How To Banish Blackheads Without Damaging Your Skin 
How To Banish Blackheads Without Damaging Your Skin 

How To Banish Blackheads Without Damaging Your Skin 

8 minutes read

Would you like to know how to get rid of blackheads safely without damaging your skin? Many have pondered this question or encountered this skincare issue. Even those who follow the most rigorous skincare regimens are not exempt.     

“Everyone with adult sex hormones (i.e. androgens) has some comedones on the nose or central face. Both testosterone and progesterone cause an increase in oil and sebum production,” Darren Casey, Dermatologist, CEO at Atlanta Dermatology, and member of the American Academy of Dermatology, tells Beauty Daily:  

Adding, “However, people with an oily skin type have more blackheads or are prone to them.”      

While blackheads are typical of puberty age, anyone going through hormonal changes, menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of birth control pills can be susceptible. In addition, other factors such as stress, some health conditions e.g. polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), heavy sweating, and grease in the immediate environment contribute too.    

We turned to top dermatologists, including Casey, to seek answers on how to get rid of blackheads for good without ever compromising your pores.  

Women close up   

What are blackheads?

Blackheads (medical term ‘open comedones’) are open pores clogged with dead skin cells and excess sebum. They are called blackheads because they appear as black dots on the surface of the skin but despite their off-putting colour, don’t be fooled because it is not dirt per se.  

When pores are clogged, the dead skin cells and sebum in the open pore react with oxygen in the air and turn black – hence the term. Blackheads are often found on your face,especially nose and chin, and on your cheeks on rare occasions . It can also be found on your neck, back and chest.  

To be clear: blackheads are non-inflammatory acne and don’t cause swelling. However, skincare experts strongly advise resisting scrubbing because it will only worsen the acne and may turn to inflamed, like papules (tiny red dots aka pimples) or pustules (pimples with pus).  

Read next: 4 Types of Acne And How To Treat Them, According To Experts 

Is it good to squeeze blackheads?

Squeezing or scrubbing at blackheads can make them worse. You could risk damaging your skin or causing an infection if you don’t do it properly.  

Here’s a tip from top dermatologic surgeon Casey: “Start by washing your face and hands with warm water and soap, then use two fingers wrapped in tissue in a rocking motion. You could also use comedone extractors thoroughly cleaned with rubbing alcohol.”  

We love this Comedone Extractor Tool from Tweezerman £12.50. Safely and gently remove blackheads with this stainless steel dual sided essential for clear skin maintenance.

comedone extractor

He suggests using retinoid or adapalene several weeks earlier to avoid comedones to immediately reform as soon as they are extracted. Also, warm compresses before extraction soften the comedones for better results.  

If you were wondering how to get rid of blackheads in your ear, Charlotte McHale shares a hack: all you need is your salicylic acid face cleanser something like Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser (more about this blackhead busting cleanser in a sec) and a cotton pad.  

“Put salicylic acid on a damp cotton pad and regularly clean your ear. By doing so, they won’t build up in the first place.”  

The shape and nature of our ears can get oil and bacteria trapped and lead to blackheads, so ensuring we include it in our daily cleansing routine will prevent any blackheads from developing.   

Casey has another way to do it: “In ears, you need a helper with a comedone extractor. I also let patients wash the outer ear with glycolic cleanser on a cotton swab daily to dissolve rather than extract ear blackheads.”  

Do blackheads go away naturally?

Experts say blackheads can sometimes go away on their own, but it depends on how deep the blackheads are in your skin. If a blackhead is close to the surface of your skin, it’s more likely to go away on its own, while some can be deeply embedded in your skin. Resist the urge to squeeze and remove them, otherwise they will be infected and inflamed. 

How to get rid of blackheads

There are certain steps you can take to reduce or remove blackheads for good. Following this expert-approved blackhead-busting beauty routine can help you get started.  

Daily blackhead-busting routine

1. Use a salicylic acid or glycolic acid facial wash

Salicylic acid facial wash is recommended for people with blackhead-prone, oily or combination skin types. Salicylic acid is found in many skincare products. It is a powerful addition to your skincare routine and worth the investment if used correctly.  

Salicylic acid is lipophilic, which means it dissolves fats and oil. It travels into the pore and removes excess oil, and then reduces its production. It also exfoliates the superficial layers of the epidermis of the skin. In this way, if there are blackheads or any clogged pores, it will unclog them, improving any spots. In addition, it gives a smooth appearance to the rest of the skin.  

Beauty Daily recommends double-cleansing. Remove trapped dirt, sebum, and make-up with either cleansing milk, oil, or micellar water. Any would do. Depends on your texture preference.  

salicylic acid cleanser

Use the Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser as your second cleanser. It is a perfect choice for people who battle with blackheads and for combination or oily skin types.  

It has pore-cleansing blue granules made with salicylic acid which cleanses, purifies, and mattifies the skin formulate so you could part ways with pesky and nasty blackheads.  

 Add to cart: Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser £23

2. Use a purifying toner  

Close the cleansing stage with a Purifying Toning Lotion to tighten the pores and rebalance the skin’s microbiota. It is formulated with meadowsweet, which purifies and reduces shine. A godsend for people with oil-dripping faces!  

Purifying Toning Lotion £24

3. Don’t forget to moisturise

Follow your usual routine and make sure you don’t forget to moisturise. Yes, you need to moisturise even if you have blackheads. No one is exempt!  

McHale suggests opting for a gel-cream moisturiser like the Hydra-Essentiel Cooling Gel. This moisturiser’s key ingredient is the organic Leaf of Life, nature’s hyaluronic acid, deeply hydrates the skin.  

Make sure to keep your skin’s moisture level balanced as it is an essential step to ward off blackheads as overly dry skin can start to compensate with more sebum.  

If oil production is out of control, try facial oil. Contrary to popular belief, facial oil is one of the best ways to nourish your skin, including those with oily skin types.  

Applying facial oils can replenish your skin’s natural oils, keeping oil levels balanced and blackheads at bay. We recommend Lotus Treatment Oil 

The extracts in the Lotus Oil do an excellent job at calming oil production down thanks to the blend of essential oils rosemary, geranium and lotus extracts, which purify the skin, tighten pores, and refine skin texture.  

Add to cart: Hydra-Essentiel Cooling Gel £38; Lotus Treatment Oil £37

4. Try topical treatments

Casey says, “Blackheads clear up with topical treatments like benzoyl peroxides, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and over-the-counter retinoids like adapalene.”  

For stubborn and severe blackheads, prescription retinoid creams can help, such as Tretinoin, or Retin-A Micro.  

Weekly blackhead-busting routine

1. Exfoliate regularly 

Bear in mind: if pores are not thoroughly cleaned, they can turn into pimples. So Exfoliating once or twice a week should be in your blackhead-busting routine.  

Salicylic acid beads from the Pure Scrub work best for oily skin types. It gently removes dead skin cells while deep-cleansing pores.  

2. Apply a purifying clay face mask 

Julie Unwin, Clarins Retail Training Manager, recommends adding a purifying clay weekly mask treatment into your blackhead-busting routine.

She swears by the SOS Pure Rebalancing Clay Mask: “It has a green and white clay on it and will draw out impurities in place. It will reset your skin in 10 minutes and will purify and deeply clean your skin.”  

SOS Pure Rebalancing Clay Mask

The powerful purifying mask contains Organic Alpine Willow Herb extract to help mattify, minimise shine and reduce the appearance of pores. At the same time, the white and green clay absorbs impurities, smoothens skin, and promotes a healthy-looking glow. It has a powdery cream-paste texture that leaves skin clean, refreshed, glowing, and never dry. 

“If you have a combination skin type, put the mask on the T-zone area only and opt for a hydrating mask on the cheeks. If you have an oily skin type, you can put the clay mask all over your face but avoid the eye contour area and the lips,” Unwin advises.    

Do your mask at least once a week, but if your lifestyle permits, push to twice a week.    

“You will feel your skin cleaner and fresher after 10 minutes. However, if you make it as a skincare staple and continue for a month, then you will notice clearer, purified skin,” Unwin says.  

Add to cart: SOS Pure Rebalancing Clay Mask, £31 

Layering your skincare products is as important as finding the right products for your skin type and skin conditions. Read next Your Skincare Routine Order Explained 

It’s also recommended to give the My Clarins Clear-Out Blackhead Expert twin stick and mask a try, it’s formulated to detoxify and mattify the skin, leaving clear, pure skin.

Note: Casey advises using “non-comedogenic” skincare products and make-up. Check the label. Non-comedogenic means the product won’t clog your pores. All Clarins products are non-comedogenic.  

In-clinic blackheads removal treatments

To keep blackheads at bay, Gail Warren, Aesthetician and Nutritional Therapist, suggests doing a series of in-clinic blackhead removal treatments: 

“A series of milk peels carried out by a qualified aesthetics practitioner is a known effective treatment for blackheads as they help regulate oily skin and dilated pores. This treatment includes glycolic and salicylic acid, bentonite – pH 2.5. Before any treatment, always check with your practitioner for side effects and contraindications”..  

Fancy a free midweek or weekend skincare treatment? We listed 7 Free Beauty Treatments You Might Not Know About 

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