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When is it a visible pore and when is it a blackhead?

Understanding the Difference and Effective Skincare Solutions

Amelia CranstounContent Editor
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When is it a visible pore and when is it a blackhead?
Written byAmelia CranstounContent Editor
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Most of us, at one point or another, have to deal with visible pores and/or blackheads. Particularly as we age, our pores can enlarge, caused by genetics and environmental factors (sun exposure etc). But sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference between enlarged and visible pores versus blackheads. So let’s break them down and see how to address them. 

Visible/Enlarged Pores vs. Blackheads: What's the Difference? 

Enlarged pores and blackheads are often confused due to their proximity to the skin and shared connection to the hair follicles. Sometimes, clients can come to our Renude aestheticians concerned about blackheads all over the nose and t-zone where our skin naturally produces more oil but sometimes those blackheads are actually visible pores and the two things should be treated and should be addressed differently:


  • Definition: Pores are tiny, usually, openings on the skin's surface that house hair follicles and sebaceous glands. They serve as a gateway for oil (sebum) produced by these glands to reach the skin's surface.

  • Appearance: Pores are usually small and appear as small, round dots on the skin. They are a natural part of the skin's texture and rarely does someone’s skin appear poreless without the use of makeup or a strong digital filter

  • Function: Pores play a crucial role in maintaining skin health by regulating oil production and temperature. They allow sweat and sebum to reach the surface, keeping the skin moisturised and aiding in temperature regulation.

  • Issues: Pores can become enlarged due to genetics, ageing, and excessive oil production. While they can't be completely eliminated, their appearance can be minimised through proper skincare.


  • Definition: Blackheads are a type of acne lesion known as open comedones. They occur when the hair follicle becomes clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. Unlike whiteheads, the pore remains open, allowing the trapped material to oxidise and turn black.

  • Appearance: Blackheads appear as small, dark spots on the skin's surface. They are often mistaken for dirt, but they are actually plugs of oil and skin cells.

  • Causes: Blackheads are primarily caused by excess oil production, hormonal fluctuations, and inadequate skincare routines, resulting in skin not naturally shedding from the surface, and collapsing inwards.

  • Treatment: Treating blackheads involves the removal of the plug, followed by a regimen to prevent their recurrence.

How to Distinguish Between Enlarged Pores and Blackheads 

Distinguishing between enlarged pores and blackheads is crucial for effective skincare management:

  • Texture: Pores are a natural part of your skin texture and will always be present, just because you can see them, doesn’t mean they’re blocked. Blackheads, on the other hand, have a raised texture and appear as dark spots.

  • Colour: Pores are generally the same colour as your skin or slightly lighter. Blackheads, as the name suggests, are black or dark in colour due to oxidation.

  • Size: Pores are typically very small, while blackheads are more noticeable and slightly raised.

  • Location: Pores are evenly distributed across the skin, whereas blackheads tend to form in areas with higher oil production, such as the nose, chin, and forehead.

Skincare Solutions for Enlarged Pores and Blackheads 

Now that you can differentiate between pores and blackheads, let's explore how to address each issue effectively:

For Enlarged Pores

  • Cleansing: Use a gentle, hydrating cleanser to keep your skin clean without overstripping it of natural oils.

  • Exfoliation: Incorporate a chemical exfoliant (e.g., alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids) into your routine to help minimize the appearance of pores and improve overall skin texture.

  • Sun Protection: Always use sunscreen to protect your skin from UV damage, which can contribute to enlarged pores.

  • Professional Treatments: Consult a skincare professional for treatments like microdermabrasion or chemical peels to further reduce the appearance of enlarged pores.

For Blackheads

  • Cleansing: Use a salicylic acid-based cleanser to unclog pores and prevent blackheads from forming.

  • Exfoliation: Regularly exfoliate with a salicylic acid or glycolic acid product to keep pores clear.

  • Topical Treatments: Consider topical treatments containing benzoyl peroxide or retinoids to target blackheads.

  • Extraction: If necessary, seek professional extractions from a dermatologist or esthetician to safely remove stubborn blackheads.

Key Ingredients Recommended by Skincare Professionals

Skincare professionals often recommend specific ingredients to address both visible pores and blackheads effectively

  • Salicylic Acid: This beta hydroxy acid is highly effective in exfoliating within the pore, making it a go-to ingredient for blackhead prevention, but also it helps loosen and break down the bonds of dead skin cells, relieving trapped plugs.

  • Retinoids: Retinoids, such as retinol and tretinoin, help unclog pores and promote skin renewal, making them effective against both blackheads and enlarged pores.

  • Niacinamide: This antioxidant-rich ingredient can help regulate sebum production and minimise the appearance of pores.

  • Hyaluronic Acid: For pore management, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid can help plump the skin, reducing the appearance of pores.

Understanding the difference between pores and blackheads is crucial for effective skincare management. Pores are a natural part of your skin, while blackheads are clogged pores that require targeted treatment. By following a consistent skincare routine and incorporating key ingredients recommended by skincare professionals, you can achieve clear, healthy, and radiant skin. 

Remember that individual skin types and concerns may vary, so it's always a good idea to consult with a Renude skincare professional for personalised advice and treatments. You can take our skin quiz now to start your journey today. 

Amelia CranstounContent Editor
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