Blackheads or sebaceous filaments – what’s the difference?

Published: 20/03/2024 | Author: Andrea Simons

We’ve all been there, standing in front of a mirror torturing our skin by desperately trying to squeeze out anything that resembles a blackhead. But the offending little spots we’re attacking may in fact be sebaceous filaments, not blackheads! Find out what these little guys are, and how to deal with them!

We know that picking at our skin is a really bad idea, but at times it just can’t be helped. Those blackheads need to go! However, if you feel the need to pick at your skin, you may want to know that those little grey dots you’re seeing may not actually be blackheads but sebaceous filaments (also called sebum plugs), which are a normal part of your skin’s functioning. So, what is the difference?

What are blackheads?

Blackheads are a form of acne made up of sebum (an oily, waxy substance that helps lubricate the skin), dead skin cells and bacteria that collect in the hair follicles, creating a “plug” that blocks the sebum from reaching the skin. When the “plug” is exposed to air it oxidises and turns grey or black, hence the name!

What are sebaceous filaments (aka sebum plugs)?

Sebaceous filaments are also made up of sebum and skin cells, but are usually a light white or grey colour, not black. They don’t block the pore like a blackhead, but instead distribute oils to the surface of the skin, helping your skin stay soft and moisturised. Unlike blackheads, when you remove them, they will always come back, because they are supposed to be there! Nonetheless, whether we have blackheads or sebaceous filaments, we don’t want them sticking out of our pores! But squeezing them, however satisfying it may be, can result in enlarged pores and scarring. So, what can we do to reduce their appearance?

learn more

How do you get rid of sebaceous filaments or blackheads?

• Clean out the gunk!
Introduce an oil-cleanse before your regular routine, also known as double cleansing. A double-cleanse involves using an oil-based cleanser to get rid of oil-based impurities and excess sebum and blackheads, before using a regular cleanser. This is a thorough cleansing method that makes our skin look sumptuously smooth and clean. Try our Novage+ Comfort Oil-to-Milk Cleanser combined with the Refresh Gel Cleanser for the perfect double cleanse.
• Let an acid work its magic!
Exfoliants like salicylic acid found in our whole Pure Skin skincare range help to gently exfoliate the skin. Salicylic acid actually goes into the pores to dissolve the gunk and the bindings between dead skin cells which speeds up the skin renewal process and tightens the pores, making them appear smaller. We recommend using the Pure Skin Deep Cleanse Face Wash, Clarifying Toning Solution, and Smoothing Face Scrub.
• Peel away!
A gentle peel-off mask like our Pure Skin Pore Clearing Peel-off Mask helps to unclog pores and remove any impurities or excess oil that may be hanging out in your pores, meaning you won’t have anything (even good stuff!) sticking out of your pores after this!
shop the products
Comfort Oil-to-Milk Cleanser

Comfort Oil-to-Milk Cleanser


Deep Cleanse Face Wash
Pure Skin

Deep Cleanse Face Wash


Inspiration corner

6 skincare mistakes to avoid
6 skincare mistakes to avoid

Not seeing the best results of your skincare routine? It can be a bit tricky to get it right. Let’s get you back on track by putting an end to the most common skincare mistakes out there with this easy-to-follow step-by-step guide.

Read now

Other categories