Have you ever noticed tiny black spots on or around your nose? Those spots, which are actually small bumps, are called blackheads, and getting rid of them should be included in your arsenal of anti-aging skin care solutions. Learning how to get rid of blackheads on your face not only clears up your complexion, but it can also improve the overall health of your skin. Blackhead removal has a lot to do with addressing what causes them to appear in the first place.
What Causes Blackheads?
A blackhead, also known as an open comedo, is essentially an opening on the skin’s surface that occurs when a pore widens, causing it to get filled with bacteria, sebum (natural oil), and skin debris (dead skin cells)—this mixing creates a blockage.
The biggest culprit of blackheads on your face is excess sebum production. Your body naturally produces sebum to lubricate your skin and hair, but it gets released through your pores. But sometimes that sebum can get trapped in the pore, as is the case with blackheads, causing it to build up, along with the bacteria and dead skin cells. Sebum, which contains a pigment called melanin, oxidizes when it’s exposed to air; so when the blockage in the pore gets pushed up and opens all the way up to the skin’s surface, it’s the oxidization that creates the dark hue over the opening. (If the plugged pore doesn’t get exposed to air, it stays as a whitehead.)
It’s important to address blackhead removal, because if left untreated, they can turn into pimples. In fact, they’re often regarded as the first step to a breakout, because they form before acne-causing bacteria invade the open pores.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads
A big part of knowing how to get rid of blackheads is identifying what not to do. People often assume that the best skin care solutions for blackhead removal are to try scrubbing them away or to cover them with makeup—both wrong! For starters, cleansing is of course important as far as anti-aging skin care solutions go, but remember that the dark tint of blackheads on your face isn’t necessarily dirt; it’s the oxidized sebum. So over-cleansing and exfoliating won’t help. In fact, it’ll make the problem worse because it can dry out your skin, which will trigger even more sebum production. Whether or not you’re concerned about blackhead removal, your anti-aging skin care routine should include cleansing no more than twice a day.
The other proactive approach to blackhead removal is to eliminate anything that can further clog pores and make blackheads worse, like thick, oily face makeup or creams. And no matter how tempted you are, avoid the urge to squeeze a blackhead, as this can cause inflammation, scarring, or even worse, an infection.
Instead of scrubbing, covering, or picking at blackheads on your face, the following are a few anti-aging skin care solutions that will be more effective:
• Cleanser ingredients: Use a cleanser that contains glycolic or salicylic acid. These ingredients are known to be lipophilic, which means that they are attracted to oils. So by applying them on the skin’s surface, they help to dissolve the blockage in the pores that’s causing the blackhead. These two ingredients are also effective anti-aging skin solutions because using them consistently will help prevent future blackheads from surfacing.
• Pore strips: Many anti-aging skin care lines carry pore strips for blackhead removal. These are just medicated fabric that you stick on your nose and when you pull them off, they take the blackheads with them. Pore strips work best when you use them after cleansing, because it loosens the blockage, making it easier for the strip to remove it. However, keep in mind that while these strips work well for immediate results, they don’t address the underlying problem; so blackheads are likely to recur unless you follow it up with a proper anti-aging skin care routine to keep your sebum levels in check.
• Deep-cleaning skin care treatments: Non-invasive skin care solutions like chemical peels, clay masks, and microdermabrasion have a deep cleaning effect on aging skin, which helps to improve the appearance of blackheads. Although they can’t really eliminate them completely, these treatments can complement other anti-aging skin care solutions and blackhead removal techniques for a clearer, more even-toned complexion. These treatments also help slough away dead skin cells, excess oil, and residue that settle on the skin’s surface, thereby improving the overall health of your skin, which in turn reduces the risk of the excess sebum production that causes blackheads in the first place.
• Comedo extraction: This blackhead removal procedure should always be done by a professional dermatologist and never on your own. Comedo extraction involves using a small, sterilized device to remove the blockage, which improves the overall appearance of skin.
Homemade Recipes to Remove Blackheads Naturally
If you prefer a more natural approach to skin care solutions for blackhead removal, here are a few home remedies that you can concoct at home:
• Egg white mask: Egg whites can temporarily tighten your pores, which can reduce your chances of blackheads on your face in the future. After cleansing, cover your face in a light layer of egg white. Then place a sheet of Kleenex over your face, gently pressing down so that the tissue dampens with the egg mask. Dab on a second layer off egg white over the tissue, followed by a second sheet of Kleenex. By now you should be feeling the tightening effects. Once the mask is completely dry, peel off the tissue, rinse, pat dry, and moisturize.
• Milk and honey: The antibacterial properties of honey combined with the moisturizing effect of the milk’s lactic acid make for the perfect skin care solution—the two ingredients also work well to make a homemade pore strip. Combine one tablespoon of honey (preferably raw organic) with a teaspoon of milk. Put it in the microwave for five to 10 seconds and stir to make sure it’s properly blended. Dab a thin layer over your blackheads, followed by a clean, dry piece of cotton over top of it. Let it sit for about 12 minutes (or until it’s completely dry) and then carefully peel the fabric off, which should take some of the blackheads with it. Then rinse and moisturize your face as usual.
• Baking soda: Baking soda has an antiseptic quality, can work wonders for helping to get rid of blackheads. Add enough water to a tablespoon of baking soda to make a paste. Apply the paste over your blackheads and let it sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.
• Lemon juice: This is an all-natural antifungal and antibacterial ingredient with alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that can help to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and reduce the appearance of blackheads. After cleansing, use a cotton ball to dab (not wipe) freshly squeezed lemon juice over the blackheads on your face. Let it dry for about 10 minutes and then thoroughly rinse off the lemon juice with cold water.
Prevention Is Key
Once you know how to get rid of blackheads, the next challenge is to prevent them from reappearing. The best way to keep blackheads away for good is to maintain skin health in order to manage proper sebum production. However, there are a couple other tricks that double as effective skin care solutions for blackhead removal:
• Keep hair away from the face to prevent the transfer of oil and chemicals from hair products to your skin.
• Use lightweight, oil-free cosmetic and skin care products; remember, the healthier your skin is, the less makeup you’ll need to wear.
• Always remove makeup before bed—sleeping with it on can clog pores and lead to more blackheads.