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Blackheads? Sebaceous Filaments? What’s the Difference?

On the Nose Blackheads? Sebaceous Filaments? What’s the Difference?


The nose is the center of the T-zone. The sebaceous glands here are bigger and produce more oil than other parts of the face. It’s the most common spot for blackheads to appear. And it’s a hotbed of confusion for your clients.


At issue, the dark dots the populate the nose and cause your clients to think they are experiencing an explosion of blackheads, when, in fact, they are most likely just looking at sebaceous filaments, a part of the microcosmic network of glands that keep skin functioning and healthy, and a perfectly normal part of the skin.


Sebaceous filaments are the tiny glandular tubes that funnel sebum to the skin surface. They appear as small greyish pinprick dots, flush with the surface of the skin. Oxidation of sebum is what makes the follicle appear black.


A true blackhead will appear darker in color (hence the name) and be slightly raised. A blackhead might be considered the opposite of a sebaceous filament, the result of oil mixing with dead skin cells and creating an impaction to become a closed comedone. A sebaceous filament is a properly functioning, open follicle.


Can a sebaceous filament be extracted? Absolutely. But within thirty days it will be full again with goo. That’s what they do. Sebaceous filaments can’t be eliminated, but they can be refined. An enzyme peel is an excellent choice for this purpose. It will help to flush excess oil and waxy buildup from the follicle, which will reduce its appearance.


Recommend a monthly deep cleansing facial, along with the consistent at-home regimen. Products containing ingredients like vitamin A, alpha hydroxyl acids or salicylic acid used consistently will keep the oxidation from occurring, and keep skin healthy, refined, and blackhead-free while minimizing the appearance of sebaceous filaments. For home care Normalizing Tonic Forté, Exfol-A™ Forté, and Daily Repair Pads are all good choices.