5 Ways to Shrink Pores & Get Rid of Blackheads

Airdate: 6/23/11

Find out how you can truly minimize enlarged pores and eliminate blackheads, and discover which cosmetic products do or don't live up to their claims.

Paula Begoun: Good evening. I'm Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop. We are here, I'm here Thursday evening, so it must be time to keep you "Beautifully Informed." And the reason I am using the royal we is because it takes a village and my village is the Cosmetics Cop team, Desiree Stordahl is with me. She is the producer and my assistant.
00:00:36 Desiree Stordahl, how you doing?
Desiree Stordahl: Good. I'm feeling extra good today because I am celebrating my one year with the Company and with you.
Paula Begoun: Can you believe that?
Bryan Barron: Why congratulations.
Desiree Stordahl: Thank you, thank you. It's blown by.
Paula Begoun: And that is Bryan Barron, the better part of me for the Cosmetics Cop team. Bryan, are you coming up on your tenth year anniversary?
Bryan Barron: I had that in April so I am working on year 11.
Paula Begoun: Oh, well see two one's.
00:01:09 You and Desiree have a lot in common. Together you make three – never mind. Forget that. I'm sorry, I'm in a bit of a strange mood. The topic tonight is a tricky topic for women, men, everybody: shrinking pores and getting rid of blackheads. And in some ways it is an even more difficult issue than acne.
00:01:35 Damaged pores – I mean it is just a bitch. I mean there is no other way to say it. Sorry for cursing out there. So, there is lots to cover tonight, but I wanted to start by saying and actually now that I talk about open pores we are going to talk about open pores and shrinking pores and blackheads, I want to mention this brilliant new mirror I found that is a 10 times magnification which kind of makes open pores look like the black hole of something.
00:02:07 I mean it is just like a volcano, Mt. St. Helens hole or something. But I bought a new house and am renovating it. And I do use incredible magnification. Some of it is because I need reading glasses anyways, but also because I want to catch any mistakes. When your eyes aren't so good, and most of us don't have such good eyes to see little flakes of mascara or smeared eye liner or your lipstick isn't even.
00:02:38 Or you missed a foundation patch somewhere and I am neurotic about all of that stuff, so 10 times magnification is what I have been using. But I found this incredible, it's called Dimmable Sunlight Wall Zadro Mirror.
00:03:02 And what makes it so incredible is it has a fluorescent light bulb wrapped around it that mimics natural sunlight and it really does. I mean it is just the most incredible mirror. Now, just to let you know, they do come in lesser magnification if you wanted to take a look at it. They do come in lesser magnification. So if that scares the heck out of you, you can get not such intense magnification.
00:03:30 But it is an incredible wall mirror and that light around it. Because sometimes you buy those or you see those magnifying makeup mirrors in the store and they say they have three levels of light but they are actually dark. They don't help really illuminate the face in a way that really lets you see what is going on. So, this one is very impressive and the way the mirror flips around from the regular magnification to the increased magnification, it flips around but the rim of light stays constant.
00:04:04 Great mirror and, you know, worth taking a look at if you are curious about getting all of the details right when you look at your gorgeous face in the mirror. The other thing I wanted to mention, Bryan, I was looking at the ad for – Desiree gave me this – the Dior Show Extase Mascara.
00:04:31 The woman is so blatantly wearing three sets of false eye lashes in the ad. It is almost silly. It is almost silly. And of course this is a top rated Sephora product and I feel bad for all of the Sephora women who think this is a good mascara with patented SR-38 active complex. What the heck is that?
00:04:56 And then listen to this claim, this is the best. In clinical tests 100% of women had more beautiful lashes after wearing Extase. So they make that sound like Extase made your lashes grow but all that is really saying is that when you put on mascara your lashes look better. Eh, hello! When you put on mascara, your lashes – that just – I'm throwing that one out. That just threw me.
00:05:29 And then, Desiree, who always gives me the best ads to get absolutely bonkers over is "Recapture Youthful Hair." This is a Redken group of products called Time Reset. And what it says is this product can help you fight the five signs of aging: change in texture, diminished density, increased dryness, surface dullness, fragility breakage. Actually, that isn't necessarily the signs of aging. That could be the signs of just about anything depending on if you are pregnant or your health.
00:06:06 But nonetheless, those things can happen as you get older. They can also happen when you are younger. But they absolutely, let's just be really clear about this. Please, you can't put anything on your hair and repair it. Once hair is damaged, it is dead. Dead as a doornail. When you cut your hair you don't go, "Ouch."
00:06:31 It can't be repaired the way you think about healing or repairing your skin. That is bogus. Now you can do things to your hair to make it feel healthier, to protect it somewhat from styling tools so it doesn't get worst. You can use Minoxidil, well, the active ingredient in Rogaine and the generic Minoxidil to increase the density and thickness of hair.
00:06:56 But in terms of hair care products, you absolutely can't change hair or make it look younger with these products, or at least not with these products in comparison to any other product. You know I booked, we have a big video shoot for Paula's Choice next week and I just booked my hair appointment. And like a lot of hair appointments, when you book them they will say to get a haircut and a wash and blow dry. And then they said, "Well would you like a conditioning treatment while you are waiting for your stylist after your hair is washed?"
00:07:35 And it's $35. And basically what that $35 gets you is all they are really putting on your hair no matter what it looks like and what the claims are on the product, when you look at the ingredients all you are really putting on your hair is a conditioner. They slather it on and they either leave you at the sink in a position that just hurts your neck, or they stick you under a hair dryer and that is nice, but what is really happening is that the longer you leave on a conditioner, the better your hair feels. Wow. What a shock.
00:08:05 And it is just a conditioner. It doesn't repair your hair. It sure is not worth $35. I'm going to talk about the Biore, even though, well I will wait for the Biore till we talk about the shrinking pores and getting rid of blackheads. What were you going to say, Bryan?
Bryan Barron: With the conditioning treatment, what happens if your stylist shows up just as they are putting it on?
00:08:30 Does he or she just stand around and wait for it to work? Or is it just rinsed out? Do they just stay in the back and munch on an apple until you are ready?
Paula Begoun: I think they schedule it, well actually, they could be munching. But basically, no, they book it before you get your – at the time you are making the appointment because then they schedule the hairdresser. So, no, that is a real clear up-sell. They don't want their hair stylist not working.
00:09:05 But just before the show, "Being Beautifully Informed" with the Cosmetics Cop team show tonight, I got a great email from a woman who read my blog about falling asleep in makeup and my suggestions about what to do for your skin. So when you fall asleep in makeup, when you wake up the next morning you can take steps. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of breakouts that can happen when you fall asleep in your makeup.
00:09:37 And it is inevitable. You fall asleep in your makeup and the likelihood is if you have any tendency to break out, blackheads, pimples, whatever, they are going to show up. They are going to sneak up on you if you don't take a clear line of tactic of products and application to make sure you don't. And she wrote that one of the things I said was for those prone to breakouts, it will trigger a new crop of pimples or blackheads that will appear first thing in the morning or will end up on your face by the end of the day.
00:10:06 And what she wrote which is a very interesting thing, she said, "I thought that pimples actually start deep in your skin up to two or three months before they actually show on your face." And she said is that true or not always true. You know, it is actually an incredible question because as far as research, as far as what we know about how women – men, women, children – get pimples is that they do start deep in the pore where bacteria resides and the oil resides and that combination builds up and creates a pimple.
00:10:43 And is about a six-week process. But, we also know not from research but just from what they call empirical evidence, meaning you are a woman, you fell asleep in your makeup, you woke up the next morning, you've got pimples. And it happens pretty consistently, lord knows it does for me. Every time I fall asleep I will wake up and with a consistent kind of breakout every time I fall asleep in my makeup.
00:11:09 And so they don't exactly know why that what they call an irritant response causes immediate blemishes or blackheads or clogged pores to show up, but we know it happens. You see it, you personally experience it. The researchers talk about it.
00:11:30 They just don't have a reason why it happens. But, yes, an irritancy response absolutely can trigger blemishes which is why when you fall asleep in makeup or you use a particularly irritating product, and they say, "Oh, you are going to break out when you first start using this." Well, yeah. You irritate it, you create an irritant response. And that is why you are getting an extra kick of breakouts. But, yes, generally it is a six-week process.
00:12:00 We know the research about that. But, the research about why you get this irritant breakout, they just don't know. So, Bryan, it is time for the best and the worst.
Bryan Barron: Well before we get to that there was a little matter of Desiree reading a letter that was [unintelligible].
Desiree Stordahl: So last week we had a woman who had written into us and we talked about her question on the show, and she was asking us about pharmaceutical-grade skincare products because her aesthetician told her that "no over-the-counter product can penetrate the skin and be truly effective."
00:12:37 And that was a quote.
Paula Begoun: Because she was using our products, right, and our products aren't approved by her so she needed to stop using ours and use theirs, right?
Desiree Stordahl: Right, that is what the aesthetician was telling this woman. And so another one of our listeners, Karen from Texas, wrote us in with her experience and I will read what she wrote here.
00:12:59 She says, "I recently had a six-month follow-up with my dermatologist for my Rosacea. I started using Paula's Choice products maybe a month or two ago and my dermatologist could not believe how great my skin looked. In fact, everyone in the office was amazed at how great my skin looked. I told the derm what I was using and she said that she has had a few clients who use your product and to keep doing what I am doing. She said she has never seen my skin look better and I have been seeing her for over four years. So I don't know what basis that person was saying pharmaceutical-grade is better, but obviously they are incorrect and don't know what they are talking about.
00:13:33 My skin is proof of how great PC products work and especially for Rosacea skin."
Paula Begoun: And when it comes to cosmetic products there is no such thing as pharmaceutical grade skincare products. That is just a bogus term. First of all, there isn't any compelling reason to do that. There isn't anything about pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that make a difference on skin.
00:14:04 Plus, there is nobody really using – I mean cosmetic-grade and pharmaceutical grade are pretty much the same thing. And who knows what this woman was selling. It's a bogus concept; there are brilliant products at the dermatologist office – actually, I would love to know what that aesthetician was selling because it is just a bizarre claim. It's such a meaningless "pharmaceutical-grade." You are selling them in your doctor's office, who knows if they are pharmaceutical-grade. And it doesn't prove anything.
00:14:32 No research about pharmaceutical-grade ingredients being better or worse for skin. What counts is what the ingredient can or can't do, not where it came from or what lab it came out of. So, Bryan, he is our trusted source of the best and worst products of the week and he is always on point. So, this is about the best and worst products for shrinking pores and getting rid of blackheads. Go for it, Bryan.
Bryan Barron: Yes, for our best we actually picked one of my favorites.
00:15:06 I used to use this on clients with oily skin quite a bit when I worked at Sephora and it is from Smashbox and it is called Anti-Shine. They have had it in the line for years. I suspect they have never discontinued it because it has a loyal following. It costs $27 for an ounce. And it is mostly a blend of water and magnesium which is a very absorbent mineral with a hint of color.
00:15:31 So it is basically a cosmetically elegant version of Milk of Magnesia which is an antacid that you are going to hear Paula talk about later in the show.
Paula Begoun: But not for indigestion. But go on.
Bryan Barron: Right, right. So the Anti-Shine works beautifully to absorb excess oil and you can put it on before your foundation or if you are noticing you are getting some of that mid-day shine you can squeeze out a bit more from the tube, emulsify it between your fingers and dab it on. It is portable. It really works to absorb excess oil.
00:16:03 And when you are absorbing that excess oil and helping to keep your skin matte, your pores will automatically look smaller. So, great tip right there.
Paula Begoun: It's true. It's true.
Bryan Barron: The worst one, and this is particularly egregious because it is from dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin who is the woman behind the DERMAdoctor line, it is the company's Ain't Misbehaving Intensive Medicated Blackhead Treatment.
00:16:31 $42 for less than an ounce of product. You get nine-tenths of an ounce. It has some very good ingredients in it for blackheads. You are getting a 2% concentration of salicylic acid. You are getting two forms of alpha hydroxy acids which actually don't really work on blackheads because they can't penetrate that plug. Plus, you are getting azelaic acid which there is some research showing that if you are suffering from breakouts, azelaic acid is a potentially helpful topical disinfectant, at least when it is used in higher concentrations.
00:17:02 The big letdown with this product though, it is alcohol-based. Like so many products out there, from Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, Clearasil, Stridex, you name it, if it is for blackheads it almost always has alcohol in it. And that is such a problem for all skin types. But it is particularly problematic for blackheads because there is an oily skin component to blackheads where that plug is not able to get through to the surface and by using a product with alcohol, you are irritating your skin and stimulating those nerve endings in the skin to produce more oil.
00:17:38 So you may get a nice response from it initially, but you will eventually get a kickback from all that irritation. And before you know it your blackheads will be worse than ever. So, Ain't Misbehaving is misbehaving all over the place and it is not recommended.
Paula Begoun: It is not recommended. You know, the thing with these irritating ingredients showing up in skincare products, I mean it shows up for all skin types.
00:18:05 But that it shows up for oily and acne – women struggling with oily skin and acne skin and blemish-prone skin – it has been going on for years since the time I started my career 30+ years ago dealing with my own acne. I still deal with my own blemishes and acne. But using products that irritate the skin – menthol, mint, camphor, eucalyptus, lime, lemon –
00:18:34 And they are known irritants. Blemishes, pimples are red. It makes no sense to put ingredients on it that make it redder. Alcohol causes free-radical damage that hurts skin's ability to heal. When you have got a pimple, you want it to heal. None of those ingredients have one shred of research showing that they benefit skin in any way, shape or form.
00:19:03 It is pathetic and so many products all over the place for women, particularly, well all products, but definitely for women with acne or blemish-prone skin. It's just sad. It's just – I hate it.
Bryan Barron: Paula, given the alcohol issue in particular is so prevalent in products that claim to help with blackheads, one of the questions that I received over the years from friends and family members that I talk to about this topic because everyone has blackheads it seems –
00:19:36 Is why do they do it? Why do they put that alcohol in there? I get why they do the mint and the camphor and the whole tingling thing that those ingredients cause, but why so much alcohol if it is so bad?
Paula Begoun: Well, I don't know. I mean I can guess. It's not like when we do reviews of products and call them up, it's not like anybody will tell us why they put an ingredient with so many known negatives.
00:20:04 But I suspect it is three reasons: first, alcohol leaves a cooling feel on the skin. So one of the things about having oily skin is this heavy feeling on the face. And so one of the things about all of these kind of irritants that shows up in these products – the mint and the menthol and the alcohol – leaves a cooling sensation on the face. That has an initial nice feeling.
00:20:30 You don't feel it causing free-radical damage. You don't feel it hurting the skin's healing process. You don't see the immediate redness and dryness and dehydration it causes. What you feel is this initial cooling so a consumer likes it. You don't want a consumer to feel bad about their product. You want a consumer to feel good about your product. And often when a product doesn't work, well, lots of products don't word – women often keep using it.
00:20:58 They blame it on themselves. They are just not using it right. They don't know how long it is supposed to take to see results. So, you get a consumer who feels good about the way it feels and despite the fact that the problem doesn't go away, because alcohol and these other ingredients have never gotten rid of a blemish or a blackhead ever, ever, ever, just impossible for it to happen. But it is that cooling effect.
  And I think the other thing about alcohol in particular is alcohol does have some amount of disinfecting, killing bacteria properties.
00:21:32 Now, it doesn't penetrate very well into the pore, but it has to have some amount of disinfecting properties so maybe it can kill some of the bacteria. I mean, I don't know. I have never seen the research saying it can kill the kind of bacteria that sits inside the pore and causes pimples. But, maybe it has a little bit of action that can benefit skin, but in this situation what is always true for skin, your body, your health, is that there is never a reason to do something that hurts you when there are so many other options that can help without any downside.
00:22:15 In other words, you are not going to – well, you can always have an allergic reaction to something, but in terms of the research it doesn't dehydrate the skin and it doesn't stimulate more oil production. That there are brilliant products that can absolutely make a difference without hurting the skin.
00:22:33 You know, and again, why the cosmetics industry does what it does? They are crazy! They are just crazy.
Bryan Barron: I hate it when that is really what it boils down to for so many things. And you just have to shake your head and say, "I don't get it, I just don't get it." We have been reviewing products long enough that it still surprises me when we come across products for blackheads that are loaded with alcohol and other irritants. It is just like –
Paula Begoun: It's sad. It's sad.
Bryan Barron: Who's having success with these products?
00:23:05 Obviously very few people because they keep launching new ones.
Paula Begoun: Right, and in reality, again you can only go with the research, and the research doesn't show that any of these things work. And I don't know that I have ever met a woman who has used an alcohol-based toner – lord knows not me, and that is what I was using 30 years ago – that have any benefit from it.
00:23:30 I just had red, irritated, inflamed skin. I still broke out, I still had blackheads. It doesn't work, it doesn't work. Never has, never will. No research supporting it in 50 years of researching this issue. So, let me talk a little bit about what you can do. Let's talk about the good stuff. So, the major thing – oh, oh, I'm sorry, one more bad thing. Sorry, one more bad thing. So, I was just saying to Bryan before the show started what about Biore strips?
00:24:01 How long ago did Biore strips come out? Was that like 10 years ago when you first started with writing with me?
Bryan Barron: Oh, I think it was just shortly before, like maybe 1998/1999.
Paula Begoun: So when Biore strips first launched and here was this literally a film of paper with hairspray on it and much like Scotch tape, you would apply it to skin, rip it off, and supposedly it was going to take your blackheads with it.
00:24:28 So, I mean every cosmetic company in the world at the time jumped on the Biore bandwagon and came out with their own strips. And now in terms of last man standing, all the other companies selling these kind of blackhead removing strips died on the vine. They are gone, long gone, because they didn't work. I'm actually not even quite sure why Biore is still around. Maybe there is a popularity to it and they are just going after a young teen audience at the drugstore.
00:25:00 But they never worked. Blackheads, they just will come back. They can't pull them out from the root. It doesn't work that way. And none of the other Biore products would do anything to reduce the tendency. Plus, if you look at the side panel of the Biore box, it has more risks than any benefits in terms of tearing skin and not using over blemishes and on and on. But Biore just came out with a new product called Deep Cleansing Steam-Activated Cleanser.
00:25:33 And it says it gets you 55% cleaner with steam in comparison to without steam. So, I'm not even sure what that percentage means. 55% cleaner, well first of all that is only 50/50 really, 45/55. But what else did they do? Did they just sit there getting steamed in the shower? Was that with or without their cleanser? Were they burning?
00:26:03 How hot was it? I'm not even quite sure what it means. But let me be very clear that hot water is a problem for skin. Direct steam on the face is a problem for skin. It hurts the skin's healing process. It makes red skin redder. It runs the risk of causing capillaries to surface. And this is not so much for younger women, but definitely for older women.
00:26:31 Chefs who hang out over a stove cooking and everything, one of the negative things that can happen to chefs is because they are hanging out over stove top with hot – hitting their face all the time – they have a terrible time with redness and surface capillaries. Heat doesn't do anything to help skin. Now, I know that what they are trying to encourage you to do is that when you soften skin and you swell the pore a little bit, you can sometimes get better extractions.
00:27:02 And we are going to talk about that in a minute. But it doesn't have to be hot. The skin just has to be splashed with tepid water. Hot doesn't help. If anything, it just makes the skin – I mean having spent years trying to remove blackheads, when your skin is too soft you end up tearing the rest of the skin around it. You actually make it worse. It doesn't – whatever you think you are helping to help get the blackhead out actually ends up damaging the skin around it when you do try to do an extraction and squeeze out a blemish.
00:27:33 Okay, let's do what you can do. Gentle. Be gentle. No irritants. We have made that clear. That means a gentle cleanser; there are a ton of them. Anybody who we take a call tonight, they are going to get a free subscription to so they only find gentle cleansers, and of course, I know I created my cleansers and they are gentle. There are a ton of them out there. Neutrogena has some great options. Olay has some great options.
Bryan Barron: CeraVe.
Paula Begoun: Oh, CeraVe has great options at the drugstore.
00:28:06 Even Cetaphil's, not their regular cleanser, but their normal to oily skin cleanser. I know at Paula's Choice we have some great cleansers. There are so many options out there that don't have to be expensive. Gentle cleansing. No irritating ingredients. You do have to use a salicylic acid based product. There are those out there, not a lot, that don't have alcohol or other irritating ingredients. You can find them on and Paula's Choice, because I am a neurotic about the research about salicylic acid being beneficial for skin.
00:28:41 We have seven or eight products, different textures and consistencies, gels, liquids, lotions, depending on your skin type. BHA, salicylic acid, exfoliates inside the pore. It has some disinfecting properties. And it reduces inflammation.
00:28:59 It is an unsung hero in the world of skincare. Number three, you do have to squeeze out blackheads. I wish it was different. It is a yucky, disgusting thing to talk about. You need a comedone extractor. Go into Google, type in "Comedone Extractor" it will bring them up. But most drugstores in the little area in the drugstore where they have the little tools hanging, there is – I think Revlon or somebody has comedone extractors just hanging right there off the wall. You can gently run that over the skin and then gently –
00:29:35 Bryan, don't we have an article up about how to squeeze a blemish, how to squeeze a blackhead on the website?
Desiree Stordahl: It's on our blog Paula. It's on
Paula Begoun: And what is the title of the blog?
Desiree Stordahl: I don't know the exact title, but if they type "pop a pimple" in the search bar –
Paula Begoun: I hate this topic! I hate this topic. So either you do it, or you have your facialist do it.
Bryan Barron: I found it.
Paula Begoun: What's it called?
Bryan Barron: Yeah, if you go to and search "pop that pimple" it comes up.
Paula Begoun: Oh, what is the title called?
00:30:10 What's the title?
Bryan Barron: It's a blog that you wrote in mid-April. It is called "Go ahead, pop that pimple. Just be careful how you do it."
Paula Begoun: So if you don't want to do it yourself, then a really good facialist who knows what they are doing. Doesn't heat up your face and steam it and doesn't massage it.
00:30:28 You don't massage acne/blemish-prone skin. Have them massage your neck. But you can have a facialist definitely extract blemishes. Don't buy their skincare products. Don't do that. Salon expensive skincare products, just so not worth the money, unless you check on first. So, Bryan, you were mentioning about the Smashbox, their version of Milk of Magnesia.
Bryan Barron: Yes, Anti-Shine.
Paula Begoun: I do think they read my first book, "Blue Eye Shadow Should be Illegal," because I have been recommending Milk of Magnesia as an oil absorbing mask for years.
00:31:09 By the way, it's not – Milk of Magnesia is for diarrhea, Bryan, it's not for antacid. So I don't want anybody, just so we are clear, not that we are digestion people. But just to be clear about its dual purpose; I love multitasking products, but, what Milk of Magnesia does –
Bryan Barron: I'm a Pepto-Bismol man myself.
Paula Begoun: Don't put that on your face! Don't put that on your face.
00:31:33 What Milk of Magnesia is, it contains magnesium hydroxide. Magnesium hydroxide absorbs brilliantly. It is an incredible – so you put on it, you shake the, not the cherry flavored, you shake the container really, really well. It is very liquid. You put a little bit in the palm of your hand and wipe it over the face. You can use it as a mask. You can even wear it under makeup. Just the thinnest layer. Thin, thin, thin. You will be shocked at how well it absorbs oil.
00:32:03 Those are your absolute best options. And now even having said all of that, here's the part that we just have to get a grip on: it is a struggle that isn't easily one. But if you start young enough where the pore doesn't – now, I didn't start young enough – because the pore eventually with constant oil production and constantly being stretched out tends to get damaged and remains stretched out.
00:32:36 But if you start young enough, it never gets that bad if you produce the oil production, by not using irritating ingredients. Well, your hormones are producing your oil production, but to help calm it down and reduce it by not irritating it. Not making it worse. Absorbing the oil with something like a Milk of Magnesia mask.
00:33:02 There are other shine reducing products. Paula's Choice is coming out with Shine Stopper which really has great oil absorbing properties. We also have our Skin Balancing super antioxidant mattifying concentrate that is just very nice. And then there is that OC product that we have talked about on the show. But the Milk of Magnesia, that is just a cheap, great way to give it a try. If you get it going early enough where you are doing all of the right things, you have a better shot of getting the skin you want. But absolutely the extraction process will make a huge difference.
00:33:41 I am out of breath. We need to take some calls or I will just keep talking. Desiree?
Desiree Stordahl: Our first caller is Cindy from California.
Paula Begoun: Hi Cindy from California. Cindy?
Cindy: Hi.
Paula Begoun: Hi, Cindy, what can I do for you?
Cindy: I have a question.
00:34:00 I have blackheads. I'm 56. I still have oily skin, breakouts.
Paula Begoun: I'm 56 and I have oily skin and breakouts, too. It's okay. It's okay! Are you using Paula's Choice? Are you using my products?
Cindy: I got some samples of your products. So I haven't ordered the full sizes yet. But I do like it so far.
Paula Begoun: We will take care of you. So tell me what your question is.
Cindy: Well, I have blackheads, but also on my forehead I have some hard bumps that I can never get anything out of them. They are just –
Paula Begoun: Right, milia.
Cindy: Milia? And I don't know --
Paula Begoun: Those are the worst.
00:34:41 Those are the worst.
Cindy: They are really ugly.
Paula Begoun: I know, and they don't go away. So there is nothing in the world of skincare that is going to make those go away. They are very typical for women over the age of 50 who have an oily/blemish-prone skin.
00:35:01 Literally it is kind of like a little benign little lump of oil – hard lump of oil. It is solidified and it literally is a hard little bump under the skin. And literally once you get it out it is like a little nugget. It is a hard little nugget sitting underneath there. So either you have to remove it and it is very difficult to remove it, or you have an aesthetician or a dermatologist remove it. It has to be cut out.
00:35:28 Now, I am not saying cut out like, you know, an Excalibur sword, but a little sterilized needle, you can break through a little bit underneath the skin and literally pry it out. If you are nervous about doing it, because I don't really want to suggest anybody do that, although lord knows I do it and it works, but you can always go to a dermatologist or an aesthetician who knows what they are doing. Those have to be removed. Skincare is not going to – there is nothing in the world of skincare.
00:35:58 Now in terms of your blackheads and blemishes I am going to – Desiree, let's make sure we get Cindy a set of the Skin Balancing products and the 1% BHA, I'm sorry, Cindy, before I get carried away giving you Paula's Choice products, what kind of cleanser were you using before you got some of our samples? What was the skincare routine you were using?
Cindy: Well, I am guilty of using some products from the drugstore that have alcohol because like you were saying it makes me feel like it is kind of disinfecting.
Paula Begoun: I know.
Cindy: And I just like that feeling –
00:36:37 That real clean feeling.
Paula Begoun: I know.
Cindy: But I was also using Philosophy Purity Cleanser.
Paula Begoun: Bryan, I know that. Oh, I know that cleanser. Did we rate that okay?
Bryan Barron: We didn't. It has some good cleansing ingredients in it, the type of cleansing ingredients that you actually want to look for, but they included a large amount of fragrant oils in that product.
Paula Begoun: Oh right, oh, it stinks.
Bryan Barron: It's a problem.
Cindy: I like it because it could take off my eye makeup, too.
Bryan Barron: But then you are putting all of those fragrant oils right around your eye.
Paula Begoun: Not good. Not good.
00:37:17 By the way, just to reprogram, when that feeling that you think is extra clean, we are going to change that now because it is not extra clean. It is extra irritated. It is dried out.
00:37:33 So I am going to send you the Skin Balancing products for you to try. Don't jump in and use all of them. Go slow. Start with the cleanser, start with the toner during the day. Use the 1% -- actually let's do the 2% beta hydroxy acid gel at night. So just go slowly to see how your skin responds.
Cindy: Tolerates it?
Paula Begoun: Yes.
00:38:02 And I think you will do much better. Well, I know you will do much better. So will you give that a shot for me, Cindy?
Cindy: Sure, thank you very much.
Paula Begoun: All right, big full-sized products. Thank you, Cindy. Desiree, next call.
Desiree Stordahl: Our next caller is Yael from Texas.
Paula Begoun: What's your name, dear?
Yael: Yael.
Paula Begoun: Is this a Superman call? Oh, that was Joel? What was his name?
Bryan Barron: Jor-El.
Paula Begoun: Jor-El. Yes, Yael, what a great name.
00:38:31 Hi, Yael, what can I do for you?
Yael: I wanted to ask you about big pores and pigmentation. When you have a problem of both.
Paula Begoun: It's hard. So, what skin color are you, Yael?
Yael: Olive skin.
Paula Begoun: Olive skin. And the pores are – you also have pimples and pores and blackheads or just blackheads?
Yael: Blackheads on my nose, a little bit of pores on the cheeks, and then pigmentation definitely on my cheeks. So a mix of everything.
Paula Begoun: So is the pigmentation on your cheeks in large dark patches?
00:39:11 Or are they small, little brown patches?
Yael: No, like one big patch on each cheek.
Paula Begoun: Okay, I've got it. So here is the problem. So there are different ways that women get skin discolorations, regardless of – well, not regardless of skin color. Darker skin tones have different kinds of issues around getting brown patches.
00:39:33 But in this situation, the kind of brown patch that you are describing that happens to women of darker skin tones as well, skin colors as well as women with lighter skin tone is that it is not from the sun. I'm not your doctor. I can't say this 100%. I am fairly certain that what you are describing is the kind of brown patching that is caused from hormones. I heard a baby crying in the background. Did they show up sometime during pregnancy?
Yael: I have had it before, and I thought it was related to the sun because up until I was 30 I never put any sunscreen on my face.
00:40:08 I used to go out in the sun all the time. And then I realized what damage I am doing because I got a dark patch. It did go away eventually on its own which is weird.
Paula Begoun: So you didn't feel it was related – it is not related to the baby?
Yael: No, because I had her four years ago and I don't think it was worse when I was pregnant.
00:40:31 It got worse like in the last two years.
Paula Begoun: Yes, so some of it is that it is a combination of things. You can have a hormonal situation that causes the brown discolorations. And what absolutely makes it worse is unprotected sun exposure. But generally sun exposure doesn't show up with such specific large brown – when it is just sun exposure. So some amount of what you have is, I suspect, hormonal. It doesn't necessarily matter that it is hormonal or not because the treatment is the same.
00:41:05 What you do for it is the same. It is just that the kind of discoloration you are describing is trickier. Very, very, very tricky.
Yael: That's what I was wondering about because that is what I worry about, how I can treat it. Because I heard that lasers can maybe help, but because I have darker skin I am so afraid to even try something like that.
00:41:30 Plus, it's expensive.
Paula Begoun: Yes, it is very expensive. So, here is what it is. You need to wear a sunscreen.
Yael: I do. I do.
Paula Begoun: Oh, you do?
Yael: I wear the Neutrogena Sheer Number 90.
Paula Begoun: Oh, you went overboard. How is that doing for you?
Yael: It's okay because it is kind of sheer. It doesn't smear like an oily mask on my face so it is not too bad. But I started using it just this summer. Before I was using --
Paula Begoun: It's a great sunscreen. You did good. And you did that without me. You did good. It's a great sunscreen. I would encourage you to continue using it.
00:42:07 I'm going to send you our skin lightening Remarkable Skin Lightening Gel that has some salicylic acid – well it has 2% salicylic acid, Bryan, right? Bryan?
Yael: Thank you so much.
Bryan Barron: Which product?
Paula Begoun: Our Remarkable Skin Lightening Gel.
Bryan Barron: That has 2% salicylic acid plus the 2% hydroquinone.
Paula Begoun: Right.
00:42:34 So you have to patch test it first to make sure it feels good on your skin and you don't get a reaction. But hydroquinone is the gold standard for improving skin discolorations. You put it where the brown patch is. I'm also going to send you some of our Paula's Choice Skin Balancing products for you, particularly the cleanser, the toner, the 2% BHA gel.
00:43:01 I suspect you have dry skin around your eyes which would be very typical for Mediterranean/olive skin. So we are going to send you the hydrating treatment cream. It is a moisturizer meant for anywhere where there are dry patches, loaded with antioxidants. And, I want you to – and the facial mask. So, I want you to play with some of those. Again, just like I said to the other caller, go slow. And particularly around the area where you are putting the hydroquinone product, you only use it at night, and go slow to see how your skin reacts. But that is the best that you can do.
00:43:37 And particularly because you are darker skin toned, the laser treatments, they are out there for darker skin tones. There are definitely lasers that you can use, but they come with risks. And the studies show that women aren't very satisfied, darker skin tones aren't very satisfied when they have the light treatments or the laser treatments.
Yael: And the chemical peels are also not as good?
Paula Begoun: Yeah, not as good.
00:44:06 Well, it depends. Some physicians are doing salicylic acid peels. Now if you can find a physician doing a salicylic acid peel as opposed to an alpha hydroxy acid peel, salicylic acid peels that a lot of derms do – well, not a lot, but a good number of derms do – helps because it reduces inflammation.
00:44:30 And one of the things that causes healing problems or skin color problems for darker skin women is too much irritation. Actually, I take it back. I actually think salicylic acid peels are better for everybody. But, particularly it is true for darker skin tones just because of the way that skin color tends to heal. So, give these a shot, see how you do, and you will email Desiree in a couple of weeks and let us know how your skin is doing.
Yael: Absolutely. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Paula Begoun: Thanks for calling, Yael.
00:45:02 Desiree, next call.
Desiree Stordahl: Our next caller is Deb from New York.
Paula Begoun: Hi Deb from New York.
Deb: Hi Paula. I'm a big fan.
Paula Begoun: Ooh, that's good. I'm glad.
Deb: I'm always telling my friends what does Paula say, does that have menthol, that's no good.
Paula Begoun: Oh good. See, we have little mini Cosmetics Cops all over the world. That is wonderful.
Deb: Yes. So my question is I have kind of a tricky skin situation. I have Rosacea on my cheeks and perioral dermatitis around my mouth.
00:45:41 And that is under control with the Metro cream. And I do use your alpha hydroxy on my nose and forehead and the Resist with good results. But I listened to your show about Rosacea/salicylic acid, and I really did wonder about starting to use a product like that and if I could use that on my chin specifically because that is where there are a lot of blackheads.
00:46:05 And I don't put anything on it, now.
Paula Begoun: So, a couple of things. So one is that – the ingredient in alpha hydroxy acid products, if is an effective alpha hydroxy acid product is usually glycolic acid, lactic acid. There are a few other names like [gluconolactone], I also pronounce that name wrong.
Deb: It is effective because it is your 8%. It's good.
Paula Begoun: Oh, well now I am even happier.
00:46:40 But the problem is that for your skin type, salicylic acid is far better. It is just a far better option. Because Rosacea is red and perioral dermatitis is nastily red, the anti-inflammatory properties – so both alpha hydroxy acids and salicylic acid have the almost identical surface action of exfoliating skin.
00:47:06 What glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids have that – what salicylic acid also does that glycolic acid doesn't is exfoliate inside the pore to improve the shape of the pore so oil gets out easier. And it has anti-inflammatory properties. So, it reduces redness. And then the other thing it does, it also has anti-bacterial properties so particularly for perioral dermatitis it can kill the bacteria, and for pimples, too –
00:47:40 Kill the bacteria that is causing the problem. So for your skin type in particular I would give a salicylic acid product and I am going to send you a few so you can experiment. Because one of the things about Rosacea and perioral dermatitis is it is an easily irritated skin type. So you would also say you have normal to oil or normal to dry skin combined with?
Deb: Normal to dry.
00:48:05 I use your one-step normal to dry face wash.
Paula Begoun: So here is what I would like you to do. I am going to get you the 1% BHA lotion from Paula's Choice and the 2% BHA lotion so you can experiment. Maybe do your own split face study and see which one works.
00:48:28 Stay with the cleanser you are using. Are you using any of my toners?
Deb: No. I find that I just try to do a minimal amount to my face. I wash it and then I put on the Metro cream and then I just dab the AHA where I am starting to get wrinkles on my forehead and on my nose it helps with the blackheads. But --
Paula Begoun: You should be able to put the salicylic acid all over because you really can't spot treat wrinkles. I know it feels like you can. First of all, they are going to show up all over eventually anyway.
00:49:03 You want to get in front of it, not behind it. I'm going to China next week for a press tour for Paula's Choice; my products are sold in China and Taiwan. And what reporters always say, I mean even in this country, reporters all over the world ask me, "When should I start using anti-aging skincare products?" From birth. From the time you are born you are aging.
00:49:31 And obviously what I am really saying is that from the time you are born you want to do healthy things for your skin. One is wearing sunscreen, not being out in the sun, being sun-smart. That is the primary thing. And then there is a ton of other – you know, not irritating the skin. Eating a healthy diet. Putting lots of antioxidants on your skin. For babies – we have to do a show on baby skincare. But, that is a whole other discussion.
00:49:56 So, I want you to play with the 1% BHA, the 2% and the 1% lotions. And then I am going to, even though I know you are concerned about your skin and its reaction and using stuff, and you do have to patch test things and give things a try, I do think that the Moisture Boost Toner from Paula's Choice, I would like you to give that a shot. And I am also going to send you our hydrating treatment cream for your dry areas and around your eyes to see, to help.
00:50:33 Actually, Desiree, also send out the Skin Recovery Moisturizer just because you have to experiment to see with the skin type you are struggling with to see how your skin reacts, Deb. One other thing, did you ever try for your perioral dermatitis to not use toothpaste?
Deb: Oh, no.
Bryan Barron: Well, toothpaste with fluoride.
Paula Begoun: I'm sorry.
Bryan Barron: We are not saying to stop brushing your teeth.
Deb: Oh, you were scaring me.
Paula Begoun: No, no, no.
00:51:04 God, that really did just sound terrible.
Bryan Barron: Have you ever tried not eating to lose weight? I mean, it's a suggestion.
Deb: I have done some of the natural toothpaste because I had heard about that, but I think that the biggest culprit is always extreme cold, extreme hot, alcohol, spicy foods.
Paula Begoun: No, I mean for the perioral dermatitis.
Deb: Yeah.
Paula Begoun: So it didn't help to use a non-fluoride?
Deb: No.
Paula Begoun: Okay, all right.
Deb: No, no.
00:51:32 It just comes in the winter. It is like, here it is, and it's back. It just comes. And I have to be real gentle with it. But I was listening to your show about salicylic so I was pretty interested in starting that. Do you put that on before or after Metro cream?
Paula Begoun: You put it on before because it actually helps the Metro cream absorb better. So you put it on before and then you put on the Metro cream.
Deb: Great. Thank you.
Paula Begoun: Deb, I'm going to be curious.
00:52:02 You have to let me know how you are doing. Thank you for calling.
Deb: I will give you an update. Thank you, Paula.
Paula Begoun: Absolutely. Take care.
Desiree Stordahl: Our next caller is Mary from Michigan.
Paula Begoun: Hi Mary from Michigan.
Mary: Hi Paula.
Paula Begoun: Hi, oh, I am not hearing you really well, can you speak up a little bit dear.
Mary: Yeah, is this helping?
Paula Begoun: There you go. Now I've got you.
Mary: Great. I have large pores, oily skin, blemish-prone, [unintelligible], the whole bit, and I started using the Clarisonic early this year.
00:52:26 I had great results as far as my acne for the first time in my life. Like, it disappeared. So anyways, this summer, over a month ago I noticed on my nose some really small areas of surface capillaries that I never had before. And I Googled it and apparently other Clarisonic users have had this problem, too.
00:53:02 So I stopped using it.
Paula Begoun: And your acne came back?
Mary: No, it hasn't actually. I feel like I get a better clean, especially the large pores in my nose don't look quite as clean, I guess, and I have kind of lost that glow, but --
Paula Begoun: Well, you would definitely lose a glow. So just for all of the listeners out there, the Clarisonic is a rotary brush that scrubs over your face with a cleanser to get it extra clean. It is about a $200 little machine.
00:53:44 And it comes with you have to buy new heads for the machine every now and then. I don't know, once every – Bryan, do you know – Mary, do you know how often they tell you to replace the heads?
Mary: You know, it might be every three months and I am not sure.
00:54:00 I actually haven't replaced mine.
Paula Begoun: But the glow is from the irritation. But absolutely people using the Clarisonic, some people absolutely think it works great. I don't think it is going to hurt you. I haven't seen the research about the red surface capillaries being a problem. However, what a lot of people do with products like the Clarisonic or scrubs is they just overdo it and tear into skin.
00:54:28 And then absolutely one of the things that can happen, especially for white women is you are going to damage surface capillaries. Sometimes they will resolve on their own. But there are definitely IPLs and lasers that nicely, easily, take care of surface capillaries. But your question to me is what do you do now?
Mary: Yes. I think that was my question. Should I discontinue use?
Paula Begoun: Well I would stop using the Clarisonic or at least stop using it in the areas that are impacted.
00:55:02 And just use it on the other areas. Now, one of the things that I often recommend, just to test, you can do your own little split face study, is use a wash cloth on one side with a gentle cleanser and this Clarisonic on the other and see what results you get and how you feel about your skin. But, yes, a lot of women love that Clarisonic. I still think you need absolutely a salicylic acid product. Given the way you describe your skin it wouldn't hurt you to see a facialist who can do the extractions for you, remove the blackheads.
00:55:35 But what I am going to do because we have to wrap up the show. Mary, I am going to get you some Skin Balancing products from Paula's Choice. I'm going to get you our 2% BHA lotion and the 2% gel so you can experiment with them and see what works for you. In terms of the [unintelligible], you have to use a sunscreen. Now because of your skin problems, what are you using?
Mary: I actually use your moisturizing sunscreen.
Paula Begoun: Oh, so you tend to have dry skin?
Mary: Well, I think it is from your Skin Balancing line.
00:56:12 I think it is the 15 SPF.
Paula Begoun: All right, that makes more sense. That makes more sense. So we are going to just replenish your Skin Balancing system. So we are going to send you out a new system and I want you to experiment with these things and, Desiree, will you also include a Remarkable Skin Lightening Gel?
00:56:33 Test that out before you use it all over, Mary, and give it a shot on the dark patches. Just test one area and see how it does for you to start.
Mary: Thank you.
Paula Begoun: Thank you for calling, Mary. Take care, dear. Whoa, we got a lot in. I'm tired. So, we have to do this show again. Women have so many questions about this. It is such an important topic.
00:57:00 And in some ways it is an easy topic, it is just so dang frustrating. So we are going to help you; we are going to do this topic again. We are going to get you off of the irritating products, get you some good gentle products. For blackheads you do have to consider the extractions. To remove it, the salicylic acid absolutely. Scrubbing – I don't like scrubs. I didn't get a chance to talk about that much. I actually will go over that next time we do the show.
00:57:33 The Milk of Magnesia mask or the Shine Stopper that we are going to be creating and the one from Smashbox which is a more expensive version of Milk of Magnesia. And you will be at least on your way to having better skin than you could have hoped for or have been struggling with with other products.
  So, this is Paula Begoun. God, I feel like I just want to keep going. All of these questions out there. So, this is Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, with my Cosmetics Cop team –
00:58:00 Desiree Stordahl and Bryan Barron. The little Cosmetics Cop team village keeping your Beautifully Informed live every Thursday evening, 6pm Seattle time, 9pm Eastern, and at different times because you can listen to the show archived all over the world.
  Next week we are going to be talking about selecting the perfect perfume to drive him wild and not upset everybody in the elevator you get on when you have too much perfume on or the wrong perfume.
00:58:36 And September 9 we are going to talk about proven solutions to get rid of unwanted hair. Desiree is helping me learn how to use the Tria I just bought. What a difficult little machine. It is the laser hair removal system that you can buy for home use. And it really is the same laser that dermatologists use.
00:59:01 And then on the 16 we are going to do fall makeup trends. What works and what doesn't. Just because it is a trend doesn't mean you should do it. By the way, there will be a new blog up on the Beauty Bunch blog next week on Lady Gaga falling in the airport. I saw Lady Gaga, she was all over the place in New York. I can't – so you have to read that.
00:59:28 What I am saying is just because it is a trend doesn't mean you should do it. We are going to help you differentiate between the good trends and the bad trends, the ugly trends that aren't going to help you.
  We have Dr. Perry coming up on another show for plastic surgery, all of your questions about cutting and pasting and what works and what doesn't. Hello, Claudia, I miss you. Thank you for your feedback about the show. We love your feedback, everybody's feedback.
  So, again, Paula Begoun. Keeping you Beautifully Informed with the Cosmetics Cop team. Good night.
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