4 Proven Ways To Banish Blackheads For Good

The list of skin struggles everyone goes through goes on and on. Whether you're dealing with acne, super dry skin, wrinkles forming, or just excessive shine, there's always something you're trying to tackle with the help of your skincare arsenal. But some skin struggles are extra persistent. 

Blackheads are one of those universal skin battles that everyone fights at one point or another. "Blackheads form when the opening of a hair follicle becomes clogged or plugged with dead skin cells and oil," explains board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, per Allure. Especially prevalent amongst oily and acne-prone skin types, blackheads can appear as a dark tiny spot typically found in your T-zone area and especially on your nose, but they can also occur all over your body, per Healthline.

In the past, pore strips were the go-to method people used to tackle their blackheads. However, it's become clear that they could actually do more harm than good. In fact, Dr. Dendy Engelman told Byrdie, "I'm always wary of pore strips because while they [may] be fun, you risk damaging the skin and thus, [making] your pores bigger." 

The professional alternative of booking a facial that includes extractions is likely to work, but that's not only costly but also time-consuming to keep up with. So, how can you keep your blackheads at bay through your skincare routine?

Let's get physical

While at-home pore extractions are generally condemned by dermatologists, there is another way you can physically try to clear up your blackheads, per Refinery29. A skincare step you should add into your routine to help tackle your blackheads is physical exfoliation. Now, skin exfoliation has been heavily debated for years. Some consider it to be way too harsh on your skin, while others pose that as long as you're not using a product with harsh chunks you could be fine. The general rule of thumb is to avoid St. Ives Apricot Scrub at all costs, per Byrdie.

When it comes to selecting a physical exfoliator, make sure to find a gentle one with fine micro scrubbing components as opposed to harsh chunky ones. "Exfoliation removes that upper layer of dead skin cells. So you're effectively you're preventing everything from old skin cells to dirt, and makeup, from getting blocked inside that top layer of pores," Dr. Anjali Mahto explained to Cosmopolitan

"Be careful not to over-exfoliate though, as that can push the inflammation deeper and worsen the spots, whilst also causing dryness and irritations. If you are exfoliating acne or oily-prone skin, once a week is fine," Dr. Mahto cautions. If you're still hesitant about scrubbing your face physically, there is another exfoliation method you can try.

Great chemistry can help

Over the years, the skincare community has developed an affinity for active skincare ingredients. Sure, you need your basic serums and moisturizers, but what really makes or breaks your skincare routine is what active properties you have in circulation. Chemical exfoliation works overtime to leave your skin feeling smoother than ever, even out your skin tone, and leave you glowy the next morning, per Harper's Bazaar. The question is: which chemical exfoliant will help the most with blackheads?

Whether you opt for AHAs or BHAs, you're guaranteed to notice an overall improvement in your skin, but the true blackheads and acne powerhouse ingredient is salicylic acid. "Salicylic acid has a particular predilection for pores," dermatologist Ken Howe explained to Men's Health. "It gets right in there and loosens them so the plugs come out on their own." 

Salicylic acid is an oily skin savior. The anti-inflammatory ingredient has become a breakout must-have due to its ability to both unclog your pores and help prevent them from getting clogged in the future, per Cosmopolitan. Just be wary that when first introducing salicylic acid into your skincare routine, you should stick to once every three days until your skin adjusts to more frequent use. 

Always be safe when it comes to acids, and perhaps avoid them if you have a certain skin type that's prone to irritation. As Dr. Rachel Nazarian explains, "People who have naturally dry skin or sensitive conditions like rosacea and eczema should proceed with caution and under the guidance of their dermatologist," per Cosmopolitan.

Mask the blackheads away

When any skin trouble appears, the go-to solution has always been treating yourself to a little self-care face mask. We mask in the hopes that when the time comes to wash it off, your worries will be washed away along with it. Well, while that may not quite be the case. There's no denying that face masks pack the biggest punch when it comes to skin ailments, and blackheads are no exception. 

Your chemical exfoliant is going to do a lot of the heavy lifting, but it can only work its magic if your skin is deeply cleansed. Using a clay face mask can help give your skin the deep clean it needs, per Byrdie. Clay serves as a highly absorbent ingredient that can soak up the excess oil and dirt that is clogging up your pores and causing blackheads in the first place. 

Dr. Claire Wolinsky recommends kaolin clay for oily skin types as it is especially good for decreasing excess oil production, per Byrdie. Another blackhead powerhouse clay mask ingredient is activated charcoal, which works to cleanse the skin of toxins, oil, and dirt. Just make sure to skip your chemical exfoliant on the days you plan to mask to avoid over-exfoliating your skin and compromising your skin barrier. Masking once a week should do the trick.  

Prevention is key

The truth is that you can try all of the above methods and see results but if the triggers that are causing the blackheads in the first place persist then you'll end up in a never-ending cycle. The key to keeping blackheads at bay is a combination of prevention methods as well as banishing existing blackheads. 

One of the top causes of blackheads aside from those out of your control is the products you're using. Comedogenic skincare and makeup products can be the prime suspects behind your clogged pores, per Self. While using SPF is the number one crucial skincare rule to live by, the type of sunscreen you use is important. Sunscreens that are non-comedogenic will help prevent your pores from getting clogged, but either way, you should make sure to always double cleanse when using SPF as it can be especially tricky to fully remove, per Byrdie