Here’s how you can treat your annoying clogged pores and blackheads

As much as we love a good face beat, a smooth makeup application wouldn’t be possible without healthy skin. 

From pimples, blackheads, and acne scars, tons of ways our skin decides to hate us. It’s important to not only understand your skin, but treat your problem areas accordingly.

Are you someone who suffers from those small, pesky bumps on your nose that have, let’s face it, probably been there for a majority of your life? You’re not alone. Most people say that they have blackheads on their face – at least at some point in their lives.

You, and everyone else, probably thought that these were blackheads. But, according to experts, these little spots might actually be something else.

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In a recent Allure article, board-certified dermatologists, Shari Marchbein and Michelle Henry, debunk the common myths about blackheads. Plus, the two share some great tips on how to get rid of these annoying bumps on your face (and probably, mainly your nose) for good.

For starters, there is a major difference between blackheads and a less commonly known form of clogged pores called, “sebaceous filaments.”

“Blackheads form when the opening of a hair follicle becomes clogged or plugged with dead skin cells and oil,” Dr. Michelle Henry says. “This material gets oxidized by the air and appears black, hence the name blackhead.”

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Blackheads are a form of acne and appear when a hair follicle is filled up with oil and bacteria. So, many people confuse blackheads with sebaceous filaments/clogged pores because they look super similar. But, have to be treated differently – meaning, you could have been treating your skin incorrectly all of these years.

“Unlike a blackhead, sebaceous filaments are caused when the oil lining the follicle in a pore causes it to look larger. Many people are sensitive to their pore size and feel these are comedones, but that is not correct,” Marchbein says.


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So, how do we know which is which and how to treat them? A rule of thumb is to try pore stripes to remove the acne and if nothing changes, then it’s not blackheads.

“It is important to use products that are exfoliative or keratolytic,” aka peeling agents, “to dissolve the plug causing the blackhead,” according to Henry. An example of this product is this AcneFree Maximum Strength Terminator 10 ($7).

It can be more complicated treating sebaceous filaments, because your pore size is due to genetics and they can’t shrink. You can keep oil buildup under control using prescription retinoids or over-the-counter salicylic acid and glycolic acid, “Whether as a scrub, pad, or gel,” says Marchbein.

Sadly this isn’t a permanent fix, because your pores will fill back up – that’s just the way life goes. But, using scrubs like St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Face Scrub ($4) or Garnier’s SkinActive Clean + Blachead Eliminator ($8) will clean your pores with daily use.

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