Welcome to Ask a Beauty Editor, our new column in which Sarah Jacoby, senior editor of health and beauty at SELF, looks for science-backed answers for all your skin care questions. You can ask Sarah a question at [email protected]
Is there any way to get rid of tiny tiny pimples without a facialist purging them for you? Also, if a facialist purges them, is it really useful and effective? Or is that so unnatural that your skin will simply get scared and eventually grow again?
"I can't stop obsessing over small things."
Hi, I can't stop! Trust me, I feel you in this case. Every time I look in the mirror, my eyes go to the ever-present patch of black dots on my chin. But as much as we love facials, getting extractions is not always the best movement when treating a condition like this. To understand why, let's go back and talk about how and why black dots (and white dots) are formed.
Both blackheads and whiteheads are types of clogged, non-inflamed pores called comedones. "A black dot is an open comedian," Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, tells SELF. "It is a large opening in a hair follicle that is clogged with oil, dead cells and bacteria. And when this is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black," he explains. The white dots (closed comedones) are covered by a layer of skin cells that prevent rusting, so they look a little white, pink, or flesh-colored.
When the comedones are removed, you will see that the dirt plug is removed in an extremely satisfactory manner. But as SELF recently explained, the pore remains dilated, which makes it easier to clog again and form another comedone. And don't try to make extractions on your own. "If not done correctly, they can cause permanent scarring," says Dr. Lipner.
So what is the best way to get rid of blackheads? Slowly. Using scrubs as part of your skincare routine is the easiest way to gradually remove blackheads, says Dr. Lipner. A salicylic acid scrub used no more than three times a week can help remove debris, oil and dead skin cells that clog pores, explains Dr. Lipner, (like this Neutrogena classic, $ 5, this one from Alba Botanica, $ 6, or my personal favorite from Peter Thomas Roth, $ 28).
But if physical scrubs such as scrubs are too aggressive for the skin, you can look for tonics, serums or other products with salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid and glycolic acid. These chemical scrubs will be a little softer than scrubs on sensitive skin.
But again "keep in mind that you will not get instant gratification," says Dr. Lipner. It may take up to a month to see your skin clear.
For the most stubborn blackheads, Dr. Lipner recommends trying adapalene (Differin), an over-the-counter retinoid. Because retinoids can be irritating, it is important to start using one slowly, start with a maximum of three nights a week, and be sure to use a moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying out too much or becoming flaky.
If you have more sensitive skin or still do not see the results you want, consult a dermatologist, advises Dr. Lipner. They will be able to diagnose your problem correctly and possibly prescribe a stronger retinoid that may have better results for you. And if deemed necessary, a dermatologist can also safely remove your blackheads.
In general, "the final message with black dots is that the treatment is slow," says Dr. Lipner. As much as you want to see those little spots disappear overnight, it just won't happen. But after a month of gentle and dedicated treatment, you should start seeing some results.
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. (tagsToTranslate) acne (t) dermatology (t) Skin care (t) ask a beauty editor