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Tricks of the Trade

How to prevent blackheads and open pores

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Hi Kelly. I’m Anne of Muntinlupa City. I’m just wondering if washing one’s face with lukewarm water really helps in closing pores. Another thing, my skin is prone to blackheads and whiteheads. How can I avoid it? Thanks. God Bless.

—MARY ANNE BARRIENTOS

We’ve read it countless times in magazines and even heard it as beauty advice from our friends. It seems there are more than a few ways to “open” and “close” our pores.

The usual way is to wash our faces with warm water or apply a cold towel on our skin. But as much as we feel it working when we do this, meaning our pores feel like its opening and closing, it is actually our blood vessels that constrict and dilate with the sudden change in temperature.

Sadly, our pores cannot change in size or shape no matter how many pore-minimizing or anti-aging creams we apply on our skin. However, our skin can actually tighten when we apply these creams. This means the diameter of each pore remains the same, but it’s the dermis underneath the skin that feels tighter and firmer. This is why we see results when we begin a skincare regimen. Our skin becomes taut and plump, making pores appear smaller.

Now, avoiding blackheads may be a little trickier especially when you have oily skin. Blackheads, or open comedones, affect most of us and usually form on the T-zone and cheek areas.

We all know that the best way to get rid of them is by going to your dermatologist for a cleaning or a peel. But if you want to avoid them, or at least reduce its occurrence, there are easy solutions you can take. Below are easy steps to slow down the formation of blackheads.

Switch to an anti-bacterial cleanser. Your regular facial wash may not be as thorough with cleaning your skin, which is usually the case with combination to oily skin types. Using an anti-bacterial cleanser, or a wash formulated with salicylic acid or tea tree oil, will keep blackheads at bay when used in the morning when you wake up, and in the evening before going to bed.

If your blackheads (or pimples) are really bad, using a disinfecting ointment such as benzoyl peroxide will help. But remember to use it sparingly, and buy it in the lowest concentration (it starts with 2.5 and goes all the way up to 10 percent) as it can make skin very dry and sometimes cause it to flake.

Exfoliate thrice weekly

Find yourself a facial scrub with fine, gentle granules and use it to wash your face regularly. This will help strip out the oil and dirt that clog your pores and cause blackheads to form. Or consider using a deep-cleansing mask once a week (or twice a week for very oily skin).

Try an at-home peel. Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or glycolic acid is a great way to remove dead skin, oil and other pore-clogging elements. This is usually recommended by dermatologists to improve the condition of acne-prone skin, and is used for peels and facials. It is best to consult with a dermatologist or skin specialist who can easily prescribe this to you if you need it.

Use pore strips. This is the next best way to remove blackheads, and the best part is you can buy it at your nearest grocery or beauty store. It works as easy as it looks. Wet the strip, leave it to dry and strip it off. You’ll be amazed at how many blackheads were living in your pores and how clean you’ll feel after. This is not recommended for sensitive or very dry skin though, as the adhesive may be too harsh for your skin.

Change your pillowcase every week. Not all of us realize that the things we use everyday can cause blackheads or pimples to form. Take for instance our pillowcase: It seems harmless enough and may look clean, but when we press our faces on it night after night, dirt and oil accumulate and cause blemishes. It’s the same case for our cell phones.

We constantly touch it and leave it lying around and when we answer a call, dirt and bacteria goes straight to our faces. It pays to be clean; by disinfecting our phones, washing our hands often and keeping the things around us hygienic, we can help prevent blackheads.

E-mail the author at ask.kellymisa@gmail.com.


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