Beauty Clinic: Banishing Blackheads
Q. I’m 19 and still have some blackheads on my nose and down the side of my face, which really upsets me. My mum has scars from digging hers out with a hot needle so I don't want to do that. What’s the best way to deal with them?
A. Your comment about your mum triggered squawking from us as we contemplated the pit in Sarah’s upper lip from her mother gouging out a blackhead decades back. The message from that is be very, very careful how you extract these unsightly little devils.
Blackheads (a.k.a. comedones) occur when pores in the skin get clogged with dead skin cells and sebum, the oily substance that protects our skin but can be over-produced. The skin around the clogged pore opens and air gets in causing the tip of the plug to turn black, or sometimes yellowish. They’re seen most often on the face, back, neck and chest, and sometimes arms and shoulders, where there are more hair follicles.
Although they can occur at any age, blackheads are most common during puberty, when changing hormones cause a spike in sebum production. Blackheads are not due to trapped dirt and trying to scrub them away with harsh cleansers can make the situation worse by stripping the skin of sebum, which then compensates by producing even more.
You know not to dig or squeeze out your blackheads. The only way is gently and Clinique’s new oil-free Blackhead Solutions Self-Heating Blackhead Extractor/£22 for 50ml, looks like just the ticket. When you mix the product with water, it becomes warm (that's down to Thermal Active Technology, according to the blurb) so it opens clogged pores and loosens the plug. You massage the site with the nifty applicator for 15 to 30 seconds before rinsing thoroughly.
The formula contains salicylic acid and glucosamine, which get to work clearing away dead skin cells on the surface, plus a combination of gentle exfoliating ingredients to smooth out the surface.
PS It’s worth getting a magnifying mirror so you can spot the tiny villains and take measures.