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Your Blackheads Might Not Actually Be Blackheads

What if I told you that some of the blackheads on your nose might not be blackheads at all? They might actually be sebaceous filaments (SFs). 

Keep reading to learn about SFs and the 6 DOs and DON'Ts for managing them. 

Congested skin. Clogged pores. Acne. Blackheads. These are some of the things that you may face (pun totally intended 😌) if your skin is on the oily side. 

Actually, let’s backtrack a little and talk about that last symptom: Blackheads.

In case you’re unaware, blackheads happen when the pores become clogged with sebum, dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria. When this build-up is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black. In dermatology, these are referred to as “open comedones”.


What if I told you… 

...that some of the blackheads on your nose… 

...might not actually be blackheads at all? 

And that they might actually be something that's referred to as “sebaceous filaments” (SF).

I know. I know. “Graydon, what the hell do you mean? What’s seba-whatever-that-is-laments?” 👁👄👁 

Just hear me out. As you know, our skin has pores. These tiny openings are located all over our body, except for the palm of our hands and the soles of our feet. Now, underneath our pores are sebaceous glands where sebum is made. In order for the sebaceous glands to pump sebum to our pores, they need a path for the sebum to be transferred.

Sebaceous filaments are the “tubes” that allow sebum to be transferred to the pores. And they look like tiny black or dark gray spots on the surface of your pores - similar to how blackheads look.

Therefore, some of the “blackheads'' on your nose might actually be sebaceous filaments.

And. they. are. totally. natural!!! 

The truth is, you cannot get rid of them, which is just fine in my humble opinion. They’re a normal part of who we are and it’s nothing you should stress over. 

A dark-skinned woman in a comfortable white robe cleansing her skin in front of a mirror using a bamboo charcoal sponge 

With that being said, there are certain things you can do to minimize the appearance of SFs if they're a concern of yours. Here are 6 DOs and DON’Ts for you to manage your SFs:

  1. DO double cleanse: SFs form when your sebaceous glands produce too much oil. Double cleansing is a great way to manage that excess sebum. We recommend double cleansing at night using Aloe Milk and Face Foam to deeply cleanse your pores without stripping your skin of its natural moisture. (Learn more here.)
  2. DON’T squeeze or pick them: Doing so can cause skin trauma and irritation. This in turn can lead to inflammation of the skin and damage to the skin barrier. Plus, doing so can also introduce bacteria to the area leading to unwanted pimples.
  3. DO use retinoids and niacinamide:  A retinoid can help to speed up skin cell turnover and improve the appearance of your skin in general. And niacinamide is amazing at regulating sebum production and acne. You can find a gentle, plant-based retinol alternative in our Fullmoon Serum and niacinamide, otherwise known as vitamin B3, in our Aloe Milk.
  4. DON’T use pore strips: I know it’s super satisfying to see all the little nasties on a pore strip after you’ve ripped it off of your skin. But this doesn't offer a permanent solution. The sebaceous filaments will come back. And worse, the action of ripping the strip from your skin could have a negative impact on your skin barrier if you’re not careful.
  5. DO exfoliate (responsibly): Physical exfoliators (like our Bamboo Charcoal Sponge) are great at clearing the pores, as they help to remove dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliators (like the BHA in our Face Foam) are great at removing excess oil and dissolving dead skin cells. They help by deeply cleaning your pores and encourage skin cell turnover.
  6. DON’T let facetuned, airbrushed photos shame you into thinking that you need to have perfect, poreless skin. It’s unrealistic. All of us have things that we perceive as flaws. These "flaws" are actually what make us beautiful and unique. I say embrace them and strive to be comfortable in your own skin. 🥰

Here’s my final note: Sometimes, using skincare products might not be enough to keep a particular skin concern in check. I always recommend seeing a dermatologist or an aesthetician. 


Skincare is SO confusing! I understand. Why? Because I’ve been there, done that. Click here, as I might just have the solution for you 😉


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