Whiteheads and blackheads consist of the same material, which is typically a combination of dead skin cells, oil, and sebum. However, whiteheads are closed pores, while blackheads stay open. This key difference impacts how you should go about treating each type.
Whiteheads are typically small but firm. They are white or yellow in color and occur when your pores become clogged with a buildup of bacteria and sebaceous material. Whiteheads are different from blackheads because whiteheads close the opening of a pore. If left untreated, whiteheads often tend to turn into pimples. If your whiteheads become inflamed and turn red, chances are they have turned into pimples.
Like whiteheads, blackheads form when your pores become clogged. However, blackheads live within an open pore, which exposes the material inside to oxygen. This reaction—known as oxidation—darkens the material inside. Like whiteheads, blackheads are a form of noninflammatory acne but can turn into pimples if you don’t remove them.
Blackheads sometimes look similar to sebaceous filaments, which are collections of sebum that line your pores. Sebaceous filaments often look tan or grey compared to darker blackheads. Unlike blackheads, sebaceous filaments are naturally produced by your skin helping moisturize and protect your skin. You can reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments and blackheads by focusing on a skincare routine that removes excess oil from your skin.
Although it’s tempting to pinch and squeeze your skin to get rid of whiteheads, this is not the best way to do it! Popping whiteheads without the proper tools and techniques can lead to more bacteria getting into your pores.
To treat whiteheads, start with a pore clarifying cleanser. Salicylic acid is a gentle way to exfoliate your skin and help reduce the amount of oil on the surface of your face. If you have oily skin or sweat a lot during the day, keep cleansing cloths with you for effective cleansing during the day. At night, make sure to remove all your makeup to avoid excess bacteria on your face.
Lastly, adding a gentle exfoliating scrub to your weekly routine can help remove dead skin cells that can clog your pores. But, make sure not to overdo it with exfoliating. Over-exfoliating can damage your skin and make your breakouts even worse!
Blackhead removal is slightly different from whitehead removal. Cleansers and exfoliators can help with both blackheads and whiteheads, but you can add pore strips to your routine for immediate blackhead removal.
If your blackheads are caused by excessively oily skin, adding a facial mask with charcoal or clay to your skincare routine can help absorb excess oil that can contribute to blackheads. Additionally, only use makeup labeled as non-comedogenic (or non-pore-clogging) to help prevent blackheads before they form on your skin.
The first step in helping to prevent whiteheads is to make sure you’re regularly washing your face. Washing your face once in the morning and once at night should be enough to keep your face clean from pore-clogging bacteria and oil. If you workout or are very active during the day, you may need to wash your face more often. For cleansing on the go, carry cleansing cloths with you to clean and refresh your skin at any time.
As you go about your day, avoid touching your face. You touch lots of surfaces throughout the day, so your hands can collect dirt and bacteria that can get into your pores. Finally, you want to maintain a balanced diet filled with low-glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a lot of protein to support healthy skin. Foods with antioxidants, such as kale and berries, can also help nourish your skin and help prevent acne.
To help prevent blackheads, you should practice a skincare routine that focuses on removing excess oil, dirt, and dead skin—three main blackhead factors. Start by washing your face twice a day with a salicylic acid cleanser. This specific type of cleanser helps loosen the dirt and oil in your pores, so it’s known to be effective in preventing blackheads.
Each week, treat your skin to a face mask and an exfoliating scrub. Masks with clay or charcoal help to remove excess oil and deeply cleanse your pores while an exfoliating scrub helps get rid of dead skin on your face. If you notice that your face gets oily during the day, carry cleansing wipes in your bag to remove excess oil.
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