You wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see a dull grayness to your skin. You take a closer look and see so many little black spots in your pores that you look like you walked into a tattoo shop and asked for full-body polka dots.
These are the dreaded blackheads, and they’re no one’s best friends. Why have they decided to plague your face and what can you do about them, you ask? I have all the details you need to know to get back to spot-free skin.
What Are Blackheads and How Do They Happen?
Blackheads are actually similar to pimples. They happen when your pores get clogged with your natural oil and the dead skin cells your body is constantly shedding.
The difference is that with a pimple, the top of the skin is closed off. When the skin stays open, the dead skin cells trapped in the pore turn black from being exposed to oxygen. This is why the center of a pimple looks white while a blackhead looks black: the dead skin cells in the pimple haven’t been exposed to oxygen.
Why Do Some People Get More Blackheads Than Others?
Blackheads only require two ingredients, and we all have both of them: sebum (the natural oil on your skin) and dead skin cells. That means they can happen to anyone, but clearly, some of us find ourselves in blackhead battles more often than others.
It primarily comes down to how much of those two ingredients your body produces. Some people’s skin puts out more oil than others, and this is often what makes one person more prone to acne than someone else.
The same goes for skin cells. Some of our bodies are overly ambitious in producing new skin cells, so we shed the old skin cells at a higher rate. The more skin cells and sebum you have on your skin, the more likely they are to form clogs in your pores.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads
If you’re tired of blackheads and want to give your skin a breath of fresh air, there are a few approaches you can take.
Go For the Deep Clean
The best way to get rid of your blackheads is to use skincare products that focus on giving your skin a seriously deep clean. This generally means reaching for a cleansing mask.
One fun option is the GlyMed Plus OXYGEN Deep Pore Cleanser. You simply apply the cleanser to your face and massage it in for a few seconds, then give it several minutes to work its magic.
As it pulls debris from your pores and brings in oxygen, the mask becomes white and fluffy, growing little by little. If you’ve ever wondered what you’d look like as a cloud, this cleanser will give you the answer.
If you prefer a more traditional mask, clay masks do a fantastic job of getting deep into your pores and giving you a fresh, blackhead-free flow.
Try Vacuum Tools with Caution
There’s a growing trend among people who suffer from blackheads: using vacuum extractors. These at-home skincare tools have small suction heads that you press along your skin, and they use vacuum pressure to remove clogs from your pores.
These tools can be very successful in removing blackheads, but there are some potential problems. They may dry out your skin too much or cause other types of irritation because of the suction pressure. If you don’t clean them properly, they can even lead to a dangerous infection on your skin.
Here’s my recommendation: if your masks and other skincare products aren’t clearing up your blackheads, go visit an aesthetician instead for a facial that focuses on blackhead extraction. They use similar tools but in a more measured, precise, and sanitary way to keep you safe.
How to Prevent Blackheads Before They Appear
With blackheads, the real key is to try to prevent them before they appear in the first place. You might be facing an uphill battle if your body produces extra sebum or skin cells, but there’s plenty you can do to keep your skin in check.
1. Get Into a Cleansing Routine
Cleansing is the most important step when it comes to blackhead prevention. If you’re getting rid of your extra sebum and dead skin cells twice per day by washing your face with an acne-focused cleanser, they’ll have fewer opportunities to sneak into your pores.
2. Don’t Forget Your Exfoliant
Cleansing your skin is priority #1 with blackhead prevention, but exfoliating is a close second. When you exfoliate, it buffs away the dead cells on the surface of your skin that are either sitting on the surface or are about to break free and start causing clogs.
Find a facial exfoliator you love and add it to your routine two to three times each week, right after using your cleanser.
3. Look for Acne-Friendly Products
It might look different, but blackheads are a type of acne, just like your garden-variety pimples. If you find yourself with blackheads often, start switching your skincare products and cosmetics to acne-friendly versions.
Look for labels that “non-comedogenic,” which means the product doesn’t encourage comedones (the clinical word for pimples and blackheads). Other products might use terms like “non-acne-forming.”
4. Maintain Your Moisture Levels
Many people hear that excessive oil will cause blackheads, so they think this means that the less oil your skin has, the better. Unfortunately, your body is a bit trickier than that.
Your skin can detect when there is too little oil, and it ramps up its oil production to catch up. If you try to dry out your skin too much, you’ll just end up with a more aggressive enemy.
Instead, focus on balance. Use cleansers to remove extra oil but use a moisturizer to keep your oil levels more stable, too. Just stick to moisturizers that are non-acne-forming so you aren’t working against yourself.
Getting Blackheads Out of Your Life
Blackheads are a frustrating issue and frankly, we don’t talk about them enough. Too many people struggle with them for years because they don’t realize that the solution could be as simple as a continuous cleansing routine and using the right products.
That doesn’t have to be you anymore. Take your new knowledge, go forth, and enjoy your clearer skin!