Tricks of the Trade: Steps to prevent the appearance of blackheads

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HI, MISS KELLY! I’m 16 years old and I have a lot of blackheads. I mean a lot. I was wondering what are the solutions to my problem because it really frustrates me. Thank you.

Blackheads can be irritating to look at, especially when you use one of those magnifying mirrors. First of all, they’re dark and visible up close, which can hurt your confidence when someone draws attention to them. Second, they’re stubborn and hard to remove on your own (if you’re attempting to do it yourself, hold it right there). And third, when infected, a blackhead can actually turn into a pimple, which will only make matters worse. Now before you panic, you should know that blackheads don’t form overnight.

I understand that your body is still going through a lot of changes since you’re 16 years old. Your skin may all of a sudden be erratic, going from normal to oily, with blackheads forming in the worst places (the nose and chin being the most popular areas). Hormones are to blame for this, as they jump-start your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Of course, oily skin is still manageable when it doesn’t have any blemishes. There are solutions for blackheads, and ways to prevent them from coming back. Do not attempt to remove the blackhead yourself. These usually run deep, and you’ll want to remove the entire blackhead (and not just the tip).

Visit your derma. I suggest you go for a normal facial, which consists of skin cleaning. Here they will scrub your face clean, remove/extract your blemishes, and apply medicine after so these won’t get infected. This may cause temporary redness on the affected area, but this should go away after a few days. And once you’re there, consult with the dermatologist who can tell you exactly what is happening to your skin and give you products that will improve your skin’s condition.

Exfoliate. This is why facial scrubs are around, so you can slough away dead skin and prevent your pores from getting clogged. You should do this weekly (twice a week if you have very oily skin). Just make sure you find one with gentle, soft granules as the skin on your face is more sensitive than your body’s.

Read the label. You’ll need to find the word non-comedogenic on the label of your favorite moisturizer, sunblock and makeup. Why is this so important? Because this means the product does not block pores. This helps address the root of the problem, and prevents whiteheads and blackheads from forming.

Change your hair product. Sometimes we break out not because of our skin care regimen, but because of our shampoo, conditioner or styling products. Switch it up to see if it makes a difference. Opt for gentler, more natural formulations.

Clean your makeup brushes. Another common cause of blemishes is dirty makeup brushes. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to always clean your phone screen (or simply don’t press it against your cheek during a phone call), and change your pillowcase regularly.

This article was published in the Lifestyle Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on November 29, 2013.

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