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Blackheads are tiny, dark spots on the skin. A dermatologist or skin specialist is best equipped to remove deep-rooted blackheads. However, superficial ones can be easily addressed through proper skin care and home treatments.
Home Remedies for Blackheads
The following at-home treatments can help remove and prevent blackheads.
Disclaimer: Always conduct a patch test before applying any treatment or remedy on your face to avoid an adverse reaction, allergic or otherwise. People with sensitive skin, active lesions, or other skin problems should exercise extra precautions and consult their dermatologist before using a new skin treatment or remedy.
Moreover, the following remedies are commonly used as anecdotal treatments for blackheads. Since no proper research was done on these remedies, it is best to consult your doctor before using them.
1. Try steaming
Steaming is perhaps the most commonly used home treatment for deep cleaning clogged pores, which can safely be done twice a week for the best results. The gentle heat opens up your skin pores, making it easier to extract the debris trapped inside them.
Picking at the pores with your sharp nails can damage and even scar your facial skin, so it’s recommended that you use a tool called a comedone extractor, which is specifically designed for this purpose.
Note: Make sure that the steam is not too hot before exposing your skin to it.
Steaming helps open the skin pores and enables easy cleansing of the trapped debris that forms the blackheads.
2. Exfoliate your skin
Exfoliating the epidermal layer of the skin to remove dead skin cells is necessary for timely skin renewal. However, it is important to note that it is not suitable for all skin types and overdoing it can irritate or even damage the skin.
Chemical exfoliation involves applying an acid-containing peeling agent to your skin, such as a 2% salicylic acid wash. It is still recommended to consult a skin specialist before trying out any such peeling treatment.
Mechanical exfoliation uses motorized devices such as brushes or topical exfoliants such as scrubs to physically remove the dead skin cells.
Here is an easy-to-make homemade scrub that can help remove blackheads:
Oatmeal, honey and tomato juice scrub
- Take 1 teaspoon each of honey, oatmeal, and tomato juice in a bowl and mix them to make a paste.
- Apply the paste to your face.
- Use gentle circular motions of the hand to scrub your skin in an upward direction, with a special focus on the blackhead-prone areas.
- Rinse off the paste after 10 minutes of scrubbing.
Exfoliating the skin helps in the removal of dead skin cells, thus opening up the pores. Keep in mind that every exfoliation technique is not suitable for all skin types, and you must consult your dermatologist to decide which one will work best for you.
3. Try turmeric and coconut oil/olive oil
Turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties that help cleanse the skin pores. (1)
How to use:
- Mix turmeric and oil in a clean bowl to form a paste. (2)
- Apply the mixture over the blackheads.
- Wash your face with warm water after 10 minutes.
4. Apply aloe vera
Aloe vera acts as an antioxidant (3) against free radicals and helps remove blackheads.
How to use:
- Extract gel from an aloe vera leaf.
- Apply a thick layer of the gel to your face, especially over the blackheads.
- Leave it overnight, and wash your face with warm water in the morning.
5. Use a clay mask
Fuller’s earth and bentonite clay are popularly used as clay masks to get rid of blackheads.
How to use:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of any clay and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Apply the mixture to your face and leave it for 15–20 minutes.
- Once dry, use a wet towel to gently remove the mask and wash your face.
6. Try Epsom salt for exfoliation
Epsom salt is an effective exfoliating agent that helps remove dead skin cells from the pores. Moreover, it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of acne, pimples, and small wounds.
How to use:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt in your facial cleanser.
- Use the mixture to wash your face as usual.
- Apply a moisturizer to prevent dryness.
7. Use lemon juice and honey
How to use:
- Apply a few drops of fresh lemon juice and honey to the affected areas.
- Wash with water, followed by your usual cleanser.
Self-Care and Preventive Tips for Blackheads
Here are a few basic rules of skin care that you must stick to if you wish to clear your skin of blackheads.
1. Do not touch your face
A lot of skin problems result from and are made worse by unnecessary facial touching. If you need to touch your face, you must wash your hands with clean water and soap first.
Also, sanitize your hands after treating or touching a blackhead to keep it from spreading, and regularly disinfect your phone surface.
2. Avoid over-cleansing
Frequently washing your face throughout the day can leave your skin very dry. To moisturize the dry skin, your sebaceous glands will produce excessive sebum, which can further clog your pores.
It is recommended to wash your face no more than two or three times a day with a mild antiseptic cleanser. Let your skin air-dry or pat it dry with a clean towel thereafter, instead of rubbing it.
3. Moisturize your skin
Dry skin triggers the overproduction of sebum for extra hydration but it can end up clogging your pores. Thus, you must follow a regular moisturizing routine to maintain a healthy oil balance in your skin.
It is important to use a hydrating cream or lotion that is suitable for your particular skin type. Water-based products are usually the best bet for acne-prone individuals.
4. Apply nose strips
Nose strips are often used to pull out the sebum, debris, and dirt settled in the pores over your nose.
5. Choose your makeup wisely
When buying makeup or other skin care products, look for noncomedogenic, 100% mineral-based brands that are specifically designed for acne-prone skin.
Noncomedogenic products feel light on the skin as they are water-based. These oil-free cosmetics are less likely to cause clogged pores or acne but they do not eliminate the threat completely. (6) Discontinue any makeup or skin care product that you feel is irritating or clogging your skin.
6. Follow a healthy makeup-cleansing routine
Always remove your makeup before going to bed so that your skin can breathe while you sleep.
7. Watch what you eat
Unhealthy food choices reflect poorly on your skin. Replace deep-fried junk foods with a wholesome, nutritionally balanced diet for clear, healthy-looking skin.
8. Change your pillowcase at least weekly
A dirty pillowcase collects dust and germs that your skin picks up, eventually leading to breakouts.
Blackheads vs. Whiteheads
If the mouth of the plugged hair follicle remains closed, the mixture of oil, bacteria, and debris within it remains unexposed to the outside environment and bulges to form a whitehead under the skin, known as a closed comedone.
If the content of the clogged pore comes in contact with air, it oxidizes and turns black. Thus, blackheads are also known as open comedones.
You cannot expect to look your best when your skin is speckled with tiny blackheads. Sadly, even the most stringent skin care routine can be ineffective in both preventing and removing blackheads.
Scrubbing or squeezing blackheads only makes the condition worse. If you squeeze a blackhead, the congested pore can develop into a full-blown acne lesion. Moreover, you run the risk of scarring your skin or transferring the infected sebum to other areas of the skin.