What are blackheads?
Blackheads appear as small, dark bumps on the skin. Blackheads appear due to clogged hair follicles and are often classed as a mild type of acne. Blackheads mainly appear on the face, however, they can show up on other parts of the body, including on the back, neck, chest, arms and shoulders.
What causes blackheads to appear?
Your skin is covered in tiny hair follicles that each contain a hair and a gland that produces oil. Blackheads appear when these follicles become clogged by dead skin cells or oils that collect at the opening of the follicle and produce a bump. If this bump becomes exposed (if the skin does not cover it) then it can turn black and form into a blackhead. If the bump does not become exposed and stays covered by skin, this bump becomes a whitehead (or spot).
Blackheads are a common problem that almost everyone will experience at some point in their lives. Even if you are a skincare addict and take excellent care of your skin, you may still be susceptible to developing blackheads. The bumps can be caused by:
- Your body producing too much oil.
- The build-up of acne bacteria on your skin.
- The irritation of hair follicles when dead skin cells don’t regularly shed.
- Hormonal changes (these can increase oil production) during teenage years, during menstruation or when taking a contraceptive pill.
- Taking certain pharmaceutical drugs.
How to prevent blackheads
Blackheads prevention is the best way to keep your skin clear of blackheads. You could also invest in tools and products that work to remove blackheads, however, it is much easier to tackle the problem before it has even started.
Salicylic acid (SA) is an ingredient that you can find in many drug store skincare products. Salicylic acid is known for being a great source of blackhead prevention and its presence in many great products makes it easy to add to your everyday routine.
Salicylic acid works to break down dead skin cells and oils before they clog your follicles. Due to the nature of the product, it can be harsh (especially for sensitive skin), so it is always a good idea to check the strength of the ingredient in the product that you choose. Generally, SA products range from 0.5% to 5% in strength, with 5% being the strongest that you can purchase over the counter.
The CeraVe SA soothing cream is a great choice for people with sensitive skin because it contains just 0.5% salicylic acid, which is mixed with moisturising ingredients to create an easy to use, kind to skin formula.
Most retinoid products are made with vitamin A which is great for unclogging pores and encouraging your body to make new skin cells. Retinoid is a strong ingredient so it can’t be bought over the counter or from drugstores. To use the product, you will need a prescription.
As it is so harsh, retinoid can make your skin more exposed to UV rays, so it is advised that you only wear the creams when you are out of the sun. This could be before bed or when you plan to stay inside for a long period of time.
Oil free products
If you have sensitive skin and want to avoid any harsh chemicals in your skincare products, the easiest way to prevent blackheads might be to invest in oil-free products. To know if a product is oil-free, look for skincare that is non-comedogenic.
Non-comedogenic products are products that don’t contain any oils or other substances that may clog your pores. The products are mainly recommended to those who suffer from acne or have naturally oily skin, however, anyone who experiences blackheads may benefit from them.
Non-comedogenic products are heavily available in most drugstores. Make sure to scan over labels and look at ingredient lists to find out which products contain oils and which ones do not. CeraVE moisturising cream is a great non-comedogenic option for a daily moisturiser that will work well for most skin types.
Take a look at your daily habits
Fancy skincare products aside, many people could prevent blackheads from developing by making simple changes to their daily habits. Even though you may wash your face morning and night and try your best to use products that are oil-free, it is likely that your skin is being exposed to different oils throughout the day. To limit the amount of oil that your face is exposed to each day, you should:
- Avoid touching your face any more than you need to
- Wash greasy/oily hair regularly
- Regularly change and wash pillows, duvets, and flannels
- Wash your hands before applying any skincare products
How to extract existing blackheads from the skin
Before you start using preventative methods to keep your skin blackhead free, you may want to begin the process of removing any blackheads that have already popped up on your skin. To do this, you will need to find your preferred method of blackhead removal.
Many skincare products, including the ingredients that have already been mentioned in this article, work to remove existing blackheads as well as preventing them. The Normaderm PhytoSolution Purifying Cleansing Gel is a great example of a product that removes blackheads gently from the skin.
You can also buy blackheads remover tools from most drugstores. These tools are often long metal wands with a tiny loop at the end. To use them, simply place the loop over the blackhead that you want to extract and pluck it from the skin. Blackhead extraction tools can be painful to use and may upset sensitive skin. If you struggle to use a blackheads remover yourself, you may be able to consult a specialist who can use professional tools to remove the blackheads from your skin.
Investing in a specialist blackhead removal service may be one of the safer options for extracting blackheads from your skin as the specialists will be highly trained and know exactly what tools to use for the job. Specialists may also be able to recommend products to you based on your individual skin type, which may aid in effective blackhead prevention. Blackheads may seem like a never-ending problem but with the right products, your skin can be blackhead free in no time at all!
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