No one likes having visible whiteheads on their face. It makes anyone feel a bit self-conscious and overall it feels like the face is dirty when there are whiteheads or blackheads on the forehead, nose, or chin. While whiteheads are annoying, they can be fixed. With a little time and dedication, anyone can get a smoother clear skin.
Whiteheads & Blackheads: Things to Know
While they do not present themselves like typically acne pimples, whiteheads are small versions of pimples. They appear where there is a lot of built-up bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells on the face. The face gives off oils as the hair grows. If the pores that are secreting this oil become clogged, whiteheads can form.
A whitehead is different than a blackhead. They are similar in the fact they are both clogged pores. Either problem stems from having too much oil, dead skin, and bacteria on the face, or other areas of the body. Where these two skin issues differ is at the opening of the pore.
A whitehead is closed. At the surface level, the whitehead is sealed and does not have access to oxygen. A blackhead is open. That means the pore has access to the air and is in-turn oxidized. Which turns the area black. When removing blackheads people will find they are actually white underneath.
These clogged pores can really ruin someones day if they are getting ready for pictures or an outing. They are annoying and can be difficult to get rid of if the proper technique is not used.
The good thing about whiteheads is that they are a fairly easy problem to fix, as long as the skin is not prone to severe acne breakouts.
Whiteheads and blackheads are typically concentrated in the T-zone. These areas are usually the more oily and that can lead to whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Many people have blackheads on their nose and whiteheads on the chin. This is typical and can be treated with the right skin care regimen.
Common Misconceptions Surrounding Blackheads
Many people think that blackheads are collections of dirt that have become trapped in the pore. This is not true. A blackhead has the same bacteria and composition as a whitehead. It just differs in that it is open to the air and has become oxidized, creating the black color.
Swearing off chocolate will not help anyone get rid of all of their acne. However, chocolate is high in sugar, so it is a food that could be avoided to help with acne. It is still possible to eat chocolate and avoid having severe breakouts. Opting to eat a dark chocolate is a bit better than a typical chocolate milk bar.
Changing one's diet can help reduce whiteheads greatly but it is not the only factor that goes into the creation of whiteheads. The body's regulation of hormones is actually more connected to whiteheads than what a person is eating. Hormone changes can cause the body to secrete excess oil.
Wearing makeup is not going to make whiteheads worse and it does not need to be avoided during major breakouts. While the wrong makeup products can lead to more breakouts, many products are better formulated for the skin than in the past. The key to avoiding worsening breakouts is to clean the face every night and clear away all makeup.
As desperation sets in many people try the strongest products on the market to get rid of whiteheads. While these products can help with whiteheads they can also be very drying. Drying out the skin can irritate it leading to other problems besides whiteheads. Unless the problem is severe using a milder product is just the same as using a highly concentrated one.
Sunlight has been seen to help with inflammation. So many people believe that getting more sun exposure will help to reduce acne. Typically this is not the case and it can actually lead to more damage to the face. As the skin is exposed to the sun, collagen production can slow. If there is less collagen the skin will not be able to repair and will see even more breakouts and tissue damage.
A Quick Fix
There are times where there is no time for a week-long face cleansing treatment. If someone is in need of a quick fix for whiteheads there are several options. These options are not going to be permanent and they should be followed up with a more thorough treatment.
Whitehead Extractor Machine
There are portable whitehead extractor machines that can be purchased to help remove whiteheads and blackheads. Although it is best to leave extraction on the hands of skin experts like estheticians and dermatologists, these machines are handy in a pinch.
These machines can safely extract pore clogs however, improper use may increase the amount of inflammation in the face and overall exacerbate a problem within the pores. Do read the instructions for the machine and look for how-to videos to help you out.
Using a portable machine is a much better option than trying to extract any whiteheads by just using fingers. Pressing or pinching the skin can actually lead to more irritation and even scarring if enough damage is done. If you can't resist the urge to pick at your skin, reach for the whitehead extractor instead of attacking those whiteheads by hand.
For best results, the machine should be used on a moist face. Steam the face for at least fifteen minutes before using the extractor to really pull those whiteheads out. This will help open the pores so the extractor can get everything from the clogged areas.
Whitehead Extraction Tools
For anyone nervous to try an extractor on the face, there are manual extraction tools. These tools are much better than using fingers, they can be cleaned, and it will help to keep any irritation to a minimum. There are multiple types of extraction tools depending on the area that the whiteheads are located.
The best extraction kits use tools that are stainless steel. These tools can easily be cleaned and sterilized by using some rubbing alcohol. This can help greatly reduce the chance of an infection.
Always clean the tools at the beginning and the end of the treatment. It is best to close the pores by using a toner once the extraction is complete, as well.
Of course, you don't have to use a metal extraction device if that scares you at all. At Trophy Skin our full line of microdermabrasion products can help you extract any signs of acne. Add a pore extraction tip and you'll zap whiteheads away easily.
Pore strips can be used for both whiteheads and blackheads. There are three-step pore strips that are much better than the typical strips that only have the single strip in the kit. The first strip is used to help exfoliate the skin. The second strip is the typical pore strip that will pull out any whiteheads or blackheads. The last trip will help to close the pores to keep them looking great.
To use a three-step pore strip treatment there is a time commitment. The face must first be cleansed. The first strip can be placed on the affected area, typically the nose, and allowed to rest for twenty minutes. After removing the strip the area should be wiped clean with water.
With a wet area, the second strip should be applied. The strip will dry and eventually become very stiff. This is when it is ready to peel. The process typically takes about fifteen minutes but can be longer depending on the amount of humidity in the area.
To remove the strip properly always pull from bottom to top. Many people try to pull from the side and this will not pull out the whiteheads. This should not be a quick pull. To really work the whiteheads out, pull slowly.
Once the second strip is completely off the last strip, the soothing pore closer, can be applied. This can sit for fifteen minutes. While this entire process can take about an hour, it can do wonders for someone that has many whiteheads and blackheads.
Do It Yourself Solutions
A homemade pore strip is not really as effective as the three-step strips that can be purchased. However, it can be a great way to start getting rid of the pesky whiteheads as a daily treatment is being used as well. There are three simple ingredients needed, milk, charcoal powder, and unflavored gelatin.
Take two Tablespoons of milk and mix it with one teaspoon of charcoal powder. Then pour in one Tablespoon of gelatin. This mixture needs to be heated in the microwave on a low setting to create a liquid. Cool the liquid mixture down and use a flat brush to apply it to areas with whiteheads. Once this is dry, which can take up to twenty minutes, pull the strip off to remove the whiteheads.
Making a toner that exfoliates, is going to really help keep away any bacteria and help to remove dead skin from the face. This is a simple toner that uses organic apple cider vinegar with uncoated aspirins. These two ingredients will help to clear out any clogged pores.
Take 2 aspirins and crush them. Put these crushed tablets into 200mL of water. Then add three Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Once stirred, the toner is ready to go. This does make enough to use for a while so be sure to have a sealable bottle handy to pour the mixture into.
Coco and Honey Exfoliant Scrub
A scrub is great for helping the face exfoliate and keep it free of any dirt that is trapped in the pores. There are three ingredients in this scrub. Coconut oil is going to help moisturize the face and also is anti-bacterial. Honey also provides anti-bacterial properties and will help nourish the skin. The brown sugar will help to exfoliate the skin.
Start by washing the face. Then mix together two teaspoons of coconut oil with two Tablespoons of honey. Sugar can be added as desired. This is the exfoliant so more sugar will provide a more coarse treatment. Use a little bit of the mixture at a time to exfoliate the face. This can be left on for up to fifteen minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
Sugar is a great way to rid the face of dead skin. This scrub uses brown sugar, aloe vera, and olive oil. The best part about this scrub is most people already have the ingredients at home. There is no need to go find special ingredients for this do it yourself recipe.
Mix one-half cup of oil and one-half cup of brown sugar. To this mixture add in up to three Tablespoons of aloe vera gel. This does need to be mixed well and can be applied one to twice a week to help hydrate and nourish the skin.
Using a mask can help to soak in as many nutrients as possible in a small amount of time. This mask uses bentonite clay, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar to cleanse the face. The clay is high in minerals and is often used in facial treatments. Tea tree oil has anti-bacterial properties and will help to clear away any acne.
Start by mixing four Tablespoons of clay with two Tablespoons of vinegar and water. This should create a paste-like substance. If it is too runny more clay can be added. If it is too thick, add in equal parts water and vinegar. One drop of tea tree oil is sufficient to unlock its properties.
The mixture should be applied in a thin layer to the face. It can take up to twenty-five minutes for the mixture to dry completely. Once dried the mask is complete and should be rinsed off with warm water.
7 Day Treatment
This seven-day treatment can help someone that has whiteheads that will not go away. It is a great way to get rid of those blemishes and maintain a clean and clear face.
While it can be labor-intensive for someone that has no face care routine, it is great for the overall health of the skin on the face.
For anyone that is already using some of these products, this may be just a slight step up from a typical daily routine.
The schedule will have three separate routines to follow. The first routine will be completed on day one and day four. The second routine is for days two, three, five, and six. Then there is one more routine for the last day of the treatment, day seven.
Routine One: Day One and Four
- Cleanse: Cleansing the face is going to help take away all of the extra oils, bacteria, and dirt from a night of sleeping. It is great to use a cleanser that is milder. This will help keep away any irritation and the skin will not dry out as much.
- Tone: A great toner is vital to any face care routine. A toner will help to close the pores that were opened during the cleansing process. This can help keep them clean and make them look smaller. Effectively hiding them for a smooth makeup application.
- Face Cream or Lotion: Whether a lotion or a cream is used a moisturizer will help to avoid drying out the skin on the face. Using a moisturizer with salicylic acid will help to moisturize and keep away any acne.
- Cleanse: Start the night routine by cleansing the face again. This can be the same cleanser that was used in the morning. The key is to get rid of any makeup and oil that is on the face.
- Steaming Open Pores: A great way to really open the pores for a deep clean is to use steam. There are two different ways to steam the face. A simple way is to pour hot water into a bowl and lean over it. By holding a towel over the head it will trap the steam and force it to stay close to the face. This will help open up the pores, but it can provide a little back pain as well. There are steaming machines, as well. Investing in one can really make someone's life easier in the long run. The heat from the steam is going to help get better blood flow in the face. This is good for the health and appearance of the skin.
- Exfoliate: Exfoliation after steaming is much better than just exfoliating. It is a much quicker and easier process if the pores are already open. Physical exfoliation is much less abrasive than a chemical exfoliation. A simple face scrub will do the trick and help clear away any dead skin.
- Tone: Use the toner that way used in the morning to close the pores.
- Serum: Using a serum can help provide the face with much-needed nutrients. By using a serum that has salicylic acid, along with other ingredients, will help to reduce any acne.
- Face Cream or Lotion: Using a cream or a lotion at night is not a necessary step. Especially if someone has an already oily face. Anyone that has naturally dry skin should use a moisturizer to help keep the skin looking hydrated in the morning. When applying a cream or lotion at night it is best to allow the skin to soak in any serum first. This can take up to a half-hour.
Routine Two: Day Two, Three, Five and Six
The second routine is much more simple. It has many of the same elements as the first routine, but it is not as intense of a treatment. Since all of the steps have been discussed they are just listed in routine two.
- Face Cream or Lotion
- Face Cream or Lotion
Routine Three: Day Seven
- Face Cream or Lotion
- Clay Face Mask: Making a clay mask is very simple. Use two Tablespoons of healing clay with one Tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The ingredients should be mixed with a non-metal spoon in a non-metal bowl. It will create a paste that can be applied to the face. This should be allowed to dry for up to twenty minutes and then rinsed off with warm water.
- Face Cream or Lotion
For many people, this one-week treatment can help to clear away any whiteheads. If there are some stragglers feel free to give it a go for a second week. Once all of the whiteheads are gone the routine does not have to be as vigorous. The first routine can be cut down to just once a week instead of days one and four.
Rules of Keeping Whiteheads Away
Once whiteheads are gone, it is much easier to keep them away. There are many factors that go into the creation of whiteheads. While not all of these rules have to be followed at all times, it does make skin care much easier if they are. Keeping a daily face care routine is the first big step in keeping whiteheads at bay.
1. Food Intake
While it can be disappointing to hear, what a person eats can affect their skin. There are many foods that will cause someone to be more prone to having whiteheads. These foods can be cut out of the diet to make it much easier to maintain a clear face. Even if these foods are not cut out completely, reducing the amount that is eaten can greatly help whiteheads.
Any foods that are high in sugar can change the hormone level that the body produces. The excess sugar will increase hormone production which can stimulate the oil glands to produce rapidly. More oil being produced means more oil on the skin and likely more whiteheads.
Too many carbohydrates can also affect hormone production. The human body breaks down carbs into sugars. Alcohol is also broken down into sugar. That means adding in carbs and alcohol to the diet is very similar to eating too much sugary food.
Everyone needs omega-3 fats. However, many people ingest saturated and processed fats instead. These fats will increase levels of arachidonic acid which acts against the omega-3 fats that the body needs. This will lead to inflammation and acne if too much is consumed.
Anyone that has dealt with acne knows that keeping the face clean is a vital component to keeping acne away. There are three key things to concentrate on when trying to keep the face clean. Always have clean hands when touching the face, try to keep greasy hair away from the face, and change the pillowcase that is regularly used.
Many people do not think about touching their face with dirty hands. If the hands do not appear dirty, they still are. There are oil, dirt, and bacteria on our hands at any time. When touching the face, it is best to wash hands first. That way all of that grime is washed away and will not be transferred to the face. Concentrate on cleaning underneath the nails as well. A lot of dirt can get trapped there.
The scalp naturally produces oil that is carried throughout the hair. As hair becomes more oily it can rub against the face and transfer that oil to the skin. This is going to make the face much more oily and can lead to more whiteheads. If the hair is especially oily tie it back or keep it away from the face to avoid any contact.
Similar to greasy hair, a pillowcase can hold a lot of oil, dirt, and bacteria. As people sleep their bodies will transfer a sweat and oil onto the pillowcase. If not changed regularly that sweat and oil are then rubbed back onto the face nightly. Leaving the skin much more dirty and oily than when a person went to bed. Change the pillowcase regularly to help avoid any build-up of these materials.
Whiteheads are caused by clogged pores. When clogged the pores will retain oil and bacteria. The best way to combat this is to exfoliate to help release any clogged pores. Exfoliation will help clean the face below the surface as well as clearing away any dead skin. This combination will help the skin feel softer and look smoother.
Depending on how much oil a person's skin produces face exfoliation can be done once a week to multiple times a week. For someone with dry skin once a week should suffice. Anyone that has very oily skin could benefit from exfoliating multiple times a week.
When looking at acne control products, toners, and cleanser there are a lot of choices. This can be overwhelming if someone does not know what to look for. There are three ingredients that are ideal for helping with whiteheads, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid.
These products are not going to provide the same care to the skin, but only one should be used at a time. Using all three ingredients at a time can irritate or dry out the face. Unless dealing with very severe acne one product is typically enough to maintain a clear face.
Salicylic acid is the best choice for someone looking to control whiteheads. It helps to balance the shedding of cells on the face. It can also help pores become unclogged. It also reduces inflammation. With all of these properties, it is great to help reduce whiteheads and maintain beautiful skin.
Benzoyl peroxide gets rid of bacteria on the skin. It is better for someone who is having trouble with whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Since it is able to reduce the amount of bacteria in the skin. It works well, but it must be used consistently. If someone stops using the product acne will reappear.
Glycolic acid is similar to salicylic acid. It helps to clear away any dead skin cells from the face. It also balances the PH level of the skin. Pores will be much less clogged when using this acid as well. It is a more natural product, as well.
Maintaining the oil on the face is vital to keeping whiteheads away. Cleaning the face regularly, never touching the face, and keeping a clean pillowcase can help a lot. Using face masks can also help to rid the face of oil. There are many types of face masks so it is easy to clear the oil from the face as well as add in some nutrients.
If you're thinking oily skin might be causing your acne then be sure to read our blog post covering 5 skincare tips to cure oily skin here.
While maintaining the hydration of the skin is important, be careful of what products are chosen. Heavy creams will hydrate the skin, but they can also clog the pores. Clogged pores are going to cause whiteheads or blackheads. There are many hydrating products that are not heavy and will not clog the pores. Unless the face is very dry look for a lighter product to use for hydration.
While it can be easy to forget cleansing is important to maintain a clear and clean face. Cleansing should be done in the morning and at night. Many people are consistent about cleaning the face once a day, but it really needs to be done twice a day to make sure all oils, dirt, and bacteria are cleared away.
8. Blood Supply
Increased blood supply can help the skin greatly. One way to increase blood supply is to exercise. When exercising the skin begins to sweat. This sweat will help the body clear out toxins that may reside in the pores. It is important to shower after exercising to rid the skin of excess sweat and dead skin.
An increased blood flow will help the skin become more nourished. These nutrients will help the skin stay healthier. While everyone should try to stay healthy by exercising, increase blood flow can be achieved by steaming the face as well. The heat from the steam will help to increase the blood flow and give the skin the nutrients it needs.
Trying to rid the face of whiteheads is a long process. A person must be dedicated to changing their habits that are causing the whiteheads to appear. By changing these habits and maintaining a healthy skin routine, whiteheads can be reduced. As flare-ups are seen the seven-day treatment can be revisited to clear away any clogged pores.
Updated May, 2020