Those “blackheads” might not be acne at all


We’ve all been there: you’re staring at the mirror, spending hours trying to extract pesky blackheads from your face. It feels like an all-out war, and the weapons you use – sticky pore strips you peel off your face, exfoliators, the blackhead removal tool with the metal loop – seem ineffective.

You’ve done everything you can possibly do to get rid of the speckles on your nose and chin. What gives? Why are they so persistent?

Well, good news! Those stubborn light dots probably aren’t blackheads after all. It’s much more likely they are a naturally occurring part of your skin’s system called sebaceous filaments.

Sebaceous glands are scattered all over the body but are especially present on the nose, forehead and chin. These glands are attached to a hair follicle and release sebum – basically oil – to the skin’s surface. Your face has tons of small hairs covering the entire surface.

The sebaceous filaments are the sebum mixed with some other naturally occurring substances like triglycerides and squalene. Sebaceous filaments keep your skin naturally moisturized, so if you see these on your skin, don’t freak out.

And for God’s sake, stop squeezing the heck out of your skin!

The bad news is that although those filaments aren’t harmful, they are still annoying, because they cause pores to appear enlarged and create a slightly speckled gray appearance on skin.

How can you tell the difference between blackheads and sebaceous filaments?

Blackheads form when a pore is clogged by dead skin and oil, which oxidizes and turns black. Yes, our skin needs oil to stay moisturized, but blackheads pop up when there is too much production of oil on the skin.

Ain’t nobody got time for slick oily skin or blackheads.

While sebaceous filaments are clustered on your nose or forehead and chin, a blackhead will appear anywhere on your skin. The blackheads tend to be larger and are slightly raised, whereas sebaceous filaments usually require a reaaaally close look to detect.

Whether it’s a blackhead or sebaceous filament giving you grief, stop picking and squeezing! All you’re doing is damaging your skin.

You shouldn’t try to pull blackheads out of your skin on your own, but it’s possible to try and dissolve them at home with BHA products.

BHA (beta hydroxy acid) products don’t act as exfoliant scrubs but can slowly rid your face of blackheads and sebaceous filaments by shedding dead skin, which also making your skin look younger and smoother. The most popular form is salicylic acid, which can be bought at most drug stores.

Of course, dermatologists are also highly equipped to provide treatments to extract blackheads from your face safely.

Sebaceous filaments can’t be cured because they are genetic and a natural part of your skin’s system but using BHA products or trying remedies such as oil cleansing or face masks can help diminish their appearance. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to love your skin and accept its imperfections.

From a young age, it’s drilled in our heads that we must have clear, perfect skin like the girls on television do. But the whole point of those advertisements that tell you acne or blemishes are ugly is to entice you into buying skin care products.

Rebel against those companies! Love your skin and accept its imperfections. Just focus on keeping it healthy.