You don't have to live with endless breakouts. Here's how to permanently banish blackheads from your life.
Blackheads—tiny black clogged pores—seem able to survive the harshest acne treatments. Even people who have rid themselves of cystic acne and severely oily skin may continue to struggle with blackheads.
So what makes these skin imperfections so persistent? The problem is sebum, the oil that keeps your skin lubricated and smooth. When your skin produces too much—or when sebum gets trapped in your pores with dead skin and makeup—your pores can become clogged.
Because the debris that forms blackheads is trapped just beneath the skin's surface, it can take weeks for a single blackhead to disappear. Popping rarely works, and when it does, it can cause skin trauma that only makes blackheads worse.
Diligent skincare and avoidance of harsh products can help you break free of the blackhead cycle once and for all. Here are the three commandments of eliminating blackheads.
1. Keep Your Skin Clean
Everyone needs a good daily skin cleanser, since going to bed with makeup, oil, and sweat trapped in your pores is a recipe for a blackhead breakout. If you have oily skin, you may want to look at a cleanser that is gentle yet hard on the day's debris. Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12% keeps your skin fresh and clean while removing dead skin cells that leave your skin bumpy and prone to breakouts.
If you have normal skin and only a few blackheads, try a gentle cleanser, such as asap daily facial cleanser. Using excessively harsh cleansers on fairly normal skin can cause your skin to overcompensate by producing excess oil, thereby causing more blackheads.
Try using a cleanser at night-time before bed to ensure you've removed the day's sweat and pollutants, and using a more gentle alternative to cleansing in the morning. We love micellar water for this purpose - this way your skin's barrier remains intact, but you can effectively remove unwanted product or sweat. Try Bioderma Crealine H2O, or for very oily skin try Bioderma Sebium H2O.
2. Keep Your Skin's Oil Balanced
You might be surprised to learn that dry skin can develop blackheads too. When your skin doesn't have enough oil, it may produce excess oil—particularly when harsh cleansers have stripped your skin of sebum.
To keep your skin's oil balanced:
- Exfoliate no more than twice weekly. Try a serum that contains Salicylic Acid (more below!)
- Don't layer medicated products; they'll only stress your skin when mixed together.
- Use a moisturiser, even if your skin is oily. By not moisturising you could be stripping your skin's barrier, making it more prone to blackheads and breakouts. Choose a lightweight product so your skin feels comfortable.
3. Don't Pop or Pick
When you see blackheads lurking just beneath the skin's surface, popping them can prove overwhelmingly tempting. Resist the urge. You probably won't get the entire plug out of the pore. Even if you do, squeezing causes your skin to become irritated, and your nails can introduce more oil and dirt to your skin. Squeezing can also disrupt the skin's natural barrier so when in doubt... no touching!
It takes a little bit of patience, but the best thing to choose for stubborn blackheads are products with BHAs. Keep an eye out for Salicylic Acid in particular - products that contain this will target exactly what you need it to. Ideally, use a serum that will remain on the skin to do the work it needs to. La Roche-Posay have created Effaclar Duo + that is safe for sensitive skin, but if you're dealing with blemishes as well as blackheads we love asap radiance serum for smoother, more even skin.
When choosing a product to tackle blackheads, remember that you may not see overall changes to your skin until 4 weeks later, as your skin cycle needs time to show whether or not a product works.
Still not sure? Contact our skincare specialists.