production

Using a clay based mask about 2-3 times per week,  can help draw out impurities and absorb excess oil. Ingredients such as niacinamide, zinc gluconate, and salicylic acid can help regulate oil production.

Keeping Tabs on Makeup and Skincare Items 

Sometimes certain types of makeup can contribute to the formation of blackheads and whiteheads. Isopropyl Myristate can be a comedogenic ingredient for some.  Using the right skincare products for your skin type also helps.  Whereas mature skin would require a thicker moisturizer, skin that is oily should choose something more light-weight such as a gel or lotion.

Seek a Professional 

Scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist or esthetician is another option if you’re looking for a deep cleaning of your pores. They can utilize different techniques and tools to help facilitate the removal of blackheads as well as guide you to products that would work best for you.

Was this information helpful to you? Let me know in the comments below!



What the Milia?


If you’ve ever examined your skin and noticed tiny, white hard bumps that resemble sesame seeds, most likely you have a skin anomaly known as milia.  No need to panic though. Milia aren’t harmful, they’re just more of a complexion nuisance, and boy, are they stubborn!

Milia are usually found around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead and occur when oil, debris and dead skin cells become trapped beneath the surface of the skin.  Although they resemble whiteheads, milia won’t go away easily because they don’t have an escape route, meaning they’re not in the pores but rather ‘stuck’ under the outer layer of your skin. Therefore, trying to extract them yourself is NOT recommended since you can damage surrounding tissue and cause scarring.

So what options are available?

First, let’s examine the common culprits. Milia can be genetic and can also be caused by using too-rich ingredients such as mineral oil, lanolin, and isopropyl myristate.  If milia are prevalent around the eye area, make sure your eye cream and/or makeup remover is free from these ingredients.

Now, on to the treatment.  Thoroughly cleansing your face at night (read: more than just splashing your face with water) can help keep them from forming.  Mild exfoliation (enzymes are great for this!) and using a serum or cream with either hydroxy acids (lactic, glycolic, or salicylic) or retinol can also help.  If this solution doesn’t work (and frustratingly, it often doesn’t) or you want faster results, visit a dermatologist or esthetician where they can remove milia with a lancet.

Do you have milia? What treatment worked best for you?