I think, the year 2016 was the year of Hell Pore. If you are a relatively new to the Korean beauty products, I am sure Elizabecca’s Hell Pore may probably be the first Korean product you have seen. Elizavecca’s promotional video in social media features the extracted blackheads on the black film, which as weirdly satisfying to be honest (or maybe it can be gross for some people,) and it quickly went viral. The blackhead extraction is a very controversial issue in beauty industry. Some experts say it is a necessary procedure for preventing enlarging pores and some experts point out the harms of the extraction, since it is considerably irritating for some people. My opinion is somewhat neutral. I think it depends what kind of skin type you have. If you have pre-existing blackheads, it’s better to do the extraction than going on to the preventive care. If you have sensitive skin, you should take the alternative path rather than extraction to prevent scar, redness and irritation.
What is blackhead?
So, the answer is very simple. It is triple-mixture of sebum, keratin (dead skin), and dirt. Generally, the sebum is easily built up around the hair follicle. Most of the time, the sebum glands exist around the hair follicle (pore) and it releases the sebum on the skin. If the sebum is released through the pores in the right amount at right time, it can lock up the moisture and protect your skin from bacteria, viruses, and other harmful impurities. However, our skin don’t work in order always. When the keratin layer is thick, or the sebum glands release excessive amount of oil, because of hormonal or other environmental factors, the sebum can be built up. If it is built up under the skin without contacting the external environment, it is less solidified, and it becomes whiteheads. If the “mixture” is exposed to the air, it is oxidized, solidified and mixed with dirt, then it becomes blackhead. Whiteheads accompany inflammation sometimes, then they become acne. Blackheads are not desirable but since it is exposed to the air and they exist as dense solid, it is less likely to accompany inflammation (but they are definitely harder to remove.)
So, advices for blackheads?
Open the way - Exfoliation
First key to prevent the black/white-heads is taking care of the dead skin cells. If the sebum from the glands is released on the skin appropriately,b/w-heads won’t be formed. The pieces of keratin layer are the important building block for b/w-heads and if the keratin layer is thick and excessive, the sebum cannot be released on the skin, which keeps the sebum dense underneath the skin. So, regular exfoliation is a good way to keep your skin health and clean. If you have sensitive skin, try cellulose-based peeling gel and if not, I recommend gommage type which contains particles that can mechanically remove the dead skin.
This is a cellulose based peeling gel that gently removes dead skin with simple circular rolling. Egg white extracts tightens up the pores after the exfoliation and albumin adsorbs impurities from the pores.
The black sugar particles mechanically remove dead skin cells and mineral rich black sugar extract revitalizes the skin. You can easily modify the consistency of this peeling mask by adding water.
Basic Solution - Sebum Care
If you have oily skin, sebum control & balancing is a good way to prevent b/w-heads. So, the classic solution is AHA/BHA as always. AHA gently exfoliates the keratin layer, so it unclogs the pores and BHA effectively removes the excessive sebum on the skin. AHA & BHA formulation on toners are standard but nowadays we have some serum or overnight cream with relatively higher concentration of AHA or BHA. There are products with pre-soaked type for convenience as well.
8% AHA/BHA complex gently, yet effectively removes dead skin and sebum. The large cotton-swab type is conveniently designed to wipe off the impurities from the skin. Due to the relatively high AHA concentration, you may feel the tingling sensation but it is totally normal.