Find out everything you need to know to get rid of blackheads and achieve a clearer complexion with La Roche-Posay. Expert advice and recommendations.
At La Roche-Posay we’re often asked what causes blackheads, and how to treat them. It’s a complicated topic, so we’ve enlisted our Acne Skincare Expert, Rachel McAdam, to help you on the road to porefection.
Here she sorts the fact from fiction and discusses the best skincare for blackheads.
WHAT ARE BLACKHEADS?
Blackheads are a common form of blemish that typically appear on the oilier t-zone area of the forehead, nose and chin, but can also occur on the chest and back. Specifically, they are open comedones – small bumps that appear when a pore is blocked with sebum (oil) and/or dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria.
WHY ARE BLACKHEADS ‘BLACK’?
Whiteheads are closed comedones, while blackheads are open comedones. With blackheads, the pore is open at the skin’s surface and there is a dark yellow, brown or ‘black’ appearance. This is because oxygen interacts with the blocked oils and oxidation takes place. This process makes oils look darker.
WHAT CAUSES BLACKHEADS?
These blockages occur when the cells that line the pore accumulate rather than turnover and shed away. When the skin’s natural oil combines with the skin cells inside this pore, it creates a ‘plug’. Factors that contributes to blackheads include oily skin, sluggish cell turnover, and environmental factors such as cosmetics, pollution and humidity.
HOW TO GET RID OF BLACKHEADS
You need a regime that both unplugs the pore and targets the cause of the blockages. La Roche-Posay has created the Effaclar Range for tailored acne management.
The first step is twice daily cleansing with a soap-free, pH balanced cleanser designed for oily skins, such as Effaclar Micro-Peeling Purifying Gel Cleanser. (Makeup removal is obviously a non-negotiable if you want squeaky clean pores!)
Blackhead-prone skins still need moisture, as dehydrated skins will actually produce more oil to compensate. So opt for a non-comedogenic, oil-free product that hydrates while regulating sebum production. Effaclar Matte Anti-Shine Moisturiser is a mattifying, pore refining daily moisturiser that reduces sebum production with a powerful new active ingredient called Sebulyse.
Opt for products that contain beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid and lipohydroxy acid (LHA). These have a keratolytic action, gently exfoliating the skin and preventing blockages. Effaclar Matte Anti-Shine Moisturiser contains LHA to visibly refine the skin, while Effaclar Duo (+) Anti-Acne Moisturiser contains both LHA and salicylic acid to increase cellular turnover, as well as linoleic acid to target the pores.
CAN’T I JUST SCRUB BLACKHEADS AWAY?
No. An over-zealous approach can cause more harm than good. As with all types of acne, a gentle cleansing routine and chemical, rather than physical, exfoliation is essential to remove dead skin cells and debris from deep in the pore. You need to consider what is happening far below the surface of the skin.
IS IT EVER OK TO SQUEEZE BLACKHEADS?
We don’t recommend squeezing blackheads – unless done by a doctor. This process can damage the skin and cause a rebound effect. Also, you’ll risk infection from bacteria on fingers which can lead to an acne flare up. It is always best to give your skin the tools it needs to make cell turnover more efficient and balance the oil on the skin.
DO BLACKHEAD STRIPS WORK?
Pore strips will give a cosmetic ‘fix’ by removing dead skin cells and dirt from the skin. Hence the blackhead might not be as visible. But they do nothing to stop more blackheads from appearing, and can cause irritation on more sensitive skins.
TROUBLE GETTING RID OF BLACKHEADS?
CONSIDER SEEING A DERMATOLOGIST
If your nose is studded with blackheads, you might benefit from consulting a dermatologist who will prescribe suitable over the counter products. In extreme cases, your dermatologist may perform clinical extraction using sterile tools. But please leave this to the professionals as DIY extractions can transform a minor blackhead problem into a major breakout!
WHY DO MY BLACKHEADS COME BACK AFTER I’VE SQUEEZED THEM?
If you are not regulating oil production and using ingredients that prevent blockages from occurring, blackheads will remain a persistent problem.