Disclaimer: I’d like to again reiterate that I am in no way qualified as a dermatologist. These are my own experiences and research. Be sure to do your own research before doing anything to your skin.
I think this post is really important because sometimes there is false information floating around the web that could actually damage your skin rather than help it.
Sebaceous Filaments (not blackheads)
What are they?
Do you know those little black dots all over your nose that you thought were blackheads and tried to scrub them off as hard as you could with harsh exfoliants? (or was that just me?). Well the good news is they aren’t blackheads, they’re sebaceous filaments and they’re completely normal. Everybody has them! Basically, they’re just a collection of sebum and dead skin cells. They’re not only on your nose either, you can also get them in the surrounding areas.
Photo of sebaceous filaments
How do I get rid of them?
You can’t get rid of them but there are ways to minimise the appearance of them. Firstly, do not squeeze them or use pore strips! This can cause the pore to stretch and even create broken capillaries. I personally have a nasty little broken capillary on the side of my nose for this reason. Three things that will help are oil cleansing, a BHA exfoliant and an AHA exfoliant. This isn’t encouraging you to use all three, more so just to explain the ideas behind all of them for you to decide which is best.
Oil cleansing –
I think Skincare Addiction on Reddit does a really good explanation about it here. Skincare Addiction more so talks about oil cleansing as a whole, rather than in relation to sebaceous filaments. But ‘massaging’ the oil on your nose can help minimise the appearance of them (make sure to not massage for too long, perhaps read the link if you want to try it). My personal favourite oil is jojoba oil. However, you can see a list of oils and their comedogenic ratings here. I think Garden of Wisdom is a good website to read about the different types of oils for your skin type.
BHA Exfoliant –
BHA exfoliants are lipid-soluble and work by penetrating the oil in the pores. They can also help with breakouts. I like to think of them as the exfoliant that ‘unglues’ the skin. To read more about AHA and BHA exfoliants, check out Paula’s Choice. Some popular BHA exfoliants available to Australians are Paula’s Choice BHAs (she has various BHA products, check out the website to see which suits your skin type most), and Avene Cleanance K. Avene Cleanance K is a mix of both BHA and AHA.
AHA Exfoliant –
AHA exfoliants are more suited to evening out skin tone and working on sun damaged skin. But some people have also found they help to minimise the appearance of sebaceous filaments. To read more about AHA and BHA exfoliants, check out Paula’s Choice. Some popular AHA exfoliants available to Australians are Avene Cleanance K (again), Olay’s Resurfacing Elixir and Paula’s Choice AHAs.
NOTE: It’s important with chemical exfoliants that you wait 20-30 minutes before applying moisturiser to gain full benefit. It’s also important to keep in mind that products with active ingredients, such as chemical exfoliants, may make you ‘purge’ for a few weeks. This just means that it’s basically bringing all of the clogged pores to surface and creating small pimples. If this doesn’t stop after a few weeks then the product may be breaking you out and you should discontinue use. I have written a more detailed post about purging here.
Further information about sebaceous filaments can be found here