Blackheads. Most people with even remotely oily skin have ‘em, and everybody hates the little buggers. These spots ain’t cute like freckles; they’re dark, glaring pools of pure, undistilled evil.
First off, just what are these nasty specks? Now, I’m no chemist (I skipped Chemistry in school… Physics-boy, here), but from what I understand, blackheads are whiteheads without a layer of skin over them. Both are a collection of sebum and dead skin cells within the duct of a sebaceous gland, and, to put it mildly, they’re really gross…
Both start out whitish in color, but whiteheads stay white because they have a layer of skin over them, which is also why they swell. Blackheads do not. The layer of skin over whiteheads allows the duct to act as a breeding ground for bacteria. Blackheads, on the other hand, open to the air, quickly oxidize and appear black. Incidentally, oxidation is also the reason why metals rust.
Whiteheads are the reason why I’ve been on varying acne medications for the past three years. Duac, Tetracycline, Doxycline, Differin, Monocycline, Retin-A… You name it, and I’ve probably been on some form of it at one point or another. The problem is that none of them seemed to have much effect. They just either dried out my skin or made it extremely red, without much reduction in the amount of acne I actually had. My dermatologist finally put me on a combination of Epiduo and Soladyn, which is my current regiment, and these two, along with my wondrous Clarisonic, have cleared up my skin something fierce.
Within six months of use, my skin had relatively cleared, with only one to two active pimples at a time, for the most part, and very small ones at that. That meant I could finally concentrate on the last remaining symptom of my hyperactive sebaceous glands: the tiny black dots speckled over my nose.
Now, I’d been lucky in that I’d never really had any acne on my nose; just a myriad of blackheads. The medication seemed to reduce the darkness of them (somehow…), but not the amount, while the Clarisonic helped reduce their size. Again, no real reduction in number. I was stumped. Being on acne medication that caused chemical exfoliation of my skin and using the Clarisonic, which imparts mild physical exfoliation, I didn’t seem like the best candidate for more manual exfoliation (at the risk of tearing up my skin and giving myself a giant red rash). And, from previous experience with using a manual exfoliator twice weekly, it didn’t do much more than clear out a handful of my dreaded blackheads.
So, what was left to do? Laser resurfacing was way out of my league (and insurance wouldn’t cover it), and I wasn’t eligible for microdermabrasion due to my acne meds. I scoured the net for alternative solutions and finally stumbled upon the cult brand, Mario Badescu. It purportedly had a powder that could be used to extract and diminish blackheads, and boy was I skeptical. Powders are for sopping up oil or adding shimmer, aren’t they?
That’s always what I thought.
So off to Makeupalley I went, where I found this only getting average reviews. Some people raved about it, calling it their Holy Grail product and preaching the wonders of its white gold, while others complained of its seeming uselessness, and how it really did nothing but give their skin a horrid white cast.
Well, at only $12 dollars for one ounce, I supposed it was an ‘ok’ test-buy. I grabbed a pot at Nordstrom and headed home.
Mario Badescu Silver Powder, like the rest of the line’s products, comes packaged in very simple, yet somehow chic packaging: a green and white label on white plastic. No flourishes, no fancy scripture. Just blatant labeling. Tossing the Nordstrom bag on the bathroom counter, I opened it over sink, expecting a giant poof of powder to explode out after transport. Right away, I could tell the lid was going to be an issue. It seems one turn short of being able to close securely, and it’s a bit wobbly even when turned as far as it will go. Fortunately for me, the packaging includes an aluminum peel-off cover, so I was spared from the white cloud of wasted product.
The stuff looks, well, like a basic white powder. It clumps a bit, which I found odd, but other than that, nothing extraordinary about its appearance. The directions on the back call for merely dampening a cotton ball, dipping it in the powder, applying it to the affected area, and waiting 10 minutes before washing off.
I improvised, grabbing a Q-tip, wetting it with warm water, and dipping it in the pot. The powder instantly clung to the tip, and I dabbed it on my nose, at which point the powder and moisture formed a thick paste. A bit too thick, at first.
The one thing I really dislike about applying it is that you’re constantly fighting to get the right consistency: too much water, and you get a runny liquid that doesn’t stay where you put it; too little water, and you get a really thick paste that doesn’t adhere and just falls off in clumps. I’ve come to aim for a medium-thick paste, almost the texture of modeling clay mixed with a bit of water.
Instead of leaving it on for 10 minutes that first use, I left it on overnight. Unfortunately, in the morning, most of it had rubbed off on my pillow. Looking in the mirror, all that was left was a thin white film. After cleaning my face with my Clarisonic, I examined my nose, closely. Was there a difference? Had they actually shrunk or reduced in number? Not really.
But I wasn’t one to give up. I continued this method for the next four days, applying it on clean skin faithfully every night, and washing it off in the morning, and by the fifth day…
A definite improvement!
I’m not talking “Oh, my god, my nose is completely clear, goodbye blackheads!” improvement. But it was definitely something. They all appeared lighter than they’d been, and there were markedly fewer than usual. After this, I reduced my use to three times a week, every other day, and continued to see progress over the next couple months.
I can definitely say that I see real results from Silver Powder. Although not all of them are gone, the sheer number, size, and darkness of my blackheads has reduced incredibly. I’ve come down to one application per week now, which seems to keep them at bay (I reached a plateau point at which this stuff stopped doing any more work). Before Silver Powder, I could definitely see my pores and tiny dark spots on my nose even with foundation, but now, after it, foundation completely covers whatever I have left. My nose looks smooth, clean, and clear!
I’ve also tried just applying it for 10 minutes or so and washing it off, and it does actually seem to produce the same results as leaving it on overnight… But I like to lie to myself and say that my method works better.
NOTE: If you don’t use something like the Clarisonic to remove it, Silver Powder will leave a definite white cast to the area it’s applied. Just something to keep in mind if you don’t wear foundation.
And the amount you get for $12 is insane. Literally. It’s been almost three months, and I don’t think I’ve used even a tenth of the jar. I’ll probably end up losing it before it runs out.
Don’t worry too much about it drying areas that don’t have blackheads, as it hasn’t produced any ill effects. I have noticed that on nights when I do use it, however, that my nose is very slightly less oily the next day (I can usually go another hour or so before seeing it shine). And for those afraid of products with long lists of ingredients with unpronounceable names, rejoice! Silver Powder contains only three ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Titanium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide. The last two there are physical sunscreens, which kinda confuses me, but who am I, the Chemistry-ignorant, to question something that works?
So, is Mario Badescu Silver Powder a must-buy? It depends. If you’re looking for that one product that will get rid of every single blackhead you have overnight, then keep looking (and gimme a call when you find it!). But if you don’t mind adding another step to your skincare routine, then this is one product that will definitely help knock those black buggers down a peg, and your nose (or cheeks, or chin) will thank you. Combine it with a good chemical or physical exfoliator, and you’re on the road to blackhead extermination.