Are you at Loggerheads with your Blackheads?

So much has been written about blackheads, why they occur, and how to treat them at home. In this article, we will speak not only about the cosmetic methods of treating blackheads, but also certain diet and lifestyle changes that will prevent their recurrence.

Blackheads are those small black irritating spots that appear most commonly on the nose and chin areas. They are also sometimes found on the back, arms and behind the ear. If left untreated, they can become the cause of acne or pimples. The primary cause of blackheads is the clogging of the pores with sebum or oil that is secreted by the skin. This sebum hardens and the portion that is exposed to the surface of the skin oxidizes to form a blackhead.

In the first part of this article, let us take a look how to remove blackheads using home remedies. After all, it is very important to remove blackheads without damaging the skin. Three of the most popular topical home treatments that can help cure as well as prevent blackheads have been described below:

1) Steam
Steam inhalation with the help of a steamer or using the traditional method, i.e. bending over a utensil full of boiling water with a towel covering your head, face, and the utensil to trap the steam. It not only cures colds and coughs, but it is also an effective remedy to remove blackheads from the face, especially for blackheads on the nose. After exposure to steam for around 7-10 minutes, these blackheads rise to the surface of the skin. You can remove them easily either with a blackhead remover, or by gently rubbing your skin with a slightly rough towel.

Post steam inhalation, care must be taken to close your pores as they have been opened. It is important to dry your face completely and use a skin toner, such as rose water or any other face mist that contains soothing ingredients, such as witch hazel, aloe vera, etc., to close the skin pores. Open pores can attract more dirt and pollution and reverse the effects of this process.

2) Exfoliation with a face scrub
An exfoliator, or face scrub, contains granules, such as walnut powder, almond powder, bamboo powder, etc., which gently buff the skin pores to wash away the buildup of dirt and oil. It is one of the most popular products for removing blackheads. It is important to exfoliate your skin with the right face scrub at least twice a week to keep blackheads at bay. In case you have them already, exfoliate post steam inhalation (as described above) and that will take care of them.

However, it is important to choose the correct face scrub and ensure that you don't get carried away and put too much pressure on your face while using it. Exfoliation with too much pressure can damage your skin surface and create unnecessary friction. Instead, choose a face scrub/exfoliator with microparticles, such as bamboo powder. This way, you aren't at the risk of over-exfoliation and your job will be done without any damage whatsoever.

3) Rose water
Rose water can be used more as a prevention than a cure for blackheads. Very often, an important cause of blackheads is large, especially around the nose and on the back. If you observe the skin around these areas carefully, you will notice that the pores are prominent. To prevent pore clogging that ultimately results in blackheads, it is important to take adequate measures to shrink the size of these pores. This can be done with the regular application of rose water with a cotton ball on the face and any other areas of the body where you develop blackheads. With time, this treatment helps shrink the size of the pores and reduces oiliness drastically. You can use any premium brand of rose water that is available across the counter at most pharmacies.

These are the three most popular and effective treatments for blackheads. Now, let us take a look at some of the lifestyle changes that you should adopt to prevent as well as cure blackheads and acne resulting from them:

1) Pay attention to your diet
As we all know, blackheads, which can quickly turn into acne, are caused due to excessive oiliness. Over-consumption of dairy products, such as milk, cheese, butter, etc. as well as foods containing high-GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates, such as bread, cakes, cookies,& other junk food, fried foods, and sugar-rich foods increases the production of oil in the skin. This excess oil finds its way to the surface of the skin and clogs pores, thus resulting in blackheads.

A diet rich in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids helps greatly in controlling the outbreak of blackheads, acne and pimples. For this purpose, your diet needs to be rich in foods such as fresh fruits and salads, which provide all the essential vitamins to the body. Popular sources of omega 3 include fish, eggs, flax seeds, soyabean & other soya products such as soya milk, tofu, etc., and nuts, such as almonds, cashews, groundnuts, walnuts etc. Needless to say, it is very important to drink at least two litres of water daily (more the better) to flush out all the toxins in the body and ensure regular and healthy bowel movement.

2) Get adequate sleep
Sleep plays a very important role in the normal functioning of our bodies. The definition of "adequate sleep" varies from person to person. A simple test can be to see how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Do you feel like you need to sleep more, or do you wake up on your own feeling fresh and energetic? The amount of sleep required by different people varies between 6 to 8 hours. You need to assess how much sleep your body needs by fixing a sleeping time and a time to wake up. Getting adequate sleep regularly ensures that all the systems in your body, which include your skin, get enough rest and recuperation. This will ensure their normal functioning. After all, healthy skin is an indication of a healthy body!

3) Always remove makeup before bedtime
Before you go to bed, it is very very important to remove your makeup with makeup remover, followed up by a refreshing facewash to ensure that all traces of makeup are removed carefully. The face wash should be chosen depending upon your skin type. A gentle face wash that contains neem, peppermint, aloe vera, and other soothing ingredients is ideal for the removal of not only makeup, but also oil buildup. Makeup removal should be followed up with the application of a light moisturizer or aloe vera gel before going to bed. This will help restore the natural balance of the skin, thus preventing breakouts.

4) Limit usage of cosmetics and choose cosmetic products wisely
For skin that is prone to blackheads and acne, it is important to limit the usage of cosmetics. Avoid layering your face up with a moisturizer, primer, foundation, highlighter, etc. etc., except for maybe special ocassions. For regular use, stick to lightweight formulations, preferably those that contain natural ingredients. This is very important because your skin needs a break from parabens, sls, phlatelets, and other harmful ingredients found in most makeup products.

Also, choose your face moisturizer wisely. Thick creams and oily formulations are a no-no! The ideal product is that which contains ingredients such as aloe vera, glycerin, orange essential oil, lemon oil, jojoba oil, even organic ghee. You can safely use organic ghee because it has various therapeutic properties and won't clog your pores. Also, remember to apply only an adequate quantity of any product on your skin and avoid slathering your skin with moisturizer and other products no matter how dry it may be!

5) Exercise regularly
The benefits of exercise cannot be stressed enough! Apart from weight management, muscle building, flexible joints, etc., exercise can also ensure better blood circulation and ensures that toxins get flushed out of your body in the form of sweat. This is known to reduce the buildup of sebum in pores. However, it is important to bathe or wash up thoroughly after exercise to ensure that toxins in the form of sweat are washed off completely and don't stay on your skin surface for too long.

As we can see, our battle against blackheads is internal as well as external. It involves using some easy home remedies as opposed to expensive parlour treatments, as well as some basic changes in our lifestyle and habit. A little can go a very long way! Do let us know how useful you found this article and which of the changes above helped you. Also, follow our Instagram handle here and Facebook page here. Stay beautiful!