Blackheads (or open comedones) crop up when sebaceous glands in our pores produce too much sebum. As the sebum comes into contact with the air, it oxidises and turns black (bit like rotting food, yuck!). And produces what we call a 'blackhead'. Blackheads often appear on the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and can leave our complexion looking dull and dirty. So how can we get rid of them?
Blackheads are often associated with oily or combination skin, which tend to produce too much sebum and suffer from open pores - teenagers often get the worst deal. That said all skin types can be affected, for example when our hormones go haywire (pregnancy, menopause) meaning comedones are formed. Dry skin also get its share: dehydrated skin makes up for its lack of water by producing lots of sebum that in turn causes blackheads.
Even if our skin type makes us prone to blackheads, there are plenty of other reasons why these bothersome blemishes appear. Our skin defends and protects itself from the elements by producing sebum, so it's also a question of changing our habits and beauty routines. - The first anti-blackhead preemptive strike involves daily cleansing with a gentle cleanser or micellar water. Avoid abrasive cleansers like the plague - they'll only kick start sebum production. If you don't religiously cleanse, bacteria will multiply and increase the likelihood of blackheads forming. - Once a week get rid of dead skin cells with a facial steam followed by a gentle scrub and carbon-based face mask. - Banish blackheads with a treatment suited to your skin type - go for moisturising, purfiying, mattifying, non-comedogenic products that will close your pores. - Avoid booze and greasy food, two blackhead-causing culprits, and eat a diet rich in zinc - cocoa, eggs, dry pulses, dairy products... - Avoid staying out in the sun, as this causes the upper layer of our skin to thicken, leading to pockets of sebum that cause blackheads to appear as our skin subsequently returns its normal state. - And yes, avoid the temptation to pick and squeeze them. You'll only embed any bacteria and end up with spots!
- Egg face mask: eggs are effective astringents that close pores and purify skin. Apply this mask once every couple of weeks. Using a brush, apply some egg white to affected areas. Cover with a tissue. Brush a second layer of egg white over the tissue. Leave for around 30 minutes or as long as it takes for the tissue to harden. Gently peel off the tissue and, hey presto, your blackheads will be stuck to its surface!
- Baking soda mask: baking soda's a brilliant spot and blackhead buster. Apply this mask once a month. Add two teaspoons of baking soda to mineral water and mix until you get a smooth paste. Apply to affected zones, leave for 5 minutes max and rinse off with warm water.
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