Let me paint you the picture that probably got you here - you found yourself in a spotlight with a mirror in front of you and you’re immediately aware of all of those little imperfections on your skin - facial hair, fine lines, pores, blackheads… And don’t even dare to deny it - you tried to squeeze as many as you could, it didn’t work, so now you are left wondering: how to finally get rid of blackheads? Well, in order to effectively banish them from your skin, you need to understand all the things that lead to their formation - you may be doing something to trigger them without even knowing it.
Let’s start. The term blackheads refer to the small bumps on the skin that are most commonly seen on the nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin. However, blackheads can appear throughout the whole body. These tiny bumps are prevailing in certain areas because some body parts are more densely packed with hair follicles. And more hair follicles means more oil glands. Sebaceous glands, the tiny sebum-producing glands are attached follicles. This is also the reason why some people are living with the phenomenon of combined skin, where the nose is oily, and the rest of the face is dry.
Blackheads are considered a mild type of acne that forms when the opened hair follicles become clogged. But, are they really different from simply clogged pores? Yes, there is a difference. Many people use the term wrong, by thinking their enlarged pores are blackheads. They can look similar, but what’s happening on the skin’s surface and how you treat them is different. Large pores are called "sebaceous filaments" and they are trickier to treat because the size of the pores is determined by genetics. Blackheads, on the other hand, form when the opening of a hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells and excess oil, then, this material gets oxidized by the air, appearing black. The opening of the hair follicle never closes - which brings us to another very similar, annoying bump that you should know how to distinguish - the whitehead.
Whiteheads are defined as closed comedones that also develop when the pore is clogged with dead skin cells and sebum. Above the pore there is a thin layer of skin, making the head white since the plug is not exposed to air, and doesn’t oxidize, hence the name “whitehead”. If you are dealing with whiteheads instead of blackheads here is an article on how to get rid of whiteheads.
Much like other forms of acne, blackheads are caused by a number of factors including genetics, hormonal changes, lifestyle choices, and hygiene habits.
Unfortunately, research has found that our skin type is hereditary. That means that if your parents have oily skin that’s prone to acne you are most likely to have it as well. And, even though this is out of your control, of you know that your skin is acne-prone and develops blackheads easily, you can take further measures to protect, and nourish it.
Puberty, menstruation, menopause, and other conditions that cause hormonal changes can make your face filled with blackheads. When you are going through a hormonal change, be patient with your skin, and don’t stress since it will make things worse. There are many treatments against hormonal breakouts and have in mind that with proper care they disappear once your body is back in hormonal balance.
Some drugs can bring out blackhead breakouts in people. Birth-control pills, as well as some steroid-based drugs, can make your skin prone to blackheads. The best advice is to consult with your doctor if you have noticed skin related problems since you started taking the meds.
Don’t take this the wrong way though, because excessive scrubbing won’t solve your problem. It will just make the skin more sensitive. It doesn't mean that you shouldn’t wash your face, but rather that maybe you are not aware of the things that can affect the skin. Like, how often do you touch your face with your hands? Our hands are the carriers of bacteria, and you shouldn’t touch your face before washing or desensitizing your hands first. Additionally, make sure you clean your mobile phone. It spends a lot of time on our cheeks, and research has found it’s dirtier than a public toilet seat cover.
When the body is going through a stressful reaction it triggers a lot of stress hormones. The sebaceous glands on the face have receptors for those stress hormones, which means they are picking up the signals a start producing extra oil on the face. This leads to clogged pores and the formation of blackheads, as well as other forms of acne.
You are what you eat. Still, controversial, yet more and more people are swearing that diary, sugar, and other junk foods affect the way their skin looks. It has a number of theories about how certain foods are connected with breakouts, have in mind this is not a straight forward relationship. If you search the internet, you will find “The Blackhead Diet” and other specific advice on the food you should eat. Eating healthy is always a good idea, but don’t expect miracles. Blackheads can be caused by a number of factors, and healthy eaters can have them too.
If you want to target those annoying blackheads it’s best you use peeling agents to dissolve the plug causing the blackhead. Some of the most famous peeling agents are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Both of these ingredients are available over the counter and are applied topically, directly on the skin.
Prescribed drugs that contain vitamin A, in the form of tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene may be effective in keep plugs from forming in the hair follicles and promote the more rapid skin cell regeneration.
Retinoids are also effective in treating blackheads, so they’re highly recommended. People with sensitive skin should be more careful and search for low-strength retinoids that their skin can tolerate.
If none of the treatments work you can always book an expert extraction facial. They will then use a blackhead extractor tool, or they will physically squeeze them out. This is a solution when you need those blackheads to be gone instantly, but it won’t stop them from reappearing after some time.
After prescribed treatments and expensive facials, the next thing to do is to try a home remedy. Even dermatologists agree that for mild forms of acne, primarily consisting of blackheads, there are some really good home remedies that may help since there is no need to use harsh chemicals.
Baking soda is a natural exfoliant that can remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from your skin. It can also help to neutralize any pH imbalance your skin may have. To use baking soda on your face, simply mix two tbsp of baking soda with two tbsp of water together to form a paste. Massage it onto your face in a circular movement, then leave it to dry off. After fifteen minutes rinse of with lukewarm water.
One of the best homemade scrubs is by mixing together sugar, honey, and lemon juice. Use one tbsp of sugar, two tbsp of lemon juice, and one tbsp of honey. Blend the ingredients well, and then apply on your face by massaging the mixture in for five minutes before rinsing it off and applying moisturizer. You will feel how smooth your face becomes instantly.
For this mask, 2-3 drops of tea tree oil, one tbsp of fuller’s earth and one tbsp of water. Combine the ingredients and stir until you get a smooth paste. Apply evenly on your face and leave it to act for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. The tea tree oil helps disinfect and unclog your pores, while the fuller’s earth nourishes your skin with its high mineral content.
Turmeric is considered a great healing agent and has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which can all help you get rid of blackheads. One way to use turmeric is to mix one tbsp of it, with one tbsp of coconut oil and make a smooth paste. Apply on face and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water. Another way to use turmeric is to mix it with fresh mint juice. Add one tbsp of turmeric powder with two tbsp of mint juice and stir well. Apply the mixture on your face, and let it dry for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. For best results, you should repeat both of these procedures every week.
Activated charcoal is very efficient in absorbing all the impurities and clearing blackheads almost instantly. Combined with bentonite clay will further enhance this ability to absorb impurities. Mix 2 ground capsules, or one tbsp of charcoal with one teaspoon of bentonite clay and add water until you get a paste-like consistency. Apply all over your face and let it dry. Rinse off with warm water.
Green tea contains a potent antioxidant that fights DNA damage from UV rays to prevent skin cancer. It's also a powerful ingredient that combats signs of aging, reduces irritation, redness, swelling, tightens pores, and helps the skin get rid of blackheads. One of the best ways to use on the skin is by mixing it with aloe vera. Take one tbsp of aloe vera gel and add ¼ cup of green tea, after it’s been cooled down. Don’t use it while it’s still hot. You will get a runny paste, so use a cotton pad to apply the mask. Leave it on for 20 minutes, and then rinse off with cold water.