Here's exactly how to get rid of blackheads, according to dermatologists



Blackheads: As tempting as they are, you should never disturb them. Trying to push one out can cause irritation, redness and even scarring, and can also feel very uncomfortable. 

Professional extractions are one way forward, but they come at a cost. It's best to opt for home treatments that will reduce the appearance of blackheads without denting your bank account. 

From peels to chemical peels to exfoliants, there's no shortage of options, but choosing the right formula is a subjective process. People with sensitive skin may benefit from a mild toner, while those with oily skin may prefer stronger acids. 

So, if you still don’t know the difference between BHA and AHA, you’ve come to the right place because we asked the experts to tell you all the important things you need to know about blackheads. You're welcome. 

What are blackheads? "Blackheads (also called open comedones) are small, dark bumps that appear on the skin," explains Dr. Ben Esdaile, consultant dermatologist at Skin + Me, adds: “They are caused by a build-up of dead skin cells and oil (sebum) that clog the top opening of the hair follicle (pore), causing it to enlarge.” 

Blackheads are open acne lesions, so they usually turn black as the clogged oil and dead skin begin to oxidize (so no, the black you see isn't actually dirt). 

Although blackheads are common, you may notice these small dark spots appearing on certain areas of your face and not others. "Blackheads typically form in areas of the skin that have many hair follicles and sebaceous glands, which is why they are most common on the face, especially the nose," says Dr. Esdale. 

While we’ve already mentioned that no skin type is immune to blackheads – whether you have acne-prone skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, or combination skin… you get the gist – blackheads are the most Often affects people with oily skin. 

How to remove blackheads? "There are many treatments to remove blackheads, as well as products you can use to prevent them from forming," says Dr. Esdale. While there are many options, the best blackhead treatment depends on your skin type. 

Using a chemical peel is one of the most common ways to unclog pores—especially for sensitive skin. “BHAs (like salicylic acid) and AHAs (like glycolic acid and lactic acid) are great over-the-counter acids that can dissolve dead skin cells and clear clogged pores,” says Dr. Esdale. 

While you can opt for physical exfoliation to remove dead skin cells, Dr. Esdale advises against it, however. "There's no need to use physical exfoliants like brushes or scrubs, as these can irritate the skin, especially the skin barrier," he says. 

Also, check your INCI list for niacinamide. "This form of vitamin B is another helpful ingredient. Research shows it can reduce oil production, which can lead to blackhead formation," adds Esdale.

If you can't handle acid, you can try incorporating retinol into your daily routine. "Topical retinoids (vitamin A-based ingredients) are very effective at unclogging hair follicles and preventing the processes that lead to clogged hair follicles," Dr. Esdale. Retinoids also speed up cell turnover, ensuring your complexion becomes clearer over time.

How about the rest of your skincare routine? 

While using chemical peels is the expert-recommended way to get rid of blackheads, overdoing it can damage your barrier—and when that happens, you're less alert, opening the door to irritation and sensitivity.

"If you have a chemical peel, such as a topical retinoid, the treatment can seriously dry out your skin," says Dr. Esdale. "To help your skin tolerate the treatment better, incorporate a gentle cleanser and moisturizer into your skin care routine," he adds.

It's also recommended to limit yourself to one ingredient at a time, as overuse of multiple active ingredients may cause skin problems. So if your skin is irritated, consider wrapping it in moisture to help it recover and renew. 

As tempting as it is, dr. Esdaile stresses not to squeeze the blackheads, as this can cause their contents to penetrate deeper into the skin. If you're dealing with a particularly large problem, he recommends seeing a dermatologist or esthetician to effectively remove it, as over-the-counter treatments may not be enough.

The Best Blackhead Treatments You Can Try Right Now… 

1. Press Medik8 and delete
If you are serious about getting rid of blackheads, invest in this product. Encapsulated, time-released salicylic acid unclogs pores and cleanses skin—but that's not all. Medik8 Press & Clear is designed for sensitive people, so it also keeps your barrier calm and nourished. Since we were all kids, using a pump applicator was more appealing. 

2. Medik8 Crystal Retina
If you are looking for something more powerful, choose Medik8 Crystal Retinal over Press & Clear.

Retinoids not only help unclog pores, they also act preventatively by promoting cell turnover. The iconic Crystal Retinal range also contains retinal, a retinoid derivative, which is slowly released into skin cells to reduce irritation. This is one of the most advanced formulas on the market and offers great value for money. 

3. Dermalogica Liquid Exfoliator

There are hundreds of chemical peels vying for your attention, but Dermalogica's new liquid peel is miles ahead of the rest. Its complex formula contains a potent blend of glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and phytic acids, which, in layman's terms, work together to remove dead skin and oil from pores.
This milky liquid also contains fermented pomegranate enzymes to ensure your skin stays hydrated. With consistent use, your skin will become brighter. 

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ Anti-Acne Moisturizer

Using a topical exfoliant is a smart idea when fighting blackheads, but be aware that an effective moisturizer can also go a long way. Effaclar Duo+ Anti-Blemish Moisturizer is La Roche-Posay's latest innovation and the treatment delivers results once again.

This lightweight cream activates the "pause" button on stressed pores to help slow sebum production and reduce clogging. Anyone with sensitive and acne-prone skin should take this treatment seriously. 

5.Avene Cleansing A.H.A Exfoliating Essence

Picking out blackheads is not a smart idea. It’s best to use an exfoliating serum to remove any buildup.

Avène's new elixir is enriched with lactic and succinic acids that exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog pores. Unfortunately, this won't eliminate pores (which is neither possible nor practical), but it will minimize their appearance by sucking out excess oil and dirt.

Plus, it's formulated with Avène's patented thermal water, so even the most sensitive skin can benefit.
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