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Squeezing Blackheads

How to pop those plugs the right way

Squeezing blackheads is so satisfying! There is no denying it—it’s primal… but does this mean you should pop those plugs? A good squeeze can be an important step in eliminating your blackheads, if one right. This page shows you how.

Woman squeezing blackheads on face

Who hasn’t tried squeezing blackheads. It is so tempting when you see those black spots on your nose or wherever, and you just know that some pressure will ease that plug right out of your skin. This satisfaction can become addictive.

You’ll also know that squeezing is usually a temporary solution. But it can “kick start” the process of clearing your skin, and is good for removing those extra stubborn, deep blackheads.

Once you’ve cleared your skin, concentrate on refining pores and preventing more blackheads from forming.

What Blackheads Should You Be Squeezing?

Some blackheads really do benefit from a good squeeze. Concentrate on the “old” ones—extra black and stubborn.

These beauties like to stay in your skin indefinitely. There is no reason for them to leave! They aren’t like pimples which cause an inflammation response so your body gets rid of them. Blackheads are happy to just remain plugged in your pores.

You can squeeze smaller, more shallow blackheads. But these are better removed with consistent exfoliation and some patience (not too much patience required—you can make a difference almost instantly).

Blackheads vs Sebaceous Filaments

THe problem with squeezing smaller blackheads is they are sometimes not blackehads at all. This is paritculary true for the pores on your nose. Sebaceous filaments are oil inside a pore, but they aren’t a plug.

Squeezing sebaceous filaments does nothing but annoy your skin. The right skin care can help reduce and eliminate their appearance. Just concentrate on the real blackheads—those black, sticky, plugged up pores that just want to come out.


It goes without saying—don’t get carried away no matter how tempting it is. The squeezing and popping action on skin can cause damage and irritation.

Too much can actually cause permanent damage by stretching and disfiguring your pores, and once that happens it is very difficult to refine that pore again (which also means you’ll like have to deal with a permanently refilling blackhead).

So, be gentle, only squeeze the ones that “look ready” and pop out easily, and be sure to follow the steps below.

How to Squeeze Blackheads the Right Way

  1. Cleanse skin with a mild cleanser (anything too harsh will strip your skin and make it too sensitive to squeeze).
  2. Steam to help open the pores and soften the plug: hold your head over a bowl of hot water, have a hot shower, or place a warm washcloth over the area for a few minutes.
  3. Wrap a tissue around each index finger and place one on each side of the targeted blackhead.
  4. Push down gently, and squeeze as if you are “rolling up” from underneath.
  5. After one or two squeezes like this, move you fingers around so you aren’t pushing on the same area of skin.
  6. If a blackhead is ready to come out, it will do so easily as a plug!
  7. Sometimes you can squeeze a few quickly then dust them off with a tissue.
  8. See below for important after-care to calm your skin and help refine those pores you’ve just unclogged.
  9. Remember: if it doesn’t come out easily, leave it.

How to Squeeze Nose Blackheads

How to squeeze a blackhead

Nose blackheads can be tricky. If you’re having trouble extracting blackheads on the nose:

  1. Use the thumb of one hand to ‘brace’ on the opposite side of your nose.
  2. Place the index finger of the same hand on one side of the blackhead.
  3. Use the other finger to do the rolling squeeze action, pushing down against the thumb.

Often a blackhead extractor tool is the easiest thing to use on the nose. And if you have blackheads in your ears see this page.

After Care: what to do after squeezing blackheads

You can probably see the pores you’ve just cleared—little holes in your skin. Pores can’t be “closed” but the following steps will help reduce them back to their normal size and keep them healthy.

  1. If you have a toner, wet a cotton pad and dab this over the area.
  2. Apply a clay mask to the area – this will reduce inflammation and refine pores immediately.
  3. A good old fashioned splash of cold water is fine if you don’t have the above – the area can feel heated so this is a good way to cool it down.
  4. To help minimize blackheads and clear up skin use glycolic acid on a daily basis, see this article for details.

More Satisfaction: watch this squeezing blackheads video

Because we can’t resist—and because it’s a good technique, here is a YouTube video all about squeezing blackheads.

Questions about popping blackheads

Is it bad to squeeze out blackheads?

Not if you do it properly! You will see many warnings to “leave your skin alone”, but let’s be realistic. One, trying to resist popping those plugs is like trying to resist chocolate cake on a diet (impossible). And two, the proper squeeze technique can be really helpful in clearing your skin and giving you a kickstart to keep it clear!

What comes out when you squeeze blackheads?

That plug is made up of dead skin cells and skin oil/sebum. These mix and create a sticky plug in that sits in the pore, which is why it comes out “pore shaped.” Because the pore is open, this gunk is what oxidizes on contact with air and turns the black color.

Will blackheads go away without squeezing?

Some can, if you use the right skin care consistently (chemical exfoliation with salicylic acid works). This consistent action dissolves oil and dead skin cells deep within pores and really can make a difference.

However, the really deep and dark blackheads usually need a bit of help. No skin care product can completely dissolve such a thing, so squeeze them out then continue with your routine!

Do blackheads leave holes in your skin?

Sometimes! If they have been in your skin for a while and a bigger, blackheads certainly can leave little holes you can see. These are temporary though so don’t worry—the reason you can see them is because straight after squeezing that pore is completely clear of anything.

The natural oil will refill it (and of course another blackhead might form…) and the pore size will slightly shrink back to normal if it is healthy. If you see holes long after squeezing a blackhead out, this is usually because that pore is enlarged.

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