Blackheads develop when sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous gland, mixed with dead skin cells and clogs your pores. When exposed to the air, the oily gunk forms a dark or black plug — hence the name “blackhead” — which traps sebum inside the pore. Over time, blackheads can develop into whiteheads or pimples, so it’s important to get rid of blackheads safely before they get worse.
Getting Rid of Blackheads
- Wash the affected area with an over-the-counter facial cleanser containing anti-acne medication. There are several different chemicals that can get rid of blackheads, including benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria that causes acne to grow, and salicylic acid, which prevents skin cell build-up.
- Use the same treatment regularly for at least eight weeks. Over-the-counter blackhead treatments can be slow to work, but are generally effective for getting rid of blackheads and mild acne.
- Remove blackheads with over-the-counter blackhead pads that pull dead skin cells and oil out of your pores. Don’t use these pads if you use exfoliants, however; they can lift off exfoliated skin along with the blackheads.
- Never squeeze blackheads! Squeezing to get rid of blackheads doesn’t just irritate your skin and lead to scarring — rubbing your oily fingers on your skin can cause more blackheads to form.
- If over-the-counter treatments cause a rash or irritation, or if you have acne somewhere other than your face, talk to a dermatologist about alternative treatments.
- Wash your face gently with a mild cleanser twice a day to prevent skin cells and sebum from building up. If you wear makeup, always remove it completely before going to bed.
- If you have oily hair, wash it at least every other day to prevent blackheads from forming around your hairline.
- Use only oil-free makeup. Look for the label “noncomedogenic,” which means the makeup won’t clog your pores and promote blackhead formation.
- Exfoliate your skin to remove the dead skin cells and oil that produce blackheads. If you have oily skin, exfoliate three times a week. For sensitive skin, exfoliate once a week with a gentle exfoliant, such as oatmeal. Don’t exfoliate every day, if you’ll overstimulate your sebaceous glands, causing them to produce more oil — and therefore more blackheads.