Recently I've been having a looot of trouble with my nose. When I was younger, my skin was fresh and clear and pretty easy to look after. Even during my teen years, there were never any major skin issues on my face. I'm now 21, and my skins definitely different - my nose and chin get really oily, my forehead is dry and I've experienced, for the first time, the bother of *gasp* BLACKHEADS! At first, I didn't really notice them, but as my skin has become oilier and my nose has gotten worse, even make-up application has become more difficult. Despite finding the dry forehead and oily skin easy to look after, the nose has become my problem area; I finally decided it was about time I tackled the issue once and for all!
First, I did some research. I needed to find out what caused blackheads and what they were before figuring out a suitable solution!
Quite simple, blackheads are plugged pores. They're caused by excess oils that have accumulated in the sebaceous gland's duct. The substance found in these bumps mostly consists of keratin and modified sebum (an oily secretion of the sebaceous gland), which darkens as it oxidizes.
Having used pore strips in the past, these are an effective solution to getting rid of them. HOWEVER, it's not a long-term solution. They're just gonna keep coming back unless you tackle the main reason they're there...
SO, this is what I discovered.
You want to avoid anything oily. If you have oily skin, and you're unknowingly using a face cream that has a lot of oil in it, you're making the problem worse! Vaseline (probably referred to as petrolatum under the ingredients list) and mineral oils are found it loads of products, so make sure you check the ingredients.
Retin-a is a product you should look into as it can regulate how the skin produces new skin cells - making them healthier, smoother and less likely to breakout... not everyone can tolerate Retin-a but it's worth trying.
You want the correct pH level in your products to make sure it actively works and clears the pores whilst keeping the skin healthy.
Exfoliating is a really good method of getting rid of blackheads because it cleans deep down into the skin. You should be exfoliating 3 times a week to deeply clean and clear your skin. However, sometimes exfoliating with a regular exfoliator just isn't enough...
The ingredients you need to be looking out for are SALICYLIC ACID or BENZOYL PEROXIDE. (Some products come with both these in, but be careful - do a patch test first, as you could be allergic or sensitive to these ingredients.) These ingredients clean INTO the pore, getting rid of all the crap in them, and giving your skin time to heal. You don't have to go over-the-counter for these products, either; there's plenty of items you can pick up in Boots or Superdrug with these acids in them. They're probably in small quantities, but that's ok. You start with a small about, and if you need more you get a product with a bit more in. These ingredients are used to fight acne in large amounts, so can be a little irritating to sensitive skin. A few exfoliators and cleansers I've found with salicylic acid in are:
'OXY Seaweed Power Clear Pore Exfoliator'. OXY was created for oily skin and is dirt cheap - I bought this product from Savers for about £3. It has Salicylic acid in, and I've been using it for about a week and found some improvement already - clearly I have to use it for longer for better results, but I'm really happy with the results I have got in such a short time! My make-ups going on smoothly again and this doesn't irritate my skin in the slightest, despite being quite grainy.
'Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Tripple Action Toner'. I would say this is a much heavier treatment than the Oxy product, and it's harder to get your hands on in the UK which makes it a big pricier - you're looking to spend about £15 including p+p. I've heard that this product can sometimes sting on contact, but it's not painful. This stuff REALLY works, so if you're able to find it I'd definitely recommend giving it a try! If you have sensitive skin, however, steer clear - this stuff will burn! This also has the correct pH levels.
'Agera Deep Cleansing Salicylic Wash'. This stuff ain't cheap - it's about £25 give or take a few pounds. However it has a non-abrasive, low-irritation formula with a pH balance to balance out the skin. Definitely recommended if you have some cash to splash!
'Proactiv Solution - Clarifying Night Cream'. Another great little product. Again, quite hard to get in the UK so you're looking to spend about £10 - £15 to order. It has natural botanicals like chamomile and kukui nut oil soothes the skin's surface. It's quite a heavy night cream that apparently works wonders on fine lines and wrinkles whilst also fighting spots overnight.
Aaaaand for those of you with really sensitive skin, you need something with a slightly higher pH so I'd recommend:
'Clinique Turnaround Concentrate'. This is a fast acting exfoliating serum but is again on the pricey list - £33! However, Clinique is renowned for it's skincare, so you can pretty much guarantee this stuff will do the job.
Anyway, I hope this helps! Blackheads can be aggravating to have, but hopefully this will help you to know what to look out for when searching for the perfect skin product!