Blackheads are an uncomfortable conversation topic. Like other skin blemishes, they are considered embarrassing to have, especially after you’ve grown out of puberty. But some people are naturally more prone to this form of acne. If that’s the case for you, you need to know how to remove blackheads without damaging your skin.
What’s a Blackhead?
This is a mild form of acne that can happen to anyone. It forms as a result of your hair follicles getting clogged by oil and dead skin cells. A clogged follicle can be a whitehead, if the surface is closed, or it can turn into a blackhead if the surface remains open. The dark spot that appears on the surface of your skin comes from oxidation.
Blackheads are slightly raised from the surface of your skin. They generally aren’t painful like pimples, which is because the skin isn’t inflamed but merely clogged. It’s important to keep in mind that blackheads can turn into pimples if they get infected by bacteria.
In most cases, blackheads develop on the face, but they can also form on the shoulders, arms, or neck. You can also get blackheads on your back, especially if you’re prone to other forms of back acne.
How to Remove Blackheads?
Experts say that pushing the plug out of your skin can lead to scarring. Scratching and popping your blackhead is a bad idea and it can have unpleasant long-term consequences.
But there are some other popular skin-clearing methods that can lead to problems too. For example, pore strips and masks can be bad for your skin.
It’s true that using pore strips can help unclog your blackheads, and your face will seem clearer at first. However, this also removes the oil from your skin, leading to dryness and irritation. As a consequence, your oil glands become more active and you can end up with more blackheads than you had initially.
It’s crucial to learn how to remove blackheads safely without causing this kind of irritation. Here are a few methods that can help.
1. Over-the-Counter Acne Medication
If your blackheads are very noticeable and they cause you embarrassment, it’s a great idea to look for acne medication. You can purchase acne and blackhead treatments in pharmacies, but some types are also available in grocery stores. These are all topical treatments that usually come in the form of gel or cream.
What ingredients should you look for?
Doctors say that salicylic acid and resorcinol break down blackheads before they can become inflamed. Benzoyl peroxide and Retin-A both help renew your skin, and sulfur has a beneficial effect as well.
2. Try a Chemical Peel
While some face masks can do more harm than good, a professional-grade chemical peel can help remove dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin. You can also try a clay mask, and it’s a good idea to look for a brand that contains some of the useful ingredients listed above. Charcoal masks can also be beneficial to your skin.
3. AHA and BHA Exfoliants
Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHA and BHA) are commonly found in high-quality skincare products. They help remove dead skin cells and unclog your pores, but they have some other important benefits as well. An AHA or BHA treatment can decrease skin inflammation and the size of your pores.
You can ask a professional to help you decide between these two exfoliants. AHA can help with discoloration problems, but it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. Salicylic acid is one of the most frequently used BHAs in skincare. It’s also a good idea to use products that use both hydroxyl acids.
4. Removal by Dermatologists and Skin Care Professionals
If you can’t remove the blackheads by applying OTC treatments, you should turn to a professional. Choose a certified skin care professional who’s experienced in blackhead removal or consult a dermatologist. These professionals can manually remove your blackheads without causing infections or scars. The process isn’t particularly painful.
If manual removal didn’t work, you might get a prescription for drugs that can help. For example, you can explore a retinoids prescription. If your blackheads are combined with a more serious form of acne, you may need a regimen of antibiotics. Retinoids come in cream or pills.
Additionally, your dermatologist can advise you about light therapy or laser therapy. These methods decrease the oiliness of your skin and they have an antibacterial effect as well.
What About Prevention?
Depending on your chosen method of blackhead removal, clearing your skin can be a slow process. It can take you weeks or months to be entirely free of blackheads, even with professional help. Once you’re rid of this skin blemish, you’ll probably want to do all you can to prevent it from coming back.
Here are a few simple ways to prevent blackheads from forming:
1. Don’t Sleep in Your Makeup
If you use makeup daily, you should take care to remove it completely as soon as possible. Use professional makeup removal products and then wash your face thoroughly before you go to sleep. It’s best to choose makeup products that are oil-free, as you want to prevent clogging up the pores on your face. The word for makeup that leaves your pores free is noncomedogenic.
2. Keep Your Face and Hair Clean
Washing your face and neck regularly is the best way to protect the health of your skin. You want to remove dead skin cells without removing all the oil from the surface. Use water and gentle cleaning products, both in the morning and after strenuous activities.
3. Choose Loose-Fitting Clothing
If you have blackheads on your back or shoulders, choose loose and breathable clothes.
A Final Word
Research shows that Americans spend over $300 million a year on over-the-counter acne and blackhead products. There is a growing awareness of the common mistakes that lead to skin problems, and smooth skin is more important than ever.
The best way to protect your skin is to stick to the facts. Not all beauty products are efficient, and some can even damage your skin. Natural remedies are popular and they can be helpful, but their effectiveness has limits. The best way to live without blackheads is to prevent them to the best of your ability and take care when removing them at home with a mask or OTC gel.