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Can I bleach away blackheads?

Rozy asks…Is there any ingredients existing that go after the pigment of the blackheads instead of a traditional sal acid? Is there pigment in them? I know they are caused by oxidized keratin. I am pretty sure Estee Lauder has a serum that basically does this.

The Beauty Brains respond:
Rozy’s question sparked a little discussion in our Forum about the nature of blackheads. Here are the highlights:

Actually the pigment that causes blackheads is melanin, the same pigment that determines skin and hair color. Residual melanin granules trapped in the follicle are oxidized when exposed to air and they darken. That’s why black heads are black! A

There are no products that “bleach” the blackhead away. Melanin is quite stable and it requires peroxide (or similar material) at a high pH to destroy it. Think of the process you go through to bleach your hair. And when it comes to bleaching melanin out of hair you can use much harsher ingredients than you would slather all over your skin.

There is another possibility…products with high levels of niacinamide have been show to lighten age spots, presumably by reducing the production of melanin in new skin cells as they grow out. So I suppose that maybe a niacinamide cream could reduce the amount of melanin that gets into the pore in the first place. But that’s just an educated guess.

I’m not sure which Estee Lauder product you’re talking about but if you leave a link to it in the comments section I’ll take a look.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Kat January 10, 2014, 9:40 am

    Hrmm couldn’t 10% benzoyl peroxide lighten blackheads somewhat? I know it’s only anecdotal evidence, but Quinoderm 10 (which I use for acne treatment) also bleaches my facial hair.

    • Randy Schueller January 10, 2014, 11:50 am

      Kat: Based on what I read on WebMD and other places, BP can actually INCREASE skin pigmentation because of the mechanism of how it irritates the skin. (Hyperpigmentation is a common response to irritation/inflammation.)

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