The Difference Between Blackheads and Whiteheads

By April 25, 2017

Everyone’s obsessed with getting rid of their blackheads, but what about those pesky whiteheads that just won’t go away? Let’s delve deep into what they are, how they happen, and the best ways to treat them.

What’s the difference between whiteheads and blackheads?

Blackheads are partially clogged pores, which are usually a result of trapped sebum (AKA oil). The pores turn black because the open pore is exposed to oxygen (contradictory, we know). Whiteheads are also clogged pores, but they are completely clogged and closed at the surface, which results in their signature “white” or skin-colored appearance.

Let’s break it down further: Acne happens because dirt, bacteria, makeup (or even just the over-production of oil) gets trapped in pores. This results in either blackheads or whiteheads, which could potentially become full blown pimples. So, what can you do to prevent whiteheads?

Double cleanse

If you haven’t heard us praise double cleansing enough, here we go again! Double cleansing is a great way to combat whiteheads because an oil cleanser (see the best oily cleansers for your skin type here) rids the surface of your skin from any sebum, bacteria, or dirt.

Your water-based cleanser can then go in and make sure any leftover makeup or residue is cleansed from the skin. The reason I highly praise this step is because I believe a clean face equals less opportunity for your pores to get clogged. Just cleansing your face on a regular basis will result in fewer breakouts.

Exfoliate

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! I cannot say it enough. Exfoliating is one of the best ways to combat whiteheads (you can find the best exfoliator for your skin type here). Another reason people get whiteheads is because dead skin cells get trapped in the pores, which causes inflammation. It’s important to exfoliate on a regular basis because this helps to slough off any dead skin cells and deep clean the pores.

You can go for physical or chemical exfoliation—both will help to keep your face looking clearer. But if you really want to clean out your pores, I suggest chemical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliators work beyond the surface to really clean and dissolve any impurities lurking beneath. BHAs and AHAs are great for this since they’re both acids that work to exfoliate the skin. You can either use these alone or together dependening on how sensitive your skin is and how often you use acids, but remember to ease into it since it is possible to over-exfoliate the skin.

How I exfoliate: I have sensitive skin, but I have been using acids for quite a while so I feel comfortable enough to use both the Cosrx Blackhead Power Liquid and  Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Liquid together. The reason I prefer this method is because BHAs are oil soluble so they can rid my pores of all the oil so that the AHAs can then go in and really deep clean. I’m super prone to whiteheads, and I find that this method has worked the best for keeping my skin clear.

Can you pop whiteheads?

The first thought we all have every time we see those pesky whiteheads is to quickly pop them and get rid of them. I have to admit, no matter how much literature I read telling me not to pop pimples, I am so guilty of doing this. Despite my guilty pleasures, it’s really best to avoid popping them because if it’s not done correctly, it can result in damage to the skin (like those dreaded acne scars). But if you really can’t help it, make sure to be clean as possible. Do not try to pop a pimple with dirty hands! That’s a no-no.

Final thoughts:

I’ve personally struggled with whiteheads, and they’re ridiculously hard to get rid of, but the best ways I’ve found to combat them is by double cleansing and exfoliating on a regular basis. My skin has changed so much because of this.

Also, keep in mind that the everyday things you might be doing could be the cause of unnecessary breakouts. I use a decent amount of products to tame my crazy curly hair, and it’s not good for my skin if I touch it after putting my hair products on my hands. Look at your everyday routine and see what you can change—it just might help clear up your skin (in combination with double cleansing and exfoliating regularly).

+ Have you struggled with whiteheads? What do you do to combat them? Let us know in the comments below!

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