We’re all guilty of staring a little too closely at our pores in a magnified mirror. When looking at your skin, have you ever noticed small black or grey material in your pores? These look a lot like clogged pores, but they may actually be sebaceous filaments.

Sebaceous filaments are often confused with blackheads, but they’re really just a normal part of your skin. They form when oil is produced around a hair follicle. So, how can you tell the difference?

What Are Blackheads?

Blackheads are open pores (or hair follicles) clogged with a mixture of pore buildup, dead skin cells, and sebum (a naturally occurring body oil) that have been oxidized. These small, dark spots are a noninflammatory form of acne and are commonly found on the face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, and back. You can get rid of blackheads by using a variety of over-the-counter products. Blackhead solutions typically contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and resorcinol; ingredients that work to kill bacteria, remove excess oil, and help the skin to shed dead skin cells. Blackheads may also be removed manually by a dermatologist or specially trained skincare professional.

What Are Sebaceous Filaments? And Is It Safe to Remove Them?

Sebaceous filaments are a natural part of your skin’s follicles where oily sebum builds up. For many, sebaceous filaments may not be visible at all. However, those with oily skin or larger pores might consider them just as noticeable—and annoying—as blackheads.

For better or worse, sebaceous filaments are a natural part of your skin and help keep it healthy and moisturized. This material carries sebum through the hair follicle to the surface of the skin and is often found in areas that produce the most oil, like the T-Zone.

In some cases, a pore with sebaceous filaments can be a perfect trap for excess dirt and oil that can lead to blackheads. If you notice that your sebaceous filaments have turned into blackheads, pore strips are a highly effective way to clean clogged pores.

While sebaceous filaments can be professionally extracted, removing them is only temporary—they always come back. To reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments, focus on skincare products that help minimize pores and control oil production.

How to Reduce Sebaceous Filaments on Your Face

Stop sebaceous filaments from taking over your face with these helpful skincare tips:

  1. Use a Cleanser with Salicylic Acid. Remove excess impurities and sebum with a charcoal acne cleanser with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps dissolve the dead skin cells and oils that clog pores.

  2. Apply a Clay Mask. A deep cleansing clay mask is great for drawing out the sebum and dirt in your pores. After cleansing your face, apply a mask and leave on for about 10-15 minutes or as directed on the product label.

  3. Gently Massage Your Face with a Cleansing Oil. Did you know oil dissolves oil? Don’t be afraid to wash oily skin with an oil-based cleanser. Try an over-the-counter oil product or natural oil like coconut or jojoba to effectively dissolve, lift, and replace blackhead-causing oil on your face.

  4. After Cleansing, Apply Toner and Moisturizer. After washing your face with a cleanser designed for acne-prone skin, apply a toner to refine pores and finish with a light facial moisturizer.

  5. Exfoliate Weekly. To keep sebaceous filaments from ruining your selfies, add an exfoliating scrub to your skincare routine once or twice a week. Exfoliation helps keep pores clean by removing dead skin cells and excess oil from the surface of your skin.

Key Takeaways

  • Sebaceous filaments are not blackheads or acne—they’re a natural part of your pores that help keep your skin healthy and moisturized.

  • You can help reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments by cleansing and toning your skin each day and exfoliating weekly.

  • The best way to treat sebaceous filaments is to focus on skincare that helps control oily skin.

  • If your sebaceous filaments turn into blackheads, use a pore strip to unclog your pores.

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