You’ve likely noticed those tiny black, tan, or gray dots that often appear on the nose or chin. They’re a recurring problem for many individuals, and no matter how much prodding and extracting goes on behind closed bathroom doors, the small dots persist. Luckily, these imperfections are small and often visible to just you, or perhaps the rare individual who might be studying your skin from a distance of two inches. Albeit a small imperfection, on the quest to achieve your best skin ever you can certainly take steps to minimize the appearance of the pesky problem.
Are They Blackheads or Sebaceous Filaments?
First, what are these annoying imperfections? Our skin contains hundreds of thousands of pores and when they become filled with sebum (our natural skin oils), dead skin cells, and/or other artifacts like cosmetics, you’ll notice that pin-sized dots appear in a color often darker than your skin.
When the pore becomes clogged but is not exposed to air, it’s called a sebaceous filament. Once the clogged pore is exposed to air and the inside particles oxidize, then it is officially called a blackhead. At this point, the clogged pore takes on a darker, blacker color. If you care to know the nature of your particular clogged pores, Paula’s Choice explains the difference: “blackheadshave a plug-like appearance when extracted, whereas sebaceous filaments more closely resemble a free-flowing column of wax-like sebum (sort of like a strand) as they are squeezed out.” Not a pretty picture.
Unlike many forms of acne, neither blackheads or sebaceous filaments are painful. If anything, they’re simply unsightly and prevent the appearance of smooth, evenly toned skin.