You may have thought you left those pesky pimples and blackheads behind you when you turned twenty. The truth is that you can keep getting acne throughout adulthood, even into your thirties and beyond. Adult acne needs an adult approach to clearing your complexion from blackheads, pimples and whiteheads.
There was a time you would squeeze those blackheads, but there are definitely better, safer way to get rid of them. Read on for seven tried and true methods to get rid of blackheads.
What are Blackheads?
First. let’s learn what blackheads are and what causes them.
Blackheads are caused when skin oil, called sebum, and dead skin cells clog your pores. When these substances react with oxygen, they turn dark or yellowish in color. Blackheads are flatter than whiteheads and pimples.
Blackheads are not trapped dirt in the pores. Getting blackheads has nothing to do with personal hygiene. They form because of:
- Hormonal changes including menstruation or birth control pills
Unlike pimples, blackheads have no bacteria in them, and they aren’t infected. Unlike whiteheads, the pores of blackheads are open. This means clearing blackheads is a little easier than with other blemishes. Getting rid of the red bumps of acne, for instance, is much more difficult because they are covered.
Athletes, like runners, get blackheads on their shoulders or backs because of irritation, sweat, and tight clothing. Pro runners, like Jim Walmsley, often use salves to add a layer of protection to their skin.
For Jim’s incredible journey to the Olympic trials, read more here.
Seven Tips for Treating Blackheads
Squeezing blackheads is always a tempting first choice, but there are many other ways that are less harmful to your skin.
- Pore Strips
Pore strips are available in pharmacies everywhere. These are sticky pieces of gauze that will pull the blackheads free from clogged pores. They are a painless and effective way to address blackheads that cluster in one area, such as the nose or chin.
Do-it-yourself versions of these strips can be made from all natural ingredients that you already have in your kitchen.
- Comedone Extractor
A comedone extractor is a professional tool that removes blackheads and whiteheads. When the tool presses against the skin surrounding the blackhead, the trapped oils are exposed. Sliding the tool across these exposed substances scrapes them out of the pore.
Comedone extractors won’t scar or inflame skin the way squeezing the blackhead will. Comedone kits have different tools, like scoops and various sized loops, for all types of skin problems. These kits are available at most pharmacies.
If you hesitate to do this treatment yourself, any dermatologist will do it for you.
Masks not only pull the trapped oils out of clogged pores, but they also shrink the pores. There are many types of acne-fighting facial masks, including:
- Tea tree oil masks that control oil and soothe skin irritation
- Charcoal masks that control oil and balances moisture
- Exfoliant masks that purify and deep cleanse the skin
- Hot and cold combo masks that remove impurities, shrink pores and reduce inflammation
- Egg white masks that reduce inflammation while purifying the skin and providing nutrients
You can use ingredients you already have in your kitchen to make these easy do-it-yourself blackhead masks.
- Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is found in most over the counter acne fighting products. Pads and gels with salicylic loosen the clogged pore and release the trapped oils. Choose a product that can be applied to the blackhead instead of soap or cleanser that rinses away.
Chemical exfoliations with salicylic, polyhydroxy, and glycolic acids will open pores and remove blackheads. These acids are very gentle and effective. Chemical exfoliation can be done at home or in a dermatologist’s office.
- Cleansing Brushes
Acne cleansing brushes are designed to invigorate, exfoliate, and cleanse your face. Many describe these brushes as an effective and relaxing way to remove blemishes. Rotating brush bristles brighten skin by improving blood flow. Using these brushes unclogs pores and removes dead skin cells.
A dermaroller is a small cylinder covered in tiny needles. The dermaroller, rolled across the face, punctures the top layer of skin.
Numbing creams applied before the micro needling procedure helps the discomfort. The procedure feels like being rubbed lightly with sandpaper, or a cat licking your face. It can be done in a dermatologist’s office or at home.
Microneedling is a very effective way to remove blackheads. With regular sessions, your skin will be clearer, and brighter, and smoother.
- Gentle Exfoliation
Exfoliation is an effective way to clear your complexion. Try to avoid commercial scrubs that contain “microbeads.” Microbeads are tiny synthetic beads made from artificial sources, such as petrochemical plastics.
A better way to exfoliate is to use products that are grain based, such as rice powder, oatmeal. Sugar scrubs, salt scrubs, and baking soda scrubs are gentle alternatives for microbeads.
Blackheads, if left alone, will not clear up on their own. Sometimes, squeezing the blackhead is the only option you may have at the time. Squeezing a blackhead will redden the skin and could potentially scar or damage it.
Here are a few tips for safely squeezing your blackheads:
- Only squeeze large and obvious blackheads that will clear easily
- Use steam or a hot rag over the blemish to soften it before you begin to squeeze
- Do not use your fingernails
- Cover your fingertips in tissue
- Push the skin surrounding the blemish downwards
- Use a rolling motion instead of a squeezing motion
- Move your fingers to another angle and try again
If the blackhead is ready to come out, it will. Never force a stubborn blackhead that won’t “pop” easily.
You can battle blackheads from the inside with proper rest, a healthy diet, and lots of water.
Avoid the conditions that cause blackheads. Use hypoallergenic cosmetics, frequent gentle cleansing, and a complete daily skin care regimen.
For other tips on getting rid of acne for good, read here.