Sometimes, marketing companies are kind of dicks.
One of the crappiest beauty-related stunts that they have pulled is convincing people that normal and permanent parts of their skin are somehow pathological and need to be removed.
This is my nose:
As you can see, it is covered in little dots. Those dots are not blackheads; they're sebaceous filaments. Why do so many people think they're blackheads? Well, in their commercials, companies like Proactiv say, "BLACKHEADS SUCK, ERMEGERD" and then zoom in on pictures of sebaceous filaments. Then, normal people take the obvious implication of the commercial as fact, and conflate sebaceous filaments and blackheads when they talk about their face... and everyone ends up confused.
Again, sometimes, marketing companies are kind of dicks.
So, what are sebaceous filaments? You may remember that your skin has sebaceous glands, which emit a waxy goop called sebum. Sebum keeps your skin and hair soft and waterproof, both of which are appreciated. Sebaceous glands are typically found in areas with at least a little bit of hair. They connect to that hair follicle.
In areas with "wispy" hairs and larger sebaceous glands, you may find something that has been sexily described as a "a loose, porous mass of horny detritus". The outer-most section of the hair follicle, called the acro-infundibulum, sloughs off cells. This mixes with sebum and miscellaneous bacteria around the hair itself, forming "a skeleton of 10-30 horny cell layers" and a bunch of other gunk.
This is a natural process associated with sebum production. Thanks, puberty.
Most of you will probably be unsurprised to hear that sebaceous filaments are typically found around the center of your face and on your nose.
I went ahead and used a Biore pore strip, because I can only assume that you want to see my sebaceous filaments close-up. Although people frequently suggest that Biore pore strips remove blackheads, they actually remove sebaceous filaments. To use one, you wash your face, put the strip on your wet nose, wait for it to dry, and rip it off. (It's not very comfortable.)
Obviously, you can see that the pore strip ripped out a fair number of my sebaceous filaments. Does that mean they are effective? Well, it depends on what you mean by effective. Sebaceous filaments can be ripped out, sure. But they are quickly refilled by the sebaceous gland. They are an irreversible part of your basic skin structure.
(Worth noting, for those of you who truly hate these buggers: anecdotal evidence indicates that salicylic acid may reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments, but, with no proven topical method of reducing sebum production, it's a crapshoot at best. I promise, though, your nose looks fine.)