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Everyone knows what a blackhead is, right? I mean, we have all had them. Those lovely little black dots that seem to spring up overnight on our noses, our cheeks and even in our ears! Seems no matter how much we extract them, they always come back.
What are they? Why do they form? How do we prevent them?
At Ninja Skincare, we believe it’s important to understand the “why” before we get to the “how” – as in “how to prevent them?!”
So what are blackheads?
A blackhead is a form of acne, just like a whitehead or a cyst. We all have sebum (oil) producing glands inside our hair follicles and that oil is supposed to come to the surface of our skin and keep it protected and hydrated. However if that sebum gets clumped up with dead skin cells in the hair follicles then we start producing pimples, otherwise known as a comedones.
There are two types of comedones: white-headed comedones (whiteheads) which are closed to the air, and black-headed (blackheads) which are open to the air. Because blackheads are open to the air, the sebum oxidizes and turns dark.
Everybody produces oil on their skin, but some of us produce excessive amounts or extra sticky oil which causes more clogging potential. Genetics plays a huge factor in what type of skin we have, but there is also a long list of acne aggravators. The most common are: puberty when oil production skyrockets, menstrual cycles, pregnancies, birth control pills, heavy sweating, personal hygiene, dietary issues, lack of sleep, and of course stress. Thankfully, not chocolate!
How do we prevent blackheads?
Because the two components of blackheads are dead skin cells and oil, we must address both issues.
Using topical medications that are specifically formulated to remove the trapped dead skin cells inside the hair follicles is key to preventing blackheads. Benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and a solution of sulfur and resorcinol are all effective solutions for removing dead skin cells. The severity, number, person’s age and type of comedones determine which active ingredient to use.
Furthermore and most crucial, the product formulation is extremely important in the effectiveness of the active ingredient. If there are interfering oils and buffers added to the product, the active ingredients are far less effective. At Ninja Skincare, we do not add these buffering agents to any of our products so they are extremely effective at delivering the active ingredient directly to your skin and preventing new blackheads and pimples from forming.
Sebum (oil) also needs to be addressed to prevent blackheads. Hormones and stress make our skin produce more waxy/sticky oils. Making sure we get enough sleep, eat well, and stay hydrated reduces our body’s stress. Avoiding progesterone dominant hormonal birth controls and treating rare hormonal imbalances when suspected by your doctor will reduce the production of excessively sticky oils.
Cleansing the skin 2–3 times a day, especially after perspiring removes oil buildup that can lead to more blackheads
It is imperative to avoid applying clogging oils to the skin to prevent blackheads and pimples from forming. Most topical prescription and over-the-counter skincare products (cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, cosmetics) contain clogging oils, despite being labeled for acne, or non-comedogenic. Rest assured none of Ninja Skincare’s products contain acne aggravating oils.
So now you know how blackheads form and what you can do to prevent them!