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Everyone's guilty of squeezing their blackheads. There's just something so satisfying about watching that gunk pop out like that. But what if we told you those blackheads you think you're squeezing aren't even blackheads. They could very well be sebaceous filaments.
Sebaceous filaments look a lot like blackheads. But unlike those little black dots we yank off with pore strips, sebaceous filaments are not clogged pores. They are, in fact, normal pores that have filled up to the surface with sebaceous filament.
Here's what you should know about sebaceous filaments -- and why you need to stop squeezing them NOW.
As skincare expert Dr. Dennis Gross explains it, "Sebaceous filaments line the inside of your pores and help move sebum or oil from your sebaceous glands to the surface of your skin." He adds, "They are a key part of how your skin naturally self-hydrates."
Similar to blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, sebaceous filaments are most commonly found in the oily areas of the face, such as the t-zone. They appear as tiny black specks on the surface of your pores, which is why people often mistake them for blackheads.
Every person has them. However, they tend to be more noticeable in those with enlarged pores.
In addition to causing scarring and tissue damage, squeezing sebaceous filaments is practically pointless. Within 30 days of you extracting them, they'll simply fill up again.
We understand why people do it. They mistake sebaceous filaments for blackheads, and, in a bid to remove them, begin squeezing them.
As a rule of thumb, you really shouldn't be squeezing, picking, or prodding any blemish on your skin. But if you're squeezing your filaments thinking they're blackheads, you could be setting your skin up for a slew of issues.
Sebaceous filaments are there to transport sebum from your sebaceous glands to the surface of the skin. They are not a type of acne. Blackheads, on the other hand, are a form of acne which are caused by a buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and gunk clogging pores. They appear as raised, black bumps.
"Blackheads are darker and tend to have a texture to them. Sebaceous filaments are a normal skin finding; they feel smooth, do not block pores, and everyone has them," explains Dr. Brendan Camp, a double board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in Manhattan.
If you're looking to achieve smooth, clear skin, a solid skincare routine and a few good skincare products is the best place to start. Unfortunately, you can't cure sebaceous filaments. You can only control them. Here's how.
You can reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments with a few active ingredients such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid and glycolic acid) and retinol. Hydroxy acids work to exfoliate away dead skin cells and excess oil, decongesting the pores. Retinol increases cellular turnover, keeping the pores clear.
When using a daily cleanser, serum, or moisturizer, try to use products formulated with at least one of these ingredients. In addition to minimizing sebaceous filaments, they can also help get rid of blackheads, breakouts, and dark spots.
If you have oily skin or acne-prone skin, you're no doubt already familiar with clay masks. There's a reason clay is popular for oily, pustule-prone skin types!
"It helps draw out the impurities as well as absorb excess oils that are on the surface of the skin," says cosmetic chemist Peter Konish. "Additionally, it helps reduce excess shine."
You don't need acne treatments to tackle sebaceous filaments. All you need are a few skincare staples formulated with the right ingredients. To prevent sebaceous filaments from becoming visible in the first place, give yourself a weekly facial. After cleansing your face with a clarifying face wash, apply a thin, even layer of serum or oil infused with retinol, salicylic, or glycolic. Aim to do this once or twice a week.
As is the case with many facials, it's not unusual to experience redness afterward. Follow up with gentle cleansers and lotions, and limit your acids following the treatment. Always remember to finish with a generous layer of sunscreen SPF 30.
Here are our fave products for reducing the appearance of sebaceous filaments.
Often, the reason your filaments look so noticeable is because you have oversized pores. Shrink your pores and shrink your sebaceous filaments with the help of Truly's 5-step pore shrinking kit.
This kit is a tailor-made lineup of our best exfoliating, pore-minimizing, and oil-fighting skincare products to shrink those suckers for good. Retinol, glycolic, and salicylic all play their part in this pore shrinking routine. Plus, you won't have to worry about zits any more!
A two-in-one, overnight face mask powered with with AHAs, retinoid, and vitamin C to delete dullness and replace it with glowing skin that looks plumped and renewed.
While retinol plumps skin by spurring cell turnover rate, glycolic acid gently exfoliates the skin, buffing away dead skin and making for a smoother, younger texture.
Optimizing the sheen-sparing powers of over the counters salicylic and retinol, Oily Skin Kit's cleanser, serum, scrub, and acne patches are here to cut out greasiness while minimizing the appearance of sebaceous filaments, and banishing breakouts. It's just what you need for keeping oiliness, acne, and sebaceous filaments at bay.
It's very easy to confuse blackheads and sebaceous filaments. But if you want to treat them properly and fade their appearance, it's important to distinguish the difference. Then, you can begin with the treatment phase!
While you'll never fully get rid of sebaceous filaments since they're a part of your skin, there are multiple ways you can hide their appearance. All you need are a few savvy skincare products -- found right here on Truly's virtual shelves!