If you struggle with blackheads, you may wonder what is actually happening to cause them and what you can do about it.
Blackheads normally form when your skin's natural oils and dead skin cells accumulate in your open pores.
When these clogged pores remain open, the plug oxidizes and turns dark or black in color.
The same oils and dead skin cells are the cause behind whiteheads too, but those become sealed over and have a whitish color.
In this article, we will cover 9 tips to help try to get rid of blackheads.
Adding in a gentle exfoliant to your beauty regimen may help pick up and wash away those dead skin cells before they have a chance to lodge in your pores.
A gentle chemical exfoliant may be best to avoid tearing and irritations that sometimes occur with mechanical exfoliants like beads or crushed nutshells.
AHAs and BHAs like glycolic acid or salicylic acid are gentle chemical exfoliants that most people can tolerate once or twice a week.
Those super hard to peel off pore-clearing face masks or little extraction devices may be tempting to try out...
But trying to self-extract clogged pores may lead to damaged skin if treated too roughly, so leave the professional extractions to when you are having a facial to avoid scarring or spreading of bacteria.
Skin brushes act similarly to exfoliants in that they help remove those excess dead skin cells from your face.
You can find gentle brushes that are made for use on the face only.
And while these are generally pretty gentle, try to avoid double exfoliating by using them on the same day as your chemical exfoliant to avoid skin irritation.
Retinoids, like the prescription Tretinoin, help reduce blackhead formation by increasing the turnover rate of cells, meaning that fewer dead skin cells are around if you clean them away.
Tretinoin is also helpful in reducing your overall production of face oils, or sebum.
For these reasons, Tretinoin is a pretty powerful two-pronged approach to clearing and reducing the formation of blackheads.
If you would rather have all of your exfoliating work done deeply and professionally, microdermabrasion may be the way to go.
This is normally performed by a skin professional and pretty much deeply exfoliates the top layers of skin.
Since these top layers contain the top of the blackheads, this may help take care of any blackhead business going on.
If you feel like your blackhead issues are more oil-based than excess dead skin cells, you can try a clay face masks.
Clay face masks are highly absorptive for the excess oils on your face and helps get them out of the way before they can mix up with dead skin cells and clog those pores.
You can start with using a clay mask about once a week.
Some facial care products that are very heavy, sealing, or full of oils can clog those pores and make blackheads.
To make sure the culprit is not your products, check the labels to find ones that read “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic”.
In a pinch, you can also contact the manufacturer to see if your products are ideal for blackhead-prone skin.
Before tucking in for the night give your face a good thorough washing to clean off all the naturally shed skin cells and oil produced throughout the day.
This is especially important if you wear makeup, as even if you have great quality non-comedogenic makeup, it’s not supposed to stay on all night!
If you are guilty of going to sleep without washing your face, keep a package of cleansing face wipes on your bedside table for at least a partial clean-up.
With all of these exfoliating and dead skin cell clearing steps, you may leave your skin irritated or too dried out if you don’t follow up with a moisturizer on a regular basis.
Pick up a non-comedogenic sensitive skin moisturizer to use after your cleansing and exfoliating routine to lock in moisture.
Because it won't matter that there are no blackheads if your skin is raw, irritated, and dry constantly.
Ultimately all of the blackhead reducing methods are going for the same two things - reduce the oil on your face, and clear off those sloughing skin cells often.
If you need those pesky blackheads out stat - schedule a professional extraction, as picking and extracting yourself may be too rough and leave your skin damage.
If you use these tips to clear up your blackheads, but then slack off on your exfoliating for a few months, they will likely return. Add these into your usual skincare rotation to avoid blackhead issues long term.
Always double check your skincare products to make sure they are non-comedogenic as well as thoroughly cleaning your face nightly.