Blackheads can make you feel like a teenager again, but luckily, these blemishes are treatable and temporary. Blackheads, also known as “open comedones,” are caused by excess oil that accumulates in pores beneath the skin’s surface. Getting rid of blackheads is as simple as practicing skin care with exfoliation, topical treatments, and avoiding further irritation.
- Do: Exfoliate regularly
Apply a gentle scrub several times a week to help remove dirt, make-up, and dead skin cells that may be lost during cleansing and washing. When you exfoliate, cleanse, and wash your face, be gentle and avoid harsh scrubs. Choose the best scrub for your skin type. Body scrubs, scrubs, and cleansing brushes, as well as chemical exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, are good for combination and acne-prone skin. People with dry skin cannot use exfoliators at all.
- Don’t: Push the stain
It may be tempting to try to pop them out, but squeezing blackheads can irritate them and even cause scarring. It is better not to touch blackheads. If you need immediate extraction, seek professional help.
- Do: Treat topically
Acne treatments that contain active ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide not only kill the bacteria on your skin, but also reduce oiliness in areas prone to blackheads. Topical treatments work for many people and you will feel better within days. Even after the blackheads are gone, treatment should be continued to prevent future breakouts.
- Don’t: Treat with hydrogen peroxide
Whether you have sensitive skin or not, it’s safe to treat blackheads with gentle products that are free of fragrance and irritants. Hydrogen peroxide is a commonly misused solution and is not a gentle, effective long-term treatment. A 2013 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that hydrogen peroxide can reduce inflammation and damage in the short term for up to six weeks, but it’s a powerful industrial cleanser and bleach. Even in diluted concentrations, it can irritate the skin, so for long-term treatment, it is better to choose a milder product.
- Do: Use retinoids
Topical retinoids are synthetic derivatives of vitamin A that have several skin-clearing benefits. First, they help clear existing blackheads, which enhances the effectiveness of other topical treatments. They also take preventive measures to prevent future injuries. Retinoids are especially effective if your blackheads are the result of acne.