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We don’t like them. Nobody likes them. And for some reason, they make it routine to appear on our skin unknowingly and unwanted. In case it wasn’t obvious, we’re talking about pesky blackheads.
Unlike the occasional blemish, blackheads can be a chore to treat and remove. After all, you don’t want to go through the trouble of making a dermatologist appointment unless you absolutely have to.
For this reason, we turned to two dermatologists who shared all the details on how to remove blackheads safely and effectively from the comfort of your own home, along with the 12 best products to shop.
From blackhead removers like masks, scrubs and strips, there are plenty of ways to help diminish their taunting appearance to embark on clearer skin.
Not to mention, if you have acne-prone skin, you may want to check out some of the best toners and spot treatments we rounded up specifically for your skin type.
Click to jump to a specific blackhead remover:
“Blackheads are a type of comedonal acne that usually affects the face, neck, back and chest (areas with many sebaceous glands),” Tracy Evans, MD, MPH, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology, told The Post. “These small bumps are filled with keratin and sebum and are open to the surface of the skin, producing a visually black effect.”
Not to mention, some people — due to genetics or from being susceptible to acne-prone skin — have more flare-ups than others.
Blackheads can have multiple causes, causing us to constantly ask why when they appear.
“Either excess sebum is produced by sebaceous glands — which is then trapped below the skin — and accumulates together will oils, bacteria, and dead skin cells to then oxidize, appearing as a small black bump,” Nava Greenfield, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s department of dermatology, explained to the New York Post. “Or, the sweat gland outlet is blocked because of cells that are not adequately shedding; the blockage traps the sweat, which then builds up and oxidizes.”
To carefully soothe away your blackheads, Greenfield advises against products that may cause irritation reactions, “which can worsen and confuse the appearance of pimples on the face,” she notes. “Use both a keratolytic, like salicylic acid and a retinoid (if safe for your skin) to combat the blackhead production from both a sweat gland regulation and exfoliation standpoint.
Both salicylic and retinol-infused products “will also help shed the stratum corneum, the top layer of skin cells to reveal a healthier fresh layer of skin underneath,” Greenfield said.
Of course, there’s a simple way to prevent blackheads, though some may find their way back onto the skin, depending on your skin type. “Keeping your skin clean and hydrated is helpful,” Evans notes. “Medications that control the oil production in your skin and encourage skin cells to turn over (become renewed) are very helpful.”
Editor’s note: Greenfield does not recommend blackhead strips as she “does not think they are effective in helping the underlying case of blackheads,” only providing “temporary treatment.”.
As one of Evan’s favorite blackhead treatments, GlamGlow’s Supermud Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask isn’t just an essential for at-home self-care nights but it’s best for oily, normal and combination skin types alike.
“This product uses uses BHA and salicylic acid to help unclog pores,” she adds.
As a budget-friendly option in this edit, Biore’s pore-releasing mask is a dream for oily skin, designed to give your skin a deep cleanse to draw out and trap impurities.
Finishing with a cooling sensation for tingly smooth and, over time, clearer skin, Evans recommends this mask for treating blackheads, specifically.
“This is straightforward, affordable, and effective,” Greenfield said. “A clay mask works to reduce bacteria, dead cells and other buildups that contribute to blackhead formation.”
She recommends using this one to two times per week to improve blackheads and the appearance of your skin in general.
As one of Evans’ favorites, Herbivore’s Blue Tansy BHA and Enzyme Pore-Refining Mask is chockful of salicylic acid and white willow bark extract, the latter helping to decongest pores with the S.A. Not to mention, it’s vegan and designed for acne-prone skin.
A healthful splurge, Beneath Your Mask’s Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask is vetted by Evans for helping your blackhead treatment. If its sleek black tub isn’t enough to sell you, its detoxifying clays and plant botanicals specifically “reduce blackheads and control excess oil,” per the brand.
As an Amazon’s Choice product, SkinMedica’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is also one of Evans’ top choices. “The alpha-hydroxy acids help to loosen and remove the stratum corneum and clean the excess oil off the skin,” she notes.
Plus, its divine scent notes of citrus, lavender, lemon and orange are subtle and nonabrasive to the skin.
“This is a great gentle and affordable scrub that has beta hydroxy acids that gently but effectively exfoliates, flighting the development of black heads,” Greenfield explains. Plus, it also contains hyaluronic acid to help plump the skin all the while.
As a dermatologist-loved brand, we weren’t surprised Cetaphil was included in our list. “This is noncomedogenic [doesn’t clog pores] and is gentle yet effective at removing buildup of sebum in glands,” Evans highlights, vetting the formula for treating blackheads.
Greenfield stands by C’est Moi’s Gentle Foaming Facial Cleansing Gel if you have sensitive skin. “It’s a great brand that uses only clean nonharmful ingredients to help strengthen your skin and fight breakouts,” she notes.
Along with the brand’s Facial Cleansing Gel, Greenfield heartily backs C’est Moi’s Gentle Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes. “They have 1% salicylic acid, preventing sebum buildup and gently exfoliates,” she adds.
Plus, for just $10, you can’t beat the value. For even more options, check out the best makeup removers we rounded up.
The Ordinary is known for its bottled potions that don’t break the bank. To our benefit, Greenfields recommends its Lactic Acid 5% + HA formula for treating unwanted blackheads.
“The combination of both lactic acid, an exfoliator and HA (a skin hydrator) provides the optimal environment to both combat blackheads and keep the skin moist and healthy,” she said. “Exfoliating can sometimes dry out the skin which, in turn, can cause breakouts so this product is a two-in-one.”
Not only does the name say it all, but Neutrogena’s Stubborn Blackheads Daily Serum is the product you’ve been missing. “It has both salicylic acid and 10% glycolic acid — another excellent chemical exfoliator — and polyhydroxy acids for a blend of ingredients that will effectively exfoliate,” Greenfield adds.
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