Just so you know, I fully expect to cop it for this post! I expect all the manly men out there to blow up and say "pffft, you'll never catch me doing that shit! I'm a real man!"
But before you comment fellas, I want to ask you a quick favour. Head into the bathroom and look closely at yourself in the mirror. Really inspect your face close up... Notice anything?
How about those tiny little black dots that are right across your nose - what are they? Well my masculine friend, they are blackheads!
BLACKHEADS? WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY?
Blackheads are a specific type of acne lesion that can occur as a result of excess sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance that is produced at the base of hair follicles and has a protective role in keeping the skin soft and hydrated. If the production of sebum is excessive, as often occurs during puberty, it can form plugs in the pores of your skin.
If these plugs are exposed to the air, the melanin pigment found in the sebum oxidises causing it to turn black. If surrounding skin cells cause the plug to remain covered, the melanin does not oxidise and change colour, and instead forms a 'whitehead'.
WHAT CAUSES THEM?
While the means in which they form is well understood, the reasons for them forming are more variable. The most common trigger appears to be the onset of puberty where hormone surges cause more sebum to be produced. However lifestyle conditions such as heavy sweating, dirty work environments, dietary factors and certain diseases can most definitely be a contributing factor.
Contrary to popular thought, blackheads are not the immediate end result of poor hygiene or inadequate face washing. As a sufferer, it's likely that you'd really struggle to get it under control despite the washing regime you use.
SHOULD YOU SQUEEZE EM?
If you want to see how bad blackheads can get, go to YouTube and search "blackhead squeeze" and prepare to be totally grossed out.
Whilst there are a number of routes to treating blackheads medically which should involve your doctor, there are definite concerns around home treatment attempts. There is a real risk that while picking, squeezing and popping your blackheads may provide some gratification, you may actual cause your skin further damage by worsening the lesion, causing inflammation and potentially scarring.
The key point here - using your fingers, tweezers or needles to try and get them out is a bad idea!
WHAT ABOUT FACE MASKS?
Ever seen your lady or partner sitting there applying a face mask and thought to yourself, "proper weirdo?" Yep, me too. But it turns out that face masks may be a less disruptive, less damaging way to clean up your skin without causing the irritation of squeezing. If done correctly, a face mask will actually grab the top of the plug and help to remove it without pressure and picking.
What is difficult to assess is whether the mask removes ALL of the plug or just pulls off the top and that is probably dependant on how long the blackhead has lived in your mug for. In any case, masks are a temporary measure and must be done frequently along to keep the pores free of clogging.
THE "MAN MASK"
The truth is, our faces are exposed to so much on daily basis from sunshine to suncream, sweaty gym sessions to stressful work days. I don't want to go and punish my face further with a bunch of chemicals.
So check out this "three ingredients + water" man mask we tried the other night. Yes, of course we were on the beers at the time but when I saw what was removed from my face, I was startled and kinda grossed out. In fact, so much so I went onto eBay the next day and ordered two of the basic three ingredients for delivery. The other I got from a supermarket, all for very cheap.
- Gelatine crystals - 1 tablespoon;
- Charcoal powder - 1 teaspoon;
- Bentonite clay - 1 teaspoon;
- Hot water - 2 tablespoons.
I grabbed the powder and clay from eBay and the gelatine for a local grocer. Alternatively, you should be able to find them at a health food shop or whole food-type market.
- Stir all four ingredients for 3-5 minutes in a small bowl until it's thick and smooth in consistency.
- Using your hands, apply the black paste in thick patches - this allows the set mask to peel off more easily without breaking when it has hardened.
- Leave it for 20-30 minutes until the paste has completely dried. It will squeeze your skin and feel tight but you need to let it set to grab the pores.
- Peel gently and note the spindly little blackheads that are removed from your face, particularly around your nose.
- Take a shower or rinse your face with water afterward and just feel how soft and breathable your skin now is.
DO YOU STILL HATE ME?
If so, then yep, you're a real man! Hahah! Meanwhile for the fellas out there that try this and kind of like the feeling of freshness, I commend you. You've leapt beyond the bounds of what it means to be a fella and are now for the time being, black head free.