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Blackheads VS. Sebaceous Filaments - Do You Know the Difference?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

For a lot of us, blackheads were our first tell-tale signs of having skin issues. From facial scrubs to blackhead strips...we tried them all! If you’ve ever suffered from blackheads that just won’t go away, maybe you should take a closer look. You may not be dealing with blackheads at all, but instead, sebaceous filaments. While these two are similar, sebaceous filaments bring on a different approach to treatment.

At Pretty Please, our Skin Therapists specialize in not only amazing facials but also skin consultations that will make identifying sebaceous filaments and blackheads easier for you.

Our facial recommendation:

Kickstart the fight against blackheads & untamed sebaceous filaments with a pro-grade organic peel during your facial! ($40 add-on)

In this article, you’ll learn all about the differences between these two skin concerns, what causes them, and how to treat them both.

What Are Sebaceous Filaments?

Unlike blackheads, sebaceous filaments are not a clogged hair follicle that needs to be cleared away. It’s actually considered to be a completely normal function of the skin -- Sebaceous Filaments are particles released from your oil glands. As for blackheads they are oxidized keratin, and because they are open to the air, they oxidize and look black, while Sebaceous Filaments have a much lighter color.

While blackheads are a negative skin concern, a sign of sebaceous filaments means your skin is operating properly. Sebaceous Filaments are needed to carry sebum through the hair follicle to the surface of the skin. It helps with keeping skin moisturized and flexible, which is great for reducing wrinkles. When visible, they tend to resemble blackheads but are lighter, often appearing as tiny grey or beige dimples that lay completely flat to the surface of the skin.

How to Remove Sebaceous Filaments?

For many, sebaceous filaments may not be visible at all. However, for those with oily skin or larger pores, sebaceous filaments can be just as noticeable as blackheads - but much more difficult to extract. This is because unlike a blackhead, a sebaceous filament won’t go away by simply removing it, as it’s supposed to be there. Even if they are extracted, as a normal function of the skin, they will grow back to continue their work lubricating the skin. However, to answer the question we know you’re waiting to ask -- Yes, a professional can technically extract sebaceous filaments, but this will not solve the problem. To decrease the appearance of sebaceous filaments, the best line of attack is to focus on skincare that minimizes pores and controls the skin’s oil production. Not only is a professional facial a great starting point to remove sebaceous filaments, but our esthetician can also recommend pore shrinking products to help manage your skin appearance daily.

How to Treat Sebaceous at Home?

Double Cleanse

Double cleansing your skin nightly will not only remove every trace of makeup but if you have an oily skin type, double cleansing will work wonders for managing any excess oils.

Exfoliate with Fruit Acids

Our Founder, Jennifer Rasa would recommend exfoliating with gentle fruit acids and loves the at-home VitaSkin peels by Eminence. Chemical exfoliants containing naturally sourced AHAs and BHAs would be ideal to gently remove any dead skin and excess oils, leaving behind baby soft skin, and gently cleansed pores. These types of peels can be used up to three times per week due to providing gentle but deep exfoliation.

What Causes Blackheads?

Now that you have the run-down on sebaceous filaments, we’re sure you’re wondering what causes blackheads. Blackheads can be caused by these five main factors:

1. Environment- In an environment with pollution and/or poor circulation, your skin is exposed to a greater number of free radicals. For those with larger pores, dirt and dust settles into the skin and penetrates those open pores deeply.

2. Oil - The oil or sebum found inside of pores is sticky. Especially if you have an oily skin type, this will combine with pollutants, creating a sludge that gets stuck inside the pore.

3. Diet - Sometimes dietary changes, restrictions, or sensitivities can cause the skin to produce more or less oil. More oil will add to stickiness inside the pore, while less oil can lead to a dry, tight pore that lacks the flexibility to be cleaned out properly. It’s best to maintain a healthy diet of water, fruits, and veggies to help balance your skin.

4. Hormones - Hormonal changes can also contribute to excessive oil production -- leading to clogged pores, blackheads, and even acne. While breakouts sometimes clear once hormones settle, blackheads are less likely to fade.

5. Medication - Lastly, just like with diet, medication can drastically change your skin’s oil production. You may see the skin become greasy and clogged, or the area around the pore becomes tight and shiny - both of which aggravate blackheads.

How to Remove Blackheads?

Our first recommendation is to kickstart blackhead removal by treating your skin to a facial. From there, you can get a lot accomplished with at home regimen. Once again, it’s best to know exactly what your skin needs before starting any treatments. Unlike sebaceous filaments, blackheads need an esthetician for safe extraction and for removing them long term. Attempting to remove them yourself can cause scarring and enlarging your pores, which we know you don’t want! However, there are a few ways to control and treat blackheads if a professional touch is not in your budget at the moment.

Use A Charcoal Face Mask

Charcoal is an ideal ingredient to detox the skin as it acts like a magnet to draw out impurities. A charcoal mask is the best way to ensure you are giving your skin a deep clean inside the pore while also delivering moisture and keeping pore walls flexible. We love the Balance Masque Duo by Eminence.

AM/PM Moisturizers

Using an AM/PM moisturizer should already be a part of your skincare routine, but if it’s not, add this important tip to your list of “must-haves”. Use your daily moisturizers as a way to ensure you’re delivering blackhead-busting ingredients while still hydrating your skin and maintaining your natural glow. Jennifer Rasa would recommend using a hydrating moisturizer for your day creme and glycolic acid-based moisturizer at night to gently exfoliate the skin, while also providing hydration.

We know we covered a lot but, we hope this article was able to provide you with ways to maintain your glow, keep your skin healthy, and help to identify skin concerns that play a role in balancing your skin. If you have any more questions, message us on Instagram or touch base with us via email at .


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