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Blocking Blackheads

Everyone dreads blackheads and clogged pores. They are the main reasons clients seek the services and advice of estheticians.

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Technically called comedones, there are several types. Open comedones are what most people call "blackheads." Closed comedones appear as small bumps just under the skin. Blackheads occur frequently in people with oily skin areas. They begin as a build-up of dead epidermal cells on the walls of the follicle. This phenomenon is known as retention hyperkeratosis, a hereditary condition in which the cells do not shed normally, thus forming a "build-up" lining the follicle. This build-up is coated with sebum that solidifies, forming a clump-like mass in the bottom of the follicle, known as a microcomedo. From this beginning, either an open or closed comedo is formed.

The small clogged pores on the nose are not classic comedones. They are called sebaceous filaments and are mostly just solidified sebum. Oxidation causes the black part as sebum is exposed to oxygen. Closed comedones do not have a black color because they are not exposed to air. Sebaceous filaments form quickly because of the volume of sebum produced in oily areas like the nose.

The development of clogged pores and blackheads is a chronic condition and must be treated with professional exfoliation treatments and extractions as well as constant home care. Once the visible clogs are gone, treatment must continue at home, or the comedones will return.


Avoid clogging products

Avoid using any facial product or cosmetic that is comedogenic. Comedogenic products contain oils, certain waxes, fats, fatty acids or esters that can penetrate the follicle and cause clogged pores from the outside. Avoid any product that is oily or heavy. Many of these are comedogenic. These fatty materials can be present in almost any product, but are most often found in moisturizers, creams, makeup foundations and powders. Comedogenic fatty materials are used in products as emollients and spreading agents and to add softness to products.

A non-comedogenic product does not contain these fatty emollients and is generally very light in texture and thickness. Look for products that have been independently tested to ensure that they are non-comedogenic. Be aware that there is no law requiring such testing. It is best to check with your product supplier.

A ‘program' approach

A single facial or only professional treatments will not provide long-term results. A complete home care program, along with periodic facial treatments, will produce real results. An organized, comprehensive treatment plan is the best bet for clearer, clog-free skin!