These tiny spots may not seem like much from a distance, but the devil’s in the details. My experience tells me it’s the bothersome blackheads that mar your mien the most – the sooty specks can make your complexion look decidedly “dirty”, especially in selfies.
So what are these suckers, anyway? Crammed with keratin (yup, the very same stuff found in your nails) and usually found dotting your nose and cheeks, these congested cysts are painless but persistent, and can linger for what seems like forever. (“Open” comedones appear black because the sebum oxidises and darkens in the presence of oxygen; conversely, whiteheads are “closed” and are lodged slightly deeper within the skin. Now you know!)
Now that we’ve got the working definition down pat, here’s how to purge these pesky pain in the faces the “right” way:
Make a stab at it. Because whiteheads aren’t “open” the way blackheads are, you’ll need to lance them to empty their contents. (Skip this step if you’re battling blackheads.) First, sterilise a sewing needle with rubbing alcohol, then use the pointy end to pierce the centre of each “seed”. Once there’s an opening, use the pads of your index fingers to press gently around the periphery.
Some popping pointers: Resist digging your nails into the flesh; and cease and desist if the head doesn’t “vomit” out its contents after a few seconds. When in doubt, leave it to the pros; most dermatologists and aestheticians offer milia seed and blackhead removal services.
Peel it off! A professional-grade chemical peel may be your best bet for banishing particularly persistent blackheads and whiteheads. Consult with your go-to skin doctor for a tailored treatment plan, or do it yourself with this terrific trio of at-home pore-tightening poultices.
Resolve it with retinol. Most beauty buffs should be be familiar with retinol, that near-miraculous multi-tasker of a skincare superhero. Here’s why it’s so good for wiping out whiteheads: Retinol ramps up the skin’s cellular turnover rate, allowing it to slough off excess keratin, the key culprit of milia seed formation. Not sure where to start?
As always, crucial caveat when it comes to heavy-duty off-the-counter meds: Always spot test on the nook of your elbow, and start slow; once every other night should suffice for maximum efficacy and minimal irritation. Good luck!