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Understanding Clogged Pores - is it really a blackhead?

Deep pore cleansing facial in Salt Lake City

How often do we see a commercial for a miracle product that will “deep cleanse to remove the blackheads from our nose"? And they show an animation where the cleanser washes all the way into the pore are leaves it completely empty.

Looks amazing, right?!

Except it’s all made up…the animation is very much exaggerated. If you look at the fine print at the bottom of the screen, it will say “Dramatization”. Pores don't work like that, and yes, they need to dramatize their results to convince you it works. Not nice!

The problem with this (besides making you pay for a product that doesn’t work) is that the many visible dark pores on your nose are NOT blackheads. They are usually sebaceous filaments…but what does that mean?

Sebaceous Filaments are a thread-like tube of sebum (our skin’s oil) that is coming out of the oil gland and up to the surface. This gland is producing new sebum every day, all day, refilling the tube constantly. It's normal. That’s why they seem so stubborn, like we can never get rid of them. My spa guests always ask why they can squeeze the same one day after day and keep getting “stuff” out of it, where a pimple would run out of “stuff”, stop and go away.

They differ from blackheads in a couple ways, mostly texture and size. Blackheads are formed when this sebum mixes with dead skin, pollution, product residue and dirt, and the whole mixture turns in to a hard chunk in the pore. The top turns black over time because oxygen causes it to oxidize (like when you slice an apple and it turns brown).

Blackheads are dangerous because they can continue to grow larger, stretching the pore until it is ruined. If this happens, the pore may continue to gape open permanently, even after proper extraction and skincare. These scarred pores look terrible and should be avoided by getting a facial every 4-6 weeks so your esthetician can safely remove any blackheads before they grow this large.

Similar damage can occur when we mistake a sebaceous filament or large pore for a blackhead and try to aggressively extract it. Or buy every random “pore reducing” product we see online 😉 seriously, some of those are scary!

Please go easy on your face, and if something doesn’t extract the way you expect, book a facial and ask your Master Esthetician. It might be a large pore, or a sebaceous filament, and not removable at all. Please remember that there’s more happening in the anatomy, genetics and science of the skin than you can see.

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