Blackheads (ugh) are a common skin problem that can occur on any part of the body, but are most commonly found on the face. They happen when bacteria get stuck in hair follicles, and cause the skin to become dark and bumpy. While they may not be harmful, blackheads can be unsightly and difficult to remove. In this article, we will discuss the best and worst ways to remove blackheads from your skin!
What causes blackheads?
Blackheads are most commonly caused when bacteria gets trapped in hair follicles. This can happen when the skin is not properly cleansed, when makeup is not removed before bed (we know... sometimes you just want to drift off to a peaceful slumber... but this is a huge no-no), or when dead skin cells accumulate on the surface of the skin. Blackheads can also be caused by hormonal imbalances, stress, and certain medications.
Blackheads actually have a medical term known as "comedones". These are the early stage of acne formation. When a follicle becomes more dilated, it can sometimes rupture and spill its contents out into the surrounding skin layer, called the dermis, and this can trigger a response in your body. Usually, this manifests as an inflammatory reaction on the skin, more commonly known as a pimple (much worse than a blackhead... we know).
Acne-prone individuals are more susceptible to blackhead formation on the skin due to their higher levels of hormones. Hormones play a role in blackhead formation by increasing the production of oil in the skin, which can clog pores and lead to blackheads.
How to prevent blackheads on your skin
There are some methods that you can incorporate to help stop blackheads from forming on your face. You can focus on cleaning your skin every single day. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is definitely something that can be overlooked. The more consistent you are with this habit, the better off you will be. If using makeup, make sure to take all of your makeup off before bed, and use a gentle face wash on your skin. You should also avoid touching your face as much as possible because this can transfer bacteria to your skin. But with the basics covered... lets dive into some more specifics!
The best ways to get rid of blackheads
Use skincare products with salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that increases cell turnover and helps to unclog pores. It is a common ingredient in skincare products for acne-prone skin, as it can help to reduce the formation of blackheads. When used regularly, salicylic acid can help to keep blackheads under control. There have been various control studies including a small double-blind and controlled study, which found that using a 2 percent salicylic acid skincare product for two weeks led to a reduction in acne lesions.
Use skincare products with retinoids or retinol in your routine
Retinoids are a class of drugs that are derived from vitamin A (Retin-A). They are commonly used to treat acne, and can also help to reduce the formation of blackheads over time. Retinoids work by increasing cell turnover (much like salicylic acid), which helps to unclog pores and prevent the buildup of dead skin cells. The difference when it comes to retinoids is consistent use! Continued use of retinol is an important factor when beginning to use retinol to take care of acne as it takes some time for the effects to build up in the skin. Give it some time!
Book an appointment with a dermatologist
If you're struggling to get rid of blackheads, seeing a dermatologist may be the best option for you. Dermatologists have access to treatments that aren't available over the counter, and can provide more relief than home remedies or over the counter solutions (for those really serious issues). In-office treatments from professionals can help unclog pores and get rid of blackheads quickly through laser treatments, or microneedling.
However, these treatments come with a cost (quite literally). You should be prepared to spend some hundreds of dollars or even $1000 or more depending on your specific treatment. Keep in mind, you may need multiple treatments too, so be prepared to bust out the wallet if this sounds better for you! If you're looking for a more permanent solution to your blackhead woes, seeing a dermatologist may be the right move for you.
The worst ways to get rid of blackheads (please don't try these)
Using harsh scrubs on your face (regularly)
Using a harsh body scrub on your face can seem like a good idea in theory, as it will help to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. However, this can actually cause more damage to your skin. Harsh scrubs can cause micro-tears in the skin, which can then lead to inflammation and... you guessed it, MORE acne. In addition, using a harsh scrub can also increase the risk of sunburn on your face. Regular harsh scrubbing may also cause your skin to begin secreting more natural oils, which can lead to... BOOM more blackheads.
If you are looking to remove blackheads from your face, it is best to stick to gentle exfoliators that contain ingredients like salicylic acid or retinoids. These will help to unclog pores without causing any damage to the skin. A little scrubbing here and there is all gravy, but don't overdo it, especially with harsher scrubs!
Manual popping and extractions
Manual popping and extractions are one of the worst ways to get rid of blackheads. Pimple popping may seem like a good idea at first, but never ends up well. Extractions can cause more damage to the skin, leading to inflammation and more blackheads. In addition, manual extractions can also increase your risk of infection. If you are looking to get rid of blackheads, it is best to stick to gentle exfoliators and avoid manual extractions with your fingers.
Those nasty suction devices (you're pretty much popping them in a more "sophisticated" way right?)
Suction devices that are used to suck sebum from pores can actually cause more harm than good. While they may be able to suck the sebum from pores, they can also cause facial skin to become more delicate, especially with regular use. This can lead to inflammation and more blackheads. In addition, using a suction device can also increase your risk of infection.
Blackheads are a common skin problem that can occur on any part of the body. While they may not be harmful, blackheads can be unsightly and difficult to remove (more often than not). From the best ways to get rid of blackheads... to the (unfortunate) worst ways... we've covered a few different methods that you can go about extracting these not-so-distant relatives of the pimple out of your skin before it gets too late. And PLEASE try to refrain from using your own two fingers... It does more damage than good.
Your skin will look and feel healthier with the right consistent treatment. Whether that means using skincare products with salicylic acid, retinoids, or retinol in your routine, or booking an appointment with a dermatologist, following these tips can help you keep blackheads at bay! See you in the next one :D