Blackheads have been an issue for me for as long as I can remember. As soon as I was old enough to know that faces had pores, and that sometimes pores had dirt, I became borderline obsessed with fighting the oxidized sebum buildup known as blackheads. For me, draining a pore is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap. Sorry if that depiction grosses you out, but it’s true. Figuring out how to get rid of blackheads was my mission every night after brushing my teeth. My extractor was my friend, and the constant redness on my T zone let everyone know it. Eventually, I was lucky enough to develop even more skin issues (dry, sensitive skin, hormonal acne, you name it) and knew I needed a skin care makeover. After months of reading, research, and talking to professionals, I’ve finally admitted that I needed to throw out my extractor and deal with my clogged pores in a more delicate way. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the best 7 tips I have on how to get rid of blackheads.
Oil Cleanse First
Using an oil cleanser isn’t just great for removing makeup, it can also help loosen the dried out sebum in your pores (AKA blackheads). I know it seems counter intuitive to rub oil all over your face when that’s the very thing you’re trying to get rid of, but remember that oil and water don’t mix! How can you get that oil out of your pores when it naturally repels the water you’re washing your face with? Exactly. I use pure Jojoba Oil as my first cleansing step, since it is chemically very similar to the sebum your pores, and therefore is better at “mixing” with the blackheads and cleaning them out. Be sure to do your research when buying an oil cleanser, there are a lot of brands that have “oil cleansers” that “rinse clean” that are actually not made of oils at all, but synthetic ingredients that are meant to feel like an oil before you add water to it. While these cleansers are great for breaking up makeup, they don’t serve the purpose we are looking for here.
Once you have oil slathered all over your face, it’s time to heat up your skin and open up your pores. You can do this buy applying the oil and then jumping in the shower, pressing a wash cloth that’s been soaked in warm (not too hot!) water on to the face, or maybe using a fancy shmancy face steaming machine. It’s entirely your choice. I usually just use the shower or wash cloth method, even though I LOVE getting my face steamed. Future purchase justification: it can also be my humidifier.
Second Cleanse with a Clarisonic
Once you’ve got your pores nice and loosened up, you need to wash all the oil off your face. I do this with the SA Cleanser from CeraVe and my Clarisonic with the “cashmere” brush head. The Clarisonic helps to remove the oil from your face completely and clear out your pores (think of it as an electronic toothbrush but for your face), and the brush head is really soft and great for sensitive skin. The Clarisonic boasts that it can be used daily if you want, but I find that some people don’t need it any more frequently than once a week, so do some experimenting and figure out what’s best for your skin.
You don’t need to use pore strips daily, obviously. I actually wouldn’t recommend using them more than once a week, otherwise you might be wasting your money. Pore strips are really only helpful when blackheads are at their worst, which means there is dirt close to the surface of the skin that the strips can grab on to. I like to use them when I’m tempted to squeeze my skin to remove blackheads, because seeing them sticking up from the strip after I remove the paper is equally satisfying.
This is another method that I would recommend you only do once or twice a week. Clay masks, especially this Aztec Healing Mask, absorb excess oil really well and help keep pores clear. Don’t go crazy with this method though, or you may dry out your skin, causing it to produce even more oil.
If you’ve done even the smallest bit of research about how to treat acne, you’ve probably seen plenty of articles and products that showcase salicylic acid. But it’s not just good as a spot treatment for the pimple you got after studying for that French exam all night. As a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), it is more oil soluble, and therefore better able to penetrate into pores, than its Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) cousin. Once it’s in your pores, the acid actually works to break apart those dead cells that are stuck together causing your pores to clog. If you’re looking for a science-y explanation about how salicylic acid works, this Allure article does an amazing job. Personally, I own the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid and it is amazing. I apply it after washing my face and before the rest of my serums and moisturizer. It’s the product that really turned me on to Paula’s Choice as a brand, and I have to say, so far I haven’t tried anything of theirs that I haven’t liked.
Get a Facial
Photo via Well + Good
If you’re really desperate for immediate extractor level results, then I would highly encourage you to book a facial that includes extractions. As much as I love love LOVE squeezing the dirt and oil out of my pores, it leaves my face a red mess and, over time, has led to scarring (something that I’m working to get rid of now). Professionals know how to extract blackheads and other kinds of pimples without causing scarring, so please please please don’t repeat my mistakes and just pay the 50-100 dollars to see a professional. Frequency can obviously range from once or twice a year, up to once a month depending on your skin’s condition and your budget. You can check out the best facials in your area by searching on Yelp.
And that, my friends, is how to get rid of blackheads. What do you think? Do you have any silver bullet products or techniques to share from your own skin care experiences? I want to hear them in the comments! Seriously, I’m obsessed with skin care, haha.