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Is It Okay to Remove Blackheads at Home?

Plus, how you can prevent blackheads in the first place with proper skin care.
July 11, 2022

Blackheads — those little dark dots that typically can be found on your nose, forehead, or chin — are a common skin care concern shared by people of all ages. No matter how diligent you are with your skin care routine, there’s still a chance that those undesirable black spots could pop up. It raises the question of how one should go about trying to remove blackheads. We’ve all been tempted to squeeze a blackhead once or twice, maybe even acted on it but there are better ways to manage them. 

Below, we’re sharing everything you need to know about blackheads, including what causes them, how to reduce your chances of getting them, whether or not you should remove them on your own, plus a skin care routine for preventing blackheads. Consider this your ultimate guide to blackheads.

What Are Blackheads?

Before delving into skin care products to help address and manage blackheads, it’s important to understand why people get blackheads. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), blackheads can be a sign of a mild form of acne. 

Per the AAD, blackheads occur when oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up on the surface of your skin and clog your pores. If your pores stay open after they’ve become clogged, it can cause bumps with a blackish tint — hence the name blackheads.

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Should You Remove Blackheads at Home?

We need to clear up one common misconception about managing this particular complexion concern — you shouldn’t attempt to remove, pop, squeeze, or get rid of blackheads on your own (and steer clear of all blackhead removal tools). While blackhead extraction may be tempting, this can result in irritation, redness, and even scarring. If you have a blackhead to remove, save it for your dermatologist or esthetician.

Instead, your focus should be on achieving the appearance of clearer skin with a solid skin care routine. When it comes to managing and preventing blackheads, it’s about aligning your skin care routine with the proper maintenance so it can reduce the buildup that leads to blackheads.

How to Manage Blackheads

So now you know what blackheads are and that you shouldn’t try to remove them, but you should also learn how to manage them. The good news is that if you have blackheads, there are a few things you can do to help diminish their appearance. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this is the part you can do at home since blackheads are the result of mild acne

The FDA states that some of the most common at-home topical skin care products that help reduce the appearance of blackheads are gels, lotions, creams and soaps formulated with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect anything to work overnight. According to the AAD, you could start to notice improvements in your skin’s appearance in four to six weeks, but it could take two to three months (or more) for your skin to clear. That’s why it’s important to continue to use an acne treatment once you notice improvements in your skin, as this can help reduce the chances of new blackheads forming.

How to Reduce Blackheads

As much as we wish there was a way to permanently remove blackheads, there just isn’t. Fortunately, a good skin care routine that prevents the buildup of dead skin, oil, dirt, and impurities is the best thing you can do to reduce blackheads. One of the things you shouldn’t do to reduce your chances of getting blackheads is over-wash your skin. 

According to the AAD, washing your face too much can actually irritate your skin. The AAD recommends sticking to twice a day facial cleansings (once in the morning and once at night), as well as after a heavy sweat session. Beyond getting your cleansing frequency right, be consistent with your acne treatment. As we said before, if you’re using a treatment that starts clearing up the look of your blackheads, continue using it to help reduce your chances of new blackheads rearing their ugly heads. 

Editor’s tip: Routine facials with an experienced esthetician that can cleanse pores and manually remove blackheads is another great way to reduce them.

Skin Care Routine to Keep Blackheads at Bay

We mentioned that a solid skincare routine with the right products is a must for keeping blackheads at bay so let’s elaborate. Check out these steps below to see what products you need to create the perfect routine for managing blackheads.

1. Cleanse Daily

A solid routine for managing blackheads includes cleansing in the morning and night. In the morning and to remove makeup, try using micellar water like the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water Complete Cleanser Waterproof - All Skin Types to gently cleanse. When wearing makeup, a double-cleanse is vital to make sure all makeup, dirt, and oils are removed from the skin. This will help to reduce blackheads as well as other forms of mild acne, such as whiteheads.

For a second cleanse or nighttime cleanse, try the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleanser which contains glycolic acid and salicylic acid. This ingredient duo works to remove dirt, oil, and impurities while working to minimize the appearance of pores, making it especially effective at reducing blackheads.

2. Exfoliate

Dead skin, dirt, and oil get trapped in pores which we know leads to blackheads, and the best way to address that is with exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation uses acids to remove dead skin cells, to unveil a brighter, smoother complexion and a toner like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5 Percent Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner is a great way to add exfoliation to your routine. This toner uses glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells for gentle and effective daily exfoliation. Apply the toner to a cotton pad and swipe over your skin after cleansing.

3. Follow Up With Moisturizer

You may think that skipping moisturizer can help prevent blackheads and acne, especially if you have oily skin, but it actually has the opposite effect. If you forgo moisturizer, your skin may overproduce oil to hydrate, leading to more acne-causing oils. Go for a water-based moisturizer like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Triple Power Anti-Aging Moisturizer Fragrance Free to moisturize daily after cleansing and exfoliating. This fragrance-free formula contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and pro-retinol to hydrate the skin and its smooth texture with daily use. 

4. Treat Weekly With a Face Mask

A weekly face mask that works to detox the skin and draws out impurities can do wonders for reducing blackheads. Try a mask with charcoal like the L’Oréal Paris Pure Clay Detox & Brighten Face Mask to detoxify the skin and deep clean pores. 

This mask contains three types of clay plus charcoal to remove impurities, leaving the skin feeling fresh, brightened, and clean. Apply an even layer on clean, dry skin and leave it on for ten minutes. Then rinse, pat dry, and finish with moisturizer.

Next: 4 Skin Care Tips For An Uneven Skin Tone

Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photo credit: Chaunte Vaughn

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