8 Ways to Get Rid of Blackheads

Blackheads are a common type of acne that can affect anyone, although they are more common in individuals with oily skin. They develop when pores become clogged with a mixture of dead skin cells and excess oil produced by the sebaceous glands.

Unlike whiteheads, which have closed pores, blackheads have open surfaces that undergo oxidation, giving them their dark color.

While it may be tempting to try to remove blackheads by pinching or pushing them out, this can lead to scarring and other skin damage.

The good news is that there are plenty of over-the-counter products available containing effective ingredients to exfoliate, soften, and eliminate blackheads. Dr. Allison Britt Kimmins, MD, MPH, suggests exploring these options to address blackheads effectively.

To learn more about how to get rid of blackheads, prevent future breakouts, and improve overall skin care, continue reading.

1. salicylic acid:

To effectively treat blackheads and whiteheads, consider using products containing salicylic acid instead of benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is preferred for its ability to break down the materials that clog pores, including excess oil and dead skin cells.

Opt for a daily cleanser with salicylic acid to remove these impurities along with daily dirt, oil, and makeup. While it’s recommended to wash your face twice a day, start by using the salicylic acid cleanser once a day, especially if you have dry skin.

You might begin by using it at night only and sticking to your regular cleanser in the morning. Gradually, as your skin adjusts to the product, you can consider using it both morning and night.

Keep in mind that some individuals may be sensitive to salicylic acid, so start with caution. If you experience any adverse reactions, such as irritation or redness, reduce the frequency of use or discontinue use altogether.

2. AHAs and BHAs

In the past, there’s been some concern that exfoliating could worsen acne, especially inflammatory acne, by causing additional redness and irritation.

However, for blackheads, regular exfoliation can actually be beneficial. It helps remove excess dead skin cells that contribute to clogged pores and may even help in gently eliminating existing blackheads.

Instead of harsh physical scrubs, it’s best to opt for products containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Glycolic acid is a common type of AHA, while salicylic acid is a well-known BHA.

Both AHAs and BHAs work by exfoliating the top layer of the skin. This can potentially improve the appearance of wrinkles and age spots and also cleanse pores, leaving your skin softer.

BHAs are more widely available and can be more affordable, too.

According to Britt Kimmins, both AHAs and BHAs are effective for superficial peels, treating the outer layer of the skin, and are generally safe for over-the-counter use on all skin types.

3. skin brush

Using a skin brush can offer similar exfoliating benefits as AHAs and BHAs by effectively removing excess dead skin cells. However, it’s essential to proceed with caution, as advised by Susan Massick, MD, a dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Massick suggests using skin brushes only occasionally and with a gentle cleansing wash. Individuals with sensitive skin should avoid using a skin brush altogether to prevent irritation.

There’s a variety of skin brushes available to suit different needs and budgets, allowing you to incorporate them into your daily cleansing routine if desired.

4. Topical retinoids

Retinoids can be beneficial for treating persistent acne by unclogging pores. This action not only helps to clear existing acne but also enhances the effectiveness of other over-the-counter (OTC) products by enabling them to penetrate the follicle more effectively.

Topical retinoids like tretinoin, also known as Retin-A cream, can unclog pores and enhance acne treatment. But for dry skin, it’s best to avoid potent exfoliants like tretinoin, as advised by Britt Kimmins. Explore options at buyretinoincream.us.

5. Clay mask

According to Britt Kimmins, clay masks are beneficial for unclogging pores by drawing out oils and toxins from the skin. They are particularly recommended for individuals with oily skin.

Some clay masks also contain sulfur, which aids in breaking down dead skin cells responsible for blackheads.

Regardless of the type of mask you choose, it’s advisable to use it once a week in addition to your regular exfoliating treatment, which you may use once or twice a week.

6. charcoal mask

Britt Kimmins suggests that, similar to clay masks, charcoal masks also penetrate deep into the skin to extract oil and impurities. Charcoal is believed to enhance these benefits further.

7. Consider chemical peels.

According to Massick, chemical peels are typically used for their anti-aging properties, such as diminishing age spots and fine lines. These peels often contain AHAs or BHAs and function by exfoliating the skin.

The process aims to reveal smoother and more refreshed-looking skin. While chemical peels aren’t primarily targeted at treating blackheads, they can potentially eliminate dead skin cells and reduce enlarged pores.

This treatment method may be beneficial, particularly if you’re seeking anti-aging benefits in addition to addressing blackheads.

8. Use non-comedogenic products.

Using the right cleanser, mask, and exfoliator is essential, but it’s equally important to complement your skincare routine with non-comedogenic makeup and face products. According to Massick, incorporating non-comedogenic products into your regimen is key, especially when aiming to remove blackheads effectively.

Noncomedogenic products are formulated to not clog pores or cause comedones, which are the culprits behind pesky blackheads. It’s crucial to carefully read labels and opt for products labeled as non-comedogenic to ensure they won’t exacerbate the problem.

Ensuring your makeup and skincare products are noncomedogenic can significantly contribute to keeping your pores clear and preventing the formation of new blackheads.


It’s important to understand that any new acne regimen, including one tailored for blackheads, typically requires patience, as results may take time to become noticeable. In most cases, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks before you start seeing significant improvements.

If, despite following your regimen diligently, you continue to notice new or persistent blackheads after this period, it might be time to seek professional help from a dermatologist. They have the expertise and tools to effectively address stubborn blackheads.

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