The other day I got a facial with a fancy aesthetician. It started out like any other: relaxing massage, gentle scrubbing, a bit of steam before the extractions. Then, all of sudden, my aesthetician said with a little disgust, “Have you always had so many blackheads in your ears?” What? Wait! In my ears?
I’d never heard of such a thing. But there I was, having someone scraping the insides of my ears with a diamond-tip microdermabrasion wand. How long had they been there? Could people see them? What caused them? It’s the earbuds; it has to be those filthy earbuds!
Well, although this is a gross beauty issue, it’s not exactly a rare one. A quick Google search (which I reeeeally don’t recommend doing) brings about thousands of results on how to get rid of them, including lots of popping videos that are the equivalent of zit popper’s porn.
Also, none of the dermatologists I talked to seemed all that fazed by my problem. “They’re similar to the clogged pores you’d see anywhere else,” says Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist in Boston. “You can cleanse the area and apply a warm compress to loosen up the pores, then apply gentle pressure with two gloved hands to extract. That said, this is often a good job to leave to an aesthetician.”
To prevent them, Ellen Marmur, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, recommends applying a retinol to the area with a cotton swap, using gentle, circular motions. The retinol will prevent dead skin cells from building up in your pores, which in turn will prevent blackheads.
My aesthetician told me to swipe on a thin layer of Biologique Recherche Lotion P50W, a liquid toner that also helps to exfoliate the top layer of skin. Nobody could answer whether or not my iPhone earbuds were the culprit, but trust me, after wiping down my ears tonight, I’ll be rubbing down my headphones with some rubbing alcohol just in case.
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