Those Pimple Popping Videos are Really Sebum Plugs, and They’re Supposed Stay In

Written by Allison

Stop picking, those sebum plugs are meant to be there.

I’m one of those people who cannot stomach pimple popping videos where gross blackheads are extracted in graphic detail. I can barely pop a pimple on my own skin so watching other people do it is not going to happen. I guess it’s satisfying for some people? But the point is that pulling out those sebum plugs is actually a terrible idea.

I recently accidentally caught a video (damn you Facebook automatically playing videos) where someone was pulling out sebum plugs with tweezers. Tweezers! The poor person’s skin looked so raw and inflamed I couldn’t help but think they were making matters worse.

It reminded me immediately of the viral hit sensation of skin grits. This was another, supposedly less damaging, way of removing sebum plugs. It wasn’t worth it, by the way.

Leave the plugs alone!

Sebum plugs is basically another name for sebaceous filaments. Lots of people, myself included have sebaceous filaments in the nose region. They’re not blackheads, or pimples, or big empty pores. Sebaceous filaments are sometimes considered pre-blackheads. It basically has all the black (and white) head ingredients ready to go but it’s not there yet. It’s like a blackhead in pre-school.


It’s not inevitable that sebum plugs will turn into blackheads. I haven’t had a black head since I was a wee little teen but I still have sebaceous filaments. Apparently it’s pretty common in adults who no longer suffer with acne problems. So why try to get rid of them?


Sure I understand wanting to rid your skin of any and all goo that can physically be pushed out. And I can understand not loving the look of larger pores. But, in my own experience of removing sebaceous filaments, my pores looked the same and they just filled right back in anyway. This is going to be the case for you too. Removing sebum plugs is a temporary fix, they’re only going to comeback.

It’s all too easy to cause unnecessary trauma to your skin trying to force out sebum plugs. Instead of getting handsy with it, try upping your exfoliation game. It’s a great way to increase cell turnover, help to safeguard your face from blackheads, and temporarily reduce the look of pores.

My top 3 exfoliating products are:

  • Pixi Glow Tonic. A good toner for easing your way into glycolic acid exfoliation. This toner doesn’t feel stripping or harsh but is nicely effective.
  • Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix. Another glycolic acid based exfoliant. This makes my skin so clear fresh and new looking.
  • Benton Aloe BHA Toner. This is the most gentle of the three. It uses salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and keep those pores cleared.

You can also use face masks to suck the excess oil from your pores. One of my favorites for this is the Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment. I apply cleansing masks like this just to the nose area to keep things cleared out without drying the rest of my skin. I also highly suggest coming to terms with the fact that you may just have bigger-ish pores. It’s done wonders for me to stop stripping my skin trying to get the poreless skin that just isn’t in my genes.

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About the author


Bio: She's a New Orleans based beauty writer, nail polish hoarder, and doughnut enthusiast. When she isn't camping out in her local coffee shop for hours on end, you'll probably find her taking selfies in front of every colorful wall she's ever seen. Follow along on Instagram @allisonmarieschmidt.

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