I’ve always struggled with blackheads, sometimes they seem worse and sometimes they fade a bit. I’ve mostly ignored it because both my brother and my father have the same trouble with their skins and I’ve always believed it to be a family affliction. People always readily give advice as to how to lessen the appearance of blackheads, but most of them just dry out and irritate my skin. I decided to embark on a journey to determine what exactly it is that causes my blackheads and tested out a few products to see what resonated with my skin.
So what exactly are blackheads?
Contrary to popular belief, blackheads are not a result of dirt getting trapped in your pores due to lack of proper face cleansing. Blackheads are a type of comedo, a clogged or blocked follicle, and are the result of dead skin cells and sebum that gets trapped within your pores. These dead skin cells that are plugged in your pores react with oxygen and turn black, thus a blackhead.
The prevalence of blackheads is influenced by factors such as age and hormonal changes while other health conditions such as PCOS and stress can also be determining factors. Blackheads are mainly the result of a fluctuation in the male sex hormone, androgen, which triggers greater secretion of sebum and a higher turnover of skin cells around puberty.
The first thing I did when I started out on this journey was to go for a deep cleansing facial with extractions. This is probably the best thing I can recommend as it helps you start the treatment as prevention, rather than trying to clear something up which needs to be cleansed and extracted. I try and avoid doing extractions by myself as you tend to run the risk of scarring.
The products below are some of my favourites in this battle against the blackheads and they now form part of my everyday routine. They have significantly reduced the number of visible blackheads in my problem areas which is my nose and chin.
Gr8 Skin Clean Clay Cleanser
R339 for 125ml, Dis-Chem
So first up is the Gr8 Skin Cleanser. The Gr8 brand is known for its cruelty-free, no nasties formulas and this daily facial micellar cleanser leaves your face cleansed, but not dried out. The formulation contains fruit acids that exfoliate the skin, which is much better for your skin than scrubbing. The fruit acids are also what helps you get rid of those dead skin cells and extra sebum which causes the blackheads. I love the fact that this cleanser also makes a nice frothy mixture which you can then apply on your face, neck and upper back. And as a bonus, it also smells amazing!
NEUTROGENA® Visibly Clear® Spot Proofing™ Purifying Toner
R121, 99 for 200ml, Clicks
I don’t usually go for a toner, but when I started this journey I realised the necessity of balancing my skin’s pH levels to prevent the buildup of both dead skin cells and sebum, and therefore prevent the occurrence of blackheads. I loved the NEUTROGENA toner for its lightness and the fact that it didn’t dry my skin out. In fact, it is quite soothing and works wonders for removing those last bits of impurities thanks to the presence of citric acid in its formulation.
Bioderma Sébium Global Intensive Purifying Care Acne-Prone Skin
R259, 95 for 30ml, Clicks
I was super excited to try out this product and would really recommend giving it a go! The Bioderma formulation works uniquely in the sense that it recreates the sebum of healthy skin to prevent outbreaks and blackheads. Two of the main ingredients in this process are salicylic- and citric acid and both these are known to be excellent pore cleansing agents. To me, this lotion is impossibly light and soothing to the skin. It perfectly moistens the skin, without making it oily or weighing it down.
Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Eraser
R99 for 22ml, Superbalist
So now it is time to apply your makeup, but several of the primers I’ve previously tried have left my skin feeling clogged, even after all the cleansing involved in my routine. But this Maybelline Pore Eraser is both lightweight and breathable and does a fantastic job of blurring those pores. It also leaves you with a smooth matte finish, so I don’t have to worry about my skin appearing oily. The formula is also non-comedogenic which means that it doesn’t clog your pores, yeah!