- Blackheads are a type of acne called open comedones that appear on the face as tiny black bumps.
- Various factors lead to the congestion of pores with excess oil, sweat, dirt, and dead skin.
- They can also be caused by medications that encourage faster cell renewal and dead skin generation.
- You can use products that remove excess oil and dead skin from the pores to prevent blackheads, such as salicylic acid cleansers or clay masks.
- For existing blackheads, you can choose topical treatments containing salicylic acid or retinoids or go for in-office chemical peels or extractions.
Blackheads are a type of acne that appears as tiny black or brown bumps on the skin. Clinically speaking, they are open comedones, unlike whiteheads that are closed comedones.
Blackheads are formed when the hair follicle is congested with excess sebum and dead cells. In some cases, bacterial growth may happen. Because they are open comedones, the congestion gets oxidized due to air exposure, giving a blackhead its characteristic black or dark color. shu
Unlike the other forms of acne, blackheads are not accompanied by pain or inflammation. However, if you do not get rid of blackheads, they may become inflamed and cause more severe acne. So, you should know about ways to prevent and reduce blackheads.
What Are the Top Causes of Blackheads?
According to studies classifying acne lesions, a blackhead is a pore clogged by dead skin and oil. Unlike some other types of acne, it is usually not accompanied by inflammation and is simply a case of congested skin. Here are some of the top causes of blackheads that could be affecting your skin:
- Excessive sebum production on the face due to hormonal changes, puberty, etc
- High humidity in the surrounding environment
- Blockage of pores by makeup or clothing
- Medications that encourage faster cell turnover, leading to more dead skin on the face
- Excessive sweating
All of the above factors lead to congested pores, which can turn into blackheads over time. Apart from these, anything that causes faster dead cell generation or excess oil production on the face can be the culprit behind blackheads.
Contrary to popular belief, blackheads are not an indicator of poor hygiene. You can get them even if you are cleansing your skin regularly. They can appear when your skin behaves unusually due to factors you cannot control with hygiene. However, you can switch up your skincare routine to address these factors. With the right products, you can reduce the appearance of blackheads and remove existing ones too.
How to Prevent Blackheads?
If your skin is prone to developing blackheads, here are some steps you can take to prevent or reduce their appearance.
- Use a good-quality makeup remover to remove all traces of makeup at the end of the day.
- Wash your face twice a day to remove dirt, dead skin, and excess sebum.
- Avoid thick moisturizers that contain occlusives.
- Use gel-based moisturizers instead.
- Use a salicylic acid cleanser or serum at least twice a week.
- Use skincare face masks with clay and charcoal once a week to draw out excess oil from the pores.
- In case of severe blackheads due to hormonal imbalances, consult a doctor to address the underlying condition.
- For severe blackheads, consult a dermatologist for a prescription of oral or topical retinoids to address the issue.
Top 10 Ways to Remove Blackheads and Unclog Your Skin
1. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic Acid is a proven ingredient for blackheads that is present in various cleansers, serums, and peels. Studies suggest this Beta Hydroxy Acid can dissolve the oil and congestion in the pores, thereby removing blackheads. Moreover, it can also enhance the penetration of other anti-acne products into the skin. It is an effective remedy for blackheads.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide
A benzoyl peroxide cream may help reduce blackheads on the nose. This ingredient has antibacterial properties that can eradicate any bacterial growth in the blackheads. While all blackheads aren’t infected with bacteria, if you neglect them for some time, the chances of infections increase. In these cases, a benzoyl peroxide product might come in handy.
Vitamin A is one of the best vitamins for healthy skin. This is why retinoids, a class of products that contain Vitamin A derivatives, work well against blackheads. Retinoids prevent the appearance of comedones or blackheads and control sebum production on the skin. They also fight inflammation and encourage faster cell renewal for youthful skin.
4. Medicated Cleansers
Medicated cleansers that claim to get rid of blackheads are an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin. Unlike creams and peels, these cleansers stay on the skin only for a few seconds. Therefore, they offer the benefits of anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide without risk of skin irritation. If these are new to you, a cleanser is a safe way to introduce them to your skincare regimen.
5. AHA Peels
Salicylic acid or BHA-based peels are the most effective against blackheads. But if you are a beginner or have dry or sensitive skin, you can try an at-home AHA peel instead. AHAs are gentle exfoliating acids like lactic acid and glycolic acid. They do not penetrate the skin as much as salicylic acid but can remove surface-level congestions for clearer skin.
6. Clay Masks
Clay masks are effective against blackheads on the nose. Clays bear detoxifying properties and suck out dirt and grease from the pores. For the best results, steam your skin to open up the pores, then use a clay mask to suck out all the sebum.
7. Skin Brush
Skin brushes are cleansing tools that unclog the pores. You can use them to get rid of blackheads quickly. Most of these brushes come with soft vibrating bristles that offer a deep cleanse to the face. They can improve the efficacy of your anti-acne cleanser, offering clear skin. However, some brushes can be a little harsh or abrasive on the skin. It is a good idea to ask your dermatologist for one that is gentle, yet cleans the skin well.
8. Non-Comedogenic Products
Non-comedogenic products are the ones that do not contain any ingredients that tend to clog the pores. These products are usually oil-free and have a low concentration of occlusives. If your skin is prone to developing blackheads, switch to non-comedogenic moisturizers and serums. They will reduce your chances of getting new blackheads. You can pair these along with your anti-acne products for faster results.
9. In-Office Chemical Peels
Unlike at-home chemical peels, in-office chemical peels contain a much higher concentration of exfoliating acids. They are not safe for use at home, but when administered by a certified dermatologist, they offer instant results against blackheads. The exfoliants dissolve the accumulated dirt in your pores, including the inner layers of the skin. They are more effective than at-home peels.
You might be tempted to remove the blackheads on the nose with an extraction tool, but doing this at home can be dangerous. At-home extractions can go wrong and cause skin infections if the tools are unsterilized. Moreover, they can hurt and damage your skin if you do not use them properly.
Leave this task to a dermatologist who will perform an extraction after the required skin prep and sterilization of tools. They will manually extract the congestion from your pores, which will offer your skin a smooth and soft appearance. Wearing sunscreen and avoiding harsh exfoliants for a few days is a must after going in for an extraction.
Mistakes to Avoid When Removing Blackheads
Here are some common mistakes that you must avoid when trying to get rid of blackheads.
- Avoid using harsh and gritty physical scrubs to remove the blackheads.
- Do not try manual extraction of blackheads at home as it can injure your skin or cause infections.
- Avoid any suction tools to pull out your blackheads at home.
- Do not over-cleanse or over-exfoliate your face in an attempt to remove blackheads.
- Avoid using too many alcohol-based products for blackheads as they can dry out your skin.
Blackheads are a common skin concern and are notorious for reappearing on the skin from time to time. In particular, blackheads on the nose and cheeks can be annoying and stubborn. You will have to tweak your skincare regimen to prevent them. For this, you need to invest in ingredients that remove excess oil and dead skin from the pores.
To get rid of blackheads that are already present on your face, you can either try at-home topical treatments or in-salon procedures, depending on the severity. At-home treatments include retinoids, masks, and salicylic acid, while in-office treatments include peels and extractions. You may also consult a doctor if the blackheads are caused by hormonal imbalances. With these tried and tested techniques to remove blackheads, your skin will be smooth and texture-free!