What are Blackheads?
Before you get to know how to get rid of Blackheads, it will be helpful to first understand what they are. So, Here we go, blackheads are just an oxidized mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores, the exposure to air makes them oxidize and turn black.
The technical name for a blackhead is open comedones. There are two different types of comedones: Open (blackheads) and closed (whiteheads).
Blackheads are characterized by a dilated opening of a hair follicle, caused by the build-up of sebum, which is oil and acne bacteria, the primary bacteria responsible for causing acne, and inflammation.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads
1. Avoid pore strips and other home extraction methods
Although pore strips and masks may help you to remove junk from your pores, they can also remove elements that actually help your skin. This includes natural oils. Removing it can cause your skin to dry out and become irritated. When irritation occurs, your sebaceous glands may go into survival mode and produce even more oil. And it may result in more blackheads.
2. Wear oil-free sunscreen.
If you have oily skin doesn’t mean you should skip on sunscreen. SPF products are crucial to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Experts recommend sticking to oil-free formulations that won’t weigh down the skin or clog your pores.
3. Pick up a Skin brush
A skin brush can provide similar exfoliating benefits as AHAs and BHAs by removing excess dead skin cells. The key, though, is to use it only once a week so you don’t cause irritation. You’ll also want to use your skin brush on alternating days from AHA or BHA exfoliators.
Depending on your needs and budget, there are a variety of skin brushes available. You can opt for a whole electric-based system from Clarisonic, or you can use a more affordable hand-held brush, such as Dermalogica’s Exfoliating Face Brush. Both types of brushes can be used with your daily cleanser.
4. Use Salicylic acid
Instead of benzoyl peroxide, look for OTC products that contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is the preferred ingredient for blackheads and whiteheads. It breaks down the materials that clog pores such as excess oil and dead skin cells.
Although you still need to wash your face twice a day, try using a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it just once a day to start. You may consider using it at night only and then using your regular cleanser in the morning. As your skin gets used to the product, you may choose to use it both morning and night. Many people are sensitive to salicylic acid and you may not be able to use it more than once every few days. If you continue to react to it, discontinue use.
5.Exfoliate with AHAs and BHAs
In the past, you may have heard that exfoliating produces a negative effect on acne. This can be true for inflammatory acne, as the process can cause further redness and irritation.
For blackheads, though, regular exfoliation can help remove excessive amounts of dead skin cells that can lead to clogged pores. The process may also gently remove existing blackheads.
Rather than looking for harsh scrubs, you’ll want to focus on alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs). Glycolic acid is the most common type of AHA, and salicylic acid is a prominent BHA.
Both work by removing the top layer of your skin. In theory, this can improve the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, all while cleansing pores and making your skin softer. You’ll find that BHAs are more widely available on the market, and in some cases, they’re more affordable too!
6. Try Topical Retinoids
Retinoids may be helpful for stubborn cases of acne by helping to unplug pores. This process can also make other OTC products more effective because they’ll be better able to enter the follicle.
7. Use a Clay mask
Clay masks are often considered must-haves for oily skin. They work by retrieving dirt, oil, and other elements deep from your pores. As far as blackheads are concerned, clay masks can loosen and remove clogged pores.
Some clay masks, such also contain sulfur. Sulfur is another ingredient that works to break down the dead skin cells that makeup blackheads.
You can use clay masks once a week in addition to your once or twice weekly exfoliating treatment.
8. Use a charcoal mask
Like clay masks, charcoal masks goes deep in the skin to draw out oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities. The ingredient charcoal is thought to take these benefits up another notch.
Charcoal masks can be used once a week.
9. Consider a Chemical peel
Chemical peels are traditionally used for anti-aging benefits, such as reduced age spots wrinkles and fine lines. The peels often contain AHAs, and they help in removing the dead skin.
In theory, you should be able to reveal smoother, refreshed-looking skin after going through the process. Though they’re not considered a primary treatment for blackheads, chemical peels can possibly remove dead skin cells and shrink enlarged pores.
This treatment method may be especially helpful if you’re looking for anti-aging benefits too.
DermaDoctor’s Physical Chemistry Facial Microdermabrasion + Multiacid Chemical Peel and Murad’s Hydro-Glow Aqua Peel are both worth looking into.
10. Don’t Sleep with Makeup On
Sleeping with your makeup on is asking for more blackheads. If left on overnight, makeup can clog your pores. Plus, eye makeup left on overnight can lead to eye irritations or infections.
11. See your Dermatologist
If you continue to notice new and preexisting blackheads after this time, you may need to make an appointment with your dermatologist. They may use professional and safer tools to extract blackheads.
They may even recommend a series of dermabrasion treatments or prescription retinoids to prevent blackheads from reoccurring of blackheads.
Causes of Blackheads
Some factors can increase the chance of developing blackheads.
Age and hormonal changes are an important factor. Like other symptoms of acne, blackheads are most common during puberty, when the change in hormone levels triggers a spike in sebum production. However, they can appear at any age.
Androgen, the male sex hormone, triggers the greater secretion of sebum and a higher turnover of skin cells around puberty. Both boys and girls experience higher levels of androgens during adolescence.
After puberty, hormonal changes related to menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of birth control pills can also bring on blackheads in women.
The overproduction of skin cells by the body can cause blackheads.
Other factors include:
- the blocking or covering pores by cosmetics and clothing
- heavy sweating
- shaving and other activities that open the hair follicles
- high humidity and grease in the immediate environment
- some health conditions, such as stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- medications that encourage rapid skin cell turnover
- use of some steroid-based drugs, such as corticosteroids