Let’s be clear about something – while it is definitely possible to get rid of blackheads it takes patience and persistence to see results. While there are no overnight cures for blackheads, there are, fortunately, a few different methods for decreasing the number of blackheads that you have and then getting rid of them permanently. Keep reading to find out how to do this.

Eliminating Blackheads - skin cells
How to Eliminate Blackheads – Marco/Getty Images

What Exactly Are Blackheads?

Doctors call blackheads “open comedones” which simply means that your skin pore is clogged with oil and dead skin cells; it is called “open” because the skin has not covered over the clogged pore.

Blackheads are a cyst which starts deep inside the pore. Think of a blackhead like those colored sand jars you used to make as a kid; you filled in the jar with sand from the bottom to the top. Blackheads form in the same manner, with dead skin cells and oil starting to clog the pore from the bottom until it keeps filling and filling the pore and reaching the open top.

Remember that a blackhead is black because the melanin (the cells in our skin that give our skin its color) in the dead skin cells oxidized when exposed to air. This is just like a cut apple turns brown in the air. Blackheads have nothing to do with if your skin is clean or dirty. The worst news about blackheads? They can remain in place for months, even years, and grow to between 2 to 4 millimeters.

What Causes Blackheads?

A few different things contribute to the formation of blackheads. Basically, when your skin has blackheads certain skin functions are not working properly. Instead of your skin getting rid of excess oil and dead skin cells these two materials build up and clog your pores.

Your body is producing excessive amounts of sebum (oil) and that oil stays in the pore instead of exiting it. Additionally, dead skin cells stick together and get stuck in your pores along with the oil. It’s a little-known fact that genetics can cause dead skin cells to stick together so you could actually blame your parents for your blackheads.

As mentioned above blackheads are not dirt, but they can be a sign, for some people, of improper cleansing or not removing all their make-up. For some people, certain skincare or make-up ingredients can contribute to blackheads because these products contain ingredients that clog their pores. Also something as innocent as your cellphone could be contributing to your blackheads. Many people only have blackheads on one side of their face, the side they press their cell phone to when talking on the phone. Your cellphone is very dirty; facial oils and dirt can transfer from the screen of your phone to your face making skin issues worse on that side of your face.

How Can You Get Rid of Blackheads?

As mentioned in the introduction to this article you really need persistence and patience in order to get rid of blackheads since they are stuck deep in your pores. First of all, forget about really getting rid of your blackheads with a facial scrub since when you use a facial scrub you just remove surface dead skin cells, and the scrub does not penetrate into pores. To get rid of blackheads you need skincare ingredients that get into the pore and clean it out from the inside out. What facial scrubs can do is prevent future blackheads from forming by helping to remove dead skin cells so that they do not get trapped in your pores. In order to eliminate blackheads what you really need to use are powerful ingredients that will eradicate the blackhead from the bottom up, helping to get oil and dead skin cells out of the pore for good.

Two of the best ingredients for getting rid of blackheads are salicylic acid and retinoids. Salicylic acid is oil soluble which means it can penetrate into blackheads and help to dissolve the oil trapped in the pore, loosening the blackhead. Retinoids work to normalize skin cell turnover which prevents the dead skin cells from sticking together and getting trapped in pores. Both salicylic acid and retinoids have an exfoliating effect on your skin – helping it shed dead skin cells better.

You can find salicylic acid in facial washes or in lotions or serums that you apply to your skin and do not wash off. Some make-up even has salicylic acid in it. Retinoids are usually cream or lotions based and are available in different strengths both via prescription or over-the-counter. Lastly, if your skin is excessively oily you can use a clay mask once a week in order to soak up oil.

Should You Squeeze Your Blackheads?

We know how tempting it is to want to squeeze your blackheads but don’t. If extractions are done improperly you can actually scar and damage your skin. Leave the extractions to a professional esthetician.

Bottom Line

When you use skincare products with the right ingredients you can help prevent new blackheads from forming and slowly remove the ones that you have. Be sure to be patient – your skin will look better but it takes time.

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