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How do I get rid of stubborn blackheads on my nose?

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Face Masks Neeta Lind/Flickr
Question: How do I get rid of stubborn blackheads on my nose?
Dear Budget Style Guide,

It's possible that I'm going crazy. I have tried absolutely everything to get rid of the blackheads on my nose: creams, ointments, potions, lotions, squeezing, pore strips, and so on. Best-case scenario, they're gone for a day or two, but then they fill right back up again. Is there anything I can do to get rid of these suckers for keeps?

Rene

Answer: Dear Rene,

It's time to play my favorite game: good news, bad news. Let's start with the good news. If your blackheads are all the same size, located on your nose your chin or another oily part of your face, and re-appear in a day or two after extraction, you probably don't have blackheads at all: What you have are sebaceous filaments, which are essentially the footprint for the glands that produce the oils that lubricate your face. You want these glands to exist: without them, your face would look like a badly refolded map, and all the lotions and potions in the world wouldn't coax it into suppleness.

So now that I've cured you of your blackheads using only my powers of typing, what's the bad news? The bad news is that there's no cure for sebaceous filaments. You can pick, rip, or suck them out all you want: they'll just fill right back up again, as you've discovered to your sorrow. And of course, this news probably isn't going to cheer you up very much if you were hoping to get rid of them, but at least you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that your problem isn't actually a problem, per se.

A few things to keep in mind, here: while the size and appearance of your filaments depends a lot on genetics, just about everyone has visible pores. If you haven't noticed them on other people, it's because you don't spend much time staring at other people's faces. Even supermodels have them: that's one of many reasons why heavy air-brushing looks so creepy in magazine ads. Our unconscious mind picks up on the fact that live people shouldn't have skin like a spackled Barbie doll, even if our conscious mind wants to believe that whatever product they're selling will give us the same appearance.

If you want to diminish the appearance of your sebaceous filaments, the secret, as always, is to follow a good skin care routine, using gentle cleansers that are appropriate for your skin type, and taking care not to over-wash or dry out your skin, and to moisturize afterward.

If you're really worried about how they look, you can always invest in a good concealer (lots of good ones here, some on the cheap side) but take care not to cake on the makeup. Nothing draws attention to your pores more than a heavy coating of paint. Just ask any actress whose films are now showing on high-definition TV channels. Yikes.

Finally, and I know you know this, but whatever you do, don't ever, ever, ever pick your pores. Believe me, I know how satisfying it is to harvest all that sebum, but while you're picking, you're stretching out your pores and making them look bigger than ever. Once your pores are damaged, it's hard to turn back the clock.

Hope that helps!

Jen

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