Archive for November 12th, 2012

November 12, 2012

The Secret to getting rid of Blackheads

Everyone has blackheads.  Yes, everyone!   If you have dry, oily, combo, acne, or a normal skin type chances are you are haunted by your blackheads.  Blackheads are one of the more stubborn and persistent skin problems, and there’s a bunch of bad blackhead products out there that will just make matters worse. Here’s the truth about what they are, where they come from and how to deal with them.

  • Hormones cause excess oil to be produced inside the pore, which prevents it from flowing naturally to the surface.
  • The excess flow means that oil gets backed up, and then it mixes with built-up dead skin cells that cannot be shed normally.
  • When this combination of too much oil and dead skin cells is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black.

To start getting rid of blackheads, you need products that can do all of the following:

  • Restore a normal flow of oil out of your pore by improving the shape of the pore lining
  • Reduce and absorb excess oil
  • Remove dead, built-up surface skin cells

It is extremely tempting to squeeze your blackheads, but if done improperly you can actually cause quite a bit of damage to your skin.  Ideally if you want to get rid of blackheads go get a facial. During a facial the esthetician properly prepares your skin for extractions and then knows how much to squeeze and for how long.  For instance, don’t go squeezing your skin for more than 10 minutes since that will just end up causing trauma to the skin in the end.

Despite how they look,blackheads have nothing to do with your skin being dirty.   All the cleansing in the world won’t stop blackheads from forming, but over-cleansing can make matters worse. Unlike acne, blackheads are not caused by bacteria.  Therefore, topical disinfectants such as benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil have no effect on them.

The #1 solution to relieving skin of unsightly blackheads is to use a well-formulated exfoliant whose active ingredient is salicylic acid. Also known as beta hydroxy acid (BHA for short), salicylic acid not only exfoliates the skin’s surface, but  also penetrates into the pore to dissolve the plug.

Here are the top 5 worst products for blackheads as listed by Dr Paula Begoun.

The Worst Products for Blackheads

Here is our list of the 5 worst products for treating blackheads. Because of the irritation they cause or because they are so poorly formulated, each can actually make matters worse for your skin—and you’ll still be struggling with blackheads.

1. Clean & Clear Blackhead Clearing Daily Cleansing Pads ($5.49 for 70 pads). These pads are steeped in a solution of skin-damaging alcohol and a form of menthol. Plus, the 2% salicylic acid won’t exfoliate because the pH of the solution is too high.

2. DERMAdoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Intensive Medicated Blackhead Treatment ($42 for 1 ounce). This product contains alcohol in an amount that’s high enough to cause irritation, which can stimulate oil production. In addition, it contains several irritating citrus extracts and its  pH is too high exfoliate.
3. Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub ($6.99 for 4.2 ounces). You can’t scrub away blackheads because a scrub only has an effect on the surface of the skin, and blackheads form beneath the surface. This scrub contains menthol, but don’t mistake its tingle to mean it’s helping your skin—it’s only causing irritation. Plus, it’s a scrub, so you rinse it off, which means the salicylic acid is rinsed down the drain before it can penetrate your pores.
4. Biore Ultra Deep Cleaning Pore Strips ($7.99 for 6 strips). These pore strips, and most others, contain a strong adhesive (think tape) ingredient along with hairspray-like film-forming agents. Although they can remove the top portion of blackheads, they cannot reach the root of the problem, so your blackheads are back almost overnight. Also, because pore strips adhere so strongly to your skin, removing them can cause needless irritation along with dry, flaky skin.
5. Origins Out of Trouble 10 Minute Mask to Rescue Problem Skin ($21 for 3.4 ounces). This absorbent mask claims to “pull the plug” on blackheads, but it cannot do that. Oddly, this mask contains a high amount of occlusive zinc oxide, so it potentially can make clogged pores worse, not better. Its biggest offense, however, is the inclusion of the irritants camphor and sulfur. Neither will do a thing to improve blackheads, but they will cause dryness and irritation that makes all types of breakouts worse.

What Else to Avoid

In addition to avoiding the products listed above, you should avoid bar soaps or bar cleansers because the ingredients that keep these in their bar form can clog pores. Also avoid thick, creamy moisturizers because the ingredients that make them thick can clog pores.

My top picks for blackhead treatments:

Clean & Clear Advantange Oil absorbing treatment oil-free $6.99

Neutrogena Oil  Free Acne Stress Control 3n1 Hydrating Acne Treatment $6.99

Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil Free Salicylic Acne Treatment and Moisturizer $39

Rhonda Allison Skin Refine Gel with Salicylic acid   $38