After a recent Scientific American article declared that—gasp!—blackheads are kind of impossible to get rid of, we were left feeling a wee bit desperate about those perpetual dark spots in our pores. Yes, it’s great to know that pretty much everyone gets them, that they’re NBD and that they aren’t a sign of poor hygiene (as common stigma holds), but we still want to get rid of them ASAP.
So, we chatted with chemist and beauty industry expert David Pollock, author of Just Stop the Lies: Secrets the Beauty Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know, to get some solid do’s and don’ts in light of these new findings. Read on for his tried-and-true tactics for keeping your pores clog-free.
Do clean your skin every morning and night with an oil-free cleanser: Excess sebum can clog pores, as can dead skin cells and other impurities. Bacteria forms and acne results in the form whiteheads or blackheads.
Don’t go to bed with makeup on: Makeup contains talc and titanium dioxide and other powders that can clog pores. And be sure to wash your hair often, especially if you exercise.
Don’t over moisturize: Use an oil-free, light gel or cream moisturizer. There is no need to apply heavy, oil moisturizers that may add to the problem. Oil is not moisture, and there no need to “lock in” moisture, as many commercials for products proclaim. The real key is to moisturize correctly. Try products with hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in almost every cell of our body—it binds up to one thousand times its weight in water to the skin.
Don’t over-scrub: Harsh scrubs can irritate the skin and exacerbate the problem, so stay away from the large-grain exfoliators like walnut or almond and use gentle exfoliators like rice or jojoba instead. Use a gentle exfoliator several times a week to remove dead skin cells and other impurities to keep pores clear and open.
Do wash your personal items: Your cellphone, and any other item that touches your face a lot, should be washed once a day to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Do target blackheads with acne fighting products: Benzoyl peroxide products may dry your skin, but they certainly can help treat acne and blackheads. Salicylic acid is more gentle, but not as effective. Retinol is also proven to help blackheads, but the key is finding a product with a high enough level of the ingredient, like 0.5% or 1.0%. If a product doesn’t state the percentage, don’t buy it. It most likely contains only trace levels and won’t solve the problem.
Don’t use spot treatments all over your face. If you have sensitive skin, do not apply acne products all over your face because this can make the problem even worse. Target only the acne.
Don’t pick at your face—EVER: You should never try to remove acne with your fingers. Your hands are dirty and the contents of the blackhead will spread. Instead, put a warm compress on the affected area at night, followed by a spot treatment. The compress will soften the skin and open the pores.
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