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What are Blackheads?

                                                 
                                             Photo Credit: Google


What exactly are blackheads? Why have they been ruining our lives since the dawn of our horrendous teenage years?

Blackheads, or in the proper terms, Condones, are essentially clogged pores. Blackheads don't always necessarily mean the pores are clogged with dirt. The same way acne isn't a sign of lesser hygiene. Over manipulation and over-exfoliation of the skin can also lead to inflammation that causes acne.

So, if blackheads aren't dirt clogged in our pores what is clogged in their? The answer? Oil, from the sebaceous gland. The name blackhead stems from the color of the bump on skin, which lead to the myth about dirt. The black color is simply oil that has been exposed to oxygen through the skin and has turned black from oxidation.

Now, most people think the pores on their noses are these huge blackheads and you need to rush out and buy those painful strips and expensive products. FALSE. While you can of course get whiteheads on your nose most of the time those dark pores you see are just your hair follicles.

Those dark pores on your nose that most worry about (for no reason) are called Sebaceous Filaments. Sebaceous filaments are collections of dead skin cells and oil that build up around your tiny hair follicles. These tend to be way more noticeable because the pores around your nose are bigger. These are also some of the glands on certain areas of your face that overtime secrete more sebum. The biggest difference between filaments and blackheads is that the cone filaments will continue coming back.

Unlike, blackheads filaments are not clogged pores. They are the natural production of sebum. They will continue to come back because these filaments help your glands to secret sebum much more freely.

Sometimes the mixture of Sebum (natural skin oil), dead skin cells, and bacteria can mix together and form a thick plug in your pores, instead of secreting naturally. Look at the chart below for a comparison:

                                   
Photo Credit: Google

Now, as always life happens and it mostly happens to your skin. If your face is kept clean then those sebaceous filaments are nothing to worry about, but if you aren't cleansing your face the correct way those filaments can turn into acne because they never stop secreting sebum, that is their function.

I know most of our first impulses are to squeeze these blackheads or sebaceous filaments. That can cause scarring (story of my life, thanks teenage Adrienne), inflammation. Worst case scenario, it can cause more infections. So, just let your skin rest! When in doubt don't touch your face and wash your face at least twice a day, and you should be just fine! At least now you know, what's normal and what's not. Education is the first step to clear, beautiful, radiant skin.



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