As I recounted in a previous article on acne, I had extremely bad blackheads and acne as a teenager. This was during the first half of the 1990s when few good treatments were available. In fact, dermatologists did not even understand the origin of blackheads and acne very well in those days. Through most of my adult years, I still suffered from periodic breakouts. My 14-year-old twins are now starting to battle with acne themselves, but luckily medical science has progressed to the point where the causes are understood and an easy, cost-effective treatment is available. As a result, my own skin is now clear and my twins will never have to struggle through the same hell that I did. Pimple and blackhead removal and prevention are now possible.
What are Blackheads?
A blackhead is a pore in your skin that has become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. The black dot appears when the pore is not covered by more skin cells on top. The oil and dead skin cells with which the pore are plugged are open to light and oxygen that cause them to go black. Oxidation and oxidative damage are buzzwords in the natural health industry these days. That is what happens to the crud that clogs your pores when it is exposed to oxygen. Peel an apple or a potato and leave it on the kitchen counter to demonstrate the effect of oxygen for yourself.
The difference between a blackhead and a whitehead is that a blackhead remains open to oxygen, while a whitehead gets covered with skin cells. As a result, the interaction with oxygen does not occur to turn it black.
The difference between a blackhead and a pimple is a bit like the difference between a larva and a butterfly. A blackhead is a clogged pore. A pimple is what happens when the clogged pore remains clogged. When a pore is blocked, a bacterium called propionibacterium acnes start feeding on the decaying biological matter inside it. This causes your immune system to secrete inflammatory substances to try and fight the bacteria which, in turn, causes the big bumps that are pimples. In other words, you can think of pimples as grown-up blackheads, or of blackheads as juvenile pimples. And acne scars as unpleasant memories of their life-story.
Causes of Blackheads
To understand how blackheads form, remember that your skin consists of three layers: the bottom layer that is composed of fat to protect your organs, the middle layer (dermis) that hosts your sweat glands, oil glands, hair follicles, and so forth, and the top layer (epidermis) that consists of mostly the pigment that gives your skin its color.
When your oil glands secrete oil, it flows through the pores to the epidermis to moisturize it. When your dermis shed dead cells, as all the tissue in your body does daily, they pass through the pores to your epidermis to be expelled from your body. When you sweat, the sweat flows through the pores to your epidermis. When you apply a moisturizer to your skin, it passes through the pores down to your dermis. The hair on your skin grows through the pores. This means that your pores are about as congested as the Lincoln Tunnel between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan. Just one mishap, and the whole thing is blocked.
Several such mishaps can cause blackheads:
- Your skin produces too much oil.
- Your skin does not shed its dead cells properly.
- You have an overabundance of androgen sex hormones that stimulate your skin’s oil glands to secrete too much oil (almost inevitable during adolescence).
- You’ve inherited genes for overactive oil glands and improper shedding of dead cells.
- While research is currently mixed on the question of stress, some people see a definite connection between stress and clogged pores.
- Some studies show that a diet rich in dairy and sugar (simple carbohydrates) promotes oily skin.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads Fast
What I’ve found to be the answer for how to get rid of blackheads is the kit from Exposed Skin Care. I got it mainly for acne, but since blackheads are a type of acne I was not surprised to find that this kit worked. It provides a thorough skin treatment in two ways: it firstly ensures that there is an anti-blackhead substance on your face 24 hours a day, and it secondly includes most of the substances that scientific studies have found can remove and prevent blackheads.
Best of all, the largest facial skin kit contains nine products but still costs less than $50 per month. This is the price of a good moisturizer alone. So why would you pay $50 for a moisturizer if you can have an entire anti-acne and anti-blackhead range of products for the same price?
If you use some of the products in the kit more slowly, such as the scrub and the mask, you can buy the smaller kits to replace only the main products that you use daily. Then it is even cheaper.
- For face washing and as a soap substitute, it contains a facial cleanser that contains no irritating, drying soap or pore-clogging oils.
- The specialist dead skin cell remover in the kit is a clearing tonic that contains Salicylic acid, a substance that is so good at removing dead skin cells and abnormal skin that it can even remove warts and skin tags. It is almost universally believed to be one of the best treatments for blackheads. It also contains green tea extract, the substance that can help to control androgens and their biological effects on your oil glands.
- To prevent blackheads from growing up and becoming pimples, the acne treatment serum contains several substances that can kill bacteria and combat inflammation, all scientifically proved to work. These include Benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and azelaic acid.
- To keep your pores open during the eight hours you sleep, the clear pore serum is a night cream that contains green tea, salicylic acid, and approximately the same ingredients as the clearing tonic.
- To moisturize your skin without adding messy pore clogging oils, it contains a silicon-based moisturizer.
- There is a facial mask that you can apply once or twice a week that contains activated charcoal and bentonite to absorb toxins and excess oil.
- There is a facial scrub with natural moisturizing extracts to remove dead skin cells while remaining gentle.
- You receive an abrasive cloth that is rough enough to exfoliate but not so harsh that it damages your skin.
- To boost your immune system and digestion, you will find probiotic tablets.
If you struggle with blackheads on the rest of your body too, Exposed Skin Care also has a three-piece body kit with an exfoliating body wash, an acne treatment serum, and an abrasive cloth. The body wash contains a scrub and salicylic acid to clear your pores. The acne treatment serum has benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and green tea extract to keep the bacteria away, to combat inflammation, and to regulate oil-triggering androgens. The cloth is similar to that in the facial kit. You can get it to try for yourself from the official website here.
How Dermatologists Deal With Blackheads
Many of you may wonder why I don’t recommend that you consult a dermatologist. The simple answer is that it is unnecessary and expensive. A dermatologist will either recommend that you use the same kinds of substances included in Exposed Skin Care, or will recommend treatments that are simply overkill. Here is a short list of some of the most likely treatments.
- Retinoid creams (vitamin A creams) like Tretinoin and Retin-A keep your pores open but, frankly, then you may just as well use salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide that work equally well. Many people whose skins are irritated by salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide use it, but this is not a problem if you use Exposed Skin Care’s products because they already have moisturizers built into them. The other problem is that the over-the-counter retinoid creams differ in quality and the prescription creams are expensive.
- Isotretinoin tablets reduce the amount of oil your skin secretes. It dried my facial skin and lips so much that they cracked open and bled. I never had fewer than six open bleeding sores on my face. It also causes fetal abnormalities if you are pregnant, and may cause everything from irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and depression. If absolutely all else has failed, this should be your last resort.
- Contraceptive pills like Yaz and Estrostep reduce your androgen hormones and, thereby, the amount of oil your skin produces. This is obviously available for women only, and it can do nothing if dead skin cells block your pores. I am also deeply uncomfortable with putting my 14-year-old daughter on a contraceptive, given that they may, in exceptional cases, cause blood clots.
- Laser and light treatments are aimed at constricting your oil glands so they produce less oil. This sounds promising, but at this stage there are several reasons why dermatologists tend to recommend it only to their wealthy patients. The main problem is the fact that a treatment works for only three months, after which you have to return for another treatment. At four treatments per year, this is time-consuming and expensive at up to $400 per treatment.
- A round loop extractor is a device dermatologists use to make a tiny hole in the blackhead and to extract the plug from the pore. If you have dozens of blackheads, each must be extracted individually, a treatment that takes long and for which your medical insurance will not pay because it is cosmetic. It will also not prevent those pores from clogging again. A treatment that fails to prevent further clogging is a poor one in deed.
- Microdermabrasion is the dermatologist’s version of a facial scrub; a rough surfaced instruments to remove the epidermis and together with it the clogged pores. The skin care kit already provides a gentle scrub, and removing most of your epidermis to get rid of blackheads seems like overkill, especially when considering that it will not prevent your pores from blocking again.
Home Remedies for Acne
There simply aren’t any home remedies that work to get rid of blackheads. There is no evidence that shows that lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, fenugreek, turmeric, honey, nutmeg, milk, raw egg, and other kitchen solutions work. The idea of putting a blended raw egg on my face makes me feel sick, and the chance that sticky substances like honey will clog my pores is too great for my liking. Vinegar may irritate my skin without a good water or silicone-based moisturizer, and lemon makes our skins very sensitive to the sun. Your kitchen cupboards won’t yield any miraculous blackhead treatments, just accept it. If it had been that easy, blackheads would not have been the epidemic it is.
Tea tree oil works, but it also dries your skin. Moreover, it also happens to be one of the most expensive essential oils if you buy pure, organic, undiluted oil without added chemicals. If you add the price of an anti-acne cleansing face wash, a moisturizer, a cloth, and a scrub to that of tea tree oil, you may just as well buy the whole acne kit at approximately the same price.
General Advice for Blackhead Removal
Together with the Exposed Skin Care product, keep the following in mind:
- Avoid touching your face, which may transfer dirt, oil, bacteria, and oil from hand lotion or food to your face.
- If your hair is greasy, wash it daily to prevent it from transferring oil to your forehead and hairline.
- A lot of bacteria and oil from your skin can collect on your clothes, scarves, hats, pillowcases, large headphones, and even your cell phone. Wash or clean all of these as often as possible.
- Avoid oil-based moisturizers on parts of your body where you tend to get blackheads. Use only the moisture complex included in the Exposed Skin Care kit on your face. It is usually not necessary to moisturize your back and chest where blackheads may also appear, because they are normally protected from the sun and air that damage and dry skin. But if you must moisturize them, use a silicone or water-based moisturizer.
- You may not wash your face with your food like toddlers do, but you should still remove the oil from your lips and the corners of your mouth after eating greasy food like pizza.
- Wash your face only twice a day with lukewarm water. A quick rinse in the afternoon to remove the sweat and oil from the surface is fine. Hot water dries and regions your skin, which may cause some inflammation, which will convert blackheads to real pimples.
- While it is difficult, try to reduce the amount of dairy and simple carbohydrates in your diet. Almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, soya, oats, brown rice, and coconut make good milk substitutes when blended with water in a fast speed blender. The cartons of coconut milk purchasable in most supermarkets are delicious. By only wholegrain bread and pasta, and make your pies and pizzas at home with wholegrain crusts. Lastly, use Stevia, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, or fruit instead of white or brown table sugar. These few simple substitutes will make a massive difference.
- Exercise regularly to work up a good sweat to help flush dead skin cells through your pores. It is crucial that you wash your face with the cleanser afterwards to ensure that sweat does not contribute to the pore-clogging material. Exercise will also fight off depression and anxiety.
- It might help to spend some time in the spa or steam room of your local gym, so long as you remember to apply the Exposed Skin Care Silicon-based moisturizing gel immediately afterwards. This can help you relax and open your pores, but the heat can also dry and damage your skin if you do not follow it with a moisturizer.
- Avoid picking and squeezing blackheads when they appear. You might damage your skin and cause scarring. The over-the-counter blackhead extractors are no safer than your fingers. It takes a specialist to know which blackheads are extractable and which ones not. We are not specialists and can pick at the wrong ones to remove. Extracting a blackhead that is busy getting infected will leave a nasty scar.
If you want to control and prevent pimples, you must start with blackheads. 98 percent of users say that the Exposed Skin Care kit clears up their skins, and 96 percent say that it improves their skin tone. Our family can certainly testify to the benefits. The company offers a full money back guarantee if your acne does not improve in 30 days, so your investment is protected. Go ahead, you will be surprised and delighted by the results.