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Blackheads. No one likes them, but we try to cover them up, often further compounding the acne problem. Before you go out and join a facial cleanser club or spend your hard earned dollars on pricey over-the-counter remedies, try a few at home that have been working for your mother and grandmother for years.
Acne most frequently appears on the face but can also emerge on the neck, chest, back and shoulders. These are the areas of your skin that contain the largest number of oil glands, which can easily become clogged and irritated, resulting in a blackhead breakout. Mayo Clinic.com says blackheads or comedones "are created when the openings of hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil secretions, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria. When comedones are open at the skin surface, they're called blackheads because of the dark appearance of the plugs in the hair follicles. When comedones are closed, they're called whiteheads."
Before you purchase abrasive facial scrubs that claim to buff away the blackheads, look to your kitchen cupboard. Oatmeal can substitute as a natural yet effective facial scrub and has been used as a beauty treatment for years because of its ability to reduce inflammation, sooth irritated skin, relieve itching, and combat redness. Mix a handful of whole grain oats with a few teaspoons of water to make your own homemade exfoliating scrub. You can also use the quick oat variety for a gentler scrub. The oatmeal penetrates the pores and cleans out excessive cell buildup. Use finely ground ingredients so they don't scratch or irritate the skin. Scrubs with large, abrasive particles can create microscopic tears that could create scarring or increase the chance of infection. If you have sensitive skin and oatmeal seems to be a little too harsh and abrasive for your skin, try baking soda instead.
Some women use clarifying masks to dry out skin. They are generally made from mud, henna or clay and work to draw out impurities, reduce acne and absorb pore-clogging dirt and oil. Dr. David Bank, a New York dermatologist, recommends clay or mud masks to absorb excess grease but says you might need more than one mask to spot-treat different problems if you have combination skin.
While scrubs can help skin turn over and improve the general appearance, limit facial and body scrubs to once or twice a week. Health.com suggests exfoliating twice a week but also says a person's age and geographic climate should be taken into account when determining frequency. Older skin might be too dry and delicate for over-scouring, and women with oily skin should exfoliate more often.