How to Remove Blackheads: The Secret You Need to Know
A blackhead is a small bump that appears on the surface of the skin due to clogged hair follicles. This mild form of acne often forms on your face but can appear on other body parts, including neck, shoulders, arms, chest, and back. Unlike pimples, blackheads are not painful as there is no inflammation involved in the blockage. Blackheads are actually very easy to spot because of the of the dark color and the raised bump.
The American Academy of Dermatology lists blackheads as the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting more than 50 million people.
All About Blackhead Removal
The most common place where blackheads appear is your nose, especially around the sides spreading out to the cheeks. Contrary to popular belief, blackheads are not caused by dirt. The plug is caused by dead skin cells and sebum that discolor.
Humans have millions of hair follicles, and each follicle contains a sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland is responsible for producing sebum that keeps your skin looking soft and smooth. However, when your skin sheds dead cells, some of them land in the hair follicles and mix with the sebum to form a gland that pushes to the surface. This bump is known as a comedone.
If the skin remains intact, the plug will only have a microscopic opening to the surface. Since sufficient air cannot reach the plug, it retains its white color and is known as a 'whitehead'. However, if the plug is exposed to air, it is oxidized and gets the black color.
Factors that increase your chances of getting blackheads include:
- – Having oily skin
- – Hormonal changes that increase oil production during the teenage years, while taking birth control pills, or during menstruation.
- – Certain medications, such as androgens
- – A buildup of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes on your skin
- – Irritation of hair follicles due to dead skin not shedding regularly
A lot of people believe that the food or liquids you take can cause blackheads. While it is true that certain foods that increase blood sugar levels can cause acne, scientists are not convinced that the connection is strong.
How to Remove Blackheads
Some of the treatments that can help get rid of blackheads include:
- Over-the-counter medication: There are creams, gels, and pads available in grocery and drug stores that can help treat blackheads. These products contain chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, and salicylic acid that help kill bacteria, dry any excess oil, and force your skin to shed dead cells.
- Prescription medication: If these over-the-counter drugs are not working, you can visit a dermatologist for prescription medication. These drugs may contain vitamin A, which prevents the formation of plugs in hair follicles. Blackhead medications may also contain tazarotene and tretinoin.
- Manual removal: A dermatologist uses a special instrument known as a round loop extractor to get rid of the plug causing the blackhead. The doctor makes a small opening in the plug and applies pressure using the extractor to remove the blackhead.
- Microdermabrasion: The doctor sands your skin's top layer using a special equipment that has a rough surface.
- Chemical peel: Chemical peels work by removing the dead cells that cause blackheads.
- Laser and light therapy: This treatment uses beams of intense light to reduce excessive oil on your skin and to kill bacteria. The beams reach below the surface of your skin to remove acne and blackheads without damaging your skin's top layer.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads the Right Way
While there are treatments that help get rid of blackheads, the following is the right and safe way to deal with them:
- Do not over-exfoliate: Scrubs can help keep your pores clean, and some of the chemicals they contain can reduce oil on your skin. However, overusing these products can do a lot more damage than good. The result of over-exfoliating is red, dry, and irritated skin, and this can result in skin inflammation. Also, over-exfoliating can trigger excess oil production, which can worsen the problem.
- Don't pick at your blackheads: Blackheads are irritating to look at, and you may feel tempted to pick at them. However, popping these blackheads can result in skin irritation, open and raw skin, skin infections, and scarring.
- Prep your skin before extraction: Extraction is a great way to get rid of blackheads, but you have to prep your skin properly for it to work. Start by using a mild cleanser to clean your face, and steam to open up your pores and soften any hardened oil in the follicles. In fact, skin experts recommend extraction after a shower. Apply a thin layer of moisturizer before starting the extraction process, as it creates a temporary exclusive seal that traps heat in your skin for easier extraction.
- Understand the right extraction technique: Get a quality comedone extractor and use it with gentle pressure. You can also use your fingers if you are afraid of using an extractor. Place the fingers around the blackhead, though they should not be too close together to ensure the extraction is from a deeper level of your skin. Relocate your fingers or the extractor while squeezing to prevent creating marks on your skin.
- Let go of the stubborn ones: There will be blackheads that do not pop. If you try to extract it three times and it does not pop, leave it alone and move on to the next one. If you keep pressing around the blackhead, you could cause skin irritation or even break a capillary.
- Moisturize enough: Ensuring your skin has the right oil balance can actually prevent excessive production of oils and reduce the occurrence of blackheads. Dry skin can result in overproduction of oil, which causes blackheads.
- Stay away from the magnifying mirror: Don't be too obsessed with blackheads, especially the ultra small ones. Looking through a magnifying mirror to see if there are any tiny blackheads forming can result in a lot of frustration, as most people have small blackheads on their noses or chins.
Top 10 Remedies to Get Rid of Blackheads
Some of the home remedies that help get rid of blackheads include:
- Baking soda: Baking soda mixed with water works as an exfoliant, encourages your skin to produce less oil, and neutralizes your skin's pH levels.
- One part cinnamon mixed with two parts honey acts as a mask that removes flaky skin and blackheads.
- Oatmeal that has been cooked and cooled works as a gentle exfoliant that helps remove blackheads while soaking up excess oil.
- Freshly squeezed organic lemon juice removes dead skin and unclogs pores.
- Putting two bags of green tea in a hot water for an hour and dabbing the liquid onto your blackheads can help get rid of them. This is because green tea has antioxidants and vitamins that reduce excess oil and inflammation on your skin.
- Heating raw honey and dabbing it onto your blackheads can get rid of them. This is because honey is antibacterial and antiseptic, and it works by pulling dirt from your pores.
- Mix a small amount of non-staining Katsuri turmeric with water or coconut oil and dab it on your blackheads. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help remove blackheads.
- Use egg whites to tighten the skin and minimize pores for reduced blackheads.
- Apple cedar vinegar has acetic acid that breaks up any buildup on your skin, reducing the occurrence of blackheads.
- A mixture of Epsom salts, water, and iodine pulls the plug out of the pores, resulting in smoother skin.
The Best Tool to Remove Deep Blackheads
Some of the best tools for removing blackheads include:
- Skinmiso blackhead remover. Made from stainless steel, The comedo remover has two rings of different sizes on each side, and great grip for effective extraction.
- Skinmiso pore beauty nose pack. This three-step product contains two masks and one essence. The first mask extracts the blackheads, the second mask contracts the pores to reduce clogging, and the essence controls the production of oil on your skin.
Best Blackhead Masks for 2017
One of the best blackhead removal solutions is the Astrid Pro Blackhead remover, as it ensures you never have to squeeze or extract blackheads anymore. The blackhead remover works by grabbing onto the plug in your follicles and sucking it out of your pores. The benefit of using this product is that it results in smooth and flawless skin easily and effectively. To use it, simply cleanse your skin, apply a thin layer of Astrid blackhead remover, wait for eight to 10 minutes, and then peel off the mask gently. After you're done, apply a layer of Glow Boosting cream to moisturize your face.
Blackheads are very common, but they can also be unsightly, especially on your face. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to remove them. You can choose extractors, or you can use a face mask that get rids of the blackhead without too much effort from you.