Blackheads are nasty little buggers. They look gross and can hurt like hell too! So how do you get rid of them for good? Emma Hobson from the International Dermal Institute has the answer!
What are blackheads?
The first place blackheads normally appear
are on the nose and from there they seem to
spread and multiply out onto our forehead,
chin and cheeks. They are most prevalent in
our T-zone because this is where we have the
greatest oil gland activity.
A blackhead is caused by a clog of
congestion inside a follicle. The congestion is
a mixture of oil (sebum), dead skin cells, tiny
hairs, some debris and sometimes bacteria
that all combine to make a plug.
The surface of the plug, being open and in
contact with the light and air oxidises and
turns black. That’s why when you remove
a blackhead, the top is black but the rest
underneath is a creamy colour. The follicle
often contains an over-active oil gland
(sebaceous follicle) stimulated by hormonal
Blackheads are non-inflamed lesions but if
neglected they can develop into a spot.
Recommended Treatment of Blackheads
The key is to keep the skin as clean as possible,
free from debris and to control excess oil
How to get rid of them
The first step is focusing on your cleansing
routine. I’d recommend cleansing twice
in the morning and twice in the evening.
First with a cleansing oil, these are terrific
at really deep cleansing of the skin and the
second cleanse with either a facial gel wash
or ideally if you have a shiny, oily T-Zone, use
a clay based cleanser. The clay acts like oil
absorbing genius and removes the excess
sebum off the skin without drying the skin out.
A second benefit to a clay cleanser is that
they are fantastic to use as a ‘mini-mask’,
pop the cleanser on your T-Zone then wait
two minutes (might as well put this on prior
to brushing your teeth) and not only will the
cleanser remove all excess oil and shine, it will
also ‘draw out’ the impurities and blockages
in the skin. Make sure you cleanse behind the
ears and into the hair line as often this is where
we miss and breakouts can then appear.
Remove your cleanser thoroughly as leaving
a residue can also congest the skin.
It’s hard to suppress the temptation to squeeze
your blackheads or to rip them out with those
(useless) sticky strips! The skin on the nose is
delicate and quite fine so it’s easy to cause
broken capillaries and skin damage. Since the
follicles on the nose are small and don’t have
much depth to them it is very easy for them
to continually congest especially considering
the active flow of oil they have pouring into
them from the oil glands. Therefore, it’s more
effective to use treatment products that clear
and decongest the skin vs. squeezing them
every other day.
If you are set on having them extracted and
knowing a blackhead can be the precursor to
a spot (not common on the nose area) may
I recommend you leave it to the professionals
and take a visit to a skin care therapist as they
can remove them quickly and effectively
without causing any trauma or damage to
Exfoliation is a key step in the treatment as well
as maintenance of congestion and spots since
it helps keep the skin clear of surface debris. If
your skin is free from inflamed spots, you can
use a scrub two to three times per week – that
said, it is important to avoid scrubs if you have
sensitive skin as they can irritate or if you have
inflamed breakouts as they can spread the
infection. Instead, try using Hydroxy Acids in
particular Salicylic Acid* or Digestive Enzymes
(Pineapple/Bromalane or Papaya/Papain) to
focus on the areas of congestion.
Since the nose is easily congested, an ideal
way to keep the follicles clear is to use a daily
‘microfoliant’, that will gently polish the skin
with Rice Bran powder, Salicylic Acid , Phytic
Acid and Papain helping keep it clean and
I’d recommend using a deep cleansing,
sebum controlling mask or a clay based mask
that draws out impurities, absorbs excess oil
and helps decongest the skin. Mask at least
once or twice a week and apply to the areas
Clearing Gels, Mattifiers and Purifying Wipes
There are some fantastic products in the
arsenal to treat blackheads. Look for night
time clearing gels that you apply to the area
of congestion, and overnight whilst you sleep
your blackheads are treated with powerful
For the daytime you
can apply a clearing mattifier. These light
weight lotions usually contain decongesting
ingredients coupled with the new wave of oil
controlling ingredients finished off with micro
sponges, which sap up the excess oil from
the surface of the skin leaving the skin with
a great matte finish. If you find later in the
day that you’re getting an oily shine, whip
a travel sized skin purifying wipe out of your
bag , fortified with all the ingredient goodies
to clear and control the shine.
Lastly, use an oil free, oil absorbing moisturising
lotion which seals and protects your skin and
stops it from looking shiny. They can also work
on reducing the intensity of oil flow without
drying the skin out.
For more info check out contact the Dermal Institute on 1800 659 118 or visit www.dermalinstitute.com.au.