Are those black dots on your nose really blackheads???
The quick answer is probably not.
A couple of nights ago I posted a photo on my Instagram of a client’s sebaceous filaments on her nose before and after extractions and asked whether people knew that these weren’t blackheads. I got an astounding response asking to know why they weren’t blackheads. This is a familiar confusion I get on a regular basis with clients wanting to “get rid of the blackheads” on their nose.
So let me tell you a little something about those ‘blackheads’ on your nose…they are not blackheads, they are in fact sebaceous filaments.
And here’s the difference:
The nose is one of the places on the face that usually produces the highest levels of oil (sebum). Over time these pores become more enlarged due to the constant production of the sebum and the slow degradation of the skin’s structure reducing the ability to keep them tight. For example, if you look at a child’s nose you won’t see a visible pore, this is because their adolescent hormones haven’t kicked in to start producing higher levels of oils and their collagen is probably the best its ever going to be keeping those pores so tight they are invisible!
Our pores produce sebum as part of the protective acid mantle and to help keep the microbiome healthy, this sebum flows out of the pore onto the skin’s surface. When the sebum reaches the opening of the pore it becomes oxidised and changes from creamy colour to dark grey-black. This is where the mistake in thinking they are blackheads happens.
The technical name for blackheads is open comedones. These can be found anywhere on the face but are usually spread out or maybe just a random one here or there. These are a blockage of the pore/follicle and are caused by a build-up of sebum and skin cells within it. The black colour of them again comes from the oxidisation. If you run your finger across a blackhead you can sometimes feel a slight lump under the skin and these are usually bigger than a sebaceous filament.
So that is the difference between the two, but I know what your next question will be…how do I get rid of them?
So blackheads we can extract and hope they don’t return, this will require actives within the skincare such as salicylic acid or mandelic (always seek advice). But sebaceous filaments, like I said are pores that have a constant flow of sebum from them, they are a natural part of a healthy skins functioning. Also, pores are not doors, so you cant open and close them. What can help improve their appearance is using actives to help control sebum production, such as Retinol, and trying to improve the structure of the skin to tighten them a little…but they will never disappear (this is a good thing).
If you need help with any issues regarding large pores, blackheads or any other concern please get in touch. Even if you are not local to me I can still help virtually. To contact me please either email me here or my book online to see me in clinic or a virtual consultation here.
Thanks for reading.