The next time you are pressing your face up against a magnifying mirror to inspect your pores, I would like you to remember two things.
First and foremost, no one you actually want in your life besides a toddler with no sense of personal space is going to be that far up your grill. Stop obsessing over your skin at 10x zoom because no human eye on the planet is going to notice the shit you are inspecting.
Second, those things all over your nose that you think are blackheads are not blackheads, so stop treating them like they’re blackheads.
Blackheads are what occurs when a pore becomes clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells. The pore remains open and exposes the skin cells at the surface to oxygen, turning them black. Blackheads are not caused by dirt, and while it may feel super-satisfying to squeeze those suckers out, you’re doing way more damage by extracting them.
Now, let’s talk about those things you always think are blackheads.
All over your nose, you see little dots? Those are your pores, and unless those dots are black, those are sebaceous filaments. Squeeze one of them and a hard piece of yellow gunk comes out, or maybe it’s a long string of white gunk? Still sebaceous filaments.
Sebaceous filaments are pores with sebum in them.
Your pores produce sebum to keep your skin moisturized. Removing it through extraction or by using products with a high alcohol content that dry out the skin? The only thing that does is send a signal to your body that it isn’t making enough sebum and needs to ramp up production. So more sebum is coming your way. Sure, some people produce an excess of sebum (where my oily skin girls at?), but the way to combat that is by keeping your skin properly moisturized so your body cools its jets on oil production.
It may be satisfying, you may feel some strong picking urges, but under no circumstances should you try to remove your sebaceous filaments — not by squeezing, not by using a metal tool. And for the love of all that is holy, not with those damn nose strips.
When you remove these filaments at all, you run the risk of stretching your pore. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but google “stretched nose pore,” and fall to your knees to thank the universe if you haven’t done this to yourself yet.
A stretched pore does not return to normal. They look like a hole in your skin, often big enough to fit a piercing through. And because they are so large and can’t close, they will routinely fill with sebum and dirt and dead skin and cause you loads of problems in that one spot for pretty much the rest of your life. I recently read an anecdote of a woman with a stretched pore rubbing her runny nose and a huge plug of sebaceous filament falling out into her hand.
Pardon me for a moment. Gotta puke and die.
And using those strips? They’re removing a ton of filaments all at once. Most, if not all, of what you see when you pull that strip away is just sebum that belonged in your pores and was doing its job. It was doing its job, and you ripped it out of its home! And for that, you run the risk of enlarged and stretched pores and broken capillaries, while stretching your skin and making it more prone to wrinkles.
The best way to clear up or prevent blackheads is by using an acid exfoliant daily and a physical exfoliant a couple times a week. These will help to remove dead skin cells that could clog your pores while improving the overall texture of your skin.
Stop squeezing. Throw out your extractor. Burn your pore strips. And be kind to your face. You only get one, unless your name is Arya Stark.