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What's a good rosacea-friendly blackhead cleanser?

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  • What's a good rosacea-friendly blackhead cleanser?

    Do you know of any?

  • #3
    Hi -

    Thank you Melissa - yes, I do like Ziana a lot. I use it 2-3 nights a week (always skipping a night or two inbetween). It's a mild prescription retinoid (.025%) with clindamycin in it (1.2%). Differin is another mild prescription retinoid (though it didn't work much for me like Ziana does) but some do like it. Finacea is another topical, that can help mildly exfoliate and keep pores clearer, however, this proved too strong for my skin over time. A few options for you to consider - your Derm. can give you samples of ones that could work for your skin and you can test. However, if your face is unable to tolerate mild retinoids, you can look into either purchasing a mild salicylic cleanser which helps unclog pores and clears blackheads. Or, another option is using the Clarisonic brush (delicate head only) a few days a week would help unclog and keep pores clearer. I have the Clarisonic with the delicate brush and used it in the past prior to Ziana. If used gently (very lite pressure) it can help clean and unclog skin without exacerbating redness.

    Good luck.



    • #4
      What about a gentle oil cleanser or plain oil to use the oil cleansing method?


      • #5
        Hi -

        No offense, but I highly doubt an oil based cleanser is going to lift and remove blackheads. It may help cleans, soften, and hydrate your skin, but if you are prone to breakouts and clogged pores, I'd be cautious. Heavy, emollient products contribute to clogged pores.



        • #6
          Actually if you are familiar with oil based cleansing, it can in fact help alleviate clogged pores, and therefore, reduce blackheads. As an oily skinned adult of 50, I was scared to use it myself at first, but I have with great results. I use jojoba oil. Once I stopped stripping my skin of its natural oils, my acne cleared up substantially. Unfortunately, I still have papules, so I am currently moisturizing with Vita-Oil, not cleansing with it as my derm has switched me to a different cleanser.

          Here is a quote from the website

          Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads...these are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with; it is there for the benefit of your skin, allowing your largest organ to function properly. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing. Learning to work with your skin, not against it, will save you tremendously.

          Note: Another product I have had great success with for unclogging pores is Paula's Choice BHA 1% Lotion. Gentle yet effective.

          Hope this information is helpful.




          • #7
            I'm sorry, that website address is



            • #8
              That's okay. Many people still think that oil is not good. But scientifically "like dissolves like" such as "oil dissolves oil". If you go to any of the popular beauty boards you will see how effective the oil cleansing method (OCM) or cleansing oils (such as DHC or others) have done more for getting rid of blackheads and blemishes than anything else.

              I'll stop here, but anyone interested should just do a search on "the oil cleansing method" "OCM" or "Cleansing Oils". You'll find a lot of information based on science and forum testimonials.


              • #9
                Back when I had strictly acne prone skin I used to cleanse with jojoba oil using the oil cleansing method, then tone with witch hazel, and afterwards I'd apply some tea trea oil. I remember my skin looked and felt amazing and it was the only period of time I remember my skin being completley clear post puberty. Of course, eventually I stopped doing it for unknown reasons to me, probably got bored, wanted to try the next best new thing yada yada. But overall I was surprised that it worked so well, I just wish I would of stuck w/ it as I doubt I'd be in this mess right now as my trying new things eventually ventured into applying steroid cream all over my face and well look at me now.


                • #10
                  Hi caploc,

                  I don't disagree with you, that oil based cleansers will clean your face and rid oil. They can be quite good. But the topic or question was what cleanser or product will clear or rid blackheads? Unfortunately, an oil will not unclog blackheads. For skin free of blemishes/acne/papules/blackheads may do very well with a cleansing oil.



                  • #11
                    Oil-based Cleansing for Blackhead Reduction


                    What is your scientific evidence or even anecdotal evidence that oil-based cleansing cannot remove or reduce clogged pores and blackheads?




                    • #12
                      Hi Lolamojo -

                      I'm prone to blackheads and have mild acne on my jawline. I'm not an expert, but have met up and chatted with several dermatologists over the years about what's effective. I was on low dose Accutane a few years prior, have used numerous topicals, some working and some not. I've heard (and found) heavy, emollient products are good for DRY skin but if you have oily skin and are hoping to clear pores and rid blackheads - mineral oil, petrolatum, or wax-like ingredients will NOT be your friend. My Derm's have mentioned to steer away of these and some other ingredients as they can add to to the oil/greasiness on the face and will not help in lessening of acne or blackheads. Over the years, I've also perused the internet for information, and dermadoctor are good sites for information and articles. as well.

                      Here's some links:


             (link on blackheads and what products to use or look for to help clear and unclog):


                      How do I get rid of blackheads?
                      Other than avoiding products that are too emollient (meaning thick or greasy creams) and not using moisturizers unless you truly need them, there are really only three over-the-counter essentials for getting rid of blackheads:

                      Avoid bar soaps and use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser instead. The ingredients that keep soap in its bar form can clog pores, and irritation can cause skin cells to flake off before they're ready and accumulate in the pore. The good news is that there are lots of gentle cleansers to consider. It's actually getting more and more difficult to find a cleanser that isn't gentle. Someone with dry skin would want to use a slightly more moisturizing cleanser—but be careful: cleansers that are too emollient can contain ingredients that add to the sebum in your skin causing further problems.

                      Gentle exfoliants that can both remove the excess skin cells on the surface of the face (so they don't build up in the pore) and exfoliate inside the pore (to improve the shape of the pore, allowing a more even flow of oil through it). Keep in mind that the pore itself is lined with skin cells that can build up, creating a narrowed shape that doesn't allow for natural oil flow out of the pore. But don't get carried away with this step. Overdoing it (removing too many skin cells) can cause problems and hurt skin. Exfoliation is essential for both dry and oily skin to eliminate blackheads. Someone with dry skin will want an exfoliant that has a more moisturizing base; those with normal skin can base this decision on personal preference (gel, lotion, or cream texture).

                      There are still only limited options for this one, and Paula’s Choice offers more options than any other cosmetic company. BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid; also known as salicylic acid, this ingredient can penetrate the pore and exfoliant inside its lining, dissolving debris and helping to restore normal oil flow. Plus BHA also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it reduces the redness of blemishes, and antibacterial properties to reduce breakouts (that handles two skin care problems quite beautifully).

                      If you cannot use salicylic acid, you might want to try an alpha hydroxy acid, but AHAs are not able to penetrate the pore lining as well, and affect mostly the surface of skin. That can be helpful, but not as efficacious as salicylic acid.

                      By the way, topical disinfectants such as benzoyl peroxide or topical antibiotics available by prescription do not help in the treatment of blackheads because there is no bacterial involvement related to their formation. You may also want to consider routinely getting a BHA (salicylic acid) peel. This is best performed by a dermatologist and can be a successful adjunct to an at-home routine for battling blackheads, especially if they prove stubborn. It is generally best to wait 4-6 weeks between peels.

                      Absorbing excess oil. This step is for those with oily skin and is not necessary for those with dry skin, because with dry skin the problem isn't about excess surface oil, it's only the oil trapped inside the pore. For those with oily skin, clay masks (that don't contain irritating ingredients of mint, peppermint, camphor or the like) are an option and oil-absorbing papers can also help.

                      What about prescription options for getting rid of blackheads?
                      Retinoids (such as tretinoin) play an important role in successfully battling blackheads. Retinoids are forms of vitamin A that can actually help skin cells function normally and improve the shape of the pore so oil flow is normalized and clogs are far less apt to take place (this is well documented in medical studies). The most typical and well-researched retinoids are tretinoin (found in prescription medications such as Retin-A, Renova, and Avita,), adapelene (found in the prescription drug Differin) and tazarotene (found in the prescription drug Tazorac). These can be used on their own or with a BHA product. Research has definitely established that tretinoin and adapelene have positive effects on how pores function, and these products should be a strong consideration for battling blackheads or breakouts in general. Vitamin A or retinol products are also an option but these have not been researched for this skin condition.
                      Hormone blockers, birth control pills, and isotretinoin: For those with severe oily-skin conditions, prescription medications such as hormone blockers or certain low-dose birth-control pills can reduce hormone levels of androgens which are the cause of excess oil production. And, when all else fails, isotretinoin should definitely be considered. Though many doctors are reluctant to prescribe isotretinoin for "merely" oily skin and blackheads, for those with that kind of persistent skin problem, it does not feel like a "mere" problem in the least and isotretinoin can be a cure. Either way these are all options (albeit serious ones) you can discuss in detail with your physician.




                      Blackheads & Enlarged Pores


                      Concern with pore size is practically a national obsession. No doubt this is provoked by inescapable multimedia images of glamorous faces airbrushed to impossibly unattainable perfection. This skewed perception of how skin should look is as realistic as the Barbie doll's similarity to true female anatomy. The truth is that pores are a fact of life. They aren't invisible and everyone has them. But not everyone knows how best to minimize pores' appearance.

                      Porely Designed

                      Pores play a vital role in skin physiology. After all, without them we'd have nowhere for hair to grow out of, no method for skin oils to reach the surface, protecting skin from environmental dehydration.

                      Technically speaking, the pore is little more than the opening of the hair follicle onto the surface of the skin. The source of the hair follicle lies deep within the dermis. Midway up the dermal layer, the sebaceous oil gland empties into the hair follicle. Both skin oil (sebum) and the hair breach the surface through this tiny aperture. Wherever there is a hair, there will be a pore.

                      Larger Than Life

                      Why do pores appear larger than life? Anything that attracts attention or expands their natural architecture magnifies their appearance. These can be dealt with. However, the closer you look in the mirror, the larger those pores are going to appear. If you have a habit of examining your skin in the magnifying side of your beauty mirror, perhaps it isn't really your best friend. So put it aside and address these factors that really do play havoc with your pores.

                      Genetics may certainly be to blame. Barely visible on those prone to drier skin, individuals with oily, thicker (glabrous) skin tend to have larger looking, more noticeable pores. This is often hereditary.

                      Sun damage is another cause. As we age, one of the ways sun damage affects the skin is through the enlargement of the pores. Sun damage and aging cause the epidermis to thicken and a rim of cells are more likely to collect around individual pores. While microscopic, these rings exaggerate pore diameter.

                      Pores may be more visible simply due to lack of good skin grooming and poor exfoliation. Too much surface oil and remnant naturally shed skin cells can collect around the edges of pores, creating the illusion of the pores being larger than they really are.

                      Blackheads and enlarged pores often go hand-in-hand. Blackheads can either expand pores or simply focus attention on them. But pores can appear larger than life for many reasons, blackheads being but one of them.

                      Film Noir

                      Pores are a natural part of the skin; blackheads are the superficial plugs that may form within them. Pore dilatation begins with faulty exfoliation of cells lining the interior gland - cells are too "sticky" leading to microscopic plugs.

                      Sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum that accumulates behind the plug. Protracted pooling of skin oils serves to both nourishes bacteria (like P. acnes and S. epidermidis).

                      Dead skin cells, oils and bacteria choke the follicular opening, expanding the diameter of the pore. Blackheads medically termed "open comedones" - are an all too common outcome. Plugs within the pores composed of sebum, cellular debris and bacteria congest the gland and expand the pore. Contact with air allows oxygenation to take place, turning the plugs black, further heightening visibility.

                      In Search Of Porefection

                      An inordinate amount of time seems to be devoted to facials and extractions. Certainly well performed "physical" exfoliation can indeed cleanse cellular matter caught beneath the surface. But poorly executed, glands can be ruptured contributing to sudden acne flare-ups. What they don't do however is tackle those other contributing causes of large-looking pores. Chemical based treatments can often succeed in solving multiple issues. Sometimes a strategic combination produces the best results. Targeting the key factors that cause exaggerated pore diameter quickly minimize visibility.

                      Unplugging debris
                      Eliminating bacteria
                      Reducing excessive oiliness
                      Removing blackheads
                      Smooth out the edges
                      Reduce sun damage
                      Draw the pores closed
                      Pore Performers

                      So you know what needs to be done, but how to accomplish the goal? These are the how's and why's of pore minimizing performers:

                      Azelaic Acid

                      Azelaic Acid is a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. Azelaic acid has been shown in lab studies to possess antibacterial activity against common skin bacteria Proprionobacterium acnes (P. acnes) and Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis). As shown by electron microscopic and routine histopathology evidence of patients enrolled in Azelex Cream studies, azeleic acid appears to be an effective means of reducing microcomedone formation. Azeleic acid can be found in prescription Azelex Cream and Finacea as well as nonprescription DERMAdoctor Picture Porefect Pore Minimizing Solution.

                      Topical Vitamin A Treatments

                      There are a myriad of prescription medications in this category: Retin A, Retin-A Micro Gel, Tazorac, Avita and Differin. Renova and Avage are their skin rejuvenating counterparts and also work to help as potent pore minimizers. Topical Vitamin A treatments work by normalizing the keratinization process. They help prevent the cells lining the gland from sticking together, promoting more effective exfoliation. Used on blackheads, they work to loosen the plug as well as chemically "peel" the rim of the pore ideally all without seeing flaking skin or irritation.

                      Retinol is an OTC form of Vitamin A. While not as potent as it's prescription counterpart, it still offers help in reducing pore visibility and improving skin texture. DERMAdoctor Poetry In Lotion intensive retinol 1.0 contains 1.0% retinol, which is very concentrated. Don't let retinol fool you; it's still as potentially irritating as the Rx options, so use any of these treatments sparingly, every other night and wait 30 minutes after washing before application. All increase sun sensitivity (meaning don't forget your SPF 30 during the day) and none should be used while pregnant or nursing.

                      Retinyl palmitate is another OTC form of topical Vitamin A used in skin care and is less potent than retinol. However, follow the above advice for it, too.

                      AHAs & BHA

                      As far back as Cleopatra, alpha hydroxy acids have been used in skin care. Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is a blanket term for a variety of fruit acids including Glycolic, Citric, Lactic, Malic and Tartaric. AHAs help disintegrate the "glue" that hold dead, dry skin cells to the surface of the skin. By doing so, the epidermis is exfoliated leaving a silky texture. Removal of this external barrier enables easier, deeper penetration of other skin treatments as well.

                      BHA (beta hydroxy acid) is the trendy term for salicylic acid, a natural acid derived from willow bark, wintergreen leaves, and sweet birch bark. It also works to exfoliate cellular debris and unplug pores. It's a golden oldie effective ingredient often used in dermatology for acne therapy. Several skin care options incorporate both AHAs and BHA (such as DERMAdoctor Ain't Misbehavin' Intensive Medicated Blackhead Treatment) to help amplify chemical exfoliation.

                      Oil Reduction

                      Granted not everyone looking to minimize the appearance of their pores has an issue with oiliness. But if so, or if blackheads are an issue, reducing excessive surface skin oils helps reduce build-up and pore plugging which contributes to pore visibility. DERMAdoctor Tease Zone Oil Control Gel helps absorb oils and mattifies without drying out the skin. This makes it the perfect option no matter what skin type is being treated.

                      Those plagued by extreme oiliness may find that washing with DERMAdoctor Wrinkle Revenge Antioxidant Enhanced Glycolic Acid Facial Cleanser 3 once or twice a day, followed by the application of MD Formulations Glycare Lotion and then DERMAdoctor Tease Zone Oil Control Gel is highly beneficial. If using a topical Vitamin A therapy every other night, such as Tazorac Gel, severe oiliness is rapidly controlled.

                      Physical Exfoliation

                      Whether looking to use an exfoliating cleanser such as Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, home microdermabrasion like DERMAdoctor Physical Chemistry Facial Microdermabrasion + Multiacid Chemical Peel or simply trying to extract that stubborn blackhead with Tweezerman No-Slip Skin Care Tool, remember gently does it! Physical exfoliation has its place in minimizing pore appearance. But don't scrub until your skin bleeds! If aggressive exfoliation is your passion, consider investing in a series of medical microdermabrasions or medically performed chemical peels.

                      Picture Porefect

                      DERMAdoctor Picture Porefect Pore Minimizing Solution removes excess skin oils, crops out blackheads and smoothes out edges. It works to effectively target blackheads, past sun damage, excess oil build-up, bacterial proliferation and poor exfoliation. It accomplishes this by containing azeleic acid; potent AHAs - glycolic, lactic, citric and tartaric acids; retinol, Sebum Sequestering Micro-Particle polymer technology to absorb excessive oils; green tea and willow bark to reduce inflammation often accompanying early acne. Finally it contains aluminum zirconium tetra chlorohydrex glycine, an active astringent agent that draws freshly cleansed pores closed. Essentially it's everything in a single product to keep your regimen simple and highly effective. Apply once or twice a day to keep skin looking radiant and flawless.

                      Thinking about trying to get skin like that model on the latest beauty magazine cover? Forget it she doesn't have that skin either! Don't let Nature determine your skin type. Follow the guidelines and let your skin be a vision of porefection.

                      Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter. I hope you have found it informative.

                      Audrey Kunin, M.D.

                      (Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.)

                      Copyright 2000-2009, DERMAdoctor, Inc., All rights reserved

                      I hope this helps.




                      • #13
                        Hi Lolamojo,

                        If you'd like to post us some links or information about mineral oil or oil based cleansers removing blackheads, please let us know. Possibly, if they contain salicylic acid, azelaic, mandelic, or retinol in them they may help. If not, then likely they will not unclog pores.

                        Thanks much.