Monday, April 24, 2006

Stop the Rearing of Ugly Blackheads

Nadezhda asks:

Girls, could you write something about getting rid of blackheads? I’m in my twenties so acne and zits are no longer a problem, but I still have plenty of blackheads. Most prominent are on my nose, but there are also tiny ones on my chin and cheeks.

Nadezhda, I definitely sympathize with your blackhead problem, but there is hope. As most women age, they grow out of their acne phase, yielding to a blemish every now and then. Acne is almost directly related to genetics and horomones, blackheads are a result of the excess buildup of oil on the skin. Buildup is caused by having extremely oily skin, using cosmetics and beauty products containing oil, pollution, or by our own actions, such as not washing your face before we sleep or touching your face with your hands. The excess oil settles into your pores and oxidizes, creating the tiny, dark clump of specks we call a blackhead.

Image courtesy of Aveeno

Blackheads are tough to rid of, and typically take longer to disappear versus your average blemish. With a little diligence and care, you can send them packing for good!

Start by cleansing your face with a mild, oil-free cleanser. If you have dry skin, a cream-based cleanser works best and if you have oily skin, a gel-based cleanser is your best bet. You may find it necessary to follow-up with a toner. Try Burt’s Bees line of toners, made for all skin types.

Once you have a clean slate, it’s time to get serious. While your skin is still damp, gently rub a facial scrub into your skin, focusing on blackhead problem areas. Choose a scrub that's made specifically for skin with blackheads, being careful to avoid those that are overly abrasive. Rinse the scrub from skin wth warm water. This process opens up pores, then deep cleans with 2% Salicylic Acid. I've used Clean & Clear Blackhead Clearing Scrub faithfully for a long time and have been exceptionally pleased with the results. This stuff really works! The same product also comes in Daily Cleansing Pads.

Once a week, apply a mud-based mask to only the area blackheads are present. In many cases, this is the bridge of your nose. Beware that liberal usage of a mud mask may over-dry your skin, causing it to feel itchy and flake. Try Bath & Body Works' Pure Simplicity Neem Pore Refining Face Mask.

Before applying makeup, mattify with an oil-free lightweight moisturizer. Kiehl's Blue Herbal Moisturizer contains 2% Salicylic Acid and will fight to eliminate blackheads underneath makeup, while prepping skin for makeup application.

Once you are blakhead free, a proactive approach can aid in keeping your skin clear. Use an oil-free foundation and keep your hands away from your face!

To add to your blackhead fighting arsenal, pick up some Body Shop Tea Tree Oil. It sounds counter-intuitive to add more oil to your face, but Tea Tree Oil is 100% natural and actually helps rid of a wide range of blemishes, including blackheads.

You also might want to pick up some oil-blotting sheets, for midday touchoups in problem areas.

I don’t recommend using blackhead extractor because misuse can result in pain, infection or permanent scarring. If your blackhead problem is severe or persists, consult a dermatologist.