It’s time to debunk some blackhead myths! When striving for perfectly clear skin, it can be easy to focus all your attention on those tiny black dots on your face when you’re standing just millimeters away from your reflection. Commonly assumed to be blackheads, these dots are an unsightly nuisance that are seemingly impossible to get rid of, right?
Pores for thought: debunking blackhead myths
Today I’m going to clear up the 5 common myths about blackheads, pores and sebaceous filaments (say whaaatt?) and provide you with the tips you need to banish the blackheads for good! Don’t get too excited though guys and gals…there’s no quick fix!
“all those dots on my nose are blackheads”
That is most likely untrue. Those evenly scattered black dots on your T-zone (and sometimes on other areas of your face) are much more likely to be sebaceous filaments. These are not to be confused with blackheads! Blackheads are caused when sebum builds up and solidifies into a hard plug within a pore whilst sebaceous filaments are oil glands that supply your pores with oil. Sebaceous Filaments look like tiny blackheads but the truth is, the dark dots are actually a mixture of sebum, dead skin cells and a single hair. Sebaceous Filaments are smooth to touch and naturally occurring in EVERYONE (honest!) and even if you try to extract them (which I don’t recommend) you’ll yield a soft, pale yellow substance but the follicle will just fill right back up again within a month and you’ll be back to square one!
“the “black” in blackheads is dirt”
Wrong! Blackheads are dark in colour as a result of oxidation – a chemical reaction involving oxygen and sebum – and are NOT a result of dirt or poor hygiene.
“my pores can be shrunk.”
Unfortunately, while you are able to reduce the appearance of pores, you can’t physically make them smaller than they naturally are. That being said, you can make your pores permanently larger by using harsh peel-off pore strips and metal extractor tools. These baddies can stretch your pores and cause irreversible damage… just saying! While pore size is usually down to genetics (fair skinned folk tend to have more refined pores whilst those who have darker and/or oilier skin tend to have more prominent pores there are a few steps you can take to reduce the appearance of them which I’ll go into later on in the post.
“my pores will get bigger with age”
This one, unfortunately, is true. As you get older, the amount of collagen your skin produces decreases (In fact, from the age of 20, one percent less of collagen is produced in the dermis each year!). With less collagen in our skin our pores start to slacken and stretch. Other factors that can increase the appearance of pores are excess skin debris (exfoliate!), excessive oiliness (fix your hormones!), sun exposure (wear daily SPF!) and genetics (errr…get new parents?!).
“my pores open and close”
Despite what your mother told you, steaming your face to open pores and splashing your face with cold water post-cleanse to shut them right up again is all lies! Pores do not have muscles that allow them to open and close. Whilst warm water and steam can help soften the oil and debris within the pores, making for a more effective exfoliation, a hot/cold techinique on your skin will do nothing to the size of your pores.
Tips to clear blackheads and reduce the appearance of pores and sebaceous filaments
Whilst it is possible to rid yourself of blackheads, you can’t get rid of your pores. However, with the right skin care and healthy lifestyle, you can banish the blackheads and make pores and sebaceous filaments much less noticeable. Here’s how:
Balance your hormones
Hormones play a massive part in sebum production and breakouts. When your hormones are all over the place – your body will produce excess sebum making clogged pores and blackheads a more common occurrence. To help balance your hormones, cut back on the dairy and sugar and up your intake of antioxidant and vitamin rich fruit and vegetables. You can read my top tips for balancing hormones here. Once you balance your hormones out you’ll see a significant decrease in your skin’s oiliness which, in turn, will result in less blackheads and clogged pores.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!
While you can’t physically shrink your pores, exfoliation is key to minimising their appearance. Dead skin cells, sebum buildup and leftover makeup can darken pores and cause them to appear larger. Slough away dead skin cells and debris with an exfoliator 2-3 times a week (or a gentle muslin cloth everyday) to prevent your skin from getting too congested.
Fall in love with oils
It’s easy to assume that oil is the cause of all our clogged pore/blackhead issues. But it’s not! Well, not quite! Good oils that contain an abundance of healthy fats and vitamins (particularly Vitamin E as this helps to slow down the oxidisation. Remember? The process that turns oil and debris black?) are great for beautiful, glowing skin!
If you’ve been a long term follower of this site you’ll know by now that oil dissolves oil. So by following the Oil Cleansing Method on a daily basis, you’re effectively dissolving unwanted make-up, grease, impurities and grim from your skin without upsetting your skins protective barrier and replacing it with skin-friendly oils that calm and nourish the skin. Despite having super oily skin and suffering from terrible cystic acne on my forehead, jaw and chin, the pores (sebaceous filaments) and on my nose have always been pretty unnoticeable. I’m sure this is down to just using oils such as jojoba, pumpkin seed and hemp seed oil on my skin. To find out more about the OCM, check out this post!
Another great way to reduce blackheads and clogged pores is to get hot and sweaty! Sweat helps the body to purge any toxins that can get clogged in pores and lead to breakouts. Just remember to cleanse the skin after your workout! Head over to this post to read more about the effects of exercise on acne.
Despite my best effects to stop you from stressing about a few clogged pores, those tiny little pinprick holes on your face may feel like monstrous black holes but I promise you, they’re probably nowhere near as bad as you think they are. I spent last weekend with my two best friends and, no joke, we started bickering about whose pores were more visible and unsightly! (“No Sophia, MINE are so much worse than yours!”).
Here’s a final thought…
How close do you have to get to your own reflection to see those pores? I mean really see those pores?
Now let me ask you, how often are you that close to someone else’s nose!? I’m guessing not that often – so stop stressing about them!
Have you come across any other blackhead myths? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll happily debunk them for you!
Peace, Love & Clear Skin,