Before we break down how to get rid of blackheads, let’s clear up what they even are. Like more obvious pimples, they’re the result of pores getting clogged with oil and dead skin cells. But unlike the others, they’re not embedded beneath the skin. This explains the color—the clog reacts with oxygen and turns dark. Blackheads are pervasive, often across your nose, but they can pop up anywhere you’ve got pores and sebum. (Basically everywhere.)
Getting rid of the bastards is a little less obvious than a poppable pimple (please pop those carefully, if you must), and maybe a little less satisfying. But if you build a blackhead-battling skincare regimen that satisfies all of your core skincare needs, by simply maintaining it, you get the benefit of clear skin and fewer other types of breakouts, too.
So: how to get rid of blackheads? Here is a four-step regimen that will prevent them from returning.
1. Use a Salicylic Acid Cleanser
The baseline skincare regimen has three steps: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. Those first two steps can be combined, however, with an exfoliating cleanser. Not necessarily one with any physical grit—many cleansers contain exfoliating chemicals like salicylic acid, similar to standalone chemical exfoliants. These cleansers pull excess oil and grime away from the skin, but the salicylic acid also seeps into the pores to flush it out entirely, and dissolve dead skin cells in the process. This prevents the buildup of oil, and any clogging that leads to blackhead formulation. These cleansers are typically gentle enough to use twice daily, too, morning and night, but be sure you aren’t drying out your skin when you start using a new one.
Cerave salicylic acid cleanser
2. Moisturize Twice Daily
By moisturizing with an SPF-packed, nutrient-rich moisturizer in the morning, you’ll keep your skin cells nourished and prevent pores from enlarging due to sun exposure. The skin stays firmer longer, pores stay smaller, and the moisturizer creates a thin barrier atop the skin to prevent excess grime and environmental threats from taking residence inside the pores. Then, in the evening, use a night cream to actively restore your skin and promote its good health. Here’s a one-stop-shop skincare routine that includes both:
Asystem “performance skincare” three pack
3. Apply Retinol Before Bed
Retinol, retinoid, tretonin—these related vitamin A compounds come in a lot of names. The important thing to know is that they are generally regarded by dermatologists as the best way to tighten pores, prevent acne, and reverse signs of aging and sun exposure. Consider asking your dermatologist for a heavy hitting, prescription-grade retinoid if you’re serious about the skin-clearing benefits. It will sync with your body’s restorative cycle to give you tighter, firmer, blemish-free skin—and quickly make those blackheads a distant memory. But also know that there are lots of low-concentration OTC retinol products available. Anyone should consider applying a lower-grade retinol each night before bed—you’ll still get similar benefits, and these lower concentrations are perhaps a better option for people with sensitive skin.
Skinceuticals retinol night cream
4. Do a Weekly Mask
Face masks are the vacuum cleaners of the skincare world, sucking all excess gunk from the depths of your pores. For this reason, they shouldn’t be used more than once a week. But for the same reason they should be used once a week, after cleansing and before night cream. This cleansing mask will prevent any lingering threats of clogged pores, and thus future blemishes. Wear it for 10-15 minutes, until it tightens and indicates that all excess oil has been absorbed.
Maapilim mud face mask
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