Blackheads, yikes! They make pores look huge, they shout stare at me (!), come play join the dots with me (!) lean into the magnifying mirror and be in awe of me (!)… you can try to get rid of me – BUT – you will fail – so don’t try – I’m happy here.
Blackheads are the most persistent type of spot. They’re lurkers. They like to chill. They love to hang out.
What most people think causes blackheads isn’t actually the cause of blackheads. This is important to know because once you understand the cause of your blackheads you can happily know how to prevent, treat and remove them.
Are you ready for this? What causes blackheads? How to prevent blackheads and is it okay to squeeze blackheads?
Come learn all my skin savvy in the making…
What Causes Blackheads?
First stop: What causes blackheads? To know what causes blackheads you first need to know what blackheads are.
Imagine trying to UN-make a sandwich without first knowing sandwiches need bread and filling (!) aka take away the bread and you don’t have a sandwich.
What we want to learn is – take away X and you won’t have a blackhead.
Very simply my friend – blackheads are a type of spot.
You can think of blackheads like the difference between a cupcake and a melt-in-the-middle chocolate pud.
Cupcakes have gooey-chocolatey goodness on the top.
Melt-in-the-middle chocolate puds have their gooey-chocolatey goodness in the middle.
Blackheads have what causes a spot on-top aka open to the air.
And all other types of spots have what causes a spot trapped inside. Ouchy.
What Is the Main Cause of Blackheads?
Here’s what a lot of people think cause blackheads;
- Blackheads are caused by dirt and bacteria.
- Truth: Blackheads have dirt and bacteria in them but dirt and bacteria aren’t the cause of blackheads.
- Blackheads are caused when oils in your pores aka sebum gets oxidised.
- Truth: Blackheads are caused by oxidation but if they’re black, it’s not the oil which has oxidised.
- You get blackheads because you have dirty skin.
- Truth: How clean your skin is doesn’t have a lot to do with if you get blackheads.
- Washing your skin lots will get rid of blackheads.
- Truth: because face wash doesn’t get time to dissolve deep into oil filled pores, washing your face is not the best way to help get rid of blackheads.
Ready for the full truth and nothing but the truth?
Thought you might be my friend.
What causes blackheads? Here’s the deal. Blackheads happen when;
#1 you have a pore.
#2 you have a sebum gland inside the pore which is probably a little over active (aka you have oily/combination skin)
#3 your pore becomes filled with sebum.
#4 your pore is open to the air.
Most people believe blackheads happen because skin oils oxidise.
Quick explainer; oxidation is what happens when air reacts with something aka when you cut an apple and it goes brown.
…but think about it – have you ever seen oil go black?
What’s actually happening is this – something called melanin pigment is oxidising.
Melanin = the pigment which gives skin colour aka stops you from being albino.
What causes blackheads? Recent studies show the cells which make melanin are also found in your pores (!)
…and guess what colour oxidised melanin is? Dark tan colour aka browny-black.
Bottom line: Blackheads are caused by oxidation of tan pigment aka melanin trapped deep inside open to the air, sebum filled pores.
Is It OK to Squeeze Blackheads?
Disclaimer: I believe certain types of spots are A-OK to squeeze. Blackheads my friend are not one of them. Your blackheaded spots are not inflamed aka red and bumpy and they’re not pus filled aka full of something which needs to get out.
Instead your blackheaded spots are 1) normal pores and 2) full of sebum which is meant to be there.
Getting rid of the sebum in a blackhead spot won’t make inflammation go down – like in a red, bumpy spot.
It’s also a lot more likely to do a lot of damage to your pore. Aka make them bigger or worse.
Bottom line: Don’t squeeze blackheads.
How Do You Get Rid of Blackheads on Your Nose?
The reason blackheads are so common on your nose is the key to understanding how to get rid of blackheads. Aka if you can pinpoint the differences between areas of your skin which are and aren’t effected by blackheads – you’re onto a winner.
Here’s why blackheads are extremely common on your nose;
- Your pores are larger here
- Your skin is oilier here
- Your nose gets a lot of contact with the sun aka an oxidiser – the reason why some people love to paint their nose a white shade of sunblock (!)
Which means you can help get rid of blackheads by;
- Reducing the size of your pores – this can be done with diet and skincare – don’t worry, even though most people will tell you you can only minimise pores – reversing is possible.
- Shrinking the size of your oil glands
- Wearing sunscreen every day
- Using a super antioxidant serum every day
- Increasing your skin’s elasticity to help stop blackheads getting bigger
- Avoid sticky oleic high oils in skincare – download your free list of the opposite kind here
…and a lot of these ways feed into each other. Take for instance increasing your skin’s elasticity – doing this will also help reduce the size of your pores. Awesome sauce.
Psst! While I’m about to recommend 3 great ways you can help get rid of and prevent blackheads – if you’re serious about getting rid of yours – SkinCoach is what you’ll want.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads/How to Prevent Blackheads
One of the most epic ways you can help get rid of blackheads is by shrinking the size of your oil glands aka causing less ‘baggage’ to come out of your pore. This will help stop your pores getting larger, help decrease their size plus help prevent lots of melanin coming out to get oxidised.
How do you do this?
Step 1. Very simply; use a retinoid.
Retinoids are types of vitamin A and one of the ways they work is by decreasing the activity of your sebum glands aka sebum glands take a break.
If you’ve never used a retinoid before – make sure you come chat to me in the comments below.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 5 November 2018
Step 2. Get control of your diet.
Diet is humongous when it comes to the size of your pores PLUS the frequency of blackheads and spots.
What causes blackheads? Diet kicks off an exponential domino train which ends up in sebum stimulating hormones.
Your most likely culprits are insulinotropic foods, high GI foods, high GL foods and plain ol’ sugar.
Don’t worry if not all of these words make 100% sense to you – this is 200% normal (!) and to easily sort it…
Here’s solution 2 in your how to get rid of blackheads arsenal; Your 2 Week Clear Skin Meal Plan (£7)
Step 3: Wear sunscreen all day, every day.
Remember how blackheads are caused by oxidation?
Well sunlight or if we’re being technical about it – UV light is hugely oxidising.
…and remember how lobster nose is oh so easy to get?
Well using sunscreen here is one of the most important ways you can help get rid of blackheads on your nose.
Pro tip: Mineral sunscreens are best for helping to prevent blackheads.
My pick: Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Daytime Moisturiser with SPF 30 (£29/60ml)
There you have it my friend. What causes blackheads. How to get rid of blackheads. How to prevent blackheads. Are you setup and ready to go? Wondering how long it should take before you see results? Do you have 1st-time-retinol-user questions? Come chat with me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.