Do you constantly squeeze out blackheads from your nose, only to find that they return a few days later? Well you might be shocked but what you’re squeezing out of the pores on your nose aren’t actually blackheads! Read today’s blog post to find out what they are and if there’s anything you can do to prevent them from coming back!
When I decided I wanted to blog about acne, I knew that one of the most important topics I needed to cover was sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are constantly mistaken for blackheads because they appear to be so similar.
Here’s the thing about these filaments though…
They are not related to acne!
Everyone on earth has sebaceous filaments, even those that are not acne-prone. These lucky, pimple-less people usually have smaller pores than those of us who are acne-prone so their filaments are not as visible. BUT, if you were to squeeze the pores on their nose or any other areas where filaments are more concentrated, you would see that they also have them just like us acne prone people do.
So let’s talk about the differences between blackheads and sebaceous filaments.
Blackheads vs Sebaceous Filaments
A blackhead, also known as an open comedo, is a non-inflamed acne lesion that is mainly made up of dead skin cells and oil. Its dark appearance is a result of oxidation, similar to what takes place after an apple is sliced. A blackhead most times is slightly raised and feels a little bumpy if you brush your hand over it.
On the flip side, a sebaceous filament forms from an impaction of oil in the pore. Everyone on earth produces oil to some extent so that is why everyone on earth has sebaceous filaments. A blackhead goes a step further by combining an overabundance of dead skin cells with the oil. That’s because acne prone people create up to 5 layers of dead skin cells a day, whereas those that aren’t acne prone create a regular 1 layer of dead skin cells that easily sheds and doesn’t get clogged inside of the pore.
Sebaceous filaments are usually yellow or a lighter gray in color than a blackhead. And finally, sebaceous filaments are typically flush with the skin so if you brush your hand over your face, you generally would not feel them, unlike a blackhead. Now sometimes these filaments can poke out of the pore opening a bit, but usually they are level with the skin.
How to get rid of sebaceous filaments
Exfoliating products and treatments may minimize their appearance BUT you can’t get rid of them completely! No matter how many nose strips you use (which by the way I don’t recommend) or how thorough your esthetician is with extractions, these filaments always fill right back up. That’s because you are always producing oil so there is no way to prevent them from coming back. They are just a normal part of your skin.
What’s worse is that repeated pressure from picking at the same area of the skin can cause broken or dilated capillaries. Trust me on this one, I know from personal experience. That is why at our Luminosity Acne Skincare office, we do not extract sebaceous filaments for our clients. We don’t want to risk breaking their capillaries and these filaments just fill right back up so there is no point to extract them.
We do extract true blackheads though because once they are pushed out the skin, our products will prevent them from coming back.
So while exfoliating products and treatments can help to minimize the appearance of sebaceous filaments, the best thing to do is to make peace with them and know that everyone else has them too! Just recognize that they are meant to be on your skin! It’s also important to realize that most people do not even notice them on your skin! I’ve made peace with mine many years ago and they no longer bother me. I encourage you to put away the magnifying mirror and make peace with yours as well.
It’s important to first identify your acne type before you starting treating your skin, so make sure to read my previous post first.
How to Treat: Inflamed Acne
With inflamed acne you should know that these pimples will heal on their own if you give them enough time, however new ones always seem to pop up just as the previous ones start to heal up.
With the right products you not only speed up the healing time for these pimples, but more importantly prevent new ones from forming.
BEST ACNE PRODUCTS FOR INFLAMED ACNE
A product routine for inflamed acne should focus on exfoliation, anti-inflammatory action, and anti-bacterial action. Each of these are equally important to combating inflamed acne.
Exfoliation will unclog the current buildup of dead skin cells and oil, as well as prevent future clogging from taking place. Exfoliation is crucial to clear skin because those of us that are acne prone create up to 5 layers of dead skin cells per day, while those that aren’t acne prone typically create 1 layer of dead skin cells.
When the pores are clogged, this creates an anaerobic environment, or environment absent of oxygen, which is exactly what the inflamed acne causing bacteria loves. So it’s important to prevent this clog from taking place by continually keeping your skin exfoliated.
Anti-inflammatory action will bring down pain and swelling from inflamed acne lesions and just generally heal them up much faster. Anti-inflammatory action is also important when trying to minimize post inflammatory hyperpigmentation because the less inflamed your pimples get, the lighter these marks will become.
Anti-bacterial action will help to keep the special p. acnes bacteria that is responsible for inflammation in check. It will ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand from the beginning.
At Luminosity Acne Skincare we have products that tackle every need for inflamed acne to help heal it up quicker, but more importantly prevent it from re-occurring.
Some of our favorite go-to ingredients are Mandelic Acid, Lactic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide and extracts such as Green Tea and Chamomile.
If you’re new to our products, I recommend you start with our Breakup with Cystic Breakouts Kit. Besides clearing up acne, our products also eliminate hyperpigmentation which is the leftover dark marks after a pimple has healed.
ONE FACTOR THAT CONTRIBUTES TO WORSE INFLAMED ACNE
Once you’ve selected acne products with ingredients that have the right properties to fight inflamed acne, you’ll need to make sure that you stay away from anything that creates friction on the skin, including rubbing or scrubbing.
This means no scrub cleansers! Always select a gentle cleanser without any beads or scrubbing particles. Furthermore you should absolutely avoid rotary skin brushes, washcloths, cleansing clothes or makeup remove wipes.
Friction or scrubbing of the skin can create more inflammation which means your breakouts will become larger, more swollen and more painful. Also for those with a darker skin tone, you may hyperpigment your skin in splotches.
Fighting the urge to scrub away pimples and cysts may be hard, but it’s in your skin’s best interest. Trust me! You’ll only be doing more harm than good.
BEST PROFESSIONAL ACNE TREATMENT FOR INFLAMED ACNE
If you wish to take things a step further and combine your at-home acne product use with professional treatments then I recommend seeing an esthetician for a series of chemical peels.
Chemical peels are best suited for the needs of inflamed acne. At our office we use peels that have ingredients that tackle both the acne and hyperpigmentation at the exact same time so that both conditions can be resolved.
Because microdermabrasion is abrasive so it creates too much friction on the skin therefor which will lead to more inflammation so I would stay away from this treatment for inflamed acne.
How to Treat: Non-inflamed Acne
Unlike inflamed lesions, non-inflamed lesions such as blackheads and closed comedones typically do not heal up on their own if you wait it out. The skin just continues to accumulate more and more of these lesions.
BEST ACNE PRODUCTS FOR NON-INFLAMED ACNE (BLACKHEADS AND CLOSED COMEDONES)
The best product routines for non-inflamed acne need to be hyper-focused on exfoliation. That’s because non-inflamed acne is mainly a buildup inside of the pores of dead skin cells and oil.
There is some bacteria present but it’s not a main component like with inflamed acne so the focus should be on exfoliation.
Exfoliation will unclog the current buildup of dead skin cells and oil, as well as prevent future clogging from taking place.
I recommend exfoliation through the use of scrub cleansers, Mandelic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Benzoyl Peroxide.
Although I do recommend scrub cleansers for non-inflamed acne, I still want to caution you to stay away from the other things that will create friction on the skin such as rotary skin brushes, washcloths, cleansing wipes and makeup remover wipes.
That’s because if you combine these with the scrub cleanser then you may be over scrubbing or rubbing the skin which can lead to sensitivity, hyperpigmentation, and may even create some inflammation which can turn that small manageable blackhead into a painful, large and red inflamed pustule.
BEST PROFESSIONAL ACNE TREATMENT FOR NON-INFLAMED ACNE
I recommend that if you have non-inflamed acne that you schedule a series of chemical peels or microdermabrasion sessions with an esthetician that is experienced in treating non-inflamed acne. That’s because in most cases, homecare products alone cannot clear up or prevent non-inflamed acne. They are far too stubborn and impacted in the pores.
Non-inflamed lesions need to be properly extracted out or else they continue to just sit in the pores and accumulate more and more as time goes by. This results in a bumpy texture to the skin.
Proper extraction of non-inflamed acne includes prepping the skin with a series of chemical peels or microdermabrasion. These treatments help to loosen the clog inside of the pore so that they can be extracted easier and with less force.
HOW TO TREAT COMBINATION ACNE
Now what if you have combination acne which is both inflamed and non-inflamed?
The best thing to do is to treat the inflamed acne first since it is more painful and needs less friction inducing methods. Once the inflamed lesions are under control, then switch gears to the non-inflamed acne. You can add in a scrub cleanser and get your pores professionally peeled and extracted.
Watch Carmen’s Video Version Of This Post: Benzoyl Perodixe Acne Mistakes
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Have you figured out your acne type? If so, in what ways will you be changing your skincare routine to make it more effective?
Have an idea for a blog post topic? Leave a comment below!
Watch Carmen’s Video Version Of This Post: How to Clear Acne
Did you know that there are more than 1 types of acne?
And that your acne type determines which products you should be using to successfully clear up your skin?
As an acne specialist, the most important determining factor when it comes to selecting the right products for my clients is their acne type. This is the basis of my product recommendations. From there I look at severity, oil production, and skin sensitivity, but the foundation is always acne type.
3 Main Acne Types: Inflamed, Non-inflamed, & Combination Acne
There are 2 main acne types, Inflamed and Non-Inflamed. Side note: there is a third type known as Combination Acne which is exactly what it sounds like, a combination of both inflamed and non-inflamed acne, however most people will be dominantly either inflamed or non-inflamed.
Before I explain the 2 acne types, I first want to talk about micro-comedones. All lesions whether inflamed or non-inflamed start out as a micro-comedone.
A micro-comedone is the initial build up of dead skin cells and oil. This comedone is very tiny and starts underneath the skin. It is not visible until it grows into an inflamed or non-inflamed lesion.
Fun fact alert…comedo is Latin for “fat maggot.” You see, back in the day, scientists thought some of these acne lesions were maggots eating oil! Yeah, I know that’s not a pleasant picture.
As these micro-comedones grow in size by collecting more dead skin cells and oil, they will either become inflamed or non-inflamed.
The path they take is mostly pre-determined based on your genetics. What I mean by that is that some acne prone people are genetically pre-disposed to have a higher potential for bacterial build up and inflammation while others don’t.
First let’s talk about inflamed acne because this is the most common acne type. An inflamed pimple starts out as a micro-comedone, which again is just the beginning mass of dead skin cells and oil inside the pore, at this point there is no inflammation.
But then it takes a turn for the worse as bacteria gets added into the mix. This bacteria is found in the skin and it feeds itself on oil. Once the oil is consumed, a waste by-product is created which is highly inflammatory to the skin so the end result is a red, painful and often times pus-filled pimple.
Inflamed lesions also tend to hyperpigment the skin once they are healed. Hyerpigmentation from acne are those leftover dark marks that can be pink, red, purple, or brown.
Inflamed Acne Lesions
Inflamed acne consists of papules, pustules, cysts and nodules.
Papules are small, pus-less red bumps and often times are sore or tender.
Pustules typically start out as a papule and later become inflamed and pus-filled. This happens because the pore wall ruptures closer to the surface of the skin and leukocytes or white blood cells are rushed in to fight off bacteria that is present within the pore. The visible pus you see contains these white blood cells.
Cysts are large pus-filled lesions that appear boil-like. They can be extremely painful.
Nodules are hard, deep lumps that often times do not contain pus. They are very painful and extremely slow to heal.
Non-inflamed acne starts out the exact same way that inflamed acne does, and that is as a micro-comedone. To review, a mico-comedone is the beginning mass of dead skin cells and oil.
Unlike inflamed acne, bacteria isn’t as much an issue to the pores of someone that is prone to non-inflamed acne so this micro-comedone continues on by accumulating mainly just dead skin cells and oil.
Because bacteria isn’t accumulating along with those dead skin cells and oil, that means that the potential for inflammation to occur is very low.
Now on a side note, if you were to improperly pick at non-inflamed lesions then you will most likely cause some unwanted pus and inflammation to occur which basically just means that you’ve now created inflamed acne.
While non-inflamed pimples don’t hyperpigment the skin on their own, if you picked at one more than likely you’ll be left with some hyperpigmentation from the inflammation that you caused.
Lesions of Non-inflamed Acne
Non-Inflamed acne is made of blackheads and closed comedones. These lesions are not red, inflamed nor painful. They just sit on the skin until they are properly extracted.
Blackheads are the most common type of non-inflamed acne and they are a mix of dead skin cells and oil. It is a huge misconception that the top of a blackhead is dark due to accumulation of dirt. What you are seeing is simply oxidized oil (and some melanin).
Think along the lines of what happens to an apple that is sliced and exposed to the air…it starts to oxidize and darken so the same thing is happening with a blackhead.
Closed Comedones are also a mix of dead skin cells and oil, similar to a blackhead, however the pore opening is completely blocked. This prevents oxygen from creating oxidization like with a blackhead, so closed comedones stay flesh colored.
If there was anything positive to say about closed comedones, it would be that the fact that because they are flesh colored that makes them harder to be noticed, especially when comparing them to red, pus-filled inflamed lesions.
Those were the 2 main acne types, inflamed and non-inflamed. Now as I mentioned earlier there is a 3rd type which is known as combination acne and it’s exactly what it sounds like which is acne that presents both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions.
In my next post I will go over the proper way to treat and select the right products for each type of acne because each type requires a different approach.
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What is your acne type? If you are combination, then are you more dominantly inflamed or non-inflamed?
Have an idea for a blog post topic? Leave a comment below!
Have you used every drugstore or over the counter acne product and gotten little to no skin clearing results? If so, just know that you aren’t alone! In today’s blog post I’ll go over the most common reasons why drugstore acne products don’t work.
Before I dive into the 4 reasons why drugstore acne products don’t work, I want to first say that I understand that my opinion on this topic may come across as biased being that I am a licensed esthetician with my own brand of acne products, but the reasons I am about to present are legit!
Ok so now that that’s out of the way let’s get started with the reasons why these inexpensive drugstore acne products don’t work to clear up your acne.
Believe it or not, most of these products contain pore clogging ingredients despite the claims that they are making. A product may say that it’s non-comedogenic, oil-free or formulated for acne but none of those claims guarantee that the product is truly acne-safe because the FDA does not regulate these claims.
I know that most of you have tried benzoyl peroxide and it didn’t quite do the trick on clearing up your skin, but believe it or not, benzoyl peroxide is a very important and indispensable component in your skincare routine, along with Mandelic Acid.
Reason #4 Why Drugstore Acne Products Don’t Work: Not Strengthening Up The Routine
You can’t increase the strength of your drugstore products. Acne has an ability to adapt to the products you use on your skin. At our office, to stay ahead of this ability we periodically increase the strength or frequency of our clients’ acne products until they clear up. Once they are clear and there is no more acne under the skin then they can maintain the clear skin at this level of their product routine.
Now I do understand that you can increase the level of drugstore benzoyl peroxide so you can go from a 2.5% to a 5% and then to a 10%, but you can’t do that with salicylic acid, which is the most commonly found drugstore acid. Salicylic acid can only be purchased at a 2% strength when it’s over the counter so your skincare routine is stuck there and for your products to be effective against the acne you need both your benzoyl peroxide and hydroxyl-acid product to be increased periodically or else the acne will adapt and you’ll be back at square one. Also as mentioned earlier, salicylic acid isn’t ideal for acne anyways.
RECAP: Why Drugstore Acne Products Don’t Work
They can contain pore clogging ingredients
They rely on outdated salicylic acid
They don’t instruct you on how to properly use benzoyl peroxide
They make it hard to stay ahead of acne’s ability to adapt to product use
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What has been your experience with drugstore acne products?
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Watch Carmen’s Video Version Of This Post: Why Drugstore Acne Products Don’t Work
Not sure if your makeup is clogging your pores? The truth? It most likely is. Ensuring your makeup is acne-sage is NOT as easy as selecting a product with the non-comedogenic claim. As an esthetician that specializes in acne, I cannot tell you how many times I see the word non-comedogenic on a product that is in fact pore clogging.
Do not trust what the manufacturer says. Just because they claim their product is oil-free or non-comedogenic does not mean that it will not break you out. The word non-comedogenic is used so much that it’s virtually lost its meaning.
The Only Way To Ensure Products Aren’t Pore Clogging Is By Doing Your Own Homework
We’ve seen situations at our office where some clients didn’t do their homework to check their current makeup for pore clogging ingredients and their skin didn’t improve until they finally eliminated the bad makeup. So my best advice to you is to be willing to part with any pore clogging product no matter how much you love it. Just remember that product was actually contributing to your acne severity.
I will warn you though that the list may be a bit overwhelming at first glance, but it is such a valuable tool to have when you are dealing with acne. That’s because acne prone pores clog themselves up daily, so the last thing that you want to do is to add to the clogging of your pores by using the wrong products.
First you’ll want to know what these 3 stars (***) mean.
If you see an ingredient with this symbol it means that any form of this ingredient is pore clogging. For example take a look at Chlorella, it has the 3 stars. Whether your product contains just Chlorella or Chlorella Extract or if there’s a Chlorella Oil, it would all be pore clogging and you’d want to stay away from it.
For all the other ingredients that do not have the 3 stars by their names, you want to make sure that they match exactly as written on the list in order for it to be pore clogging. So for example let’s look at Glyceryl Stearate SE. If your product just contains Glyceryl Stearate, without SE then it is not pore clogging and ok to use. Remember that it must match exactly as written on the list for you to want to stay away from it.
Re-check Ingredients Often
Now, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about, another thing to keep in mind is that companies can reformulate their products so a previously acne safe product can later become pore clogging. I recommend that you re-read ingredient labels every so often to make sure your products are still non-comedogenic.
I hope that you’ve find this list helpful. If you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, make sure that you visit my website to do so. Also if I discover other pore clogging ingredients or make any changes to the list, I will be sure to email you an updated version.
Leave A Comment!
Have you discovered that your makeup or acne products are pore clogging after checking my List of Pore Clogging Ingredients to Avoid?
Have an idea for a blog post topic? Leave a comment below!
Watch Carmen’s Video Version Of This Post: How to Check Your Makeup For Pore Clogging Ingredients