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Sebaceous Filaments: They're Not What You Think

Have you been trying to remove all those ‘blackheads’ around the nose area? If your nose is covered in tiny dots, you probably have sebaceous filaments. While they may look like blackheads, sebaceous filaments are a normal and healthy feature of the skin that are actually there to help. Today we’re sharing the key differences between blackheads and sebaceous filaments, how to identify them and how to treat them.

What are sebaceous filaments?

Sebaceous filaments are naturally occurring, tube-like structures that form when oil is produced around the hair follicle. They are a normal part of the skin’s moisturizing process and help to move oil to the skin’s surface. Unlike blackheads, sebaceous filaments help to moisturize the skin rather than clog it.

The difference between blackheads vs sebaceous filaments

Blackheads are a type of congestion whereas sebaceous filaments are a part of your skin. For those with oily skin or enlarged pores, sebaceous filaments might be easier to see. Not sure how to tell the difference? Sebaceous filaments tend to make pores look “full”, gray, or yellow in color. Blackheads tend to be slightly raised, black in color and appear solid or as a congealed plug and are usually much larger and wider than sebaceous filaments.

Treating blackheads:

  • Antioxidants: Vitamin C will help prevent blackheads by reducing sebum oxidation which causes the dark color of a blackhead.

  • AHA’s & BHA’s: Help to clear any congestion that lies within the pores and dissolve sebum and dead skin.

  • Manual extraction: Best left to the professionals (that's you!) to avoid long-term damaging or scarring the skin. Discuss with your clients.

Treating sebaceous filaments:

Because these are a normal part of your pore structure, these aren’t something you can get rid of - but you can do a few things to avoid inflammation and minimize their appearance.

  • Don’t extract. You’ll be tempted to get up close and personal to your mirror and extract them yourself. But you won't see any permanent results - they'll appear again in around 30 days. You also may cause long-term damage and scarring to the skin if you squeeze too hard or incorrectly.

  • Chemical exfoliation is a must. Similar to blackheads, the best possible way to reduce the appearance is to prevent your pores from clogging with the use of BHA’s and AHA’s. These ingredients help to cut through oil, remove dead skin cells and help minimize pore size.

  • Cleanse twice daily to help draw out oil-based impurities, like excess sebum, dirt, and makeup, to clear pores.

  • Use Vitamin A. This powerful retinoid helps to balance out oil production and minimize the appearance of pores.

As the expert, use this guide to advise your clients and help them choose the right products for their skin type and condition.


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