Blackheads are evil. Well, maybe not evil in the literal sense, but they can be a nuisance to those who have them—especially on a regular basis. Most people at some point in their lives have had blackheads and they are not a pretty sight.
The proper term for blackheads is open comedones. They develop when the skin produces an excessive amount of oil, which accumulates in the pores. When that buildup is exposed to the air, it turns black from being oxidized from air exposure, hence the name ‘blackhead.’ Perhaps you’ve tried every pore strip on the planet and attempted to self-extract a million times and your comedone infestation never ceases to subside. Lay your frustrations aside and try exfoliating…consistently, that is. Regular exfoliation can dramatically lessen blackhead occurrence.
There are two ways to exfoliate: mechanically and chemically.
1. Mechanical exfoliation includes face scrubs, facial brushes, wash cloths, etc.
2. Chemical exfoliation includes skin care products that contain alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes. The way this type of exfoliation works is when the acids chemically dissolve or loosen up dead surface cells. The most common examples of alpha hydroxy acids (commonly known as AHAs) in skin care are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Fruit enzymes are usually papaya or pineapple. Beta hydroxy acid includes salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid is your best bet when it comes to combating blackheads. You’ll often find skin care products in the form of cleansers and spot treatments on the market that contain salicylic acid. For those with sensitive skin or cystic acne, chemical exfoliation is the better option since grainy face scrubs can further exacerbate the issue. For instance, Rosacea sufferers deal with chronic redness and mechanical exfoliation is too abrasive for their condition.
If you don’t have sensitive skin or struggle with cystic acne, implementing both mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation is a more powerful method for banishing blackheads. However, don’t do both methods simultaneously since that would be too harsh and can strip the skin of its natural oils, thereby causing dehydration. The best way to incorporate both methods of exfoliation in your skin care routine is by mechanically exfoliating once a week and chemically exfoliating once or twice a week, or vice versa. Resist the urge to exfoliate more than three times a week. Over-exfoliating is abusive to the skin because it disrupts the protective lipid barrier, which can cause serious dehydration.
If you struggle with a moderate to severe case of blackheads, you may want to seek the help of a Licensed Esthetician at a reputable spa or salon. They are trained to perform extractions properly. Furthermore, your esthetician will recommend the right products for you to incorporate in your at-home skin care regimen. If you attempt to extract yourself, you risk damaging your skin and causing it to permanently scar. If you have your skin professionally extracted in addition to exfoliating regularly, you can wave blackheads goodbye!
About the Author: Lee Ann Buttery is a Licensed Esthetician and Professional Makeup Artist that works for Mario Badescu Skin Care. She is passionate about all things beauty-related and has a particular obsession with anti-aging.