Blackheads 101: Kick Clogged Pores to the Curb
When your pores are clogged with impurities—think: dirt, oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells—and exposed to air, the oxidation gives the clogged pore an off-putting —and often noticeable— brownish-black hue. Enter: blackheads. While it may seem like a quick fix to squeeze your skin to get rid of the blackhead, you may want to keep those hands to yourself. Picking at your skin can not only push the blemish further into skin, but it can also leave a lasting scar. If you have blackheads, read on for tips on how to deal—plus, ways to help prevent them from appearing in the first place.
RESIST THE URGE TO POP OR PICK
Though it seems like a quick fix to the problem, picking at the skin or “popping” blackheads with force can irritate the area and worse, result in scars. Using your fingers to try and remove blackheads may also add more dirt and bacteria to your pores.
CLEANSE & EXFOLIATE
Salicylic acid, found in many over-the-counter scrubs, lotions, gels and cleansers, can help decongest your pores. We like SkinCeuticals Clarifying Cleanser, formulated for acne-prone skin, with 2 percent salicylic acid, microbeads, and glycolic and mandelic acids to help unclog pores, lift dirt and debris, and improve the appearance of problematic skin. Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser is a good option for oily and combination skin types. Formulated with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and micro-exfoliating LHA it helps to gently exfoliate and purify the skin. Be careful not to overdo it with the salicylic acid though; it can dry out the skin when used more than directed. Always follow the instructions on the label or as advised by your dermatologist.
A dermatologist may use special tools to gently remove blackheads that haven’t cleared up with topical medications. Do not, we repeat, do not attempt to use tools to remove blackheads on your own. Remember: resist the urge to pop and pick.
Take steps to help prevent blackheads before they appear. Where possible, opt for non-comedogenic products and breathable makeup that won’t clog your pores. Make sure to wash, cleanse, and exfoliate your skin regularly to keep it clear of dirt and buildup, which can lead to blackheads.