Ever since I finally sprung for a blackhead extracting kit a few months ago, I've harbored a slightly unhealthy obsession with clearing out my pores—and nothing irks me more than those tiny brown pinpricks on my nose that just won't budge, no matter how painstakingly I try. The reason, it turns out, is that they, uh, aren't blackheads. Oh.
Those blackhead imposters go by an even less sexy name: sebaceous filaments. The distinction, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner tells Allure, is that while blackheads are the result of clogged pores that oxidize, sebaceous filaments are just hair follicles that have accumulated some oil. The good news: They're actually kind of a good thing since they play a role in naturally moisturizing your skin. The bad news? They aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing, but you don't want to eliminate them completely.
But not all is lost: Sebaceous filaments apparently tend to disappear with age, and there are ways to diminish their appearance without harming your natural sebum production. Opt for gentle exfoliators that contain pineapple, papaya, or charcoal, ingredients that are all known for their dirt-blasting capabilities. Dr. Jason Emer also recommends microneedling, a slightly more forceful yet effective way to encourage cell turnover.
All this, and I'll certainly be rethinking my no prisoners approach to pore extraction.
Shop some of our favorite gentle exfoliators and pore-clearing products above. And tell us—did you know about sebaceous filaments? What are your go-to methods for eradicating blackheads and evening out skin tone?