Are Your Whiteheads Actually Milia?
The term “ whitehead” is tossed around frequently when talking about skin—but oftentimes, it’s misused. For example, you might use it to describe those pesky little white bumps that spring up around your eyes and cheeks, but in reality, those aren’t whiteheads at all—they’re called milia. Curious about what this under-the-radar skin condition is? We were too. Luckily, Renee Rouleau, our resident skin expert and celebrity esthetician, was more than happy to share her knowledge with us (including exactly how to remove them).
Click through the slideshow to learn all about milia!
Contrary to popular belief, milia aren’t always caused by blocked pores. Though Rouleau says heavy, pore-clogging oils found in moisturizers (like mineral oil and petrolatum) are one cause, for many people, it’s simply genetic. One other culprit: “I also see an increase of milia in those who smoke cigarettes,” Rouleau says.
“The only way to remove them is to get them manually extracted by an esthetician or dermatologist,” Rouleau says. Curious about how they do it? Rouleau says that a skin professional will need to pierce your skin with a lancet to create an opening, then gently squeeze the milia out. In other words—don’t attempt this at home.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent these pesky bumps from returning. “Once you get them removed, regular acid exfoliators are essential to prevent them from coming back,” Rouleau says. She recommends looking for salicylic acid when it comes to choosing skincare products, because it gets deep into your pore lining and keeps it clean. Try her eponymous line’s BHA Clarifying Serum ($46)—it features salicylic acid as an active ingredient. She also recommends alternating with gentle, low-foaming cleansing gels to deep clean without over-drying your skin (we like Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple ($23)).
Your derm may be able to keep milla at bay, too. “Regular, deep-pore cleansing facials can also be beneficial,” Rouleau says. “[They] prevent the pores from filling up and getting blocked in the first place.” She also recommends getting a salicylic acid, 30% chemical peel every month to keep your skin smooth and milia-free.
Keep clicking for the best milia-fighting cleansers!