Skincare Lesson: Blackheads

Open comedones, aka blackheads, are actually a form of noninflamed acne.  There are many types of acne but they all develop when dead skin cells, oil, and comedogenic ingredients form a plug called a comedo.  Blackheads are formed when the pore is open and the comedo is exposed to air.

Why do none of my blackhead products work?

If you have ever bought a skincare product claiming to reach deep down into pores and wash blackheads away, chances are you have been disappointed.  Whether it was a scrub, a strip, or a machine, there are a few reasons why most blackhead products don’t work:

  • Blackheads are not caused by impurities or dirty skin.  No amount of soap will wash blackheads away because their dark color is the result of a chemical reaction called oxidation, not poor hygiene.
  • Blackheads extend relatively deep below the skin’s surface.  There are very few products that can penetrate the surface of the skin and those that do cannot physically push an entire comedo out of the pore.
  • Blackheads are the result of a continual process.  Getting rid of existing blackheads is usually not effective because dead skin cells are constantly shedding and oil is always being produced in the follicle. Getting blackheads under control requires maintenance, not a quick fix.

Tips to get rid of blackheads:

  1. The fastest way to get rid of blackheads is to manually and properly extract them. Find a skin professional that specializes in acne who can perform effective extractions without damaging or infecting your skin.  
  2. Do NOT pick!  Please do not use scary makeshift tools to perform surgery in your bathroom mirror.  Unless of course, you want your blackheads to become red angry zits.  
  3. Use a product with salicylic acid in it like the Clarifying Toner.  Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring beta hydroxy acid with anti-fungal properties and one of the few ingredients that has the ability to penetrate the skin’s surface.  Because it is oil-soluble, it has the ability to penetrate the oil blocking up the pore and loosen up blackheads.