Blackheads, Whiteheads, and Cystic Acne - Oh My!

Blackheads, white heads, and cystic acne...OH MY! With the changing seasons, climate change, stress from daily life, and not to mention [whispers] our diets, your face is likely to be most clearly affected by these factors. It seems like it never shows up the same way either! One day its a pimple, one day its a some sort of new combination of both [eek]. The first thing we do is run to our nearest store or pharmacy for some chemical or steroid based treatment, that will supposedly clear your face in days! Yeah, sounds crazy doesn't it? The truth is that the best way to be in full control of your breakouts and the best ways to prevent them are small, consistent daily life changes that will make the biggest difference. 

So first, you can’t successfully fight anything without identifying it [MESSAGE!]. What exactly is cystic acne, blackheads, and whiteheads? Where do they come from? How do you treat them? Let’s identify: 

Blackhead- Blackheads are a type of comedo. Comedones occur when the pores in the skin become clogged with dead skin cells and oily, protective substance known as sebum.

  • Blackheads are made of oxidized melanin and not trapped dirt.
  • Squeezing or scrubbing at blackheads can make them worse.
  • To reduce blackheads, avoid oil-based skin care products, humid environments, tight clothes, and skin products that contain alcohol.
  • They tend to appear when hormones lead to the increased production of sebum, an oily substance, by the glands under the skin.


Whitehead- Whitehead is a type of acne that forms when dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria become trapped within one of your pores.

  • Clogged pores are the main cause of whiteheads. 
  • One cause of blocked pores is hormonal changes, which are common triggers of acne.
  • Certain life stages can increase the amount of sebum, or oil, your pores produce. The increased oil production causes clogged pores and whiteheads.
  • Puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy are the stages where you can naturally experience more breakouts due to hormones.

Cystic acne- Cystic acne is the most serious type of acne. It develops when cysts form deep underneath your skin. This can result from a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells that get trapped in your pores.

  • Aside from being the most serious form of acne, cystic acne also tends to be the largest in size. It’s also deeper within the skin. All other types appear to rest on top of the skin’s surface.
  • Cystic acne often looks like boils on the skin. 

Other identifying characteristics include:

  • large pus-filled cyst
  • large white bump
  • redness
  • tender or painful to the touch

Now that you know what you’re dealing with you more easily identify ways to treat and prevent these breakouts. Some preventative measures you can take are:

  • Maintain a daily/weekly skincare regimen
  • Your skincare regimen should include a mild cleanser, toner, moisturizer, exfoliation, and possible extraction. 
  • Change your linens, including towels and bed sheets often; especially after a breakout.
  • If you wear makeup, wash your face as soon as you get home, never sleep with it on.
  • Minimize oily and fatty foods.

When fighting breakouts, remember, do not pop pimples, black heads, whiteheads, or cystic acne. This can not only spread breakouts but it can scar your skin and cause hyperpigmentation. 

Maintaining beautiful skin is a full time 24/7, 365 day job! We know its a lot, and we know it's hard to find and maintain a good regimen. One of our favorite kits, especially good for cystic acne is the Flawless Facial System VEGAN, it also includes a great exfoliator for blackheads and whiteheads, the Brown Sugar & Tea Tree Peppermint Acne-Fighting Facial Scrub.

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