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Blackheads. Some people are familiar with this irritation, living with larger pores all their life; for others they come and go.
Blackheads, also known as comedones, are formed due to a build-up of dead skin cells and a protective, oily substance naturally secreted by pores known as sebum. Dead skin cells, dirt, and debris combine with sebum in the pore, creating a "plug" of sorts. When pores become clogged, those dead skin cells react with oxygen in the air and turn black.
Blackheads are frustrating. These tiny clogged pores can appear anywhere on your face and curse an otherwise flawless complexion, making you self-conscious and sensitive. But before you reach for the mirror and start squeezing, read on to discover some methods for preventing and getting rid of blackheads. From finding the right cleanser to relaxing with a face mask, here are eleven ways to show blackheads who's boss.
You know that cleansing your skin is important, but are you doing it enough and with the right products? Cleansing in the morning and before you go to bed is one of the best things you can do for your skin, especially when you're on a mission to rid it of blackheads. Some basic cleansing products such as soap can actually do your skin more harm than good, though. Soaps can actually block pores or leave a sticky residue behind.
What you may need is a soap-free cleanser that gently reduces excess sebum along with the appearance of blackheads and other skin blemishes. Anti-blemish toners are a great way to follow up your cleanse and leave the skin clean and feeling smooth. Look out for cleansers and toners that contain salicylic acid. More on this later.
Our skin goes through a lot. Pollution, dust in the air, and dead skin cells – all of these contaminants can contribute to blocked pores. To win the fight against blackheads, you need to remove this build-up effectively. A good exfoliation plan can help. Used two or three times a week, a gentle exfoliator can help to bring blackheads to the surface and shrink their appearance. To get the best from your exfoliator, use it after cleansing and before moisturizing.
If you have sensitive skin or prefer to use natural skincare solutions, there are plenty of options. For example, look for exfoliators that contain natural abrasives, such as crushed peach or avocado kernels. You can also make your own exfoliator at home. Simply mix a tablespoon of sugar with some coconut, olive, or almond oil to create a paste. Scoop some of your homemade exfoliator into your hand and smooth over your face in a circular motion. Rinse with water. You can store any remaining exfoliator in the fridge for up to a week.
When it comes to keeping blackheads away, non-comedogenic makeup is a great addition to your routine.
If you're constantly covering up your blemishes only to find new ones appearing, a simple switch to non-comedogenic makeup can help stop the cycle. Non-comedogenic refers to comedones, or blackheads, and while the precise way these are categorized can vary, quality makeup manufacturers should be transparent about what makes their makeup non-comedogenic... or not. It all comes down to the oils used in these formulations.
From foundation and concealer to face powders and primers, you should be able to replace your regular makeup products with non-comedogenic alternatives that help to prevent blackheads and other breakouts.
Salicylic acid is highly effective at treating skin prone to blackheads and open pores. It's available in a range of products, including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and serums and can be used in the morning and evening to prevent flare-ups. Salicylic acid can be irritating on the skin at first, so go easy when you begin using it. Look for products that contain around two percent salicylic acid, as this will introduce your skin gradually to this effective ingredient. Once your blackheads have improved, continue using these solutions to prevent pores from clogging.
Baking soda has so many surprising uses. Not only is it a key ingredient in baking and useful for neutralizing stubborn odors around the home, but it's also great for some skin. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial, and has anti-inflammatory properties. To make a scrub, simply mix one tablespoon of baking soda with a little water until a thick paste starts to form. Apply over the affected skin, gently rubbing in a circular motion. As you rub the scrub over your skin, the soda granules will help to dislodge the sebum in the pores. Rinse away immediately and follow with moisturizer.
Now that you've got your cleansing and exfoliating routine down, it's time to look at other products you can use to keep those blackheads from appearing. A good face mask can be effective at lifting particles out of blocked pores. Look for peel-off masks that contain salicylic acid. Avoid masks with benzoyl peroxide as these can be harsh and cause dryness. Set some time aside to apply your mask and relax while it gets to work.
Every so often in the skincare world, a new product comes along promising to sweep us off our feet. Charcoal is the latest wonder ingredient to hit the shelves. Charcoal scrubs and masks are billed as able to absorb dirt, bacteria, and other impurities from the skin. Apply these formulations and let the charcoal get to work drawing sebum to the skin's surface where it can be rinsed away.
Another natural alternative you might try on blackheads is clay. Bentonite clay is intended to lift away impurities from the pores. It's another remedy you can make at home. Simply take a couple tablespoons of Bentonite clay and mix with water until a smooth paste is formed. Apply to areas where blackheads are visible and allow the clay to dry for around 20 minutes. Users report effective skin-clearing, though some people believe these clay formulations contribute to their pores clogging too.
If you're looking for a quick, temporary, and occasional way to remove blackheads, specially designed blackhead removal sticky strips can be effective. However, they're not a whole lot better than squeezing, so proceed with caution and stick to small areas such as the chin or between the eyebrows. Apply the sticky strip to the skin according to the instructions and pull away to remove the comedone stuck in your pores. These strips are super sticky and may be too harsh for some people and skin types. Make sure you moisturize afterward.
It can be so tempting to squeeze or pick blackheads. At best, you'll be left with inflamed and angry skin and open pores that are susceptible to further breakouts and blackheads. At worst, you could cause a painful and visible infection that spreads to other areas of your face. Blackheads respond much better to a gentle and patient approach. By cleansing, exfoliating, and toning using specially formulated products you'll experience much better results.
Blackheads may be frustrating but they don't have to be with you forever. By taking the time to cleanse your skin morning and night and using products that contain active ingredients like salicylic acid, you can take blackheads on and win. Review your skincare routine, find makeup that's non-comedogenic, and make sure your lifestyle supports your goals, drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet, for instance.
Need a little more? The skincare experts at Nava MD can help you get custom prescription solutions to common skin woes, delivered to your door if prescribed. It's fast and easy, and your consultation is always free.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency