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Blackheads—those little dark dots that typically can be found on your nose, forehead, or chin—are a common skin care concern shared by women and men of all ages. No matter how diligently you use a facial cleanser and moisturizer as part of your skin care routine, there’s still a chance that those undesirable blackheads could remain visible on the surface of your complexion. But is blackhead removal really possible? You may have searched high and low for skin care products for blackheads and tips on how to remove blackheads, but the truth is, blackheads can be pretty difficult to manage (and you won't be able to get rid of them on your own). That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get the appearance of clearer skin. When it comes to managing the look of blackheads, it’s all about switching up your skin care routine so that it’s tailored specifically to your needs.
Below, we’re sharing everything you need to know about blackheads—from what, exactly, they are to how to reduce your chances of getting them to how to help manage them. Consider this your ultimate guide to blackheads!
Before delving into skin care products to help address and manage blackheads, let’s back up for a sec. It’s important to understand what blackheads are first. 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, this can cause bumps with a blackish tint to become visible—hence the name blackheads.
Now that you know what blackheads are, it’s time to get to what we know you’re really here for: tips for addressing blackheads. While blackhead removal isn't something you can do at home, the good news is, if you have blackheads, there are a few things you can do to help diminish their appearance—but these will take some patience. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), blackheads can often be addressed at home, as blackheads are a result of mild acne.
According to the FDA, some of the most common at-home topical skin care products to 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 you try to work overnight. According to the AAD, you could start to notice improvements in your skin’s appearance in 4-6 weeks, but it could even take 2-3 months (or more!) for your skin to clear. That’s why it’s a good idea to continue to use an acne treatment once you notice improvements in your skin, as this can help reduce the chances of new blackheads from forming.
One of the things you shouldn’t do to try to remove blackheads or reduce your chances of getting blackheads is over-wash your complexion. 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. (Read our guide to finding the best facial cleanser for your skin type.) As we said before, if you’re using an acne treatment that starts clearing up the look of your blackheads, continue using it to help reduce your chances of new blackheads from rearing their ugly heads.
A good skin care routine when you have visible blackheads would include regular cleansing. Remember: There’s no reason to go overboard! Pick up a facial cleanser morning and night—and make sure to remove any makeup you’re wearing before you go to bed. When you sleep in your makeup, it can mix with the dirt and oils on the surface of your skin, which can lead to clogged pores—and as you now know, clogged pores can lead to the appearance of blackheads. Try stocking your nightstand with micellar water or makeup removing towelettes—both are no-rinse makeup removal options that can be used from anywhere, no sink required.
To recap, since blackheads are a mild form of acne, they can often be managed at home with the right skin care routine and skin care products. Focus on managing the appearance of blackheads rather than blackhead removal. Now that you’re a blackhead expert, check out How to Help Manage Acne.