Black dress, black shoes, black purse, black lipstick, and black nail polish – these are just five black things you can find in a woman’s room. Black makes every item stylish and elegant. However, there’s this one black stuff every woman doesn’t want to have – blackheads.
Blackheads are stubborn, pore-clogging monsters that have a tendency to come and go. According to Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, blackheads are oxidized mixture of oil and dead skin cells sitting in your pores. The exposure to air causes them to oxidize and turn black, making them tempting to squeeze.
The more you try to scrub the plug of gunk away, the more you are damaging your skin. That is why you should know the treatments that work and the ones that don’t.
From over-the-counter products to professional skin care treatments, here are 7 proven ways to say goodbye to blackheads and say hello to a healthier and clearer complexion.
1. Pull Them Out With Pore Strips
Staring at the small, nasty blackheads on a freshly-ripped off pore strip is similar to admiring a used oil absorbing sheet filled with grease – disgusting yet oddly satisfying. Pore strips work but they don’t really do well in removing and extracting the entire blackheads off your skin.
Jordana Mattioli, an esthetician based in New York City explains that pore strips will at least help extract the tops of the blackheads, but they don’t go deep down. Pore strips are also safe to use only once a week. You should also skip the strips if you have a major breakout, sunburn, or extremely sensitive skin.
2. Wear A Rejuvenating Clay Mask
Clay mask is another blackhead-terminating treatment you’d love to try once a week. Clay, an ancient folklore remedy, has now been recognized as a sought-after treatment for skin problems, like blackheads. According to Dr. Mattioli, the clay mask can absorb excess oil and dirt from the surface of a blackhead.
Clay masks are also effective for unclogging pores. Some of the most effective clay facial masks are Dead Sea Mud, Bentonite Clay, and Mineral clay (with kaolin). Let the clay mask sit for about 10 to 20 minutes. Try not to let the clay mask fully dry out to avoid skin dehydration and irritation. Aside from blackheads, clay masks are best for the oily or acne-prone skin.
3. Cleanse With Salicylic Acid
When we talk of blackhead removal, salicylic acid is your best friend. The ingredient, which can be found in over-the-counter products, is a great ingredient for dissolving those nasty pore-clogging monsters away. Instead of using a cleanser or soap, go for a leave-on product like spot treatments or creams. Layer the product in concentrations of .5 to 2% once or twice a day.
According to Dr. Rachel Nazarian, the longer the exposure to the ingredient, the better it will work. You’ll notice many of the blackheads will resolve and loose after using a salicylic acid product for several weeks. Just be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up having dry, tight, and irritated skin.
4. Or With Glycolic Acid
If your skin is acne-prone and oily, opt for salicylic acid. If your skin is dry or normal, go for glycolic acid. Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Capital Laser & Skin Care says that if you’re scared of performing your own extractions, you may use glycolic acid cleanser to help loosen the blackheads.
Just make sure to never use glycolic and salicylic acid at the same time because the exfoliating combo can easily irritate and dry out your skin.
5. Unclog Pores With Retinol Or Retinoid
Over-the-counter retinol products and prescription retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives recognized to boost collagen, unclog pores, and speed cell turnover to smoothen the skin and even out discoloration. You can see the results after applying night creams with the active ingredients every other night. If you have a sensitive skin and is scared of trying them, you may go for low-strength retinoids which are more tolerable.
6. Try Some Gentle Extraction
You can extract blackheads at home but with caution. After washing and gently exfoliating your face, hold a warm and damp washcloth for a minute on the affected area to open up your pores. Then, wrap your fingers in thin moist cotton pads and squeeze your affected skin upwards to push each blackhead out.
Dr. Mattioli reminds to extract for only one minute and reserve whatever you can’t squeeze out the next day to prevent inflammation and broken capillaries. After the extraction, wash your face with a gentle cleanser then apply a benzoyl peroxide product to kill the bacteria.
7. Schedule An Appointment
If you keep on failing on your DIY experiments, maybe it’s time to leave your blackhead dilemma to the professionals. Before you scar your own face by squeezing the blackheads yourself or paying a facialist to do it, schedule an appointment with your derm first to know what procedure or treatment works best for you.
Treatments from over-the-counter retinoid products to microdermabrasion and chemical peels are just some of the medications your dermatologist may prescribe. Microdermabrasion is a procedure that involves blasting your skin with hundreds of tiny micro crystals that lifts blackheads out of your facial pores. Peeling, on the other hand, uses gentle yet effective acids to remove the dead, top layers of skin cells and reveal a flawless and blackhead-free complexion.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a resident writer for Géniale, a Medical Aesthetic and Skin Cancer Centre providing top of the line services from industry-leading skin cancer treatments to innovative medical aesthetic procedures. She writes articles focusing on cosmetic, medical, and surgical care, and wellness.