Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

When Should You Begin Using Anti-Aging Treatments/Products? September 29, 2010

I just learned that our bodies stop producing elastin around the age of 25.  That’s a pretty scary thought for some.  Elastin gives our skin its snap so if our bodies stop producing it so early are we all doomed to have saggy skin already in our 30s?  Should you be looking for the latest and greatest anti-aging products as you head out of puberty?

Some people would like you to think so.  It turns out that Dr. Perricone is introducing a new line of skincare products aimed at women ages 25 to 30 years old and yes, these are anti-aging products.  The product line is called Super by Perricone, and this is the description on the Sephora website (the products are available via Sephora and there is a freestanding store in Berkeley, CA) describes the products as such:

Super foods are the world’s (and our skin’s) new super heroes. Inspired by a passion to feed hungry skin, Dr. Nicholas Perricone—founder of the highly effective skincare brand Perricone MD—created SUPER, a nourishing collection of formulas for your face and body. Infused with phytonutrients derived from the some of the most powerful superfoods and formulated with advanced patented sciences, SUPER allows your skin to indulge in nature’s most nutritional bounty.

Dr. Perricone’s inspiration for SUPER was born from his passion for empowering others to take control of their health by bringing awareness to superfoods.

Achieving beautiful skin is as much about what you put in your body as what you put on it. With this concept in mind, Dr. Perricone began to explore the effects that antioxidant-rich superfoods have on the skin. His obsession with foods like watercress, known for its detoxifying effects, and chia, celebrated for its high levels of DHA and EPA, inspired him to design a collection of face and body products that combines these superfoods with his patented sciences. The result is SUPER.

According to the article Preserving the Dewiness of Youth in The New York Times :

Kat Fay, a senior analyst at Mintel who writes an annual skin-care report, thinks Super is part of a trend of getting women involved earlier in the fight against aging. “They are trying to hit them up with the prophylactic angle,” she said. “You look dewy and sweet now, but what about 10 years from now? Your life is over!”

At the St. Regis recently, Dr. Perricone defended his grab for a younger demographic. “Vanity is a great motivator,” he said between sips of jasmine green tea with cinnamon (a “superfood” he adores). While it’s one thing to say “eat this way and reduce your cancer risk,” he said, it’s far more stirring to say, “you’ll look younger and more glamorous within three days.”


Of course it will be interesting to see if this skincare line becomes a hit with its target audience.  For The New York Times article five women were invited to try the line.  Their responses were interesting:

Five women invited to The Times to sample Super liked it, but cost was a concern. Only one, Rebecca Wiegand, a dating blogger from Brooklyn, said she’d actually buy it. “I was thinking about the SATs in the ninth grade,” Ms. Wiegand said. “So it only makes sense I am thinking about wrinkles at 27.”Another, Andrea Lavinthal, an author of the book “Your So-Called Life,” for women on the edge of 30, does believe she must act now if she wants her face and décolletage to look good in a decade. “Thirty is not baby-faced,” said Ms. Lavinthal, a beauty editor at “I feel like I’m on a landslide to 40. If I want to look like Julia Roberts in ‘Eat Pray Love,’ either I need to get a lighting crew or skin-care products.”

I looked at the Sephora online reviews of Super to see what people had to say about this new skincare line.  Though the responses were positive, very positive overall, it turns out that most of the reviewers were not of the target age the products are being marketed at.  Instead most of the reviewers were in the 35-44 age bracket not 25 to 30.  So is the Super by Perricone marketing strategy off target?  That remains to be seen.

I’ve read some of Dr.Perricone’s books and found their premise interesting (inflammation leads to acne and aging.  Eat an anti-inflammation diet and control your acne and slow down the aging process) but have never committed to his program.  I tried two of his skincare products and was deeply unimpressed (and let me not forget to mention how outrageously expensive his products are).  I’ll be interested to see if Super by Perricone is a success.  Certainly many people love Dr. Perricone and his products.  If this new line does well I am sure we will be many more like it, but allow me to remain quite skeptical at the moment that these products are anything special at all.  There is a lot of pseudo science behind the premise and promise of the products and not a lot of fact.

Though I think many women are concerned about aging even when they are still in their 20s not that many people do much about it.  From my experience people become much more motivated to use anti-aging products and to pursue anti-aging treatments once they see that first wrinkle.  In the meantime let me once again remind my readers – if you want to stay looking young use your sunscreen!  No matter what time of the year, as long as it is light out slather on that sunscreen.  I can assure you that sunscreen is one great anti-aging product that everyone should always be using since the sun breaks down collagen and elastin fibers in our skin which leads to wrinkles and sagging, causes broken capillaries and hyperpigmentation, and can also make our skin appear leathery and uneven in texture (and lets not forget cause skin cancer as well). 

And does Super by Perricone have an SPF product or offer sun protection in any of its products?  No, not as far as I can tell.


Treat Your Mouth – Stay Youthful? September 27, 2010


I just read an article in the September 2010 issue of W about estheticians who massage their client’s muscles inside their upper lip, cheek, and jaw in order to promote blood circulation, relaxation, oxygenation to the skin cells, and encourage movement in the neck, head, and jaw.  All this results, according to the claims, in a tighter, smoother complexion and better absorption of skincare products.  The technique is known as Buccaling and is borrowed from Rolfing the body alignment method.

Though this sounds intriguing I have to admit that before I came across this article I had never heard of this technique anywhere – not in the professional literature that I read or from other estheticians or clients.  Does this work as it says it will?  I can’t answer that question at the moment.

But this idea dovetails into another issue I read about.  This time I read an article in Harper’s Bazaar about the real way to look younger – get a dental face-lift.  As we age our teeth wear down and our jaw recedes resulting in a more hollow look to your face.  So in order to fill in those collapsing areas individually sculpted veneers are applied to upper and lower teeth which lifts the cheeks, plumps the lips, and helps bring volume back to the face.  It turns out this is a subtle change that can have a big effect on your appearance in the end, and since veneers can last 15 years or more the results are relatively long lasting. 

Once again I can’t comment on this procedure, but it is interesting and frankly makes a lot of sense to me.  I guess now there is more than one good reason to see a good dentist (and develop a good relationship with them).  Who knows?  Maybe the fountain of youth really does exist and it lies in our mouths.


Book Reviews: Make-Up Tutorial Books September 22, 2010


I am pretty much all thumbs when it comes to make-up application.  Truth be told I didn’t really start wearing make-up on a daily basis until I was in my 30s.  I have to admit that I was always intrigued by make-up but completely intimidated by make-up application to the point of near paralysis.  A few years ago I started playing around with make-up.  Now I feel that I look much better with at least a little make-up than without any at all.  In my opinion a little eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss go a long way. 

Now you might ask – as an esthetician don’t you want to help me get skin that looks great so I don’t need make-up?  Of course that is one of my goals as an esthetician.  But we all must remember that perfect skin is almost completely unobtainable.  In the words of the great make-up artist Pat McGrath: “How can anyone really look like she has perfect skin without any makeup on?”  McGrath is, sadly, right on target with that comment.  But here is my outlook on make-up – for a day-to-day look I think make-up should be subtle and enhance what you have and hide what you don’t like especially.  While make-up is a fantastic medium in order to experiment, create, and be artistic with (there is a very important reason why make-up artists are called just that) it doesn’t need to be unnatural or a mask.  I love the idea of using make-up to enhance your best features and to boost your self-confidence.  A make-up routine doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming.

So why make-up books you might ask?  Certainly there is no end of make-up tutorials available online (particularly on YouTube).  But this is the thing, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, I’m all thumbs when it comes to make-up application so I need photos, step by step instructions, diagrams if possible, and more photos on how to apply my make-up, and I need those things in front of me, in the bathroom, as I attempt to apply my make-up.  Though I now have a netbook that I could bring into the bathroom with me I don’t want to have to rely on the whims of technology (or the speed of my home internet connection) in order to view a make-up tutorial.  But on top of that – I like books.  I want to be able to open up a book anytime, anywhere in order to learn how to create a make-up look.

Now while I was given a few basic make-up lessons in esthetics school and tried to experiment on my own I realized that I needed help.  So I started searching for a make-up book that would teach me the basics and beyond (I was particularly interested in eye make-up and still am for that matter).  While my job rarely calls on me to do someone’s make-up or give a lesson I realized that I would have to prepared for that eventuality since make-up application is considered part of an esthetician’s job.

The first make-up tutorial book I purchased was the late, great Kevyn Aucoin’s Making Faces.  As a make-up artist Aucoin was in a class by himself.  His looks are extraordinary and gorgeous.  The book is inspiring.  The book has makeovers of ordinary women and instructions on how to create classic make-up looks like “the vamp”, “the flapper”, and “the starlet”.  While there is no denying Aucoin’s genius (yes genius – look at the book and you’ll agree) in applying make-up I realized that even with step by step instructions and diagrams I still needed more basic instructions.  For me this book serves as an aspiration.  I hope one day I can apply make-up well enough to get close to recreating one of the looks in the book.

So my next make-up book purchase was Bobbi Brown’s Makeup Manual.  I like this book for its clear and concise instructions on make-up application and make-up tools.  My favorite part?  Photos!  Lots and lots of photos!  I learned how to do a smoky eye from Brown’s book.  The step by step photos really helped me understand each part of the process.  Smoky eyes, a make-up look that had always scared me (yes, scared me), became very doable with the instructions in Brown’s book.  I also really like Brown’s basic make-up look which though it is ten steps doesn’t take too long to achieve.  Bobbi Brown is known for her signature natural, not over done make-up look and these clear instructions help anyone achieve those same results.  And if you are at all interested in pursuing a career as a make-up artist this book is a must read for you since the final chapter is all about the business of make-up artistry.

My most recent make-up book purchase was Robert Jones’ Makeup Makeovers.  What a great book!  Basic but not dumbdowned, helpful, and thorough.  One of the reasons I wanted to buy this book was for the instructions on contouring (something I am still working my nerves up to trying contouring on myself), the precise instructions on how to do make-up on different face shapes and different eye shapes, and the summaries of how Jones did each makeover featured in the book.  Though Jones has a definite style of make-up application you can still take his tips and do your own thing.  Most of the transformations in the book are on real women, not models, and it is amazing to see how great he made each of them look.  The women are also all ages, shapes, and ethnicities which is wonderful to see (the same can be said of the models in both of the other make-up books I already mentioned).  While reading this book I found myself going to the mirror or to my make-up supply in order to immediately try out some of Jones’ tips and instructions.  There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from this book.  (It turns out that you can get online lessons from Jones, for a fee of course, through his web make-up academy)

And last but not least I would be quite remiss if I did once again mention Allure magazine in this blog.  The monthly print edition of Allure will keep you up-to-date about the latest make-up trends.  The looks in the magazine will certainly give you inspiration for your own make-up looks.  The website has daily updates on things beauty related and offers many make-up tutorials as well.

Now I just need to work out the courage to try out false eyelashes – wish me luck!


Menopause and Your Skin September 20, 2010

Menopause brings about huge changes in women’s bodies and psyches.  You can experience hot flashes, mood swings, belly flab, increased facial hair, and erratic sleep – to name just a few things.  And menopause can have quite the effect on your skin as well. 

Estrogen levels drop when you reach menopause.  With less estrogen in your body your skin becomes drier, less collagen is produced, wounds heal slower, skin becomes laxer, the epidermis begins to thin, and you experience loss of moisture on the surface of the skin (also known as transepidermal water loss).  The reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body stop communication with the sebaceous glands and there is a drop off in the amount of oil that those glands produce.  Lower levels of these hormones also contribute to a dull complexion since fewer new blood vessels are produced by the body.

Another skin phenomenon that occurs with menopause, especially in perimenopause, can be acne which is generally temporary.  This too is caused by hormonal changes in the body.  As your estrogen levels drop your androgen production stays high in comparison which can lead to excess testosterone.  The excess of androgen causes your oil glands to produce increased amounts of sebum leading to acne in some cases.  As your hormone levels stabilize your acne should disappear as well.




  • As you enter perimenopause and menopause undoubtedly your doctor will discuss hormone replacement with you.  Hormone replacement is not for everyone and needs to be very properly regulated and controlled.  If you do decide to go the route of hormone replacement you may find that some of your skin woes disappear particularly dryness.
  • Consider using a prescription or OTC retinoid.  Retinols fight hormonal acne, smooth the skin, and help build collagen.  Really there is no reason not to try one since there are so many different types of retinols available.  Consult with an esthetician or dermatologist to find the right one for you.
  • Look for moisturizers/products with hyaluronic acid in them.  Hyaluronic acid draws moisture to the skin and is a wonderful moisturizing ingredient.
  • Consider getting fillers – fillers will immediately fill in wrinkles and over time they will help stimulate collagen production.
  • Always, always use your sunscreen – no matter the weather or time of year.  Any damage that you already have in your skin will only get worse with sun exposure.  Plus your epidermis starts to thin during menopause – you are only more susceptible to sun damage than ever.


Sources and Further Reading



Large Pores – Can You Shrink Them? September 15, 2010

I’ve actually already written about this subject in a previous post, but I thought it was time to revisit the subject again so I could add a few more tips, tricks, and ideas to the mix.

  • Never, ever use a magnifying mirror!  If you have one – hide it!  If you don’t own one – don’t buy one!  Looking in one of those magnifying mirrors just makes you feel worse about your appearance.  Pores that aren’t even large will appear huge in a magnifying mirror.  It really is best just to stay away altogether from those mirrors.
  • Determine what causes your pores to be enlarged:

If it is genetics (you’ve always had large pores and others in your family do as well) there isn’t anything you can do about it except try to minimize the appearance of large pores with make-up.  More tips on how to do that later in the post.

Could you be confusing enlarged pores with something else?  It is actually normal to have sebum (oil), white keratin, and even a minuscule hair inside a pore.  This actually helps the body stop bacteria from entering your pores.  But if your pores appear enlarged because of trapped dead skin cells and oil – blackheads and whiteheads – you can help clean out your pores with salicylic acid products and retinoids.  (See my post How to Get Rid of Blackheads for tips)  Your pores may shrink a little bit once you’ve cleared them of trapped oil and dead skin cells.

Could your pores appear larger because your skin is dry?  By simply moisturizing you can plump up your skin and reduce the appearance of large pores.

Could your pores be dilated because of the aging process and sun damage?  Sun exposure and the aging process erodes our skin’s framework – collagen and elastin.  So as our skin begins to sag and droop our pores appear larger.  You can rebuild collagen with laser treatments, microdermabrasion, retinols, topical Vitamin C, and chemical peels and thus change the appearance of your pores.



Products that Claim to Shrink Pores


Keep in mind that any product that offers immediately change the appearance of your pores is just a temporary fix.  For long-term results you need to determine the reason behind your enlarged or dilated pores and treat accordingly.  Allure tested a few products that claim to shrink pores.  Out of the five products that they tested their favorites were:  Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer and Dr. Brandt Pores No More Anti-Aging Mattifying Lotion.


Make-Up Tips


If you’ve tried everything and your pores are still dilated or you determined that your pore size is genetic it is time to start playing around with make-up – primer and powder specifically.

I read the following tip in Allure:  after washing your face apply a very light dusting of powder before applying foundation or moisturizer.  Or finish your make-up routine with a dusting of translucent powder.  Try Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder (I can attest from personal experience that it works).

Or try a primer before applying your moisturizer and/or make-up.  Allure recommends Benefit The PorefessionalOr try Smashbox Photo Finish Targeted Pore and Line Primer.


But first and foremost – throw out that magnifying mirror!


Source and Further Reading



Naomi Campbell and Estheticians September 13, 2010

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I am generally revolted by Naomi Campbell’s behavior yet I find her somewhat fascinating partly because it doesn’t seem like she ages at all.  The New York Times just published an article about Campbell which contains the following quote, surprising quote in my opinion, from the supermodel:

I’m a recovering person in progress. Every rehabilitation program I’ve been in says the same thing: Getting past the denial is half the battle. Take responsibility for your actions. No matter who you are, a banker or a model or an aesthetician, if you don’t do that, you’ll find yourself living in an insanity world.

I found it pretty funny that of all the professions in the world that Campbell could name she chose esthetician as one of them.   Is that a reflection of Camplbell’s 25 years in the beauty business?  Or does she simply think estheticians are severely in denial?  I do wonder what Campbell has against us estheticians.


Sage Aging Advice September 10, 2010

Once again I’m going to mention an Allure article in this blog, and once again I am going to feature a photo of Iman in my blog.  In my opinion Iman is one of the most stunning women in the world and looks phenomenal no matter what age she is.  (If you’re a fan of Iman don’t forget to watch her in the new season of Bravo’s The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi – I’m super excited to see Mizrahi and Iman together.  I just hope that this season of the show is better than the first)

In the September 2010 issue of Allure the magazine asked the model/moguls Cindy Crawford and Iman, the actresses Susan Sarandon, Mariska Hargitay, Connie Britton, and Kim Cattrall, the singer Diana Krall, and the model/actress Andie MacDowell to share their secrets on how they look so great as they age.  The article is entitled Older, Wiser, Better  (as with so many magazine articles found online and in print the print version of the article is more extensive than the online version).  One thing all these women have in common is the fact that they take both their skincare and diets seriously.

There were a few quotes that I liked in particular from the interviews.

Kim Cattrall, famous for playing Samantha on Sex and The City, says:

“Aging is going to happen—and that’s only if you’re lucky enough to live that long. I hate when they say, ‘You look great for your age.’ It’s such an insult. I don’t want that—I want, ‘You look good,’ period. I am defiant. I want to say: This is what aging looks like! This is what happens! It’s not to be confrontational, but I want to say, here it is, look at it.”
And Iman says:
“At 51, I gained five pounds on holiday and decided not to lose it. If I lost another five pounds, I’d look skinny and haggard for my age. You know how they say either your face or your ass goes? I’m letting the ass go.”
Now seriously – can most of us look this good at 45 or 55?  Probably not.  I think most of these women were blessed with phenomenal genes (for goodness sakes Mariska Hargitay’s mother was Jayne Mansfield), but what comes through loud and clear in all the interviews with these celebrities is how important it is for them to feel good emotionally in order to look their best.  Sage advice well worth remembering.

Book Review: Lessons of a Lipstick Queen September 7, 2010

I can’t remember when I first heard about Poppy King, her lipsticks, or her seemingly implausible accomplishments, but I was always impressed and intrigued by King and her runaway success in the make-up business at a very young age.  So when I saw that King had written a book about her experiences, Lessons of a Lipstick Queen, I was very interested in reading what she had to say.  Truth be told I’ve never tried one of her lipsticks; it was always her story that I found fascinating.

So who is Poppy King and what is so interesting about her life?  I’ll let King explain in her own words:

Gosh… It is hard to know how to tell this without it sounding like I made it up… But I didn’t! I started my own lipstick brand in 1992 in Melbourne Australia when I was about 6 months out of high school and had just turned 18.

I did this not because I was a chemist, a make up artist, a designer or anything else (I was barely an adult and sometimes wonder if I am one yet!) I did this because I couldn’t find any lipsticks I liked. They were all thin, slimy and too greasy feeling. Plus there were no deep colors or browns and most reds went pink. I wanted lipsticks that gave me the look of the 1940’s. Rich, opaque and filled with pigment.

So… On a whim I found manufactures to mix up some lipsticks, a business partner and the nerve to approach a few stores. It became a run away success!

For 12 years I had a brand called Poppy that specialized in all sorts of lipsticks and lip glosses (I am obsessed with the lips and every possible color, texture, finish and technology there is to make your lips look amazing). During those 12 years I experienced many of the ups and downs involved in running a business so when I was approached in 2002 to move to New York and join a large cosmetic company I decided it was time for me to try something new.

Which I did… However my fascination, obsession and borderline insanity regarding specialized lipsticks and lip products would not leave me. So last year I decided once again to return to having my own business and the obsession that has been with me since my school days.

Intriguing, right?  How many of us can say that at the age of 18 we took a personal obsession, created a business because of that obsession, and made that business a success very quickly?  Not many people have done what Poppy King has done.

The book is actually a how-to guide for the would be entrepreneur in all of us.  Interspersed amongst King’s advice for how to start, develop, and grow your business are short asides titled “my story” where King illustrates her points with a tale from her own experiences.  I found King’s book straight-forward, heartfelt, and helpful.  I’m not someone with a business background or any business know-how so reading a clear guide to how to start and build a business was interesting for me.  I was grateful to King for being so honest about her own mistakes (her candor reminded me of Ruth Reichl’s autobiographies which I loved), lack of confidence at times, and her own need for both professional and personal improvements.  I liked the fact that King was enthusiastic, upbeat, and lastly that she broke down everything about starting a business into the easiest of terms.

There were two things that “bothered” me about the book.  The first is that I kept finding that I would skip pages ahead in the book just to get to the “my story” parts.  I wished the book was done in reverse – that most of the book was King’s personal story and the asides were her advice.  As I wrote at the very beginning of this post, I was always captivated by King’s personal story and journey.  The book only provided a glimpse into her story; I was left wanting to know more.  The other thing that I found interesting about the book, which was published in 2008, was for the most part a lack of acknowledgement or instruction on the use of social media and the internet to promote or otherwise help your business.  While I know that King started her original business before the internet was such a daily, powerful force in our lives nonetheless I thought it was strange that the its power and possibilities weren’t addressed further.

All in all, I would recommend this book if you have an idea for a business but don’t know how to proceed with that idea.  If I ever have an original idea for a business I will definitely give this book a read again.  In the meantime, I will be waiting for King to write a true autobiography which I will be interested in reading.  Lastly, I do have to say that while reading this book I had an almost overwhelming urge to put on lipstick and will definitely think to try or even buy one of King’s lipsticks in the future.

Poppy King’s current lipstick line can be found at Lipstick Queen.

For an interview with King read this BBC article.


Skin Care According to Life’s Phases and Events September 3, 2010

If there is one consistent thing that I can say about skincare it is that your skincare needs will constantly be changing.  Our skin changes with the weather and as we age.  Our skincare needs are affected by the products we put on our skin, by the stress in our lives, and by our overall health.  I’ve already addressed the topic of skincare needs according one’s age –  Skincare Tips for Your Teens and 20sSkincare Tips for Your 30s, Skincare Tips for Your 40s, 50s, and Beyond – but was prompted by an article in the newest issue of Allure (September 2010) to think about skincare according to life’s events.

The Allure article is entitled Skin Milestones and explores how to take care of one’s skin according to life’s biggest events:  college, graduation, a new job, getting married, pregnancy, turning 35, and menopause.  For the most part the advice in the article is spot on and helpful.  It is definitely true that you can see big changes in your skin when you start a new job or plan your wedding – each stressful events, no questions asked.  Stress affects our skin (and our health) in profound ways.  While you are pregnant your body is undergoing so many phenomenal changes it isn’t a surprise to realize that your skin can quite affected as well.  Lastly, menopause brings about tremendous bodily changes and affects your skin more often than not as well.  I think it is comforting to know that you are not alone is experiencing skin changes as your life changes, and it is important to think of tweaking your skincare regime as you notice changes.

While I might quibble with some of the specific product recommendations in the Allure article I do agree with the overall approach that is outlined for each skin milestone.  I especially liked the advice for brides to be – to get a serious skincare regime in place months before their wedding in order to look their best in photos.  Lets not forget that once all the wedding hoopla is over the only thing that remains are the photos and videos. 

(As an aside I was happy to see that Dr. Amy Wechsler, the author of one of my favorite skincare books The Mind-Beauty Connection, was consulted for this article)

So pay attention to your skin and remember that there is always a solution out there for what bothers you.


How To Get Rid of Blackheads September 1, 2010

Blackheads are a scourge.  I think I’ve had the same blackheads on my nose for the last 20 years; I gently squeeze them out and they come right back.  When I do facials I find that most people, no matter what their age, have blackheads, especially on their noses.  Luckily there are a few different methods for getting rid of blackheads but persistence and patience is needed in order to see results.


What Are Blackheads?


Simply put blackheads form when sebum (oil) and dead skin cells clog the inside of the sebaceous (oil) glands and form a cyst.  Blackheads are open comedones, the word doctors use for blackheads and whiteheads, which means that the dermis has not covered the clogged pore over, and the comdone oxidizes in the air and turns black.  Just because the comedone is black does not mean that it is dirty or that there is dirt there.  This type of blockage starts deep inside the pore and builds up until it reaches the surface.   Blackheads typically grow to between 2 to 4 millimeters and can remain in place for months and even years. 


What Causes Blackheads?


There are few different contributing factors to the formation of blackheads.  One is that your body is producing excessive amounts of sebum or oil and that oil does not exit the pore properly.  Another contributing factor are dead skin cells that also do not exit the pore properly – rather they stick together and get stuck in your pores.  This, by the way, can be a genetic condition.  Certain make-up and skincare products can contain ingredients that can contribute to clogged pores.  Not removing all your make-up at night certainly doesn’t help to keep your pores clear of debris.


How Can You Get Rid of Blackheads?


Two things are important to remember about blackheads when you go to treat them.  One is that the oil and dead skin cells that are blocking your pore and have lead to the formation of a blackhead have accumulated deep inside your pore so you need pretty powerful ingredients that penetrate deeply into pores in order to dislodge the stuck debris.  Simply cleaning your face with a scrub or rubbing away at your blackheads will not help dislodge them since the debris is stuck deep down in your pore.  Secondly, as I wrote above blackheads can stick around for months or even years which means that you need patience and persistence when you want to remove them.

The two best ingredients for getting rid of blackheads are salicylic acid and retinoids.  Salicylic acid is oil soluble which means it can penetrate into your clogged pore and help to dissolve the oil trapped in the pore.  Retinoids help to regulate skin cell turnover and prevent the dead skin cells from sticking together and staying in your pores.  Many people might find it too strong to use products simultaneously with those ingredients so I would choose one or the other ingredient.   But be sure to be patient!  The blackheads formed over time and it will take time to remove them.  (For more information and product recommendations please see my earlier posts Ingredient Spotlight: Salicylic Acid and All About Retinol).


Should You Squeeze Your Blackheads?


It is extremely tempting to squeeze your blackheads, but if done improperly you can actually cause quite a bit of damage to your skin.  Ideally if you want to get rid of blackheads go get a facial.  During a facial the esthetician properly prepares your skin for extractions and then knows how much to squeeze and for how long.  For instance, don’t go squeezing your skin for more than 10 minutes since that will just end up causing trauma to the skin in the end.  If you insist of doing your own extractions at home I suggest doing them immediately after getting out of the shower and after having washed your face.  Make sure your hands are cleans and wrap your fingers in clean tissues.  Squeeze gently and don’t keep poking at your face for more than 10 minutes.  If you can’t dislodge the contents of a clogged pore easily leave it alone!  Pushing and pushing will just damage your skin.  Finish your extractions by wiping your face with toner or witch hazel oil. 


Sources and Further Reading



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