My nose looks like a dalmatian!
February 27, 2007 12:17 PM   Subscribe

For years, I’ve had terrible blackheads on my nose. Is there any way for me to get rid of them?

I’m a simple girl when it comes to beauty products, so please go slow when you start talking about masks and peels and acids and other mysterious things.

My skin care practices and products:
-No makeup
-Wash twice a day with St. Ives’ Facial Scrub and Clinique facial soap
-Apply Clinique Clarifying Lotion (astringent) to T-zone
-Moisturize non- T-zone areas with Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion

Biore Pore Perfect strips helped for a while, but they’re completely ineffective now and they never cleared my nose completely. I also tried getting a facial, but the aesthetician said that the blackheads on my nose were “too dry” (?) for her to do extraction on. Am I supposed to be moisturizing my nose? I thought that made acne worse. I’m pretty clueless here-- please help!
posted by chickletworks to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
You're using a scrub on your face twice a day? I thought they were supposedly for weekly use? It sounds like you may be stripping your skin of necessary oils, and need to dial back a bit on the scrub - but I'm no authority, and am interested to hear what other's say. I just know that stripping the skin of necessary oil will actually make the problem worse. It's all about removing excess oil, not all of it.
posted by canine epigram at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: This kind of extractor does the trick for me. What I do is run the loop end across my nose and it seems work well.
posted by k8t at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2007

I started using Bliss steep clean after reading this">post a while back. It is pricey, but it seems to keep the new blackhead population down.
posted by divka at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2007

Divka, your link is borked.
posted by canine epigram at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2007

Ah crap, I screwed up that link.

I meant this
posted by divka at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2007

Yea, you shouldn't be using that apricot scrub twice a day- it's way too harsh; I would say use it twice a week, tops. My derm reccommended washing twice a day with a gentle cleanser- Neutrogena or Cetaphil.

And I just bought one of those extractor things and I LOVE IT. Use it after a long, steamy shower, and I bet those buggers will just fly out of your nose.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:36 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my experience it's possible to have dry skin and still have blackheads/pimples/etc., and even for your skin to still feel oily. The main problem is that your skin tries to maintain a certain level of oil, and if you wash away that oil constantly then your skin is constantly replenishing it, resulting in "dry oily" skin (think skin which is dry, with a layer of oil on top that's not soaking into the skin).

I would back off the scrub and astringent (still use them, just less often) and instead focus on just water and a soft washcloth to push oil around your face (from the areas which feel oily to any areas which feel dry). Maybe also some blotting paper between washing if you feel like your skin is just too oily. It won't fix your blackhead problems, but it should help keep your skin in good shape so that you can do other stuff for the blackheads.
posted by anaelith at 12:38 PM on February 27, 2007

I think you meant this.

My general idea of facial skincare is that moisturizing with oil-free moisturizers is critical. If you are overdrying your skin and not replenishing with moisturizer, your skin will overcompensate by producing more oil than it normally would. This would increase your problems.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2007

I have NEVER heard of blackheads being too dry for extraction. You might want to visit a dermatologist for an extraction or, at the very least, another aesthetician.

The extractor will probably help, but be careful! Make sure you steam your face or apply a hot washcloth first to open the pores and soften the skin. Otherwise, the extractor could damage your skin. Also, make sure you clean it very well between (and before) each use. I am not familiar with sephora's extractor tool but I do like tweezerman's tool.

I use proactiv and I haven't had a blackhead problem since I started using it, so you might want to try it.
posted by necessitas at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: The Clinique stuff -- in my opinion -- sucks.

Never trust anything that requires advertising. Really. Stuff that works does not require Irving Penn to photograph it to sell it.

Use a soap-free cleanser. Basic baby wash de-greases without over-drying. This is a good moisturizer; entirely non-greasy.

The only thing that's ever made a real long-term difference for me is Retin-A. Cheap as prescriptions go, and one tube lasts months.

I'd forgotten how useful it was until I stopped using it recently (am pregnant; it's theoretically risky if you are). My nose is now something I don't want to talk about, and blackheads are appearing in other areas (stopped pre-pregnancy, so can't blame it all on hormones). Really, I miss it more than I miss a good night at the pub.

I've been using it for almost two decades, and can't say enough good things about it. Drugstore stuff isn't worth much messing with -- but, that said, this is worth a try if you're not interested in getting a prescription for the Retin-A.

On preview: a good extractor gizmo will get out a few things right after a steamy bath, and, yes, lighten up on the scrubbing.
posted by kmennie at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2007

Exfoliation is key. The pores on your nose are probably larger than the rest of your face, they fill up quickly and will continue to do so, unless you keep them free of dirt, dead skin-cells, and oil.

1. PanOxyl soap Just cleanse nose if you don't have acne elsewhere.
2. Inexpensive wash cloth. Cheap ones are thinner, and exfoliate better.
3. At night lightly coat a product containing salicylic acid on on your nose and affected areas. Look for gel-based salicylic products, they're more effective, Like this one.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: I have a similar issue in that my skin is dry but I get blackheads on my nose despite having no acne whatsoever. (I'm a guy)

After a facial, this is what I was told:
1) Wash with a gentle cleanser twice a day
2) Use a toner using a cotton pad twice a day
3) Mosturize a lot (Blackheads can be caused by dryness) after each cleansing
4) Use the scrub/exofoliant once every two days
5) Get a facial with a focus on extractions every 2 months (haven't done this but think it would be a good idea)

For me, what has worked the best is taking my time to do all the steps properly and mosturizing like crazy.

It is still a battle since it takes pores a while to shrink in size.
posted by FastGorilla at 1:00 PM on February 27, 2007

Oh, and aestheticians seem to be all over the map with their advice. Go to a different one, maybe her advice will work better for you.
posted by FastGorilla at 1:02 PM on February 27, 2007

I absolutely have to moisturize or I have terrible blackheads and acne. When I need a good start-over, I steam my face over a sink of very hot water with a towel over my head, and then get in the shower with a nice thick washcloth and just wipe my face, over and over, rinsing the washcloth as I go. When I can stand no more, I get out and splash with increasingly cooler water and then moisturize. That's it - I learned this one when I had a terrible cold in Shanghai with nothing but a great hotel shower, a water kettle, and a supply of washcloths. I'm not sure it helped my cold very much, but my pores were immaculate.

I do use an extractor occasionally, but it doesn't work all that well on the top of my nose (I have a very firm nose, I guess, and it doesn't want to squish). It does great things for the sides and for my chin, though.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:36 PM on February 27, 2007

You're using a scrub on your face twice a day?

I'm a no-makeup naturegirl type. I don't even know the products you are describing. I'd say give your face a rest from all the attention and let it develop some normal balance. Just use a little soap (or something minimal) maybe once a day or if it really feels greasy like you need it. If it *feels*. Maybe my "beauty" regime will help you -- ie, you could try facercise (great book. Her web site not so great) or other facial exercises. This will increase blood flow to your face, which I would think should help remove impurities. If I'm anything to go by, it works like a damn. However, I have read that pimples relate mostly to hormones, so if that's the case, I guess one has to look at general health.
posted by Listener at 1:38 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want a prescription, I use Tazorac (warning - extremely weird website ahead) every day. It's essentially an exfoliator and my dermatologist gave it to me for the specific purpose of getting rid of blackheads. Apparently it also has the added benefit of preventing wrinkles. I think it has the same ingredient as Retin-A, but am not sure.
posted by echo0720 at 1:42 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: Try talking to a dermatologist about this! One of the nice things about seeing a dermatologist (besides it costing only a co-pay if you have insurance) is that there's lots of face-care techniques and prescription possibilities that the dermatologist can talk to you about and prescribe. And sometimes the prescription co-pay is cheaper than an OTC item.
I've been surprised at how concerned about looks my dermatologist has been; I wish my mom had taken me to one when I had my teenage acne!! (She figured it out only in time for my little sister.)

Also, my experience with Clinique's Moisturizing lotion is that it actually clogs my pores. I've had success with Olay products, but this is definitely a field where everyone's mileage will vary.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 1:44 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: I have hideously large pores in my t-zone, and my skin looks best when I stick to the following routine: Wash morning and night with jojoba oil (wet face, massage in a few drops of jojoba, rinse off with warm water and wash cloth), twice a week steam my face over a bowl of hot water with green tea and dried rose petals, followed by a french green clay mask (during which I drink the green tea from the steaming). Cheap, easy, effective, natural. I never have those moments of outrageously oily t-zone anymore, nor is the rest of my skin too dry. Jojoba oil helps to break up compacted gunk in clogged pores and won't aggravate acne, and just a few drops on wet skin moisturize without feeling greasy. My skin will never be great, but it's better now that I've been doing this routine for a couple years and not eating tons of crap food.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:14 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I, too, used to have nose blackheads - the extractor works, but one has to be careful not to damage the underlying cell matrix -> inflammation.

Since I've started using a non-foaming facial wash (once or twice daily) with triclosan (an antimicrobial), I no longer get blackheads. Lately, I've switched over to chlorhexidine and the blackheads haven't come back.
posted by porpoise at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2007

Wow these tips sound much better than the pushing I've been doing for, oh, 20 years. So will these techniques also work on the whiteheads that plague the spots where my nostrils meet my face?
posted by DonnieSticks at 3:12 PM on February 27, 2007

I second (or third, or fourth) the Retin-A! You'll have to rough it out (literally) for the first few weeks, as it's initially very drying, but once you're through that process, it's pretty much the only skin care product you'll need. It's well worth the price of the visit to the dermatologist and the Retin-A itself.
posted by suki at 3:36 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: I've got the same deal. My dermatologist has me washing with a Purpose bar morning and night -- any more and you start having to worry about encouraging your face to produce more oil. For the blackheads specifically, I'm on Retin-A (tretinoin).

Tretinoin isn't just "theoretically risky" to a baby. Animal testing isn't completely conclusive, so let's ignore that. Still, as my patient info packet puts it, "Thirty human cases of temporally associated congenital malformations have been reported during two decades of clinical use of Retin-A." Doctors take it pretty seriously, because the deformations that result are not the trivial kind. Most doctors require you to be on birth control or to sign five billion releases promising you've been warned and you're a vestal virgin (and that's still not as strict as Accutane regs!).

Bottom line: if you can take Retin-A, you should at least give it a shot. Dermatologists have little sample tubes, and it works fast enough that you'd see a difference after one or two tubes. My nose used to be so awful it looked like I had freckles; it still isn't great, but it has improved. And the blackheads I used to have elsewhere are completely gone.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:54 PM on February 27, 2007

Oops -- I forgot to mention the other effects of Retin-A: you may get a little dry or peely or sun-sensitive. There are different strengths; as long as I keep to 0.04% on my face, I never notice those effects. If I screw up and use 0.1% on my face, I peel for a few days. YMMV.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:58 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: If you don't feel like dealing with going to the dermatologist, etc, BHA works quite well on blackheads. Paula's Choice 1% BHA Gel is my preferred one for face. Retin-A seems like overkill for blackheads to me, and it can be very drying. I actually think that BHA works better than differin (which I take for other acne issues) when it comes to blackheads.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:12 PM on February 27, 2007

This is great soap, and a bar lasts for months.
posted by tizzie at 5:33 PM on February 27, 2007

Best answer: Third, or fourth (?) the extractor, but I got a nice metal one for six dollars at Rite Aid. There is no need to spend twenty at Sephora.
posted by amileighs at 5:39 PM on February 27, 2007

DonnieSticks, the extractor works a treat in the nose crease. I've got nothing else that will get at that bit properly. I wash after with antibacterial hand soap, as that spot wants to act up if I don't.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:42 PM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, thanks so much for all the fantastic advice, everyone!

My nose has been a huge source of self-consciousness for me pretty much since I started adolescence, so I'm delighted to have so many great solutions to try.
posted by chickletworks at 6:29 PM on February 27, 2007

My aesthetician says that it's important to use 2 kinds of scrubs, one that is mechanical (has beads/scrubby things) AND a chemical exfoliant. I started using dermologica cream exfoliant and it's improved my skin tremendously. I use it 3 times a week and a regular scrub 1 or 2 times a week.

Also, extracting is good too, but dont push too hard..if you do you can get bleeding and scars. good luck!
posted by JJ Jenkins at 3:11 PM on March 3, 2007

Karin Herzog's Vita-Combi 2 cream. One container lasts about a year. It has medical grade hydrogen peroxide, which clears up blackheads without causing dryness and lightly bleaches the sebum, which causes the black in blackheads.
posted by nickyskye at 10:05 PM on March 3, 2007

I have to add that you are waaay over-scrubbing your skin. Dial back on the scrub. You may want to try washing your face just once a day for a week to see what happens. My ex-husband had terrible skin and washing it a lot just made it worse.

Also, I swear by the extractor tool. I've used the drugstore cheapy, Sephora's and the Tweezerman and guess what--there IS a difference. I won't use anything but my Tweezerman now. But be gentle, if it won't go, it isn't ready.

I use Queen Arsoa soap that is amazing. It costs an arm and a leg but it really makes a big difference.
posted by selenium7 at 7:14 PM on March 6, 2007

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