Even those of us who don’t spend much time thinking about the state of our skin have those moments, perhaps before or after a shower, when we come face-to-face with ourselves just inches away from a mirror. You probably see all kinds of different blemishes from this short distance that you wouldn’t mind getting rid of, but then you see them: the dreaded blackheads.
Now, there’s no need to get upset; we all have them after all and there are plenty of ways of preventing them and extracting the ones you’ve got - but what are they? What creates these annoyances? The answers may help us
How to spot blackheads
Everyone gets blackheads, but if they aren’t particularly large or persistent, you may not be entirely sure what you’re looking at. Is that a pimple, a whitehead, or a blackhead? Are blackheads and acne the same thing?
Blackheads are in fact a mild form of acne, but despite their commonality, they can be particularly bothersome to see on your skin. As the name suggests, blackheads stand out as dark or black dots on your skin as opposed to whiteheads, which appear white in color.
The good news is that blackheads won’t quite appear everywhere on your body. The nose is a common place to find blackheads, but they may also show up on your back, chest, neck, arms and shoulders. At least your legs are safe.
What’s happening beneath the surface?
But blackheads are not a phenomenon that takes place on the surface of your skin, so let’s go a little deeper to understand the true nature of blackheads and how they form.
The black spot you see on your skin is actually a collection of dead skin cells and oils that have found their way into the opening of a hair follicle in your skin. Some of this oil is naturally occurring and healthy. Known as sebum, it normally helps keep your skin soft, but when it builds up and the follicle becomes blocked by dead skin cells, you get a blackhead.
It’s these dead skin cells that give blackheads their dark and obvious color as they react with oxygen in the air. Whiteheads form similarly, but are not exposed to air, forming only when a layer of skin still covers the follicle.
Are blackheads dirt?
No. Despite their dark coloring, and public perception of blackheads as being indicative of dirty skin, this form of acne is just as prevalent among people who wash well and frequently and those with naturally cleaner skin as it is for everyone else.
There’s certainly no shame in having blackheads, especially because there are plenty of decent solutions to try and prevent the formation of blackheads and get rid of the ones you can’t stop.