So many of us spend so much time hating things about the way we look that we fail to think about how amazing our bodies are, how when we feed them properly and treat them lovingly, they function optimally, as intricately and incredibly designed machines.

An example of the body’s inherent functionality is the sebaceous filament.

Your body produces its own moisturizer—sebum, the dermatologist’s word for oil—and it uses your hair follicles as avenues of transportation to the skin’s outer layer. For most people, sebaceous filaments remain invisible, but for people with oily skin or large pores they’re sometimes noticeable. Experts will tell you not to worry—they’re actually evidence of healthy and properly functioning skin. They also recommend avoiding magnifying mirrors that make you want to get rid of sebaceous filaments which usually are not even obvious to the naked eye.

Exceptionally oily skin can be the result either of genetics or hormones or poor diet or skincare routine, so make sure you’re paying attention to all these factors before you begin trying to squeeze and pinch your face.

We’re taught to wage war on pimples and blackheads. There are masks and scrubs and strips and peels for getting rid of them, and most of us can’t resist picking at them. The problem is that sometimes these blackheads aren’t blackheads; sometimes they are sebaceous filaments.

Blackheads grow out of a pore clogged by dead skin, dirt, makeup, or too much oil and they look just like the word describes- it looks black on the top.  Sebaceous filaments, though, can be a little darker and appear like blackheads but they are actaully signs that our skin is moisturized and protected against harmful bacteria.  Again, the sebum is produced by our bodies to naturally moisturize the skin.  An example of an area that tends to have a buildup of sebaceous filaments is on or around the nose.  If you are someone that really takes care of your skin and has a healthy lifestyle, the chances are high you don’t have any or many blackheads.  The pores around your nose, however, tend to be larger and produce more oil [due to the glands being more active in this area]; therefore, you can get a buildup of sebaceous filaments that appear very light or greyish (NOT BLACK!) and you can be convinced you getting hit with a farm of blackheads…. for no seemingly reason????  These are actually healthy and, to be honest, there is not much you can do.  If you squeeze them, you may be clear for a few hours or maybe a day, but they come right back. 

So…. What do we do then?  Not to worry- it isn’t hopeless.  But you need to take measures to reduce pore size.  It won’t prevent you from getting them, but it will make them appear smaller and less noticeable.

Cleansing and exfoliating regularly is a start.  You should wash your face every morning and then twice at night (once to get the makeup off and then again to really cleanse).  Exfoliate two to three times a week (depending on your skin type and your age) in the morning.  Also, masks and at home peels once or twice a week (such as Glam Glow’s Super Mud Mask and Arcona’s Raspberry Resurfacing Peel) can really help remove excess dirt or oil and promote cell turnover.  You should use some time of serum at night that promotes cell turnover as well and lifts dead skin in preparation for exfoliating- it will make the exfoliation much more effective for better results.  The Arcona Solution Pads are a great option for this. 

Daily/ Weekly regimen is important but dermatological peels and microdermabrasion are the more extreme yet very effective approach.  According to the Skin Laboratory, as your clogged pores and dead skin are pulled away, healthier skin is encouraged to grow back in its place. While recovery is more intensive for peels than Microdermabrasion [often you are peeling for several days sometimes more than a week] the results can be even greater. You can generally expect younger, softer skin from a chemical peel with noticeably smaller pores.

Lastly, don’t pop or pick at your face—this will only give you scars and make your face dirtier. You should periodically get a facial and check in with your esthetician about your skin.  Experts encourage getting blackheads, if you in fact have them, removed by a professional such as an esthetician or dermatologist for safe extraction.  

Written by Allyson Welch

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