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Are they blackheads or something else?

Are they blackheads or something else? Understanding sebaceous filaments with Batty's Bath


Hey Radiant Rebels!

Let’s have a little chat about something that’s been coming up a lot lately- blackheads! There’s a BIG misunderstanding around blackheads in the beauty community, so we thought it was time that we share some Batty’s insight on this topic to help you identify what’s actually happening.

So here it goes…

Blackheads- everyone’s got the, right? Well, not exactly!

There’s a common (and very popular) misconception that ‘stuff’ in our pores means we’re fighting blackheads. The truth is, blackheads are much less common than you think. Sure, everyone has the potential to get blackheads, but there’s a strong (much more likely) chance that what you’re seeing are called sebaceous filaments.

Wondering what’s the difference? Here’s a brief description of the two.

Blackheads: A combination of oil, dead skin cells and debris that have hardened into a dark coloured ‘plug’. They’re the ones that, when extracted, almost ‘ooze’ out in a worm-like plug.

Sebaceous Filaments: They’re pin-like dots that commonly show up on your nose and T-zone. These are the stars of ads promoting pore/nose strips and they are definitely not blackheads! They’re also much smaller than a blackhead and when extracted, produce a pale-yellow substance.

sebaceous filaments versus blackheads

Still not entirely sure which you’re dealing with? Well, everyone has sebaceous filaments, so there’s that. Blackheads or not, sebaceous filaments will always be present. That being said, here’s another trick you can try. When you run your finger over the area do you feel hard bumps below the skin (blackheads) or does it still feel soft and smooth (sebaceous filaments)?

Now that you’ve identified that you’re dealing with sebaceous filaments…

Here’s how you can address them. While we know that we can’t ‘shrink’ our pores (once the walls of a pore have been stretched, they cannot be unstretched), what we can do is minimize their appearance by keeping them clean and relaxed. Addressing sebaceous filament can also minimize your chances of them turning into blackheads in the long run.

  1. Forget about extraction: Self-extraction is one of the biggest causes of pore stretching and irreversible damage to the pore walls. While we know it’s tempting, avoid extracting sebaceous filaments. They’re an unfortunate (but natural) process of the skin and if dealt with using the right skincare, there’s no need to be forcing their disappearance.
  2. Exfoliation: The best way to address sebaceous filament is making sure you’re exfoliating properly. What this means for your skin will be different from one person to the next. If your skin agrees with fruit enzymes, they’re a great way to get some exfoliation both at a surface level AND deep within the pores. Fruit enzymes break down dirt, debris and other ‘gunk’ in the pores for an easy release. If fruit enzymes are a no-go for your skin, make sure that the surface level of the skin is still being addressed. Using a gentle, yet effective, exfoliator to remove dead skin cells from the top layers allows the pores to release the build-up without anything getting in the way.
  3. Hormonal balancing: Is your oil production in overdrive because of an internal imbalance of hormones? When our hormones are working overtime, we produce more oil as a method of expelling the excess hormones from the body. Immediate actions you can try are removing things like dairy and processed sugars, as these have both been identified as hormonal triggers. For a list of further steps, you can take to address your hormones, check out THIS blog.
  4. Stop avoiding oils: Sounds counterproductive, we know BUT hear us out. Often times, our body produces oils as an attempt to make up for something that’s missing. Depending on your skin, this could be hydration (water) or moisture (oils). Please note, when we say oil, we’re referring to healthy oils. The excess oil that comes from our skin (sebum) contains debris, dead skin and excess hormones that can lead to other issues. What your skin is looking for is are those healthy, productive oils that can be provided through moisturizers like jojoba, sunflower, Argan, etc. These types of oils contain properties that can calm, soothe, heal and protect our skin and because they’re natural, our skin recognizes them genetically and puts them to work. Still not sold? HERE is a blog we wrote a while back to better explains the relationship between oils and our skin.
  5. Hydration station: On the opposite end of the spectrum, your skin can also produce excess oil when there’s a lack of water present. Unfortunately, one cannot replace the other effectively and our pores require the water as a lubrication to help push out build-up. Adding a hydrator (a dedicated product just for this purpose) can help to reassure your skin that you’ve got this part taken care of so it can slow down on the oil production.

flower trio

Hopefully, this helps clear the air on this topic and allows you to identify if you’re actually dealing with blackheads or sebaceous filaments. This is the perfect example of why we encourage our Radiant Rebels to do their own research when confronted with ads and trendy products. Things may not always be as they seem, but the truth is also out there!

With love and radiance,

Karla Signature // Batty's Bath


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