Blackheads: All You Need to Know

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What are blackheads and what’s the cause of them?

Blackheads are commonly known as “open comedones”, and are also categorised as “non-inflammatory acne”. These little dark bumps are typically formed when open pores or hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and sebum (natural oils). From that open pore, the chemical found inside — called melanin — creates an oxidation process that causes the dead skin cells and natural oil to appear as dark spots on your skin.

Although blackheads are generally more noticeable on your face, they can also be commonly found on your neck, back, chest, arms, and shoulders. 

Blackheads vs. Whiteheads?

Both blackheads and whiteheads are essentially the same. However, there are minor differences that set them apart.



Formed when pores become clogged

Formed when pores become clogged with a buildup of bacteria and sebaceous material

Darker from the oxidation of clogged buildup

Small, but firm — usually white or yellow in colour

Form of non-inflammatory acne that usually turns into pimples if not removed

Often turn into pimples if untreated

Occurs within an open pore, exposing material inside to oxygen

Occurs when pores are clogged and the skin is closed over them


Are blackheads preventable?

Unfortunately, there are no methods to completely impede blackheads from forming, primarily due to your skin's natural cycle to produce oils and create dead skin cells. Regardless, there are preliminary steps you can take in order to treat blackheads while maintaining fresh and healthy skin. 

Using the right products

Before you get carried away with various blackhead removal products like blackhead removal creams, blackhead strips, etc. — it’s important to select products with the right ingredients for your skin type. There is no one-size-fits-all skincare routine for blackhead treatment, after all.

With the goal of keeping your pores unclogged, here are a few steps you can add to your skincare routine to get started:

  • Salicylic Acid or Glycolic Acid is a common acne-fighting skincare ingredient that is effective in penetrating deep into the skin and cleaning clogged pores due to their small molecular structure. Keep an eye out for these ingredients in moisturisers, exfoliants, masks, and more (where usage frequency can range from daily to once a week, depending on how your skin reacts to them).


  • Moisturising — a crucial step that shouldn’t be overlooked (even if your skin type is oily) as it helps to calm your skin and restore its protective barriers. Be sure to select a moisturiser that suits your skin type — for example, emollient moisturisers carry a thicker texture that can help soothe dry, itchy, or scaly skin. As for oily skin types, light lotions or hydrating serums help prevent the skin from becoming too oily.


  • Avoid comedogenic products as they have the potential of clogging your pores upon application. However, non-comedogenic products do not necessarily mean they’re effective for treating acne or blackheads. This term mainly means that the product will not worsen existing acne or blackhead conditions.

    Common comedogenic ingredients include:
    • Petroleum derivatives
    • Olive oil
    • Cocoa butter
    • Coconut oil
    • Wheat germ oil

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong by keeping “moderation” in mind. Avoid overdoing your skincare routine and washing your face excessively, because that will only produce more oil.

Maintaining a balanced diet is also an equally important aspect when maintaining healthy, glowing skin. Try not to overindulge in fast food meals and soft drinks — although grease and sugar aren’t the main causes of acne, they certainly don’t make it any better.

Complete the routine

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