Lab notes
Understanding Blackheads and How To Treat Them

Understanding Blackheads and How To Treat Them

What are blackheads? What causes them? And how on earth can I prevent and get rid of them?

First things first, what are blackheads? 

Blackheads (or open comedones) are follicles in the skin that become clogged with dirt and debris. They typically appear on the face but can also appear on the chest, back and neck. They are referred to as blackheads due to the black appearance on the top of the clogged pore. This black appearance is caused by oxidation (metal transforms into rust, sebum exposed to air turns black) surprisingly, not from being dirty! 

 What Causes Blackheads?

Blackheads being present in the skin is considered a mild form of acne. When blackheads are present with pustules and papules (larger, inflammatory forms of acne) it is considered more advanced acne. Blackheads are non-inflammatory and are slightly raised on the skin. A blackhead should not cause any physical pain or discomfort but is visible due to the black colour in the pore.

Blackheads are caused by an overproduction of sebum. Sebum is an oily waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Sebum is essential to healthy skin, as it keeps the skin lubricated and prevents it from drying out. Although overproduction of sebum can lead to the pores/follicles becoming clogged and causing blackheads and other forms of acne.

Internal factors, for instance, hormonal life events can lead to the development of blackheads such as puberty, menstrual cycle and hormone replacement like birth control pills. These events all trigger the hormone androgen and this hormone is linked to overproduction of sebum. 

External factors can also block the pores such as heavy makeup on the skin, excessive sweating and humid environments can all cause the pores to become blocked and form blackheads. 

How to Prevent and Treat Blackheads? 

BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid as a chemical exfoliation agent is the key to preventing and treating blackheads. This can be in the form of a professional peel, an at-home peel, or an exfoliating toner or serum. BHA is oil soluble meaning it can cut through oil or sebum in the skin allowing the BHA to penetrate deep into the pore, to clear out sebum and dead skin cell buildup from within the blocked pore. 

Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) is a tried and true treatment for blackheads. BP exfoliates the dead skin and removes the excess sebum in the pores that lead to the blackheads. Benzoyl peroxide for blackheads is used on the skin at night and left to work while you are sleeping. An initial tingle is normal when first beginning treatment with BP, some people like this sensation as they can feel it working. Use only as recommended by your skincare specialist and do not mix with any other topical acne treatment.

Renudist Fave BHA is... Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. This amazing product is pure BHA and is applied to the skin easily as a toner. When starting any new skincare product it is best practice to introduce it to the skin gradually by using it 2-3 times the first week, 3-4 times the next week and so on until your skin adapts to the exfoliation. This product can also be used to spot treat areas by dipping a Q-tip into the solution and applying it to the affected area.

Blackhead myths:

  • Over cleansing keeps my pores clear. Over cleansing strips the skin of essential oils and can lead to more blackheads and a sore face. Use a suitable gentle cleanser for your skin that will not damage the skin’s barrier function.
  • Scrubs work best for blackheads. Keep the scrubs for the body and opt for chemical exfoliation on the face which is gentler and will not tear the skin. 📣Put down the St. Ives Scrub and book in with your Renude skincare expert for guidance on which chemical exfoliant is best for you.
  • The stronger the percentage of active the better the result. Skincare products that are too strong for your skin will leave you red, inflamed and upset. You need to work your way up to the higher percentages. Skincare is a journey, not a race.

Experiencing blackheads yourself?

Don’t be shy to speak to one of our licensed skincare experts for help treating them. We get excited to help treat all skins and we understand which products which really deliver on results, it is in our job description. No blackhead too big or too small for us! Your personal skincare expert is your secret weapon to obtaining healthy skin. To get started and speak to one of our experts, you can start your consultation here.