This page covers everything you need to know about how to get rid of blackheads.
Effective blackhead removal is hard due to how stubborn these little plugs are. But it isn’t impossible.
Find out exactly what to do to – from understanding what causes them (important!), to the best removal products, proper blackhead extraction, home remedies, tips and more!
If you want to skip to a section simply click below:
- What is a Blackhead? And what causes them
- How to Get Rid of Blackheads – the right way
- Extraction and Squeezing
- How to Remove Blackheads From the Nose
- Best Products for Blackhead Removal
- Blackhead Prevention
- Home Remedies
- Ultimate Tips Summary
What Causes Blackheads?
What are blackheads – and why do they never seem to go away?!
It is as if the pore just refills automatically!
What is a blackhead?
A “plug” in a skin pore.
- Blackheads – or open comedones – are a combination of sebum and dead skin cells which hardens and forms a “plug”
- Because this plug is in contact with the outside air it oxidizes and turns a blackish color
They are most common on the T Zone but also the cheeks. You might also get them in your ears or on your back.
Why do blackheads form on our skin?
- Oily skin has larger pores – there is more chance of a blackhead forming in a larger pore, and there is more chance you will NOTICE this blackhead has formed in a larger pore
- Pore size and an oily skin type is mostly genetics, but can be aggravated by acne, using harsh soaps and incorrect skin care
- Fine pores (even ones that are invisible to the naked eye) can also have ‘blackheads’ which you just can’t see without a magnifying mirror. They can be referred to as sebaceous filaments and are not quite the same thing
Why are they so persistent?
You can squeeze one and it will just refill the next day…
That’s because there is an IMPORTANT difference between pimples and blackheads:
- Pimples are caused by an invasion of bacteria. Because this is a threat to the body – if we just leave the pimple alone, the body will take care of it and get rid of it in a few days
- Blackheads aren’t seen as a threat – remember they are just a plug of sebum with no bacteria invasion
- They are a passive ‘tag along’ as far as your body is concerned, so it doesn’t do anything to keep them under control. Your body doesn’t even notice they’re there!
Because blackheads are just a plug in an open pore and aren’t seen as a threat by our bodies – it becomes obvious why they never seem to go away.
This fact is really important to keep in mind – and why the right blackhead treatment is so vital.
Don’t worry – you’re in the right place!
Squeezing a blackhead is like an invitation for it to fill up again.
Like digging a hole in the wet sand, impossible to keep open 🙂
To control blackheads successfully, do so smartly (you could dig out that hole in the sand 24/7 to keep it clear – but there are better ways!!)
Now you know what they are and what makes them such a pain… it is time to get rid of them…
It isn’t possible to completely make all your blackheads disappear forever, unfortunately that is why skin pores work….
But by following the steps on this page, you can make enough of an impact that if there is some very small ones left… it really doesn’t matter!
How to Remove Blackheads – the right way
Getting rid of blackheads requires a different approach.
Squeezing them may work temporarily but it’s like trying to dig a hole in wet sand – the water (oil) and sand (dead skin cells) are still there.
Tiresome, frustrating, and impossible.
To keep that hole clear, we need to keep the sand and water away from it (end of analogy!).
Consistently keep the pores clear from oil and dead skin cells by using a good glycolic acid product.
This also helps the pore ‘refine’, as it clears it can go back to its normal size.
By keeping pores clear you can reduce their appearance as they “shrink” back.
Your skin looks fresh and clean…
So How Do You Actually Achieve This?
By using glycolic acid (see our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% here) – this dissolves the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together on the surface of your skin.
Glycolic acid (AHA) unblocks pores and helps skin to remain clear.
Used properly (see below) and on a consistent basis – a good glycolic acid product is the easiest and most effective way to get rid of blackheads:
- By consistently providing a gentle, even exfoliation to break down and dissolve those plugs, which don’t get a chance to come back
- By rebalancing the oil production of your skin – no more oil slick by mid afternoon (very common if you suffer from blackheads, particularly on the nose)
- How to Use Glycolic Acid for Clear Skin
The best product to use is one which is not diluted with a lot of other ingredients.
– Even a high percentage of glycolic acid is useless in (for example) a moisturizer with a whole bunch of emollients or other ingredients.
Look for pure glycolic acid – so it can actually do what it should.
Check out customer reviews and details about our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% here. It is the easy way to get the best results from this powerful AHA.
- After cleansing at night, apply the exfoliator to dry skin using a cotton pad (like a toner). Concentrate on oily/congested, blackhead prone areas.
- Depending on tolerance leave it on skin for up to 1 minute. For the first week or two this may only be a few seconds until your skin gets used to it.
- Rinse with cool water, and apply a moisturizer. IMPORTANT: make sure the moisturizer is light and oil free. The wrong will simply cause the blackheads to come right back!
- You can layer this product on congested areas – apply one layer, wait a few seconds, then apply another on top. This can increase dryness but is very effective at clearing skin.
- This is the only exfoliation treatment your skin needs.
The Glycolic Acid Daily Exfoliator 7.5% has a high percentage that is powerful enough to greatly improve skin (some skins will feel it working) but gentle enough to easily use on a regular basis.
Next Step For Clearing Blackheads – sometimes you just gotta squeeze!
Sometimes after using your glycolic acid product you will notice the blackheads look “looser”.
This is actually a good time to squeeze!
Proper blackhead squeezing is a way to clear those pores and help move the process along. Especially those extra stubborn ones that need a bit of help….
But it is really important to only squeeze the right ways and do so properly.
See this page for details about squeezing blackheads …
A blackhead extractor tool is a must for nose blackheads, as it is so hard to squeeze those side crevices!
Afterwards make sure to splash with cool water, clean the tool, and apply a clay mask to help soothe and refine pores.
Consistent use of glycolic acid to dissolve and loosen blackheads – combined with a squeeze when necessary – is the best way to get rid of blackheads.
Be sure to see the quick blackhead tips at the bottom of this page for more!
How to Remove Blackheads on the Nose
Nose blackheads are so annoying!
Usually numerous, obvious and stubborn, and just… ugh!
So they deserve their own section on this page.
Why they just keep coming back:
Your nose crevices collect oil and dead skin cells, making it an easy place for blackheads to form.
An important tip: make sure to cleanse your nose well, right into the crevices! Especially if you wear glasses, touch your nose a lot, wear makeup, sunscreen, etc!
Applying some Witch Hazel with a cotton wool ball throughout the day can be a great way to clear up this area. Just reapply a bit of powder afterwards if necessary 🙂
Blackheads on the nose really require consistent treatment with the steps above with glycolic acid and usually a blackhead extractor is a good idea.
A Trick to Help Nose Blackheads Disappear
This is an emergency trick as it shouldn’t be used all the time. If you have very oily skin this is recommended.
If in the morning you wake up and the blackheads are extra noticeable, its usually due to excess oil.
What to do??
- Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide with a cotton ball. This absorbs the oil, including that on the “top” of the blackheads, which will lessen their appearance.
Allow it to dry, then apply concealer if you want.
The drying effect of the alcohol or hydrogen peroxide will help keep oil production low for the day – but remember this is emergency only as it will dry out skin
The Best Blackhead Removal Products
Remember – a good glycolic acid product is the easiest and most effective way to get rid of blackheads:
Use a clay mask with zinc to absorb oil, reduce pore size, and rebalance skin.
- A thin layer at night works wonders as a overnight blackhead treatment (use your glycolic acid product then apply the clay mask just over your nose at night)
- A very thin layer of clay mask on the nose before applying concealer (should be barely noticeable) in the morning can help smooth out pores and treat them all day!
Remember – good skin care doesn’t work overnight. At least 7 days may be needed to start noticing a difference.
If you follow the steps on this page, expect to start seeing a bigger, noticeable difference in about 4 weeks.
How to Prevent Blackheads
Blackhead prevention is one of the most important steps in maintaining clear skin.
Without it you can squeeze and scrub, but the blackheads will continue to return…
Turning off the ‘automatic refill’ is our aim!
Prevention Step #1. Consistent Exfoliation
This is the most important and most successful step, and is fairly easy to achieve.
Think of it like your kitchen bench – if you don’t give it a quick wipe clean everyday it will build up grime.
Once you do get around to cleaning it takes a lot more effort and may never be the same again…
- Again – consistent use of products with AHA’s
- Another beneficial is ingredient Vitamin A (Retinol), which clears dry skin cells, increases healthy cell turnover and will help smooth skin over time (see our Complete Retinol Cream here)
- An added bonus of using these ingredients is a clearer, brighter complexion
2. Add Oil to Your Routine
An oil cleanse can be very helpful for a blackhead problem:
- Sesame oil (unrefined) is a good choice. Use it as a pre-cleanse daily
- Massage into congested areas for a few minutes on dry skin (water repels oil so it’s important to use it before wetting your face)
- Use your normal cleanser to remove, and follow with a warm wash cloth
- WHY IT WORKS – the oil binds onto and dissolves the excess oil on your skin
- Water alone can’t dissolve the excess sebum, and regular cleansers often use soaping agents to remove every last ounce – so skin overcompensates by producing even moreoil…
- Cleansing with oil works really well to dissolve the hardened blackhead plugs, which then helps to ‘release’ them. This also gives your glycolic acid/AHA exfoliator a head start.
- Sometimes they just come out by massaging a warm wash cloth over your skin after. Try it!
Home Remedies for Blackheads
Blackheads really require more power than most home remedies can provide.
However, some can be helpful – so here are the best of the best!
- Milk of Magnesia is a great way to control excess oil, which can help keep blackheads at bay. Apply a very thin layer in the morning and leave it on. This works better than most (expensive) mattifying primers!
- Baking soda blackhead removal mask: mix a small amount of lemon juice and baking soda to form a paste. Apply to congested area only (this is strong) and leave on for 10minutes. Remove with warm water. This can work to dissolve blackheads and also brightens skin.
A quick way to reduce the appearance of blackheads is to whip up a lemon and egg white mask:
- Separate one egg white and whip it with a fork. Squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice and apply with a cotton ball
- Only apply to oily, blackhead prone areas as lemon juice can be irritating
- Leave on for 10 – 15mins then rinse off with warm water
- You can apply the mixture to a tissue, then apply the soaked tissue to the area – like a DIY blackhead strip. This can work really well, but do be careful when peeling it off!
Lemon juice works as an astringent to tighten pores and soak up oil. Egg white also helps tighten pores and even out skin tone (remember these benefits are temporary but that is fine!)
Best Blackhead Tips: a summary of the Must-Do’s:
Here are the best quick and actionable tips for removing blackheads – all in one place:
- 1. After cleansing, do a quick facial steam to soften the plugs and open pores. Hold your face over a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel and stay that way for about 10mins…
- 2. Next, squeeze very gently any blackheads that look ready to come out. Don’t over squeeze…
- 3. You can use a blackhead extractor tool to quickly and easily remove blackheads that are ready to come out.
- 4. Make a refreshing astringent out of mineral water and fresh lemon juice (about half and half ratio works well, lemon juice can be harsh so use caution). Splash or mist this onto skin to help ‘close’ pores.
- You can then follow with a light powder or concealer, which can be massaged in to disguise the little ‘holes’ that can be left behind! Be sure to see the tip below about cleansing thoroughly at night!
- 5. Apply a small amount of Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% in the morning, rinse straight away and follow with your usual routine. This will keep your skin matte and fresh looking all day (and of course, continue to use it at night to get the real skin clearing results)
- 6. Cleanse thoroughly at night. Blackheads thrive when make up and oil isn’t cleansed off properly. A double cleanse is a good idea and really massage it into congested areas.
- 7. Keep your skin balanced by applying moisturizer no matter how oily you are – balanced skin produces the right amount of oil it needs only. Don’t skip this step
- 8. But it has to be the right moisturizer! The best cleansing and exfoliating action will go to waste if you’re using a moisturizer that is too oily or rich – remember it stays on your skin so has a big role to play in how clear it is.
- 9. This can often be the missing key in your routine if you’re continuing to struggle with clogged skin. Use an oil free, light moisturizer on very oily and congested areas (you can apply a more hydrating cream to drier areas such as cheeks)
- 10. Daily use of an AHA or BHA is one of the best ways to get rid of blackheads permanently, as well as clear and brighten your skin overall. Salicylic acid is great for acne and oily skin. Glycolic acid is excellent if you’re also concerned with aging, pigmentation, fine lines etc.
- 11. Consistent use of these acids is the number one blackhead tip you should take from all of these! They really can make a difference.
- 12. Yes, diet can affect blackheads… Notice they are a lot more visible after a few days of bad (greasy, oily, fatty) food? Experiment by cleaning up your diet for 3 days (a juice fast is a great way to do this!) and notice the difference it can make.
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