What’s the Difference Between Blackheads and Whiteheads?

August 04, 2022
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By: Makeup.com | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
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Did you know that there are a number of different types of pimples? It can be difficult to classify exactly what kind of blemish you’re dealing with, but two of the most common forms are blackheads and whiteheads. You’re probably already familiar with them — one looks like a small, dark spot while the other tends to look more like a raised bump

Both blackheads and whiteheads are clogged pores, but the opening of the pore is different in each. In a blackhead, the part of the pore at the surface of the skin is stretched and open. The black color you see consists of dead skin cells, bacteria and oil that’s oxidized and stuck down in the pore. Because the top of the pore is open, the scientific term for a blackhead is an open comedone. 

A whitehead is also a clogged pore, but unlike a blackhead, the top of the pore is not stretched open. The surface of the pore is closed, so dermatologists call this a closed comedone.

How to Treat Blackheads and Whiteheads

If you have clogged pores of any kind — blackheads or whiteheads — we recommend using a cleanser that contains exfoliating and acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid. Start out with a gentle cleanser like the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Face Wash, that removes dirt, oil and makeup while also gently exfoliating to prevent pores from clogging in the first place. 

To prevent excess oil that can clog pores, it’s important not to dehydrate your skin by over-cleansing (cleanse twice daily and if your skin feels tight or itchy afterwards, look for a more gentle option) or skipping out on moisturizer. 

After washing your face, consider use a toner, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 5% Pure Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner, to remove leftover traces of oil. This particular formula is made with glycolic acid togently exfoliate and even out skin tone. You’ll want to follow any toner with a non-comedogenic cream like the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

Of course, blackheads, whiteheads and blemishes in general can be difficult and confusing to treat, so consider reaching out to your dermatologist for advice on how to treat your skin. Your dermatologist can also advise if prescription options are right for you if breakouts persist. 

Prescribed solutions like vitamin A-based creams can prevent pores from becoming clogged, as well as prevent the formation of larger acne lesions. 

And whatever you do, don’t squeeze either of them! Squeezing may seem satisfying in the moment, but can do damage to your skin in the long term.

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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