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Everything you need to know to get rid of blackheads permanently – what blackheads are, what causes them, which cosmetics to use and tips and tricks to keep in mind…
The fact that blackheads are completely harmless skin problem that will probably disappear on their own over time is small consolation to anyone who has to deal with them. No one wants to see tiny black bumps all over his nose.
To make matters worse, blackheads are persistent, annoying, stubborn little beauty bummers that keep coming back over and over again.
The good news is that you can control and even completely get rid of blackheads. However, it requires commitment to a proper skincare regimen.
Just get used to the fact your days will start and end with cleansing, scrubbing, moisturizing and some extra skin care, and very soon you’ll say hello to your brand new, blackheads free skin.
What Are Blackheads and How Do They Appear?
The process of forming blackheads is very similar to the process of forming acne. In both cases, sebaceous glands produce too much sebum which, for whatever reason (buildup of dead skin cells, comedogenic cosmetics…), can’t come out through the pores. Instead, it stays trapped in your skin.
The difference – in case of acne, the oil is enclosed with skin, so it stays deeper inside and causes redness and inflammation.
Blackheads are not covered with that thin layer of skin. Instead, the plug is open to the air. In time, this leads to oxygenation of the tip of the blackhead, which gives it the characteristic dark color.
What Causes Blackheads?
The two main factors behind the forming of blackheads are: a) the excessive production of sebum, which fills up the pores, and b) the buildup of dead skin cells, which traps the sebum in the skin and prevents it from coming out through the pores.
The excess oil production is mostly caused by hormonal imbalance during puberty, pregnancy, PMS, stressful situations and the use of birth control pills.
Medications that boost skin cell turnover can also cause blackheads, as well some steroid-based drugs.
Any skincare or makeup product that clogs your pores can, of course, contribute to the development of blackheads.
So far, there is no proof that consumption of any food can cause blackheads. However, a healthy, balanced diet is always recommended. It can significantly improve the general condition of your skin and help you get rid of blackheads faster and forever.
What Products Can Help You Get Rid Of Blackheads?
When you are trying to get rid of blackheads, the most important steps are persistence and finding a balance between being too harsh and not being effective enough.
As we learned, blackheads are caused by excess oil and dead skin cells, so, logically, you need to remove these things from your skin. However, too harsh products can irritate and dry out your skin.
In response, your skin starts producing even more sebum to compensate the lost moisture. That way, your acne and blackheads only get worse.
In order to get rid of blackheads, cleansing your skin twice a day is absolutely mandatory. Your cleanser should be strong enough to remove the excess (only the excess) oil, but gentle enough not to dry out your skin.
Try to find a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that dissolves impurities and dead skin cells. Since it works as an exfoliator, it gets you rid of anything that can clog your pores.
Regular exfoliation, once to twice a week, can help you a great deal to get rid of blackheads. It removes a layer of dead skin cells, excess sebum and dirt from your face and cleanses your pores. But, just like with cleansers, you have to be careful not to overdo it.
Too harsh scrubs can severely irritate your skin, dry it out and worsen your acne and blackheads. Your scrub needs to be mild, small-grain and to gently exfoliate your skin without harming it in any way. Also, chemical scrubs based on AHA, BHA or fruit enzymes can help you a lot to get rid of blackheads.
If after a month – month and a half you don’t see improvement in your blackheads, consider using a skin brush once a week, to help you exfoliate your skin even more thoroughly. But, use it only if your scrub is not exfoliating enough to do the job, and never use it on the same day when you use the scrub.
Face toners are extremely useful products that can transform the appearance of your skin. A quality toner will not dry out your skin, but it will collect anything that your cleanser skipped.
It can help hydrate and soothe the skin and even out your complexion. Most toners are astringents – i.e., they cleanse and shrink pores, which is very important when trying to get rid of blackheads.
If you don’t already use a toner, try to find some with aloe vera, tea tree oil or witch hazel. AHA and BHA are also great ingredients, but if your other products contain them, you don’t need them in your toner as well.
Apply your toner in the morning using a cotton pad and, while your skin is still slightly damp from it, seal the moisture in with your daily facial cream.
A proper, quality face mask can be a perfect addition to your skincare routine. It can help you get rid of blackheads much faster and improve the texture and the quality of your skin.
Clay masks are the first choice when dealing with any skin condition connected with excess oil production. Clay has a detoxifying effect to the skin. It gently cleanses your pores and its fine particles absorb any excess sebum from your skin.
The only downside – clay can dehydrate your skin. There’s a great little tip to minimize this: just don’t wait for your mask to completely dry. Rinse it off as soon as its color gets lighter.
If you are dealing with excess oil production, you may be tempted to skip moisturizer or to grab the first face cream for oily skin type and be done with it. However, both of these options can worsen your blackheads and your skin in general.
As you may have noticed, every product listed above removes oils from your skin. After such treatment, your skin is left clean, but very dry and in need of hydration and nutrients a quality moisturizer can offer. And moisturizers labeled as “for oily skin” don’t have near enough nourishing properties to replenish what your skin has lost during the cleansing part.
There are two main characteristics your moisturizer needs to have. First, it shouldn’t be too oily. Some oil is allowed – even desirable, since it helps in balancing the skin and protects it from drying out. But heavy, greasy face creams can do much more damage than help.
Second- and this works for all products, not just moisturizers – nothing you put on your skin should be comedogenic. Comedogenic products are the ones that can clog your pores, and that is something you should avoid at all costs when trying to get rid of blackheads.
Especially be wary of products that contain beeswax and of those that are in solid form, like bar soaps or makeup sticks. The ingredients that keep the products solid are the ones that can clog pores.
Back to the moisturizers – your best choice would be some lightweight gel moisturizer based on hyaluronic acid. This type of moisturizers balances out your skin after the cleansing, replenishes it, hydrates it without making it oily and keeps your skin plump, supple and healthy.
If your skin doesn’t feel ‘moisturized enough’ after this lightweight face cream, you can add a few drops of any non-comedogenic natural oil, such as jojoba, grapeseed, watermelon seed, pomegranate, rosehip seed, safflower…
Retinol formulations effectively treat a number of skin conditions, including acne and blackheads. They literally impact the way skin grows and sheds.
The skin peeling you may experience will significantly lessen after a few weeks of regular use, and what you get is a brand new, clear, glowing skin.
You can either get some over-the-counter product (like Differin Gel) or visit a dermatologist and get a prescription. Going to a professional would be a good idea anyway, even if only to get personalized instructions on how to get rid of blackheads without damaging your skin.
Should You Extract Blackheads?
It is a misconception that you should never extract blackheads and acne. If you do it right, extraction can help you get rid of blackheads easier and help your skin heal faster.
The problem is – most people squeeze blackheads while they are not yet ready to be extracted. While the plug is still too deep in the skin. Some girls are too harsh in their attempt to get rid of blackheads and acne as soon as possible. Others do it with dirty hands.
These improper ways to extract blackheads are what can lead to infection, irritation and scarring.
The best thing you can do to get rid of blackheads is to extract them as a part of a full at-home facial. When your face and hands are clean and your pores open from the warm steam, it will be much easier to get rid of blackheads without harming your skin.
Plus, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind Renee Rouleau’s advice from her article How To Manually Extract Blackheads And Clogged Pores From Your Skin.