A blackhead is a common type of acne that occurs when the opening of a hair follicle (i.e. a pore) gets clogged. Unlike whiteheads which have a completely closed surface, blackheads have a small opening that allows the air to get in. This, in turn, causes the oil that’s trapped inside the follicle to oxidize and turn black, thus giving blackheads their characteristic color.
Like all acne, blackheads are particularly common among teens due to a combination of heightened hormonal activity and an increased production of sebum. Many teens choose to squeeze blackheads, but experts advise against it. For one, blackheads contain bacteria which can damage the pore walls and affect the adjacent tissue when you squeeze. Squeezing can also leave your skin scarred and damaged.
Rather than squeezing blackheads and potentially damaging your skin, there are some tried and true home remedies that can help you achieve the desired results without side effects. Read on to learn how to remove blackheads safely at home.
1. Lemon and Honey
Many websites recommend using baking soda to remove blackheads, but that might not be the best idea. Although baking soda is known for its antibacterial effect and skin exfoliating properties, it can very easily dry out your whole skin and not just the pores affected by the blackheads. Citric acid is a much safer alternative that unclogs your pores and makes your skin smoother.
You’ll find plenty of citric acid in lemons. Combine that with the strong antibacterial effect of honey, and you get an excellent at-home treatment for blackheads that will also brighten and exfoliate your skin.
To prepare this remedy, you will need a tablespoon each of raw honey, lemon juice, and sugar. Mix all three ingredients and then gently rub them on the area of your skin that’s affected by blackheads. Leave the mask on for about 15 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Use this mask once a day until you notice that your skin has cleared up.
Although fenugreek has been cultivated for centuries in parts of Africa and Asia, it was fairly unknown in America until very recently. Also known as Greek hay, this potent annual herb has numerous benefits that cover a variety of health aspects – from digestive problems and inflammation to breast milk production and libido.
Fenugreek also has many skin benefits, including the scientifically proven ability to clear both whiteheads and blackheads from the skin. It is also a powerful antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
To prepare your fenugreek home treatment for blackheads, you will need a cup of fresh fenugreek leaves and water. Alternatively, you can use fenugreek seeds instead of the leaves. Simply grind fenugreek with water until they form a smooth paste and then apply the paste to the area of the skin affected by blackheads. Leave it on for about 10 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water and apply moisturizer to prevent your skin from drying out. Repeat the treatment once a week.
3. Aloe Vera
In recent years, aloe vera has become an essential ingredient in many skincare products on the market. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as this unique herb has a seemingly endless list of proven skin benefits. Not only does it soothe your skin, cleanse your pores, and remove acne (including blackheads) but it also helps keep sebum production under control, thus preventing future outbreaks.
To enjoy the full benefits of aloe vera for your skin, you need to know how to extract fresh gel from the plant. Take one leaf of the plant and remove the upper part. Lay the leaf horizontally on a cutting board and carefully cut through the middle where you’ll find the fresh aloe gel.
Once you’ve extracted the gel into a container, apply it gently to your whole face and not just the area affected by blackheads. Wait for 10 minutes before you rinse your face with warm water. Aloe vera is suitable for all skin types and doesn’t have any known adverse effects, which makes it great for everyday use. Even after you’ve successfully removed acne, you can continue using fresh aloe vera gel to keep your skin healthy.
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another potent ingredient with numerous health benefits. It contains lauric acid, a strong antimicrobial agent that destroys acne-causing bacteria. Several studies have also found that topical coconut oil is an effective treatment against certain types of eczema and that it has an impressive moisturizing effect in people with dry skin.
You can use coconut oil directly from the bottle as there’s no need to prepare any masks or pastes before applying it to your skin. Just take a few drops of virgin coconut oil, apply it to the affected area of the skin, and gently massage it into your skin. There’s also no need to rinse it as your skin will quickly absorb it.
Coconut oil is best applied in the evening, just before you go to bed. Keep in mind that it should only be used for dry and combined skin. If your skin is already producing enough sebum, the extra moisture from the oil may be too much. Your pores could thus get clogged, which could make your skin problems even worse.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar is another versatile ingredient with a seemingly endless list of proven health benefits. Many of them stem from its strong antimicrobial effect, which allows it to destroy even some of the most dangerous bacteria like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. It will also help with numerous skin issues, including clogged pores and blackheads.
To start using apple cider vinegar for your skin, you only need to put a few drops on a cotton ball and then gently apply it to your face. Wait until it dries and then rinse your face with warm water.
Due to its many skin benefits, apple cider vinegar is suitable for all skin types. You can use it every day until your skin clears up. After that, you can use it a few times a month to prevent blackheads from reemerging.
The Final Word
These are some of the safest ways how to remove blackheads. No matter which of these remedies you opt for, you will need to be patient as it may take a week or two for the results to start showing.
If after a few weeks of regular use blackheads still keep popping up, you should visit your dermatologist. They will likely be able to extract your blackheads on the spot using professional tools. In addition, they may recommend a topical cream and/or treatments to prevent further outbreaks.