Comedones (blocked pores)
The first blemish to form as acne, is called a “comedone” . A comedone is a plug that forms within the pore (pilosebaceous duct). It is made up of dead skin cells from the lining of the pore that is mixed with sebum produced by the oil gland. Millions of skin cells die off every minute in our skin.
These dead skin cells should ideally fall off the skin allowing new cells to replace the old, however in oily/acne skins these dead cells don’t shed. Instead they accumulate on the top of the skin as well as deep within the pores, trapping the natural oil secretions of the skin (sebum), causing a blocked pore.
There are two types of comedones.
- Open Comedone (Blackhead) – The open comedone, also called a blackhead, is visible on the skin because the plug has formed in the surface opening of the duct. Blackheads are not black because of dirt; they take their color from the normal skin pigment that is within the dead cells.
- Closed Comedone (Whitehead or Milia) – A closed comedone /whitehead is a similar plug within the pore, but is deeper under the surface of the skin. Closed comedones appear as small, pale elevations, without any obvious openings, and can be removed by being lanced. They can be caused by products that are too rich for the skin, oily make up and lack of exfoliation.
Preventing Comedones (whiteheads & blackheads)
Daily use of deep penetrating exfoliating skincare, containing alpha hydroxyl or beta hydroxyl acids (i.e. glycolic , salicylic & lactic acid) which dissolve pore clogging dead skin cells deep within the pores.
Products not to use: make up that is oil based or has artificial colour, ideally use a mineral make up which is oil free & artificial colour free. Avoid fake tan with artificial colour (a guide colour) as it clogs the pores. Avoid cleansers & moisturisers containing mineral oil (parafinum liquidum) and lanolin.
Professional treatments for blackheads
A course of skin peels; either Microdermabrasion or Glycolic peels which will draw out impurities from the skin, resulting in cleaner, tighter pores & smoother skin.
Will a facial skin peel draw out more spots on my skin?
Skin Peels draw impurities out of the skin, resulting in possible breakouts, but this is a good sign of the skin clearing itself out. These spots would emerge from the skin at a later stage anyway.
Professional treatments for milia:
The milia can be lanced with either an electrolysis needle or a micro lance needle, which will pierce an opening. Then the contents of the milia can be eased out. However milia will return if preventative measures aren’t taken i.e. wear oil free make up, use oil free skincare, exfoliate skin regularly preferably with a glycolic product, and avoid fake tan on the area.
Why can skin sometimes be very dry as well as very oily?
Those with oily skin can sometimes use some very harsh drying products, to help dry up excess oil, resulting in dehydrated areas of skin. Some topical antibiotics can also be very drying. It is very important for those with naturally oily skin not to use products for dry skin when some dry flaky patches appear; this is a common mistake that is made. Products for dry skin often contain oil, because dry skin lacks oil. Oil will clog the pores of an oily individual. Extra hydration can be added without adding oil by using the ingredient hyaluronic acid in a serum.