Blackheads - where the follicle is open but impacted with no inflammation. Blackheads are small, dark and common in the T-Zone. There’s no redness or pain, they’re easily extracted, coming out in a plug like shape.
10 Things Every Teen and Twenty-Something Should Know About Breakouts and Acne Prone Skin
Do you suffer from breakouts or have acne prone skin? Would you like to have a clear complexion? When it comes to treating breakouts and acne prone skin, knowledge is power! Understanding the what’s, why’s, how’s and which’s of treating acne and breakout skin in your teens and twenties is how you will get a whole lot closer to clearing your skin of those issues. So here’s 10 things you should know - to get you started.
1. Everyone gets spots
Yep, that’s everyone - even that friend of yours who always seems to have ‘perfect’ skin.
Why? Because everyone has sebaceous glands that can get clogged up. It doesn’t matter what your skin type, every skin has the ability to overproduce oil - which is what leads to the clogging of pores, making the ideal condition for bacteria to grow and break out into spots. This can be more obvious at certain ages - so when someone is in their late teens and puberty hits, sex hormones surge and this can cause oil production to increase which can lead to breakouts. The same goes for women who are pregnant and menopausal. Some of us also have naturally oily skin, making us more prone to breakouts.. But no-one is totally immune to spots.
2. Blackheads and acne are actually 2 different things
Ok, so it might not feel that way when you have both but blackheads are not acne. And that’s good news! You can get blackheads and clogged pores under control so they don’t turn into live breakouts. To get this, we need to go a bit into the science of blackheads and acne.
So we already know that our skin produces oil from the sebaceous glands in our hair follicles, that covers the skin. At the same time, your skin is constantly shedding dead cells - about 35,000 an hour in fact, minimum. So what does this have to do with blackheads?
Dermalogica explain it in their Clear Start guide like this:
“any of those dead skin cells collect and remain in a sebaceous follicle, there is a chance that they can mix with excess oil and clump together. This can form low-grade acne such as blackheads, whiteheads and milia, as well as set the stage for higher-grade acne such as papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.”
So we’re really interested in that last sentence - blackheads can set the stage for higher-grade breakouts. As our friends at Dermalogica explain in the Clear Start guide that’s because inside the pores are also all kinds of natural bacteria - in the skin’s microbiome, or natural environment. There are both good bacteria like S.epidermis, that helps to keep skin healthy, and bad bacteria like P.Acnes, which can lead to breakouts. The thing is this bad bacteria lies dormant most of the time - it’s only when it’s trapped in clogged pores, with no oxygen that it become activated and can cause problems.
So, the thing is, treating blackheads can actually stop future breakouts.
What can you use to treat blackheads?
Try Dermalogica Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask - this mask with a unique fizzing technology works to open up pores so the active ingredients can get to work. Sulfur is a natural antimicrobial, going to work on the bad bacteria, while kaolin clay is a natural absorbent and so soaks up the excess oil and dirt. Finally an apple fruit extract gives the skin some much needed hydration.
3. There are 7 types of breakouts
Let’s have a quick look at at each type, thanks to our friends at Dermalogica who outline them in their Clear Start guide.
Whiteheads - the follicle is closed but impacted with no inflammation. They’re normally white or yellow and small. Again no redness or pain and easily extracted, coming out a bit like toothpaste.
Milia - the follicle is closed, but also hard and capped with no inflammation. They’re normally small, white and like a hard bump. No redness or pain, but you can’t extract them without lancing. They come out like a sesame seed.
Papules - the follicle is closed but inflammation or infection. They are often flat and red. Some pain and redness and you can’t extract them.