There’s a lot of chat these days about sebaceous filaments, how they’re often confused with blackheads and multiple tips and tricks to treat them. Dermalogica’s Education Manager Victoria talks us through what to look for and how to treat your pores for healthy skin.
What are sebaceous filaments?
Sebaceous filaments are a natural component of your skin and most obvious on the naturally oiler T zone. Sebaceous filaments line the inside of your pores and help move sebum (oil) from your sebaceous (oil producing) glands to the surface of your skin. They can be more noticeable on oily skin and during puberty. Pores look ‘open’ and sometimes you can see tiny creamy/yellow filaments protruding from the pores. It’s important to note that this is a normal function of the skin. Pores aren’t blocked or clogged in the same way as when you have a blackhead. Sebaceous filaments do vary in colour and may appear as a grey, light brown or yellow ‘spot’.
Sebaceous filaments vs blackheads
Blackheads, whilst often confused with sebaceous filaments are typically larger and more raised. The pores are congested with oil, skin cells, dirt and bacteria forming a plug in the pore which is black on the surface. This plug prevents oil from inside the pore moving up onto the surface. A blackhead is classified as a mild form of acne and if left untreated may develop into an inflammatory papule or pustule.
Tips for clearer pores
Whether you’re concerned with sebaceous filaments, blackheads or enlarged pores, there are some everyday skin care tips you can follow to keep pores clear and minimise their appearance to keep skin looking healthy.
Oil cleansers – Dermalogica are big advocates of double cleansing skin daily, starting with a cleansing oil. Oil attracts oil so work in a plant-based cleansing oil to your congested areas and if you’re concerned with the look of sebaceous filaments, it can be helpful to massage the oil into the pores for a few minutes to helps break down sebum. Always follow with a second cleanse and try a face wash with a little hydroxy acid to refine to refine the pores further. Top pick PreCleanse.
Acid based washes and exfoliants – Regular exfoliation is key to clearer skin and Salicylic Acid is the ingredient of choice when it comes to unclogging pores due to its affinity with oil and its ability to exfoliate inside the pores. Either use a daily wash with a little hydroxy acid or a skin peel a few times a week to refine skin’s texture and pore appearance. Top Pick Liquid Peelfoliant.
Clay based masques – Using masques with natural clays such as Kaolin can help draw out excess oil. Sulphur is another ingredient found in masques that can help reduce sebum production and draw out impurities. Top Pick Sebum Clearing Masque.
Pore refining formulas – Look for specialist formulas designed to reduce pore appearance with Niacinamide. Along with reducing pore size, Niacinamide offers multiple skin benefits such as brightening and improved barrier function. Top pick Porescreen SPF40.
Things to avoid
Don’t try and squeeze or extract sebaceous filaments. You’ve likely seen videos of this and whilst satisfying to see the filament come out, it usually leaves an obvious hole and will only re-fill. Rather follow the tips above to keep the pores as clear and refined as possible.
Pore strips are often shown to remove blackheads and sebaceous filaments; however, these are usually quite aggressive and can irritate the skin. Again, pores will re-fill, so results are only temporary. Leave ‘extractions’ to the professional who will ensure skin trauma is kept to an absolute minimum and strict hygiene practices are followed.
Don’t strip the skin. Oily and congested skin does need deep cleaning and pore clearing however, be careful not to strip skin of its essential moisture as dehydration will cause more oil production creating a vicious cycle. Include water-based hydration in your regimen with lightweight oil-free moisturisers and a Hyaluronic Acid serum. Top pick Active moist.
Whilst daily skin care is key to keeping skin healthy, receiving a professional skin treatment can take results to a greater level. Treatments to clear pore congestion and refine their appearance include professional extractions with skin softening formulas and tech such as ultrasound. Chemical Peels and Microneedling offer advanced results for clearer, smoother skin. Your Dermalogica Skin Therapist will advise you on the best course of action for your unique skin and will prescribe you a program that incorporates professional services and key formulas to maintain results at home. Find your skin expert here.