Saturday, August 23, 2014

Blackheads 101

Blackheads are awful. It's plain and simple. People of all ages, nationalities and genders struggle with them. Like most I spent the first few years of puberty popping, repopping and angrily repopping the same black heads over and over again. But no matter how many pore strips, masques, and creams I used they always came back!

When I went to cosmetology school I went to a school that also taught esthetics (not to be confused with aesthetics). For those of you who don't know, esthetics focuses on skin care. They do chemical peels, advanced body waxing, extractions and several other things that cosmetologists don't do (but they don't do any hair cutting, coloring, ect). They study advanced skin and nails with a little hair and makeup, while cosmetologists are taught advanced hair and makeup with a little skin and nails. So being at a school with licensed estheticians acting as instructors I just asked one of them. This is what I learned.

Blackheads are oil and dead skin cells that clog a pore. The biggest difference between a whitehead and a blackhead is that blackheads are "open comedones (com-A-dough-ns)" while white heads are closed. Closed comedones have been covered by a layer of skin, and open ones have not. You have probably noticed that when you pop a white head, pimple or zit you have to apply pressure until it bursts, where with blackheads the clog comes right out when you apply the right pressure. Because there is no covering the clog oxidizes and turns black. It is not any dirtier or more infected than a white head.

Blackheads are caused by a lot of things. Excessive sweating, improper skin care, cheap makeup, not washing your makeup off at night, and even skin conditions. There are skin conditions that people don't even diagnose because they are super common and not life threatening at all. Most people who have super oily skin have a genetic skin condition.

When treating blackheads it is important to remember that the oil and skin cells are deep in your pore, and it's going to take a little more than honey and sea salt to get it out. You also have to keep in mind that while you may be able to use a pore strip or a scrub to get rid of the top few layers of the buildup so that it doesn't look black anymore doesn't mean you have gotten rid of the actual blackhead. Most blackheads stay for months and even years! When getting rid of them you have to be patient and persistent. You will most likely not see immediate results.

The best way to get rid of them is to follow these simple steps:

1 - Go to an Estethician for an Extraction
This is the most important step. Almost anyone who does facials also does extractions. Most spas and full service salons do extractions as well. Please do not try to do this on your own. If you are reading this you probably have lot of blackheads. If you have more than 5 individual black heads you need a professional. They know how much pressure to apply and for what length of time to remove your black heads without causing skin damage or trauma. They will also properly prepare and clean your skin before and after the extraction. If you can't afford it, go to an esthetics school.

2 - Buy and Use a Face Wash with Salicylic Acid or Retinol in it
I recommend using Mary Kay's Clear Proof Acne Treatment Set (or at least the cleanser from it). Use it once a day, daily unless the bottle instructs you to use it less than that. DO NOT USE IT MORE THAN THAT. Over washing the face is one of the biggest mistakes people commonly make. You should only wash your face with cleanser once a day, never twice unless a dermatologist okays it. You usually can't buy more than 3% retinol or salicylic acid products without a prescription. If your skin is bad enough, I recommend seeing a dermatologist for a skin treatment prescription.

3 - Extract the Blackheads that do Pop Up
It happens, it sucks, but there will be some that come back. If you ever break out so that you have more than 5 black heads at once you need to do another extraction (I'd wait a few weeks so a few more pop up before going to a pro though, just because I like to get my moneys worth.) But if a couple show up in the morning pop it, but do it right! Here is a quick guide to popping your own blackheads.

  • Wash your face thoroughly while taking or right before taking a shower. 
  • Make sure your hands are clean and dry.
  • Dry your face thoroughly.
  • Wear powder-free gloves or wrap your fingers in cotton before popping anything. 
  • Apply gentle to medium pressure
  • If the blackhead does not pop easily stop applying pressure!
  • Do not try to do self extractions for more than 8 minutes (10 tops!)
  • If it is painful, stop.

***Thanks to Michelle Keller for asking this question***
Thanks to BreeAnn Sykes for helping me with the info to accurately write this post!

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Thank you for reading and then commenting on my post! I appreciate your support and I hope my blog has been helpful to you! Let me know if you have any beauty related questions or products you'd like reviewed by sending me a message using the contact form on the right (which can not be seen on mobile devices).
-Angela ♥