Blackheads vs. Whiteheads


+ How do different types of facial cleansing target either of these issues?

In: 29

First we need to understand what a pimple is. Pimples form when oils, bacteria, dead skin cells, and waxes produced by our body block pores. When those blockages remain near the surface they pickup dirt and darken becoming black heads. When the blockages are recognized as infections our body’s respond in an immune response which is filling the pore with puss and then becoming inflamed and painful in an attempt to push out the blockage this generally presents as a white head but black heads can become inflamed and painful aswell. You may have seen or heard of a so called core it is generally white semi hard well that’s actually what was blocking the pore.

Now as for washing most products are aimed at flushing and removing the oils and dead skin before they plug the pores and it can soften and lubricate the already developing pimples. Too much can cause dry flaky skin so good facial moisturizer can help further.

Both of these are caused by pores being blocked.

A whitehead forms where a pore gets blocked and a decent amount of bacteria gets into the blocked pore. Your body triggers an immune response to kill the bacteria, and this causes fluid to build up inside the blockage.

A blackhead is formed when a pore gets blocked, but there is no – or very little – bacteria trapped inside. There is no inflammation or immune response. The dirt on the outside edge of the pore eventually oxidises and turns black over time.

This does mean that whiteheads will eventually go away by themselves, while blackheads rarely do.

Facial cleansers may claim to do wildly different things to target these issues, but in reality, the methods are quite similar. Broadly, cleansers can do some mix of any of the below:

* Remove dirt and reduce oil on your face, reducing the chance of pores getting blocked in the first place.
* Contain chemicals that break down stubborn oils and lipids, with the goal of softening blackheads and encouraging them to dissolve and disappear.
* Contain hard, exfoliating ‘bits’ to scrub away dead skin cells (another common source of pore blockage) and other unwanted detritus.
* Contain a mild antiseptic like witch hazel to reduce inflammation
* Contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) to encourage faster skin cell turnover.

Frankly, the skincare industry how has millions of potential ingredients going into its products – they all do some variant of the above, in mildly different ways.

Who knew pores could be so complicated? I just wanted clear skin, not a chemistry lesson!

Who knew blackheads and whiteheads could have their own drama? Pores, you need to get your act together!