With over 7.8 billion people in the world, there are only a few things everyone has in common with each other. Unsurprisingly, experiencing blackheads is one of them. However, those of us living in tropical climates like in Singapore often experience blackheads more often. Despite that, it’s a problem that can be easily managed with the right skincare guidance and tips!

Credit: Healthline

What are Blackheads?

A mild form of acne, blackheads are small bumps that appear on your skin when a pore is congested (with dead skin cells and sebum) and exposed to air. This exposure to air gives regular whiteheads (aka closed comedones) their darker appearance synonymous with blackheads. 

What Causes Blackheads?

1. Sebum

One of the main components to blackheads, sebum produced by the skin can become congested within the pore, leading to their formation. This also explains why Asians or individuals reside in tropical climates experience more blackheads. The warm temperatures paired with higher humidity makes sebaceous glands more active, making it easier for blackheads to form.

2. Dead Skin Cells

Another essential component to blackheads, dead skin cells that lie on the surface of the skin can clog pores, preventing the oil produced by sebaceous glands from leaving the pore. Over time, this builds up the congestion that forms into a blackhead.

3. Hormones

Skin is more than what is on the surface. Our skin is also largely impacted by our body’s health and wellbeing. At various points (like during menstruation), our hormones fluctuate, resulting in an increase in sebum production.  

With a handful of root causes, it makes blackheads one of the more manageable forms of acne! 

blackhead extraction in Singapore

Combatting Blackheads with Treatments

Treatments are the best ways to get rid of blackheads quickly and safely. Not only are technologically advanced equipment used, but trained experts who understand the inner workings of skin thoroughly are better able to manage skin and remove blackheads efficiently. Here are our recommendations for Porcelain’s best blackhead treatments.

OxyRevive™ Facial

Oxygen not only powers your body and everything around you, but it can also help clear blackheads and leave you with brighter skin. A gentle yet intensive high-velocity OxyJet coupled with saline solution removes dead skin, sanitises pores and loosens congestion. To replenish the skin with vital nutrients and give it a natural glow, a Hyperbaric Oxygen Infusion therapy that pumps the skin is deployed. While it may take longer to achieve a blackhead-free complexion, OxyRevive™ Facial is the perfect alternative for milder cases of blackheads.

Quintessential Extraction Facial

Your blackheads are no match for good-old fashion extractions. Not only does our award-winning treatment deploy extractions, but it also focuses on rebalancing the skin’s pH for stronger resilience against impurities that threaten to inflame skin as it recovers from extractions. Utilising medi-technology and in-house formulated products, the Quintessential Facial thoroughly cleanses skin while replenishing it with vital nutrients to recoup and thrive. This, paired with the expert extraction techniques deployed by highly trained therapists, blackheads (along with other pesky acnes) do not stand a chance! 

OxyZap™ Facial

The perfect, painless alternative to the Quintessential Facial, the OxyZap™ Facial combines the benefits of OxyRevive™’s oxygen therapy with the power of IPL. OxyJet and Hyperbaric Oxygen Infusion therapy work to cleanse the skin, loosen congestion and reinfuse essential nutrients while IPL soothes inflamed/irritated sebaceous glands to reduce sebum production. The ultimate duo for reduced blackheads in the short and long term!

Combatting Blackheads with Homecare

Though treatments are effective in dealing with blackheads, homecare plays an equal role in ensuring the skin stays healthy with minimal blackheads between treatments.

Homecare Tips:

1. Exfoliate Regularly

With one of the causes of blackheads being dead skin cells, regular exfoliation is needed to help remove them and give you softer, brighter skin too! Exfoliation can come in many forms – from chemical exfoliation with AHAs and BHAs to physical exfoliation. To learn more about the difference in AHAs and BHAs plus what they can do for your skin, check out our cheat sheet to skincare acids.

Generally, for chemical exfoliation, BHAs like Salicylic Acid are a better alternative when dealing with blackheads as they are better able to penetrate the skin to break down sebum buildup and congestion within pores. Although this may entice you to pick up products that contain high percentages of Salicylic Acid, it’s good to note that it is most effective at a low concentration (between 2-4%) and is better suited for oilier skin types thanks to its drying effect. Alternatively, AHAs like Glycolic Acid are still effective at exfoliating despite being unable to penetrate as deeply as Salicylic Acid.

For physical exfoliation, it is exfoliation that requires physical rubbing or scrubbing to remove dead skin cells. On that note, we do not recommend reaching out for scrubs or exfoliants that contain granules or microbeads as they can create micro-tears in the skin, leading to inflammation and sensitivity. Instead, look for gentler exfoliants that utilise natural enzymes – like our Natural Skin Refiner!

2. Balance skin pH

Blackheads are often synonymous with oilier skin types. While skin types are predominantly determined by genetics, they can be managed by balancing your skin’s pH. Your skin’s pH is determined by the balance between the oil and moisture content on your skin. Oily skin’s pH imbalance lies in an over-production of sebum to compensate for insufficient hydration. Sebum is your skin’s way of retaining moisture and hydration. When there is a lack of hydration, the skin produces more oils to prevent further loss of hydration. This additional sebum production also explains why those of us with oily skin tend to experience a greater frequency of blackheads. 

Thus, the key to rebalancing oily skin’s pH is to hydrate and regulate the skin’s sebum production. Hydrate the skin with ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate while regulating oil production with ingredients like Tea Tree Oil (both of which are the main ingredients in our Sebum Control Essence). 

Important note: when it comes to using products containing high percentages of Tea Tree Oil, use it in low concentrations and in small doses to prevent over-drying the skin.

3. Avoid DIY Home Treatments

Everyone loves a good DIY that can help save time and money. But not all DIYs are created equal. DIY Home Treatments such as using baking soda to remove blackheads can strip your skin of its natural moisture, alter its pH and disrupt the skin’s natural bacteria that is needed to protect itself from infections. 

Home extractions should also be avoided as they can cause inflammation that would worsen acne, cause trauma to the skin (bruises, tears etc) and result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and acne scars.

Think you need personal guidance in finding the right blackhead solution for you? Book yourself a 30-minute Virtual Skin Education Session with our highly trained Skin Educators as they guide you through your skin and make tailored recommendations based on its needs.

Plus, it’s now complimentary by Porcelain because of COVID-19!

Extractions – most people have a love-hate relationship with it. A painful yet innately satisfying process that’s sought after – especially in Singapore where humidity and heat add to an increased frequency of pore congestion. But before you start picking at your zits, here is what you need to know about extraction facials and why you should leave it to the professionals. 

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio

What are Extraction Facials and are they painful?

Extraction facials are the process of clearing congestion from pores using extraction tools or fingers. This process manipulates and applies pressure to the skin to express congestion. Thus, there is a high likelihood that there would be pain experienced as a result. However, the severity is dependent upon the expertise of your therapist and personal pain tolerance. While extraction facials may seem simple, multiple factors come into play. Acne type, skin sensitivity, skin type, skin condition and pore direction all factor into the difficulty of extractions. 

While most would gravitate towards a ‘painless’ extraction, it is good to note that a thorough extraction is rarely that.

Can I do my Extraction Facials by myself?

Should your skin, fingers or tools be improperly sanitised, it can result in inflammation. Although inflammation may seem like a small price to pay for seemingly cleaner pores, it is typically a sign that there is much worse to come and don’t say we didn’t warn you here about the dangers of extracting at home

An inflamed pore shows the presence of bacteria. These bacteria can further irritate the oil glands within the pore, causing it to produce more sebum. This further clogs the pore. If not dealt with correctly and immediately, it can cause the pore to enlarge on the surface and within the skin. At this stage, even removing the congestion thoroughly can leave behind acne scars and pigmentation spots (a result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).

Therefore, as gratifying as it is to express zits and blackheads, improper extracting knowledge, technique and sanitation will only cause more problems than it solves. 

Credit: Polina Tankilevitch

Are Extractions good for your skin?

Yes, when done correctly! Congestion left for too long can lead to enlarged pores, bumpy skin texture and in some severe cases of acne – a higher possibility of acne scars developing post-extractions. Thus, a thorough extraction done by a trained professional will aid in:

– Minimising pores
– Evening skin tone
– Improving overall skin texture
Stimulate cell renewal
– Reduce sebum production
– Minimising presence of acne causing bacteria

How often should you go for extractions?

No two skins are alike. Thus, the frequency of extractions depends on a variety of factors like genetics, skin type and severity of congestion. Genetics determines your skin type and its conditions. Should acne be a genetic condition, it would require a higher frequency of extractions to manage. In addition to genetics, skin types like oily skin produce higher quantities of sebum – which contributes to acne formation. 

While extraction facials satisfy the desire for congestion-free skin, it is vital to support the recovery process of your skin post-extraction. After all, the extraction process causes small wounds (aka extracted pores) to form. A sturdy recovery process is a balance of a holistic home care regime and treatments that replenishes, protects the skin and boosts the natural healing abilities of the skin.

Where should I go for extractions?

When searching for the right facial spa for extraction facials, there are several important factors to consider. 

Skills:

With many factors to consider before extracting, it is best to place your trust (and face) with a well-trained and skilled therapist who can adapt to suit the specific needs of your skin. 

Price:

Price is a huge factor in many of our decisions. Though it is tempting to seek inexpensive options, it is vital to remember that you get what you pay for. Moreover, more than one extraction facial is likely required for your skin to reach a healthy, self-sustaining state. Thus, make sure that you look for value-for-money options that you can sustain in the long run. 

Holistic Skin Care:

Extractions are only a small part of your journey to healthier skin. If post-extraction care is lacking, the recovery process of your skin would slow down drastically. It may even impact the results of the extraction facial.  Thus, the search for spas that place a focus on providing a holistic skincare routine that provides a balance of treatments and skincare products. 

Thankfully, Porcelain has got you covered!

Grounded in our skincare philosophies of customized facial treatment, healthy skin and sustainability and methodologies to treat, balance and protect the skin. Porcelain prides itself in providing a lifelong, holistic skincare journey with the help of technology, craftsmanship and the power of natural ingredients. 

To ensure a consistent experience and quality service, each therapist undergoes over 500 hours worth of training and stringent testing.  

Don’t just take it from us – check out what our clients have to say!

Ready to give Porcelain a try? Begin your skincare journey with a Skin Discovery Analysis and allow our trained professionals to uncover your skin’s deepest secrets.

Acne has never been a friend to any. It haunted many of us in our youth, and for some of us, it continues to follow us into our adulthood. This creates a lot of frustration that often results in several hours spent in front of a mirror, nit-picking at every pore and pimple present.  

While the frustration is valid and well-founded, we’re here to say that you need to leave extractions to the experts. As satisfying as it may be to do pore extractions on yourself and watch them disappear, you will be shocked to find that it does more damage than good.  

Credit: Orapin Joonkhajohn 

What are Pore Extractions? 

Pore extractions have been around for decades, initially starting as a treatment offered by dermatologists. It would involve the use of a sterile blade and comedone extractor – a long, pen-like tool. As the demand for this cleansing facial grew, many aestheticians picked up the skill of extraction in order to offer it as part of their luxury facial spa’s services. This, alongside the viral pimple popping videos like Dr Pimple Popper’s, contributed to the popularity of pore extraction treatments.

With this rise, many started to find ways to replicate this highly skilled treatment at home. From the use of pore strips and fingers, to purchasing their own comedone extractors.  

Despite the differences of each methods, they share one commonality – they do more unseen harm than visible good. 

Why you SHOULDN’T Extract At Home 

Though it is tempting to watch hard pellets or fluids emerge from your pores, the act of extracting can cause irreparable damage to the skin.  

Improper Tools & Technique 

Despite tools being readily available online, it does not make them the right or safe tool. After all, dentist drills are available online, but it doesn’t mean that you can safely do your own fillings. Similarly, metal comedone extractors – when used improperly – can dent the skin.

Furthermore, poor technique and unsanitary tools can push dirt and bacteria further into the skin. This causes infections and can even lead to more breakouts. In more extreme circumstances, poor extraction technique can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scarring. That’s not all – pressing the comedone extractor into your skin too aggressively can cause the skin to bruise and become inflamed.

Technique also plays an important part in efficiently conducting pore extractions. The pores on our skin have different depths and directions, some even come in clusters. Failing to identify them accordingly impacts the technique and ability to extract the contents of the pore.  

Lastly, many facial salons and spas have the help of equipment to make the job of pore extractions safe and effective. The effects of such equipment can never be replicated at home safely. For example, the Oxygen Jet used to loosen impurities clogging the pores produces 1kg of pressure. No hose or power wash at home can ever replicate the same effects with the same degree of safety and comfort.  

Bacterial Infections & Scarring 

When using comedone extractors or your fingers, they are often not sterilized. This almost guarantees bacterial infections of the extracted pores. To make matters worse, home-based extractions typically focus on popping pimples that are glowing red with a visible pus head. Such pimples (known as papules and pustules) are already red and large thanks to inflammation caused by p.acne bacteria.

P.acne bacteria feasts off sebum present in the pores. To create more “food” for themselves, they irritate the pore’s sebum gland to produce more oils. Over time, this causes the pore to be congested with pus. This pus exerts pressure onto the walls of the pore, causing it to lose its shape. At this stage, regardless of where and how well the extraction is done, a scar will be left behind

Thus, unsanitary tools and fingers introduce more bacterial infection, leading to the possibility of scarring and more constant breakouts. Additionally, using unsanitary tools to extract multiple pores can lead to cross-infection amongst the pores. This can cause uninflamed pores to evolve into the glowing red pimples you want to avoid in the first place.

We understand that popping pimples can be a cathartic process and it may seem to bring you one step closer to the flawless skin of your dreams. But as we’ve said before, pore extractions at home can bring about more unseen damage and side effects than their short-term visible benefits. Instead, we should visit a professional facial treatment in Singapore for consultation.

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Though the realm of skincare may seem scary, don’t be afraid. We’re here to guide you through with our tips, tricks and nuggets of knowledge. Join our mailing below and let us navigate this world together! 

You’ve just bought a new, 10-step skincare kit and have all the steps down pat. You’re pretty sure nothing stands in the way of radiant, glowing skin now — nothing, except for those stubborn bumps under your skin. That smattering of blackheads on your nose. Enlarged pores on your cheeks… maybe you have a long way to go before regaining clarity in complexion because of congestion — or clogged pores, if you will.

“My pores still clogged with the day’s wear.
I long for moisture and rejuvenation.”

SHELLS HEART
Smooth skin
Credit: Ayo Ogunseinde

TELLTALE SIGNS YOUR SKIN IS CONGESTED

One could have a seemingly smooth complexion but have hidden congestion issues. A quick test to see if you suffer from it — run a hand over your face. If your skin feels bumpy and uneven to the touch, chances are high that it’s congested. More obvious signs that most people are familiar with are blackheads (especially along the T-zone and cheeks) and whiteheads.

WHAT IS CONGESTION?

In layman terms, we like to call it “gunk” or “dirt”. In more formal terms, it’s a combination of impurities, sweat, dead skin cells, sebum and natural oils that become trapped within the pores, causing blackheads and / or whiteheads to form. While whiteheads tend to appear as firm, white bumps, blackheads are clogged pores that remain open and darken due to oxidation.

When pores are often congested and clogged with impurities, they tend to stretch—causing the appearance of enlarged pores.  A lot of times, simply clearing the skin of blackheads and congestion can help reduce the appearance of large and open pores.

CARING FOR CLEARING CONGESTED SKIN

The tips and tricks are many, so regaining smooth, glowing skin from within is very much possible.

DOUBLE CLEANSING

Double Cleansing with a makeup remover / pre-cleanser thoroughly removes environmental pollutants accumulated through the day, making the same job easier for your cleanser. More importantly, pre-cleansing softens your skin so that following products can be absorbed more effectively. Double cleansing is one of the simplest, fastest ways to ensure the skin is thoroughly cleansed of debris, dirt, makeup, and all other incriminating factors needed for congestion to happen.

“Take your time when cleansing – it’s not a step to be rushed.”

EMMA HOBSON
EDUCATION MANAGER FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DERMAL INSTITUTE
AND DERMALOGICA

EXFOLIATION

Exfoliation

Exfoliation helps keep your skin clear and more even as it gets rid of flaky skin cells and loosens keratin buildup. Look for exfoliants with fruit enzymes as they are gentler and do a better job of dissolving dead skin cells without irritating or damaging the skin. Even better if the exfoliator returns water to the skin with hydrating ingredients like aloe extracts. The goal here is to revive the skin’s surface while preventing over-drying or irritation. An effective exfoliant does its job without abrasion, helping to clear your pores while also nourishing the skin.

Avoid any exfoliants that contain micro-beads or granules as these are generally more aggravating to the skin.

TONING WITH AHAS

One of the most important parts of the daily skin care routine is toning. It balances the skin after cleansing, calms and lowers its pH level. Toning helps prep the skin for any serums that follow, and removes excess oil your cleanser may have missed. Another perk? It shrinks the size of your pores! Find toners with AHAs, as these break the bonds between weakened skin cells, making it much easier to exfoliate and encourage cellular production. New cells = smoother-looking, healthier skin!

Glycolic and lactic acids are two such sources of AHAs; it gently peels the top layer of the skin, helping dislodge buildup from clogged pores, and with regular use, improves the skin’s overall appearance and clarity. These remove excess sebum, impurities and dead skin cells to clarify the skin to make way for a brighter, clearer complexion.

Remember to always use sunscreen, especially after using products with AHAs to protect your skin from free radicals and UV damage!

GEL-BASED MOISTURISING

Once your skin is primed and prepped for moisture (after all that cleansing, exfoliation and toning), it’s important to use a moisturizer that isn’t too heavy or thick, but provides superior hydration down to the deeper layers of the skin.

It’s a misconception that one shouldn’t apply moisturizers if his / her skin is oily. In fact, it’s a pretty big booboo if you skip this step, especially if your skin is oily! Dehydrated skin often produces more oil because it perceives the skin to be too dry. But if you feed it with water to even out the pH balance, it stops bumping up the sebum production because your skin’s already well-fed.

However, it’s important to find the right moisturizer. These are those that are non-comedogenic, contain hydrating ingredients and occlusives to ensure that skin is hydrated and that hydration is locked within.

If your skin is really dehydrated, consider adding a power-packed serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate for a surge of hydration.

water
Credit: Vishal Banik

“Moisturising your face is also an effective solution to keeping your pores clean. Many people with acne fear that moisturiser will add excess oil to their skin, however if they use the right product this is not the case.”

DR. KATHERINE ARMOUR
DERMATOLOGIST

PROFESSIONAL EXTRACTIONS

Unclogging congested skin can be done faster with the help of professional extractions! As always, don’t pick at your skin or attempt extractions on your own because that introduces more dirt and bacteria to inflamed skin. You know what that means — more bumps, more blackheads, more zits… more congestion!

Extractions are rarely a pleasant experience but you can help make the process a little easier and less painful by prepping your skin for it * gasp. How? Here’s a word you’ve heard countless times in this post alone — hydration.

When your skin is hydrated, it helps soften the surface so it’s more pliable, making it easier to extract comedones and congestion. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, will harden around the blockages, locking them in place and thus making it harder or even impossible to remove. Before your extractions appointment, boost your skin’s hydration as much as possible with masks and serums! You can thank us later.