Bothered by blackheads? These little bumps on your face are actually caused by dirt, skin cells or sebum (which your skin secretes) blocking your pores. Blackheads are exposed to air, so the trapped material oxidizes and discolors. Whiteheads, on the other hand, are covered by a microscopic flap of skin, so they stay (as the name implies) white.
Anyway, the cause doesn’t matter—we’re looking for solutions! Blackheads are unsightly, and can show through foundation (ick!) especially when they congregate around the noise. Here are some tips and suggestions on preventing and removing these nasty things.
1. Exfoliate regularly.
Exfoliation helps remove any dead skin cells, clearing your pores of dirt, sebum and oil. Find an exfoliant that’s suited for your skin type. For example, if you have dry skin, you should look for a gentle formula with smaller ‘beads’ or granules.
Ideally, you should exfoliate once a week. You can consider exfoliating twice or even thrice a week, but don’t go over that. This removes your skin’s natural oils, which won’t cure oily skin either. Your skin will go on ‘panic mode’ and compensate for dryness by increasing your oil production. This leads to (you guessed it) more clogging, and more blackheads.
2. Buy non-comedogenic products.
Before you buy any cleanser, moisturizer, or makeup, look for the label ‘non-comedogenic.’ This means that it’s been formulated to minimize the risk of clogging pores. For instance, it may be water-based instead of being oil-based.
3. Add toner to your beauty routine.
Most people get a cleanser and a moisturizer, but to get a really complete, blackhead-busting beauty routine, get a toner. See, cleansers remove dirt from the face, while toners close and protect the pores.
4. Use a deep-cleansing mask once a week.
These are actually quite relaxing and do wonders for your skin! Essentially, you dlather the mask on your skin and then leave it for a few minutes. Some masks harden and are peeled off; others retain the original consistency and are washed off. Either way, these are designed to remove stubborn, deep-seated dirt (and flood your skin with vitamins and nutrients, too). Look for masks that contain fruit enzymes, which are excellent at sloughing off dead skin cells (one of the leading causes of blackheads). Oh, and use the mask and exfoliant on different days, to prevent irritation and breakouts.
6. Keep your hair away from your face.
Your hair contains natural oils, which trap dirt and grime, and transfer both onto your forehead. You may want to consider growing out your bangs, or wearing your hair back in a neat hairband, clip or ponytail. If that’s note your style, just pay extra attention to keeping your face clean. It’s not advisable to wash your face too frequently—you’ll dry out your skin—but wipe off perspiration with blotting paper. Also wear a comfortable cloth headband at night, so you can keep your face clear while you sleep.
7. Remove it the right way.
Popping or scraping off blackheads with a sharp fingernail will damage your skin and possibly lead to scars. If you’re really bothered and must, must, must get out a blackhead right now, at least wait until the blackhead is ‘loose’ and remove it this way. Wash your face and open the pores by pacing a warm washcloth on your face for at least 10 minutes. Then, place a sheet of tissue over your index fingers so you don’t scrape your skin with your nails. Ready? Apply pressure on both sides of the blackhead, pressing it upwards, and then down. Repeat this twice. If nothing happens on the third try, stop immediately and wait a few days for the blackhead to become looser.
8. Keep your makeup tools clean.
The best way to prevent blackheads is to keep your skin as clean as possible. That includes washing anything that comes into contact with your face, like makeup sponges or makeup brushes. Clean these at least once a week!
9. Wash your hands before touching your face.
Your hands have natural oils, plus all the icky grime and dirt that you come in contact with. Clean your hands (with soap or antibacterial gel) before touching your face. Be aware of habits like rubbing your mouth or nose when you’re thinking, or burying your face in your hands. You’re practically inviting blackheads each time you do that!
10. Invest in blackhead removal tools and products
You may want to get blemish extractors (wash these frequently in warm water) or disposable blackhead remove strips. You may also want to try this home remedy: crush two aspirin tablets and dissolve in lemon juice. Then, take a washcloth, dip into this solution, and rub over blemishes for approximately 15 minutes. Then take a clean wash cloth and rub the mixture off.