Whiteheads vs Blackheads: What's the Difference?

Did you know there are actually lots of different types of pimples. Yep.

Blackhead, whiteheads, pimples, blind pimples… they’re all normal, as well as varying degrees of annoying.

A common question around pimples is the whole whitehead vs blackhead thing.

Aside from the obvious colour difference, what makes a blackhead black and a whitehead white? Are blackheads and whiteheads on face all a part of the same blemish family, or are they totally unrelated? So many questions. 

From why whiteheads on nose happen to the best blackheads whiteheads removal tricks, we’ve done some research and found the products to help you tackle your pimples.

whiteheads vs blackheads_whiteheads on nosewhiteheads vs blackheads_whiteheads on nose

What Are Whiteheads?

How do you get whiteheads? and What causes whiteheads on face? 

To get a bit scientific on you, whiteheads can also be referred to as ‘closed comedones’. A type of acne that forms when too much sebum, or oil, is present in your pores, whiteheads can crop up for a number of reasons.

If you’re someone who has hormones (that’s all of us, then), you’ve probably experienced a whitehead at one point or another. Puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause—hormones can wreak havoc on the skin. From more oil production to general skin changes that are hard to track, clear skin can quickly become acne prone skin in a new stage of life.

Whiteheads vs Blackheads_Close up of womans face with minor blemishes_1080x900Whiteheads vs Blackheads_Close up of womans face with minor blemishes_1080x900

How to Stop Whiteheads from Forming?

It can be hard to stop a whitehead from forming, because it’s not always obvious why it’s popped up. Often arising just before you get your period (pass the chocolate, please), whiteheads on nose and chin and forehead and back and arms (we could go on—these things can pop up everywhere) can make your time of the month even more frustrating.

If you’re looking for a tried-and-tested tip on how to get whiteheads away from your skin, it all comes down to the ingredients in the products you use. Salicylic Acid is an astringent that helps soak up any excess oil on the skin. This BHA also helps decrease dead skin cells on the surface of your complexion—cells that can seep into your pores, causing whiteheads.

What's a Blackhead?

What’s a blackhead, you ask? A blackhead is what forms when a clogged pore filled with gunk is exposed to air. The stuff inside oxidises and turns black, hence the name blackheads.

What are blackheads filled with, exactly? Well, it’s not dirt. Blackheads are made up of sebum (oil), product residue, and dead skin cells. Unlike whiteheads and other types of pimples, you can’t squeeze blackheads because they sit on the skin’s surface. As for how to identify blackheads, they'll always look like a tiny black spot.

If you’ve ever wondered, are blackheads painful, the answer is: not really. Blackheads around the nose, chin and cheeks don’t feel like anything, but infected blackheads and blackheads in an awkward place like your ear or nostril can feel sore and inflamed. 

How To Treat Blackheads and Whiteheads

From how to treat whiteheads on face naturally with pure organic ingredients to dealing with dry skin and whiteheads on nose, we’ve put the products to the test and found the ones that will blitz both your blackheads and your whiteheads.

If you’re looking for a naturally boosted blend to help refine and repair your skin (post breakout), SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel could be your next bathroom-shelf babe. A natural skin lightener, this gentle blend is fortified with natural botanicals including Natural Thyme and Cooling Cucumber offer relief to angry, inflamed skin. Hyaluronic Acid plumps the skin with hydration without leaving it oily. Mulberry Extract helps lift any pigmentation, and Grapefruit helps refine and brighten dull skin. Cucumber Extract cools the skin and helps reduce irritation. Eucalyptus is an antibacterial and antiseptic agent that lifts away debris and helps prevent whiteheads on face. Olive Leaf Extract is an antioxidant that eases skin inflammation and stimulates skin cell turnover.

How to Use:

SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel is an ideal formula for anyone dealing with rosacea or acne, or recovering from any skin procedures. This gentle formula will help even out your skin’s tone if your acne has left behind a slew of scars. Apply this product after your serum and before your morning sunscreen.

The Ordinary really changed the skincare game when it arrived on the scene, putting honesty and integrity at the heart of its products. If you’re looking for high-quality, affordable skincare products, you might want to pick up a (good-looking) bottle or two from the range. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% is an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid that helps you tackle the white head pimples on face problems you’re having. Completely cruelty-free and vegan, this mild exfoliator helps tackle an uneven skin tone that’s peppered with pimples, blackheads, and more. Also good for age spots and rough patches, this blend helps you achieve healthy, plump-looking skin

How to Use:

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% stimulates cell regeneration, so if you have any acne scarring or pigmentation, the product will help even out the skin’s texture overall. Apply it in the evening and follow up with your favourite moisturiser.

To maintain your skin and keep it clear, asap daily facial cleanser will help. Made in Australia, vegan, cruelty-free, and artificial fragrance-free this formula is super-gentle but also really effective. This cleanser is enriched with antioxidants, which protect the skin from daily pollutants and free radicals. The Glycolic Acid (an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid) in the solution gently lifts impurities from the skin and sweeps away pore-clogging dead skin cells. The less bacteria you have on your skin’s surface, the less likely blackheads will appear.

How to Use:

Designed to wash away impurities, asap daily facial cleanser is for all skin types to enjoy. This formula also works well as a makeup remover for acne prone skin. Use morning and night by applying to wet skin and massaging gently for 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

We know that you know that sunscreen is a non-negotiable for healthy, beautiful skin. But it can be super-frustrating when a thick, greasy SPF aggravates your skin and accelerates whiteheads and blackheads. Ultra Violette Clean Screen SPF 30 Skinscreen has been made with this complaint in mind. A new formula that’s artificial fragrance-free, alcohol-free, mineral oil-free, and paraben-free, this blend is great for sensitive skin. With a mattifying gel texture, this SPF 30 sunscreen reduces the risk of irritation with an intelligent blend of ingredients. Cooling and calming the skin, this blend never makes your skin feel greasy. The broad-spectrum sunscreen includes Titanium Dioxide, an ultra-gentle, soothing form of protection that’s perfect for even very sensitive skin.

How to Use:

Apply Ultra Violette Clean Screen SPF30 Skinscreen as the last step in your skincare routine, even if you're sitting inside (those harmful rays can still getcha through your windows). Reapply every 2 hours or after extreme sweat or swimming. Whether you’re struggling with acne, dermatitis, or rosacea, this lightweight blend won’t clog or pores or aggravate your tender skin.

Made with the abundant powers of Jeju Volcanic Clusters, innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam refreshes tired skin and whisks away pesky impurities. Perfect for all ages, this pore-clearing face wash can help you get your acne-prone and oily skin back on track. The Jeju Volcanic Clusters included in the blend are rich in minerals and super-absorptive. The powerful lather of this cleanser cuts through excess sebum on the skin’s surface, so you enjoy fresher, clearer, smoother skin. Made using the very best Korean methods, this formula doesn’t take a lot to make a difference in your skin.

How to Use:

Apply an appropriate amount of Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam between your wet hands and create a lather. Gently massage the cleanser on your face. Rinse with warm water and follow up with your favourite blemish-control serum or moisturiser.

If you have oily, shiny skin, you might often be tempted to skip the moisturiser altogether. It might seem like a good idea, and your skin may LOOK hyperhydrated (aka shiny), without a good dose of moisture, it could quickly dry out and flake. This anti-acne moisturiser is especially formulated to reduce the number of breakouts you experience and diminish the size of your pores. Perfect at battling stubborn spots and difficult-to-shift blackheads, this formula has been crafted to kill any lingering bacteria on the skin and decongest the pores at the same time. A unique blemish-fighting treatment, the blend also keeps your skin smooth and hydrated. It’s the best of both worlds! Niacinamide and Piroctone Olamine do the bacteria-fighting. Linoleic Acid and LHA deeply cleanse the pores.

How to Use:

Working to remove excess sebum, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (+) Acne Moisturiser is safe to use on even the most sensitive skin types. Your skin will soon start to look clearer and more refined and clarified. Apply morning and night to cleansed and dry skin, covering all areas of breakout.

When your skin breaks out, you might instantly reach for the astringent toners and chemical-laden moisturisers. But Elemental Herbology Cool & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser takes a more natural approach. Designed to cool and calm the skin after you’ve experienced a breakout, this gentle face wash contains a blend of antibacterial agents. Mineral oil-free, paraben-free, artificial fragrance-free, and cruelty-free, this gentle formula nourishes your skin while you wash. Tea Tree acts as a natural antiseptic and antibacterial to help reduce the number of breakouts you experience. Bisabolol helps reduce any inflammation on the skin. And the natural botanical extracts help protect the skin from free radical damage and pollutants. The Apple Sugar in the formula acts as a cleansing agent and gently resurfaces the skin to leave it feeling soft and comfortable.

How to Use:

Carefully crafted to have a thin consistency, Elemental Herbology Cool & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser removes makeup without tugging at your skin. Apply one to two pumps to a damp face, lather up and massage into those areas which have increased oil production, or are prone to congestion. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. 

There’s nothing worse than waking up to a fresh, new blemish. Especially when you’ve got a big day (or a hot night) ahead of you! Crafted to minimise the appearance of breakouts without causing further irritation, this artificial fragrance-free, cruelty-free formula is good to have handy if you have unpredictable skin. Featuring an intelligent combination of ingredients, this treatment lets you feel more confident about your complexion. The Niacinamide in the mix helps support the skin’s barrier (so you heal faster). Lemon Tea Tree Oil is a natural antimicrobial and antioxidant that helps defend the skin from free radicals. Ethanol helps dry out blemishes. Salicylic Acid exfoliates the skin and helps unclog congested pores. Beracare AAA soothes and mattifies the skin.

How to Use:

Aspect Stop Spot 8ml is made to target spots directly. Simply dab this formula onto the affected areas as often as you need to start seeing results.

This unique formula will help you tackle frustrating blemishes AND your cute, little fine lines and wrinkles. Made with a dream team of Retinol and Salicylic Acid, this high-performing night oil helps clear up your skin complaints without causing any irritation. Mineral oil-free, paraben-free and completely cruelty-free, this clever little combo oil helps ease the more annoying signs of ageing. This clearing oil features a blend of ingredients that can help you overcome whatever you're battling. Salicylic Acid helps sweep debris, oil, and impurities from your pores. Time-released Retinol works to reduce the signs of ageing. This formula also contains a trio of healthy oils—Argan, Golden Jojoba, and Rosehip—to keep your complexion hydrated and nourished.

How to Use:

Apply 6 to 10 drops of Dermalogica Active Clearing Retinol Clearing Oil to achieve clear, fresh-feeling skin. Rather than pile a number of products onto your skin, achieve healthier-looking skin with this one handy little bottle. This contains ingredients that increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun so use it at night and always were SPF during the day.

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

Need a recap? Here are the best acne treatments for blackheads and whiteheads

It doesn't matter whether you’re dealing with a whitehead or trying to get a hold of blackheads: when your skin is blemished, your confidence might dip. Get back some control by building yourself up a skincare routine that you know you can rely on.

    Join Now >
    Filled with the usual things we know you'll love, and surprises you might not expect, it's real rewards, really simple.