We’ve all been there before: You wake up, head to the bathroom, and look in the mirror before getting ready—only to notice a whitehead has taken up residence on your face. Whiteheads are a common skin care concern that many of us have experienced at some point. If whiteheads are a skin care concern for you, you probably have some questions, including how to get rid of whiteheads and whether or not popping whiteheads is a good idea. And the questions likely don’t stop there. What skin care products (such as facial cleanser and moisturizer) can you use if you have whiteheads? And what’s the best skin care routine for whiteheads? That's a lot to cover, but we've got you. Keep reading for everything you need to know about whiteheads.
WHAT ARE WHITEHEADS?
Before we get into a skin care routine for whiteheads, it’s important to understand what whiteheads are. There are a variety of different types of pimples, and whiteheads and blackheads are two of the most common. What causes whiteheads? According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria can build up in pores, blocking them. If the pore closes up, it appears more white—that’s a whitehead. If the pore stays open, it can appear black in color—that’s a blackhead. The good news is, there are steps you can take to help manage whiteheads, as they’re a pretty mild form of acne. Other more problematic types of pimples include cysts, which you can learn about in our article, What Is Cystic Acne?
CAN YOU REMOVE WHITEHEADS?
If you’re searching for how to remove whiteheads, know this: You shouldn’t attempt to pop your whiteheads to get rid of them. Doing this can actually lead to worse acne or the appearance of acne scars. That being said, there are steps you can take as part of your skin care routine to help manage mild acne. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two ingredients to look for in skin care products if you have whiteheads are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. You can find these two ingredients in skin care products like gels, lotions, creams, soaps, and pads, all of which can be used to tackle whiteheads on your nose, chin, or any other spots.
Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks to notice results from acne skin care products, so being consistent with your skin care routine is key. The AAD points out that oftentimes acne skin care products can be drying to the skin, so follow the directions on the packaging, which should tell you how much to use. Another important factor to consider is that these ingredients can increase your skin’s sun sensitivity, so make sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher in the morning as directed—and take additional sun protection measures, like limiting your amount of time in the sun (especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which are the sun’s peak hours), seek shade when you’re outside, and cover up exposed areas in a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
HOW CAN YOU HELP REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING WHITEHEADS?
There are a few steps you can take to help reduce your chances of getting whiteheads in the future, according to the FDA. For starters, look for skin care products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic. You should also avoid squeezing or picking at whiteheads as well as harshly scrubbing your skin.
WHAT’S A GOOD SKIN CARE ROUTINE FOR WHITEHEADS?
Ready to put together a skin care routine for whiteheads and generally problematic skin? Besides what we already told you about using acne skin care products formulated with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, here are a few other tips you can incorporate into your skin care routine.
TIP #1: CLEANSE YOUR SKIN MORNING AND NIGHT
The first step in your skin care routine—regardless of whether or not you have whiteheads—should be washing your face with a facial cleanser. Try using a gentle micellar water, like the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water Complete Cleanser Waterproof - All Skin Types, which intensely purifies. Micellar water is powered by tiny micelles—oil molecules—that act as a magnet to lift dirt, oil, and makeup up and away from the skin. All you have to do to use micellar water is saturate a cotton pad with it and gently wipe the pad across your face. Cleansing before bed is particularly important because sleeping in your makeup can lead to clogged pores—and clogged pores can lead to breakouts. Micellar water is a convenient facial cleanser option because it doesn’t require any rinsing—you can use it from your bedroom if you’re too tired to hit the sink!
TIP #2: EXFOLIATE A FEW TIMES A WEEK
You don’t have to exfoliate every day, but doing so a few times a week can benefit problematic skin. Consider using a sugar scrub, which is a gentle face scrub option. The L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Purify & Unclog Kiwi Scrub effectively removes dirt, oil, and impurities from the surface of skin and polishes away dead skin. With continued use over time, pores look tighter, unclogged, and less visible. Three times a week, use dry fingers to smooth a small amount onto clean, dry skin, avoiding your eye area. Massage the face scrub over your face with wet fingers, then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
TIP #3: TRY A FACE MASK
Another skin care step you can take a few times a week is using a face mask. If you have problematic skin, try the L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Clarify & Smooth Face Mask. Daily wear and tear—from makeup and improper care—can leave skin uneven with roughness and imperfections. Often times in these cases, a facial cleanser isn’t enough to solve the problem. This face mask is formulated with yuzu lemon extract and addresses your complexion concerns for smooth, even, and resurfaced skin by clarifying tone and improving skin texture. Three times a week, apply an even layer of the face mask to clean, dry skin, leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat dry.
Now that you know all about whiteheads, it’s time to turn your attention to blackheads. Next, head on over to our article, Can You Remove Blackheads?