Know the Difference between Sebaceous Filaments vs Blackheads!

Know the Difference between Sebaceous Filaments vs Blackheads!

  • By Anindita Biswas

Not sure if what you have on your skin is sebaceous filaments or blackheads? Read further to know the difference between them and how to treat them effectively.

If you’ve ever come across a video of someone removing or peeling a nose strip and found it satisfying enough to try for yourself, you might want to hold onto that thought! People in such videos claim that what’s being picked out in the strips is blackheads. However, that’s not actually true. Instead, it's sebaceous filaments in this scenario.

Have you ever peered in the mirror so closely that you could see microscopic spots, particularly on the nose? What you see there may not be blackheads, but rather sebaceous filaments. They do look quite similar but are different. Let’s understand both the concepts closely and take a look at how you can treat blackheads vs sebaceous filaments. Stick till the end to know one of the best treatments for sebaceous filaments!!

What are sebaceous filaments and how to identify them?

Sebaceous filaments, which develop in hair follicles and skin pores, are an accumulation of extra sebum from oil glands, dirt particles, and dead skin cells. Each person's skin's genetic makeup can affect the size and number of sebaceous filaments. Many people develop sebaceous filaments naturally as a result of aging, acne, and hormonal changes.

Sebaceous filaments frequently resemble grayish dots on your skin, which makes them appear upon first sight to be blackheads/whiteheads. They are most frequently found in the oilier parts of the face, particularly your T-zone (that is around your nose and chin), which is another reason why they are frequently mistaken for blackheads. They are typically not as large as a typical blackhead, though.

As far as sebaceous filaments are concerned, their function is to help sebum flow from the oil glands to the skin's surface. This, in turn, reduces water loss, increases hydration, and protects the skin. Sebaceous filaments can become visible as pores swell with sebum.

What are blackheads and how to identify them?

Like sebaceous filaments, blackheads begin in our pores as well. These are elevated black lumps made up of dead skin, sebum, and other dirt. They gain their dark black color from oxidation, which occurs when that mixture on the skin's surface is exposed to oxygen. If you have extremely oily skin, you’re likely to get blackheads more often than other skin types.

The main difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads

Blackheads and sebaceous filaments are frequently confused with one another. People mistake the two because of their similar appearance even though they are very different from one another. Let's understand the difference between sebaceous filaments vs blackheads and close the debate once and for all.

Sebaceous filaments


  • They are usually beige, yellowish, and grayish dots
  • They are a result of collection of sebum and dead skin cells around hair follicle
  • These are regular, normal pores that have filled up to the surface with sebum
  • They are permanent, return easily, and a part of your skin structure
  • They are commonly found on the nose, chin, jawline, and forehead
  • Their appearance can be minimized by controlling oil on your skin
  • They are always black dots
  • They are a result of oxidation of clogged open pores that has dirt, sebum and dead skin cells
  • These are a form of acne that are non-inflammatory
  • They are temporary, if treated they won’t return
  • They are commonly found on the nose, chin, cheeks, neck, and back
  • They can be treated and eliminated completely with over-the-counter acne treatments

Treatment for sebaceous filaments and blackheads

Both sebaceous filaments and blackheads are different and so is their treatment. Let’s take a look at them individually.

How to treat sebaceous filaments?

Although only temporarily, removing sebaceous filaments improves skin texture and makes it appear smoother. The idea behind getting rid of sebaceous filaments is to minimize them by keeping the pores clean. You can learn everything about pores and how to minimize their appearance in this post right here: What are Pores? Aside from these, adding retinoids, utilizing clay masks, and using over-the-counter treatments like salicylic acid and glycolic acid all on a weekly rotation can also significantly improve the skin.

Lastly, a tried and tested method to effectively get rid of sebaceous filaments is the “skin gritting” technique. Recently, skincare influencers and YouTubers have been spreading a technique for removing sebaceous filaments of oil and dirt, often known as gritting. It is a deep cleansing method that involves cleansing your face with a mixture of castor oil and another facial oil. Massage onto dry skin until you feel "grits" or granules on your fingertips. You can do this once every week or 10 days as doing it frequently may be too harsh for the skin. After cleansing, go ahead with your regular skincare routine. Try it and let us know if it’s worked for you!

How to treat blackheads?

It is always better to prevent blackheads from forming on your skin than it is to remove them. Try double cleansing every night with an oil-based cleanser and a water based cleanser. Exfoliants like BHA and AHA should be used twice a week, while retinoids or benzoyl peroxide should be used on days when you aren't exfoliating your skin. A fantastic product to include in your routine is acne spot corrector gel, which is a powerful formula that contains ingredients such as Azelaic acid, Salicylic acid, Glycolic acid, Niacinamide, Panthenol, and others that are efficient at treating even the most stubborn blackheads!

Sebaceous filaments and blackheads are common skin conditions, therefore having them is not a huge concern. Sebaceous filaments are in reality in charge of maintaining the moisture of your skin. However, if you feel like they prevent you from showing off your flawless appearance, don’t hesitate to try these techniques!

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