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Young Man with Acne on Face

Are Facials Effective for Treating Blackheads

By Dr. Kristie

Blackheads are a frequent problem for people who have oily, acne-prone skin. One of the most common methods for treating blackheads is salon and home facials. Do facials for blackheads help the problem or are they a waste of time and money?

What is a Blackhead?

Blackheads form when skin follicles become filled with a substance called sebum – an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. When sebum is exposed to air, an oxidation reaction occurs which causes the sebum to darken in color – giving the characteristic appearance of blackheads - which resemble tiny black dots clustered in oily areas of the face.

Understandably, most people dislike the appearance of these “bumps” and often over cleanse in a misguided attempt to get rid of them. Unfortunately, this usually leads to more oil production which makes the problem worse.



Are They Effective?

Getting regular facials for blackheads isn’t a bad thing – although it may not completely solve the problem. Facials help to exfoliate the dead cells on the surface of the skin which contributes to clogged pores. Steaming before exfoliating enhances the effect of a facial by opening the pores and making them more receptive to exfoliation.

Some estheticians and doctors manually extract the sebum from blackheads during a facial using a metal instrument called a comedo extractor. This improves the appearance of problem skin immediately, but should only be done by someone who has experience since there’s a risk of scarring and infection.

May Not Be Enough

Skin facials and exfoliation have definite benefits when it comes to treating blackheads and blemish prone skin, but they aren’t the complete answer for most people. Most people need a little extra help to get blackhead free skin – such as the use of comedolytics. 

Comedolytics are skin care products that help to open up clogged pores and reduce the number of blackheads. They include products that contain salicylic acid – a weak acid which loosens old skin cells that block pores.

In severe cases, prescription retinoid found in Retina-A – prescribed by a doctor – may be needed. These products are safe and effective, although Retina-A cause’s skin irritation when it’s first used. Products containing salicylic acid are available at most drugstores. An example is Nozema Anti-Acne Gel and Pads.



The Bottom Line?

Skin facials for blackheads can be helpful for treating blackheads, but most people need to add a product containing salicylic acid to get the best results.

Controlling your fat and hydrogenated oil intake can help control acne. If you consume too much oil in your diet your body may not be able to process it all so it may be secreted through your pores causing acne.  So it is important to eat low-fat foods in order to help fight your acne.

Refined and processed carbohydrates can be a cause of acne. Evidence shows a link between acne and a high intake of refined and processed carbohydrates. These enter the blood stream in a fashion similar to sugar which will not only increase your chances of acne, but also other more serious conditions such as diabetes.

Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is essential to good skin and can help to fight acne. Your skin is an organ and cannot work properly if it is not fueled adequately and correctly.

A well-balanced diet and a multi-vitamin can help tremendously, but you want to make sure vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin A and the omega-3 fatty acids are at a good level. Vitamin and mineral rich foods are essential in helping to fight acne.


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