Photo courtesy of drugstore.comShannon R., SELF magazine
Blackheads aren't just a teen problem. They're large pores that collect skin gunk like oil, dead skin cells and makeup. While blackheads are more common in teens, since their skin tends to be oilier, it doesn't mean that these unsightly pores can't plague you well into adulthood. Here are a few tips to help you battle blackheads!
What are blackheads?
As I mentioned, blackheads are pores on your skin that have a wider than usual opening. Since these pores are large, they get filled up with "skin garbage" like sebum (oil) and dead skin cells. This garbage that clogs your open skin pores undergoes a series of oxidative chemical reactions that create a dark, black mass known as a blackhead. Oily skin tends to get more blackheads since there is more sebum to clog the large pores.
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How do I deal with blackheads?
1. Cleanse - Washing your face seems obvious, but if you sleep with makeup on sometimes or get a little lazy with washing your face it allows oil and dead skin cells the time to create pore-clogging blackheads. Prevention is key when dealing with blackheads. Also, try using a cleanser made specifically for blackhead prevention. These cleansers contain ingredients like salicylic acid, which do a better job of breaking up pore-clogging dirt than other types of cleansers.
2. Exfoliate - Exfoliating helps to scrub away the dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. When done regularly, exfoliation can better the appearance of skin and improve its texture. Also, removing dead skin regularly keeps pore buildup at bay! Try blackhead or pore-minimizing scrubs, which use little beads to better break up excess oil and dirt. You may even want to invest in a battery powered skin device like Clarisonic or the Neutrogena Wave, which provide gentle exfoliation and really help to break up blackheads!
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3. Use Pore Strips - If your cleansing routine has been lacking a bit and the blackheads have already formed, why not give pore strips a try! Pore strips use a mixture of polyquaternium and silica that bind to the oil and dead skin cells and adhere them to the strip. Pore strips also contain glycerin and silicones, which help to soften skin and "activate" the strip once it's wet. It's actually pretty cool to see the pore gunk you pulled out from the strip. This product definitely offers immediate gratification! If you are not familiar with how this product works, you basically just adhere the strip to your nose (skin should be clean and wet - the strip won't stick to dry skin). You let the strip dry for about 10-15 minutes and then slowly peel off to reveal a strip full of blackheads (cool and gross at the same time!). Just be sure to follow the instructions and warnings on the package. Biore (the leading pore strip manufacturer) recommends to use this product no more than once every three days. Overuse of pore strips can irritate skin and actually start removing too much oil and other things your skin needs (a little oil is good for skin!).
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By following a good cleansing and exfoliating routine (with the right products!), you can really help to prevent or minimize the appearance of unsightly blackheads. However, on those occasions when blackheads do make an appearance, pore strips are an easy and effective way to remove them. Pore strips combined with a good cleansing and exfoliation routine should keep skin blackhead-free!