I have become obsessed with anything that will get the gunk out of my pores. By “gunk” I mean sebum. I can’t help it. I have tried almost everything under the sun. If I wasn’t having really good results from the peel-off masks I use, I would save up to get a pore vacuum. I actually got my sister a pore vacuum for Christmas because I remembered that she told me she gets a lot of adult acne and has problems with oil. I found a pretty decent one at a very reasonable price.
Sebum is an oily and sometimes waxy substance that is produced in the body’s sebaceous glands and excretes itself mainly around hair follicles. Sebum is what our bodies produce to help water-proof and moisturize our skin. These sebaceous glands include the areas of the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back.
Too little sebum production will result in dry skin.
Too much sebum production will result in oily skin and more breakouts than normal or normal to dry skin.
Sebum often gets mixed up with dead skin cells and other pollutants that fall into your pores. This mix-up is responsible for acne breakouts or “sebum plugs”.
The most common type of plugs are whiteheads and blackheads. Whiteheads occur when sebum completely blocks a hair follicle. Blackheads or “comedo’s” are caused by pores that are partially blocked by sebum. Air gets introduced into said pore, which causes the sebum to oxidize and turn a dark color. Keratin plugs are meant to look like sebum plugs, but this type of “skin plug” is caused by a certain protein that, for some reason, builds up around the hair follicle and causes a sebum plug. This type of sebum plug shows itself often as something called steatocystomas, because it is a plug that has encapsulated itself in said pore by the means of what is called a “sack”, which traps dead skin cells and grows big enough to the point where it becomes a bump on the skin. This type of cyst is usually small and can be easily removed by a dermatologist. It is not recommended that one should try to “pop” a steatocystoma at home, because it only empties the sack and leaves room for more dead skin cells to shed. The sack has to be completely removed in order to prevent a reoccurrence.
Sebum is often extracted by certain tools:
Comedone extractors are the most popular way of dealing with whiteheads and blackheads. Here are some instructions on how to use them:
Other common sebum extractors are things like nose, face strips, and peel-off masks. Charcoal is the most popular ingredient of not just a peel mask but other skincare products in general It has ancient purifying properties. It is an ingredient also used in medicinal overdoses as an expectorant.
I personally find charcoal masks too aggressive for my skin, so I use other peel-off masks. My favorites are by these holographic peel-off masks by the company Freeman’s: