Almost everyone will have experienced blackheads or whiteheads at some point in their life. Known collectively as “comedones”, they are mostly seen on the face and shoulders.
Blackheads, or “open comedo”, are pores that have a wider than normal opening. These pores get filled with sebum and dead skin cells, which then oxidise and result in the characteristic flat black/dark yellow plug within the pore.
Whiteheads, or “closed comedo”, are pores filled with the same material, but because they are not open to the air, they do not oxidise, and so remain white and may become inflamed and raised.
Blackheads and whiteheads are predominantly caused by an overproduction of sebum.
If blackheads and whiteheads are your main skin concern, then having a good skincare routine should help you see consistent and long-term improvement. Use a gentle cleanser morning and evening to remove daily grime, sebum and dead skin cells, and once or twice a week use a gentle exfoliator.
Steaming the skin before cleansing or applying treatments will help to open up the pores, but avoid very hot water as the steam may damage your skin and cause it to dry out further.
Don’t ‘over-do’ the cleansing and scrubbing as using harsh skincare products may dry out the skin and prompt it to produce more sebum in an attempt to lubricate. This will lead to further pore blockages, blackheads and whiteheads. Gentle skincare is the key!
Typical over-the-counter and GP prescribed treatments for blackheads and whiteheads will often include ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or antibiotics. These can be very harsh for sensitive skin, so you may choose to avoid them if your skin becomes dry or flaky and seek a more natural, gentler alternative for the skin.