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Blackheads are just no fun. Besides acne, this horrid nightmare is known for its persistence and somewhat more challenging and demanding ways to get rid of it.
Clogged pores that appear on the T-zone in the form of black dot clusters look very unattractive and disrupt the skin's natural radiance and freshness. That's why many gals are doing their best to find that perfect beauty treatment to remove them and restore fresh and healthy-looking complexion.
But it seems as though this search is more or less futile, as no matter what you do, they always seem to come back – and sometimes with a vengeance – the pores look more prominent, and it looks like there's more of them each time.
However, there's no reason to despair as there are some things you can do to root them out, and it doesn't involve squeezing them.
What Exactly Are Blackheads?
People with oily or combination skin are more prone to have blackheads. However, this is not a rule, and everybody can have them.
Blackheads are open comedones or pores that get clogged with dirt, dead skin cells, and excess sebum from the sebaceous glands. Unlike whiteheads which are closed comedones, blackheads are pores with open surfaces. When oils and dirt from the pores become exposed to air, they oxidize and turn black.
While it's always tempting to squeeze them and push these dark-colored plugs out, this isn't a long-term solution and can only lead to scarring, skin damage, and larger pores in the long run.
The good news is there's plenty of over-the-counter products and ingredients that can help you get rid of blackheads at home.
Tips On How to Get Rid of Blackheads
First of all, you need to arm yourself with loads of patience as nothing you can do will get you instant gratification. The road to clear and blackheads-free skin is pretty long and involves a gentle approach and perseverance.
Next, we'll share the most effective over-the-counter products you can try at home, together with some tips on how to take better care of your skin and prevent blackheads from coming back.
#1: Use Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), a gentle chemical exfoliant, targeting acne, whiteheads, and blackheads. It removes dead skin cells from the top layer, clearing up the build-up of dirt and oils in the pores and improving the appearance of your skin.
However, it's important not to over-exfoliate your skin, as it can exacerbate your problem. So limit the usage of your salicylic acid-based exfoliators or cleansers to once a day, at least in the beginning. Consider using it only at night to start with, and wash your face with your regular cleanser in the morning.
#2: Gently Exfoliate With a Cleansing Brush
Silicone skin-cleansing brushes are gentle mechanical exfoliants with a similar effect to BHAs or AHAs. They will remove excess dirt and the build-up of dead skin cells, unclogging your pores and clearing up your skin. However, like salicylic acid, these should be used in moderation, once or twice a weak. If you have sensitive skin, you shouldn't use them at all.
#3: Use Clay or Charcoal Face Masks
Clay face masks, as well as charcoal face masks, are must-haves for oily skin. The most effective active ingredients in clay masks, targeting blackheads specifically, are kaolin, bentonite, and sulfur. These ingredients absorb sebum and draw toxins and impurities from the pores, preventing pore clogging and reducing blackheads.
Sometimes, these masks tend to be drying and irritating. So, it would be best to use them only once or twice per week, and not the same time you're doing your exfoliating routine, be it chemical or mechanical exfoliation.
#4: Try Topical Retinoid Products
To keep stubborn blackheads at bay, you could give a topical retinoid a shot. Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that speed up cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, eliminating acne and blackheads and reducing signs of aging.
For stronger retinoids, such as tretinoin, you'll need a doctor's prescription. Luckily, there's plenty of over-the-counter options, such as retinol, retinaldehyde, and adapalene (aka Differin gel).
If you want to take this route in your fight against blackheads, it's important to start slow and use lower concentration formulas in the beginning. Also, limit the use of a topical retinoid to only once a week to start with and gradually build your way up to daily usage. This is because retinoids can cause severe skin irritation if not used properly.
Additionally, it's important to note to maximize your sun protection and moisturizing routine when using retinoids. If you're pregnant or plan pregnancy, you shouldn't use them at all.
#5: Don't Forget Your Sunscreen
Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen is your fundamental line of defense against skin aging, cancer, and blackheads. Damaging UV radiation destroys the collagen framework in your skin, making it saggy and less firm, resulting in more prominent pores and blackheads.
So, whatever you do, don't forget to wear your sunscreen daily, with an SPF 30 or higher. It may be challenging to find the right sunscreen formula if you have oily skin. So, instead of creams, go for oil-free gels or fluids with niacinamide, salicylic acid, and other mattifying ingredients, such as silica, polymers, and starches.
#6: Don't Skip On Your Moisturizer
Keeping your skin hydrated is another crucial step in your battle against annoying blackheads. When your skin is dry, it creates more sebum. This extra oil then collects in your pores and clogs them, leading to more blackheads and acne.
So, just like with your sunscreen, be diligent about wearing your moisturizer as it will keep your skin hydrated and prevent it from becoming irritated. Again, choose oil-free formulas with niacinamide, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, dimethicone, and others.
There are also certain oils that are suitable for oily and acne-prone skin, such as jojoba oil and grapeseed oil. So choosing a moisturizer with these in it wouldn't be a mistake.
#7: Use Non-Comedogenic Skincare and Makeup
Whether it's your sunscreen, moisturizer, or foundation, try to avoid ingredients that can break you out and worsen your skin's condition. These ingredients are often referred to as comedogenic ingredients that tend to clog your pores, leading to more noticeable blackheads.
So, steer clear of skincare and makeup that contain dyes (red and yellow pigments usually have a mark E followed by a number, like E120 or E110, and others). Other ingredients to avoid include coconut oil, lanolin, and palm oil.
#8: Wash Your Face in the A.M., P.M., and After Workouts
Regular cleansing is essential if you have oily skin prone to acne and blackheads. If you wash your face twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed, you're making sure that there's no build-up dirt in your pores that can worsen your blackheads. With your evening cleansing routine, you're removing all the excess dirt, makeup, and pollutants. In the morning, you're removing any excess oil piled up overnight.
Likewise, when you are exercising, the mixture of oils and sweat builds up in your pores, exacerbating blackheads. So, besides your morning and evening cleansing routine, wash your face right after your workouts as well.
#9: Use Pore Strips Only Occasionally!
If you need a quick fix for a wedding, a night out, or other events, you can use pore strips as a temporary solution. However, don't make it a habit because these don't make the underlying issue go away and can lead to more problems in the future.
Like the popular Bioré Nose Strips, pore strips use adhesives to pull dead skin cells and dirt out of your pores. However, they only remove the top layer of a blackhead while the rest of it still sits deep inside your pore (and a job half done is as good as none). Besides, the mere action of ripping the stripe off your skin can cause irritation, damage your skin barrier, and enlarge your pores in the long run.
#10: Resist the Temptation to Squeeze Your Blackheads
As satisfying as it may be, picking and squeezing your blackheads can cause you more damage than good. You've probably heard this a million times from your dermatologist, but we can't stress enough how important it is not to pick on your skin.
Popping and squeezing your pimples and blackheads can cause irritation, inflammation, and eventually scarring. However, strong willpower can only last so long, so you might end up doing it, now and again, after all. If that happens, apply an ice pack to the area you picked on for a couple of minutes to calm down any inflammation, swelling, and redness.
If you believe the only solution for your blackheads issue is extracting them, go to a professional. They will have proper tools and know which blackheads can be extracted and which not. And, they will do it in the least invasive way to prevent enlarging the pores and damaging your skin.
#11: Don't Use Self-Tanning Products on Your Face
While self-tanning is definitely a healthier alternative to getting your tan from sun exposure, avoid using these products on your face if you have blackheads. Just like they make your skin darker, they will also make your blackheads darker, making them more noticeable.
The main active ingredient in the majority of self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone. It reacts with dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and temporarily darkens them, imitating a tan. In the same way, they bind to dead cells inside your pores, making those spots even darker.
As you probably already know, getting rid of blackheads is not an easy task, and we all share the same struggles in this fight. To successfully erase these imperfections, you need to take good care of your skin and be patient. Something will work eventually!
However, if you're dealing with really stubborn blackheads and have tried all the possible remedies at home to no avail, maybe it's time to see a dermatologist. Your issue might need to be treated with a more heavy-duty prescription skincare or medications. In any case, we hope you'll soon reach your clear skin goals!
How can I remove blackheads at home fast?
There is no fast (and effective) way to get rid of your blackheads. This skin condition requires prolonged treatment, special skincare, and a lot of patience. However, if you need a quick fix, you can use pore strips. These remove only the top part of a blackhead, leaving the rest of it sitting inside the pores. So, use them only occasionally, when you have an important event coming up, because, in the long run, they can only make the problem worse.
How can I remove blackheads from my nose at home?
To get rid of blackheads, you'll need to pay special attention to your skincare and skin hygiene. Use products with salicylic acid, bentonite clay, sulfur, and retinoids. Also, make sure to cleanse your face in the mornings and evenings, as well as after workouts. And most importantly, don't expect the problem to go away instantly; it will take some time.
Does toothpaste get rid of blackheads?
No, toothpaste won't help you get rid of blackheads; it can only irritate your skin and create additional problems. Spot treating a pimple with toothpaste might seem helpful because it will dry it out and make it look smaller. However, toothpaste doesn't contain any ingredients that actually heal acne or blackheads.
What causes nose blackheads?
Blackheads are, in essence, open comedones, which means that debris, sebum, and dead skin cells inside your pores are exposed to air. The air makes the content inside the pores oxidize, making it look darker. Hence, there are clusters of tiny black dots (or blackheads) usually within your T-zone - chin, nose, forehead, and inner cheeks.