Blackheads can happen to anyone. Even if you’re not prone to acne or have oily skin, you can still get them. Most of us get them in our T-zone (forehead, chin, nose) and use our nails or tweezers to try to dig them out. Not only does this hurt, it can actually make blackheads worse. The gunk can actually go deeper into pores causing infection or those sharp objects can damage skin cells causing scarring and hyperpigmentation.
But, don’t worry, there is a better way.
We’ll show you how to prep your skin properly for blackhead removal, the right techniques, and what you need for aftercare, so you can avoid making blackheads worse.
Pro Tip: Have a peek at these blackhead removal videos and watch how it’s done!
Before You Start
It’s so important to prep your skin before blackhead removal. This means cleansing, exfoliating, and using heat. The goal is to get off all that wonderful sunscreen, makeup, skincare products, dirt, pollution, excess oil, and dead skin cells. This paves the way for a clean and easy blackhead removal which decreases the risk of infection and scarring.
Step 1: Double cleanse your face! If you’ve never heard of this, you’re not alone. Double cleansing is one of those skin care secrets you learn as you go along. Use an oil-based cleanser on a warm washcloth (or electric face brush, like Foreo) and gently wash your face. Then cleanse with your normal, non-oily based, facial cleanser.
Step 2: Exfoliate. If you did this in Step 1 with your face brush, then you’re good, unless you want a little extra. If not, use your favorite gentle exfoliating product and rinse with warm water.
Step 3: Heat. Apply either a warm washcloth to your face, take a steamy shower, or use your facial steamer for at least 5 minutes. This softens pores and makes blackhead extraction much easier. It also reduces the risk of pushing the gunk deeper into pores, making it worse.
Techniques for a Safe Blackhead Extraction
There are basically just a few techniques to safely remove a blackhead. But, whichever you choose, they are all centered around a gentle press-and-pull approach.
Think of the gunk in your pore as needing to be gently lifted out. Blackheads are categorized as open comedones, which means they don’t have a skin over the top. That black gunk is just hanging out in there, ready for the taking!
In rare occasions, and especially in old blackheads, there may be skin growing over the top. Experts recommend heading in for a facial or to your dermatologist and having them slice it open for extraction. Yes, sharp pokey tools usually come with extractor tool kits, but the Pro’s say this should not be done at home! You can end up causing scarring, hyperpigmentation, and infection, which are big problems that make a silly old blackhead seem like no big deal!
Any way you do it, it’s important to use aseptic technique. This means wiping the areas with blackheads with an alcohol wipe, wiping down your blackhead extractor with alcohol, and washing hands with soap (if you have gloves, all the better!).
Put fingertips on either side of the blackhead and gently press and squeeze repeatedly moving in a clockwise motion around it. The gunk should lift out like magic.
Since many extractor tool kits have different sizes, be sure to choose the right size tool for the size of the blackhead. There should be space between the tool and the blackhead when placed on top of it. Set the tool directly on top of the blackhead and gently press until the gunk comes up. If needed, repeat the process and move in a clockwise motion until all the gunk is out.
Using 2 fresh Q-Tips, or some brand of cotton buds, use gentle pressure on either side of the blackhead while moving in a clockwise motion. This will help apply pressure and lift from beneath the blackhead, getting the gunk up and out of the pore.
Blackhead vacuums are amazing little devices that do exactly what they sound like they do: suck out the gunk like a vacuum. When you buy one, be sure to read reviews and pick one that doesn’t cause bruising or you’ll end up with a face full of hickeys! You apply the vacuum and run it over your blackheads. Poof! Gone! It can leave you a bit red, so be sure to do it at bedtime.
The jury is out on pore strips. Some people swear by them, but Experts say they only work for a short time then the blackhead comes back.
Things To Do After Extraction
Aftercare is important. You want to prevent infection on those newly cleared out pores and prevent blackheads from coming right back.
- Use an antibacterial toner over the affected areas. This will reduce the risk of infection from bacterial growth in pores.
- Apply your favorite retinoid to help cells regenerate and promote a radiant complexion
- Use AHAs for most skin types or BHAs for oily skin to unclog pores and fade acne scarring
- Don’t forget your moisturizer to support skin’s protective moisture barrier
Blackheads are really common and pop up in every skin type. Safely removing them is as simple as following a pore softening and dirt removing facial prep routine, aseptic technique, and aftercare focused on unclogging pores and blackhead prevention. Follow these simple steps and you’re on your way to clean and healthy blackhead removal.