I was recently asked about blackheads during our “Ask the Esthetician” series on Instagram. A recurring series where I answer your questions about skin - if you haven't tuned in yet, please do! Here's the truth about blackheads: Everyone gets them, and everyone wants to get rid of them.
The solution to pesky blackheads is a proper skincare routine. Following a routine can keep them (and you) from spiraling out of control. I'll go into this in more depth in this post, but before we get started, we might as well talk about blackheads in general.
What are blackheads?
In a nutshell, blackheads (also referred to as open comedones) are large, open pores that contain oxidized oil and dead skin - hence why you see that black color!
What causes blackheads?
Blackheads are a mixture of excess sebum (the oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands) and dead skin trapped inside the pores. When excess sebum cannot be released naturally, the exposure to the open air makes it turn black. Think about it this way: When you cut into an apple and leave it on the counter, exposed to oxygen, it starts to turn brown. The same rule applies to excess sebum.
How can you remove blackheads?
Simply put, leave it to the professionals! Extractions performed by a licensed esthetician is the safest way to remove blackheads. However, this is just a temporary fix. Without a proper skincare routine, your pores will get clogged again and again, and blackheads will make their way back. A good skincare routine, coupled with facial massage is helpful in normalizing sebum production, balancing the skin’s microbiome, and supporting healthy lymph drainage. This trifecta is design do help you keep blackheads in their place!
How do you prevent blackheads?
Step 1: Prevent oxidation in the first place by using a good antioxidant serum on your skin. Look for ingredients like niacinamide (Vitamin B3), stable forms of Vitamin C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), and CoQ10 to keep your blackheads from oxidizing in the first place. You can find these ingredients in Bright Side or Freedom Fighter.
Step 2: Celebrate self-care! Get monthly deep pore cleansing facials with extractions or gua sha to help balance sebum production and promote healthy lymphatic drainage.
Step 3: Exfoliate to remove dead skin that can trap oil and clog pores. You can easily overdo it on the exfoliation, so just keep it to one or two times per week, maximum. Look for clay and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in your exfoliants as they draw out impurities while gently removing dead skin. Moment of Clarity, a toner containing AHAs, and Raw + Wild, a face mask made up raw honey to provides antibacterial protection, along with enzymes and clay, will draw out those impurities. Just remember to apply after a shower when your pores are soft and open.
Step 4: Keep your acid mantle and microbiome balanced. These make up your skin’s delicate barrier that can easily become disrupted. Avoid harsh drying cleansers that strip the skin of its good oils. Regulate sebum production with omega fatty acids, like cranberry seed oil, while feeding skin antioxidants, like CoQ10, to prevent oxidation. A great place to start is with a facial oil like Freedom Fighter, which feeds your skin both fatty acids and antioxidants.
Step 5: The biggest piece of advice I can give is to always wash your face before going to bed! Especially if you have residual makeup or SPF on. Turn your nightly cleanse into a moment of self-care with a double cleanse. I like to start with Moonlight Milk, followed by Marigold Morning. A spray of Moment of Clarity will also remove traces of dirt and makeup, preventing build up in your pores.
Now, go see your esthetician and get your blackheads under control!