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Blackheads Vs. Sebaceous Filaments: Key Differences and How To Deal With Both

Blackheads Vs. Sebaceous Filaments: Key Differences and How To Deal With Both

Pop quiz time! Do you know the difference between a blackhead and a sebaceous filament?

If you’re the type to examine your pores up close, out of curiosity or a desire to have squeaky clean pores, you’ve likely observed both at one time or another. However, it’s also very easy to get the two mixed up, leading many people to try and troubleshoot a problem that isn’t actually a problem.

Here’s what you need to know to avoid causing unnecessary stress to your skin:

Sebaceous Filaments: A normal occurrence in healthy skin

Although they can appear as small dark dots on the skin, sebaceous filaments are often mistaken for blackheads. However, in actuality, they are simply pores that naturally contain a collection of oil and sebum – both of which are necessary elements for lubricating and moisturizing the skin.

Sebaceous filaments tend to appear on areas such as the nose which get the most exposure to the elements, as they are meant to protect the skin. While it is possible to extract or clean out sebaceous filaments, what is most important to know is that they will always return, and that’s okay, because they’re meant to be there.

Blackheads: When congestion becomes a cosmetic concern

What blackheads have in common with sebaceous filaments is that they similarly contain a mix of oils and sebum, but also sometimes dirt, debris, and other surface residue that has worked its way into the pores. Blackheads can occur just about anywhere on the skin, and get their color from oil that has oxidized, and turned black as a result.


When properly extracted or dissolved with topical products that address excess oil, blackheads should go away and then may or may not return, just depending on your skin type and skincare habits. Blackheads often tend to accompany other issues caused by congestion, such as acne blemishes, and breakouts.


Tips For Treatment: How to Deal with Oil Plugs

Although squeezing your blackheads or sebaceous filaments to remove them can provide some momentary sense of satisfaction, most experts recommend against trying to extract either, as this can lead to damaging the skin and causing more problems.

Instead, what works best to address buildup of oil and congestion in the skin is topical products that target these concerns. A few ingredients we prefer for troubleshooting include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), which exfoliate the top layer of skin and encourage turnover, as well as salicylic acid, which is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that dissolves pore-clogging debris. These ingredients – along with a consistent cleansing routine – will work to address both blackheads and sebaceous filaments, keeping pores clear and ensuring that your skin only holds on to as much oil as it needs to function optimally.


Glow Jar Beauty product tip:

If you have Oily, Combination or Blemish prone skin I would use our Restore Exfoliating Mask 1x week in your evening routine.  This will help to clear out excess oil and dirt and can also be applied to targeted areas of concern.  The goal is never to dry out the skin but to be consistent and proactive. 

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