Blackheads are the result of pores clogged by dead skin cells, sebum, oil, and bacteria that have been exposed to air and have subsequently oxidized and darkened. Those spots can be unattractive and feel rough to the touch, ruining flawless skin and preventing foundation from forming a smooth, even layer. There are several ways to remove blackheads, and we detail the most common options below:

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  1. Wash with the Right Cleanser
    There are several facial cleansing products available on the market that specifically target blackheads. Often, these are formulated with salicylic acid that is able to penetrate deep into the pores and clean out the buildup from within, loosening the sebum and debris that causes blackheads or dissolving them entirely. There are also oil-free facial washes that don’t add to the amount of oil your face is already producing naturally.
  2. Get the Pore Strips
    There’s something incredibly satisfying about using a pore strip and physically pulling blackheads out of the pores they’ve embedded themselves in. To achieve the best results, use a treatment cream or gel made with salicylic acid for a few nights to loosen the gunk before applying that pore strip. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use pore strips if you are currently treating a breakout, have sunburn, or have extremely sensitive skin.
  3. Use a Peel-Off Mask
    Peel-off masks work in much the same way pore strips do, but they offer a lot more flexibility in terms of where you can apply them. For instance, a peel-off mask can be used on the sides of your nose and even just beneath your nostrils, where you can find errant blackheads. These are also best used in conjunction with salicylic and glycolic acid gels and creams that loosen the sebum and dead skin cells stuck in your pores, allowing them to be peeled off with ease.
  4. Make Time for Masking
    Masks made with charcoal and clay minimize the production of oil, which is what causes blackheads. The less oil your face produces, the less blackheads will form. There are also masks made with salicylic acids, so keep an eye out for products that feature these ingredients prominently. These are a great, pain-free alternative to peels and masks, which can hurt and cause redness, swelling, and irritation. Make sure that you follow the instructions to the letter, and that you make a point of using a mask at least once a week.
  5. Give Your Face a Deep-Cleaning
    Sometimes, even with faithful face-washing, blackheads won’t budge. From here, you can invest in a mechanized skin brush like a Clarisonic to really get into those pores and exfoliate them thoroughly. Washing with a skin brush not only gets rid of the surface dirt and makeup residue that you just can’t get with your fingertips, but it also preps your pores to better receive the active ingredients in your moisturizers and essences.
  6. Look into Retinols and Retinoids
    The main draw of retinoids and retinoic acid products is an undeniable anti-aging benefit and enhanced production of collagen. In addition, they can also help remove blackheads when used in small concentrations. Talk to your dermatologist before picking up a product that contains retinoids, and make sure that you use them sparingly at first, building up your skin’s tolerance to the substance so that you don’t accidentally cause inflammation. You may also want to look at best practices when taking retinols and retinoids.
  7. Set an Appointment with Your Dermatologist
    While it may be tempting to prick and squeeze blackheads out yourself with a tool – and sure, there are lots of them available now – it’s still best to leave that sort of thing to the professionals. If you fail to see progress after a month of trying everything possible at home, call your dermatologist and set an appointment to get your pores unclogged with the use of specialized tools or a micro-needling treatment.