When we are constantly flooded with social media images portraying poreless filter edited skin, it’s hard not to take a closer look at our own and compare. Look in the mirror and you may notice what appears like clogged pores that you assume are blackheads, but they aren’t always! What you may be seeing are completely healthy and naturally occurring sebaceous filaments. What’s the difference you ask?
Sebaceous filaments are made of sebum, which is a collection of triglycerides, wax esters, and squalene around a hair follicle. You commonly see these dwell in the t-zone areas due to a higher concentration of oil glands in this area, and also decrease with age as the skin gets drier. They usually are yellowish-white in color and extract in a skinny tubular shape. This is normal build up and the oil actually helps to maintain the skins natural moisture level and keep it supple and in a healthy state.
Blackheads, on the other hand, are a type of open comedo that may contain dead skin cells, dirt, cosmetic build up, sebum, and other impurities. These appear slightly elevated, tend to tightly fill and widen the oil gland duct, and look like a black pore. The contents slowly turn dark upon exposure to air and oxidizes the matter.
To keep your pores clear I suggest preventative skincare like a weekly clay based mask to address the concern of excess oil production. If you are already dealing with blackheads, choosing a product containing oil-soluble salicylic acid will do your skin a favor.
Most importantly…breath, step away from the mirror, and remember to leave extractions to a professional so you don’t cause excessive trauma to the skin that could lead to scarring.