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Have you ever pored over those black dots all over your nose, desperately trying to squeeze them out? How about using a pore strip to peel all the gunk out at once?

If you have, don’t worry. We’ve been there too, guilty of doing everything to get rid of those annoying black dots. Yet they always seem to pop back no matter what we do.

But now, thanks to an informative video by Dr. Maxfield and Dr. Shah on the Doctorly Youtube channel, we can say goodbye once and for all to our blackhead problems.

In this article, we’ll be sharing what exactly these black dots are and which ingredients you need to consider to target them as well as recommend a simple routine.

What are these black dots?

Sebaceous Filament Guide what are they

Photo source: Freepik

“These things that are being lifted out of the skin are an accumulation of the oil from your oil glands as well as dirt, debris, and gunk.” – Dr. Maxfield.

These small black dots all over your nose aren’t blackheads but are actually sebaceous filaments, which help to move sebum to the surface of your skin.

While overproduction of sebum is often the cause of oily skin, sebum serves an important function to keep our skin soft and supple, or else you’ll end up with dry and flaky skin.

The oils in our skin are made up of many things that play a big part in maintaining skin health:

  • Glycerol – Plays a role in skin hydration, elasticity, and skin barrier repair
  • Sterols – Stimulates collagen and hydration
  • Wax esters – Seal in internal moisture
  • Squalene – Lock in moisture into your skin
  • Free fatty acids – Crucial in maintaining skin barrier function
  • Triglycerides – Creates a barrier on the skin’s surface to retain moisture

If you attempt to extract a sebaceous filament, a white or yellow worm-like structure will ooze out, or it might not produce anything at all.

Squeezing can injure the skin and cause scarring as well as damage and stretch the pore, making it look bigger, which is the opposite of what we want to do.

So, how are we supposed to keep these black dots on our noses in control? There are actually many ingredients we can look for to target them.

Ingredients to target sebaceous filaments

Sebaceous Filament Guide ingredients

Photo source: Birgith Roosipuu

“An occasional pore strip once a month, once every other month is going to remove those tiny vellus hairs on the skin and can be a nice clean up treatment that you use like occasionally.” – Dr. Shah.

Dr. Maxfield and Dr. Shah have listed some beneficial ingredients to target these sebaceous filaments. As long as you’ve got these ingredients in your routine, you can combat these black dots well.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that exfoliates the skin. It is oil-soluble, which means it can penetrate and unclog your pores.

It can be used in a cleanser or in a leave-on product so that you can dissolve oil and decrease sebum production.


A catch-all name for an array of vitamin A-based products used for the skin, retinoids can decrease oil production and increase skin cell turnover.

Retinoids can be used at night along with a gentle salicylic acid cleanser. This way, you can get the effects of both ingredients.


Niacinamide is another oil production regulator. It also provides many extra benefits including treating hyperpigmentation, moisturising the skin, and protecting against environmental stresses.

While this ingredient can be incorporated almost anywhere in your routine, the doctors recommend it to be used in a leave-on product.

Green Tea

Asides from reducing excess sebum, green tea is rich in antioxidants. It also has anti-ageing properties and is a great anti-inflammatory product.

It is recommended to use it in your toner or even your moisturiser to really obtain the benefits.

A simple routine to start you off

We’ve compiled a simple routine from cleanser all the way to sunscreen based on the ingredients the doctor’s have mentioned, so you can keep those sebaceous filaments in check.


COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

This is a gentle cleanser that you can use twice a day to remove those impurities. It’s great for all skin types, and suitable for sensitive skin.

It has a pleasant creamy texture that doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight or stripped of moisture.

It retails for S$16.



innisfree Green Tea Seed Skin

innisfree Green Tea Seed Skin

You’ll love this hydrating toner as it has both the benefits of fresh green tea water as well as green tea seed oil.

It’ll give you clear and plump skin without worries of that tight, overly-dry feeling.

It retails for S$29.



The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

We highly recommend this retinol as it is pretty affordable and also quite effective.

When you add this to your routine, you can expect enhanced collagen production and improved overall skin clarity.

It retails for S$15.



CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion

CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion

This lotion moisturises the skin while restoring its protective barrier, thanks to the main ingredients of ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.

There is an AM and a PM version. The difference? The AM version offers broad spectrum SPF30.

It retails for S$20.



Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun: Rice + Probiotics SPF50+ PA++++

Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun: Rice + Probiotics SPF50+ PA++++

Niacinamide is one of the ingredients in this chemical-based sunscreen.  You don’t have to worry about not having enough sun protection, as its SPF 50 rating is certified by two labs in Korea and Spain.

Here’s a fun fact: This sunscreen was among the top Asian beauty products Redditors would choose if they were only allowed five for the rest of their lives!

It retails for S$33.80.


Featured image credit: Freepik