Whiteheads Vs Blackheads: Which Type Of Acne Can Result In A Bad Breakout?


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Clear, glowing skin is definitely not a myth. However, the path to getting there can be rather bumpy! And we mean this literally. You will find that the journey to happy skin comprises pimples, blackheads and whiteheads –– basically, those pesky little skincare woes which make that clear skin dream a long-term goal. Unlike the occasional pimple, whiteheads and blackheads are a recurring form of acne that disrupts the texture of your skin and isn’t quite pretty to look at. As the name suggests, they’re either black or white spots that form under your skin. 


Whiteheads vs blackheads: These are caused by the same phenomenon. How can one prevent them from occurring? Scroll down to see the full 411!

What Causes A Blackhead?


If you’ve ever spotted a tiny bump that looks like black spot, then you can safely assume you’ve grown a blackhead. This skincare woe can be found in a single bump, as well as in clusters. And the worst part about blackheads? You pluck one, and five more randomly appear! 


So what are the causes of blackheads? Medically speaking blackheads are known as open comedones –– comedones being those bumps that form on your skin when you have a pimple. Comedones hold follicles that go beneath the skin’s surface and look like large pores to the naked eye.

A blackhead is formed when these large pores get clogged with a mix of sebum, dirt, and other pollutants. A reaction takes place under the surface of the skin, causing the melanin in your skin to oxidise and turn that pore black. You then have yourself a blackhead.


What Causes A Whitehead?


Whiteheads on the other hand are closed comedones. When the follicles beneath the surface of your skin get clogged with bacteria and don’t have a chance to rise above the surface, whiteheads are formed. This is one of the main causes of a whitehead. The reason why it doesn’t turn black is because it doesn’t have the chance to come into contact with air –– therefore there is no oxidisation. Hence, it remains white.


How To Prevent Whiteheads


Cleanse. Cleanse. Cleanse. 


Whiteheads are a form of trapped bacteria, so the best way to prevent it from forming is to keep your skin free from any sort of dirt or grime. Make sure to use a good face wash. By washing your face with a cleanser in the morning and night, you ensure that your skin’s oil levels are balanced and aren’t attracting bacteria into the pores.


Secondly, keep your hands off your face! Your hands, when they’re not clean, are a breeding ground for bacteria that transfers onto your skin when you touch your face. This can cause your pores to get clogged resulting in whiteheads.

How To Prevent Blackheads


Blackheads are a common occurrence for people with oily skin. Excess oil attracts dirt and grime that gets trapped within your pores, resulting in blackheads. The best way forward is to opt for oil balancing face products that will help keep the sebum levels at bay. Ingredients like salicylic acid to cleanse and niacinamide to help keep the oil at bay are very helpful and can prevent blackheads.


Make sure to include exfoliation as one of the steps in your bi-weekly skincare routine. Exfoliation, both physical and chemical will help get rid of dead skin cells, while deeply cleansing those pores.


Whiteheads Vs Blackheads: The Difference


While the cause of both whiteheads and blackheads are pretty much the same, the way they present themselves on your skin is rather different. Scroll down to see the major differences. Here’s a breakdown of whiteheads vs blackheads.



Clogging of pores with sebum, bacteria, dead skin cells, and dirt.

Clogging of pores with sebum, bacteria, dead skin cells, and dirt.

Open comedone.

Closed comedone.

Darker or black due to oxidisation.

White or yellow due to no air exposure.

Non-inflammatory acne, but can result in a pimple if not treated.

Turns into pimple if left untreated.

Can be treated with regular exfoliation.

Can be treated with daily cleansing and regular exfoliation.


Do Whiteheads Become Blackheads?

When whiteheads are exposed to air they tend to react chemically and oxidise. This can result in a whitehead turning black.

Should You Squeeze Out Whiteheads?

No. Removal of whiteheads needs to be done professionally, under a sterile setting. If you squeeze out a whitehead on your own, you run the risk of introducing new bacteria into your skin, causing it to spread and result in pimples too! Squeezing out whiteheads can leave marks or dark spots on your skin, especially if it’s not done right.

What Happens When You Pick At A Blackhead?

Just like whiteheads, when you pick at a blackhead you run the risk of introducing new bacteria into your pores, resulting in more blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. Plus, not doing it correctly can lead to inflammation, hyperpigmentation, and scarring. 

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In the battle of whiteheads vs blackheads, there is no loser except your skin! While the causes of both types of acne are very similar, the two of them present very differently from each other. The only solution? To be extremely regimented about your skincare routine and to make sure your skin is free from all sorts of bad bacteria. Watching those blackhead extraction videos are quite satisfactory –– however, it’s the complete opposite when you have to deal with things firsthand. So keep calm, keep clean, and hands-off!


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