Blackheads, quite simply, are the worst. They’re very often the first type of skin acne encountered as an adolescent. Even worse, blackheads tend to stick around during adulthood.
Those tiny black spots sprinkled across your nose and chin aren’t just unsightly. They interfere with makeup application and are a sign of stagnant dirt and oil trapped in the pores. Fortunately, here are a dozen methods for attacking these little dirt-and-oil monsters that should leave pores clean and fresh in weeks.
1. Use Salicylic Acid Cleansers Daily
Salicylic acid works to break down dirt and oil on the surface and pore level of the skin. Over time, this chemical breakdown will remove oxidized material that’s accumulated in pores.
Consumers and dermatologists alike recommend budget-friendly Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser. This essential tool for your anti-acne regimen can be ordered online or purchased at many pharmacies.
2. Become Ritualistic About Makeup Removal
It should go without saying that all makeup should be thoroughly removed before going to bed. Sometimes even the most conscientious face-washing can miss a spot or two.
Consider doing a double cleanse. Start with micellar cleansing water to remove the day’s makeup, dirt, and grime. Follow up with a salicylic acid cleanser and end the day with a clean slate … and clear pores.
3. Be Strict About Using Only Non-Comedogenic Products
Have you been mindful of the products you’ve been putting on your face? Even if you’re not into makeup, it’s possible you’ve been using products unintended for facial use that can cause clogs.
Instead of nourishing your skin, products such as coconut oil and lanolin typically do more harm than good. These pore-clogging oils do serve a purpose, but they should be avoided as a form of skincare. Products labeled as non-comedogenic are typically safe bets.
4. Perform a Face Scrub with Salicylic Acid Three Times a Week
Blackheads are the result of an accumulation of dirt and oil in your pores. That being true, it’s important to gently remove these clogs.
Amp up the power of a salicylic acid cleanser by using a scrub with the same key ingredient. A physical scrub can help slough off dead skin cells, revealing a fresh, new layer beneath. A regular refresh can also break down the dark, oxidized portion of blackheads, loosening dirt and oil over time.
5. Consider Topical Retinoids
Topical retinoids are available both over the counter and with a prescription. These products help promote cell turnover and break down clogs. This can speed up your blackhead-clearing efforts.
Be mindful of the percentage of retinol in the product, as high concentrations can dry out the skin. Start with a lower percentage of retinol. Increase that percentage as skin acclimates. Those with sensitive skin are normally well-advised to start and stay in the 0.01% to 0.03% range.
6. Integrate Chemical Exfoliants Into Your Routine
While physical scrubs feel fantastic and offer immediate results to the touch, they do have their limitations. This is why adding a chemical exfoliant to skin-cleansing routines is essential.
Cult-status favorite Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel works in two steps to both exfoliate and refresh skin. This little miracle packs a one-two punch by removing dirt and oil while improving tone and texture.
7. Consider Prescription Medication
For skin situations that are particularly bad, it may be time to consider prescription medication. Most prescriptions help reduce oil production, which in turn makes it easier to minimize the number of blackheads.
Prescription-grade retinol is also available from your healthcare provider for those who feel they need a little extra power. For those who don’t have a referral to a dermatologist, it’s possible to order prescription acne treatment online from Nurx. A personalized prescription may be just what you need to knock those blackheads out cold.
8. Use a Charcoal Mask Weekly
Charcoal products for health and beauty have been popular of late and for good reason. Relatively “clean,” charcoal offers absorbent properties when included in a mask. These properties encourage the clogged dirt and oil within a blackhead to make its way out of skin pores.
Be mindful, though, of how frequently you use these masks. Overdoing them will dry out your skin.
9. Get a Clean Slate With Dermaplaning
Dermaplaning has been the standard among estheticians for years but has become more popular for home-based skincare gurus. The process of dermaplaning provides results similar to what a leg feels like after it’s been shaved. However, a dermaplane blade is significantly smaller and offers greater precision navigating the shape and intricacies of the face.
The delicate blade removes surface-level spent skin cells, peach fuzz, and stagnant dirt and oil. While this can be done at home, it’s probably wise to pony up the funds to have a skincare professional do it.
10. Become Moisturizer-Obsessed
Since blackheads are the result of a mixture of stagnant skin, dirt, and oil, it’s important to keep skin fresh and moisturized. After exfoliating, reach for a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
A great duo to consider is the AM and PM Facial Moisturizing lotion from CeraVe. Both contain long-lasting hydration-boosting ingredients that won’t block pores, thereby minimizing breakouts.
11. Consider a Professional Extraction
Popping blackheads may be common, but it’s nonetheless a task best left to the skincare pros. While it can be oh-so-satisfying to squeeze down on a clogged pore, please resist. Picking at blackheads may release some trapped gunk but can also further exacerbate skincare problems.
Instead, book an extraction session with a licensed esthetician. These folks have the training and tools to thoroughly extract blackheads with little to no pain.
12. Clean Up Your Unhelpful Habits
Be honest…are you resting your face in your hand right now? If so, this may be one of the bad habits you need to kick to clear up your skin.
Alongside your skincare routine, you should seriously review your lifestyle and hygiene habits. Touching your face, wearing dirty glasses and hats, and sleeping on soiled pillowcases can all contribute to clogged pores. Keep the things that touch your face to a minimum and you’ll see your skin condition improve.
Clearing blackheads is an endeavor that requires more than one method to achieve beneficial results. Think of it as a long-term strategy of healing, repair, and prevention. With careful attention, the right mix of products, and practices, you should see clearer skin over time.