The 17 Best Products for Blackheads That Will Clean Out Clogged Pores

With a combo of powerful acids and oils, these blackhead-blasting products will purge your pores once and for all.

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Best Products for Blackheads That Remove Grime And Clear Skin

InStyle / Jaclyn Mastropasqua

If you’ve ever looked into a magnifying mirror, you know that it’s an experience you never want to do again, yet can’t resist and feel you must repeat. These mirrors “help” you see every single aspect of your skin up close and personal in upsetting detail. No one really loves seeing things like crow’s feet in high def. That said, we’re particularly offended by seeing the blackheads on the T-zone doing their best impression of the seeds on a ripe strawberry.

Once blackheads move in, they’re hard to evict. Worse, they are kind of a vicious cycle. They stretch out the pores, so even if you clear them out, the pore is left dilated — a perfect venue for the formation of a new blackhead. It can be extremely challenging to find a skincare product that can help you combat this pesky concern, although kicking off a skincare routine with a deep cleanse, followed by a purifying mask, spot treatment or serum is a great start.

Best Overall

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel


What We Love: These are travel friendly, foolproof, and gentle enough to use daily.

What We Don’t Love: Because they’re best used daily, the price of maintaining treatment can add up.

Peels may be common these days, but this formula from Dr. Dennis Gross is the original. It’s been on the market for over 20 years — and we’ve been loyal to it for at least a decade. If you’re perennially lazy with your skincare routine (or just prefer efficiency), the two-step treatment is a must-try. Just swipe the first peel pad across clean skin (and neck, chest, and hands), wait two minutes, and repeat with the second pad. No rinsing — that’s it, you’re done. And because the treatment is infused into face wipes, the peels are very TSA friendly; we love tossing these in a bag for an easy, on-the-go glow.

For such a low time commitment, it’s a real workhorse of a treatment. In addition to clearing pores and keeping blackheads at bay with salicylic acid, it sloughs away dull skin on the surface with glycolic and lactic acids. It also saturates skin with 12 antioxidants, including green tea and resveratrol, to defend against oxidative damage. They’re gentle enough to use daily, but not at all weak — you’ll likely see results every time you use them. 

Trust us when we say they’ll become a mainstay of your routine, perhaps to the detriment of your wallet: When you use them daily, the price of a box of peels can start to feel steep.

Price at time of publish: $92 for 35 peels

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, green tea extract|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily, mature|Size: Two wipes per treatment

Best Budget

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum



What We Love: This formula controls oil production both instantly and over time.

What We Don’t Love: Use sparingly, lest you want a sticky finish that pills up under makeup.

One of the primary causes of blackheads is excess oil production, and this formula is designed to tame sebum output while clarifying skin. The price can’t be beat — even jumbo-sized bottle is affordable at double the size and only $11 — and works quickly to mattify skin. While some find it irritating (there’s a high percentage of niacinamide), the majority of users call it a miracle worker for congestion, clearing out pores and tightening the look of larger ones. Just be sure to use a small amount when you apply it, as it can leave a bit of a tacky residue in its wake. This may not bother you, but those who wear makeup may experience pilling and texture issues when layering foundation on top.

Price at time of publish: $6

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, zinc PCA|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily, mature Size: 1 oz.

Best Splurge

Instytutum Triple Action Resurfacing Peel

Instytutum Triple Action Resurfacing Peel


You might think that $85 is kind of a wild price for a face scrub, but we’ve burned through at least three bottles of this product since it launched and never want to be without it. 

While some scrubs feature bursting beads or sugar to gently exfoliate, this one features melt-proof bamboo beads with an ultrafine grit that feels incredibly productive when massaged into skin. But we know it’s not just the physical exfoliant that’s hard at work: The formula is loaded with exfoliating acids, including glycolic and salicylic as well as papaya enzymes and a retinol alternative. 

Because of all those heavy-hitting ingredients, plus the fact that they’re delivered in a physical scrub that allows them to penetrate more deeply into the skin, this product is very strong. It shouldn’t be used more than a few times a week, even by people who are used to potent formulas. That said, this aspect of the scrub (as well as how little you need to get a good result) makes a tube last for ages, so it’s pretty economical.

Price at time of publish: $85

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, bamboo beads|Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily, mature|Size: 2 oz.

Best Drugstore

Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

differin adapalene gel


What We Love: This potent treatment was once only available via prescription, but now you can buy it over the counter.

What We Don’t Love: Because this formula was once a prescription, it is very strong, so beware the “retinoid uglies.”

Beverly Hills-based dermatologist, Dr. Ava Shamban calls this a “long-term game plan” at drugstore pricing. “It’s non-comedogenic and features the retinoid adapalene to keep acne and buildup at bay,” she says.  

Basically, you can consider this your lifelong ride or die formula, like you would a prescription retinoid. The gel-based formula is extremely potent (it was previously an Rx, after all!), so you must ease into using this formula, applying it sparingly as your skin adjusts less you cause significant irritation or even over-exfoliate your skin. 

Keep in mind that, like all retinoids, your skin will likely get worse before it gets better when using this product, but forge onward! Once your skin learns to tolerate Differin, you’ll be thrilled by its clarity — and how small your pores become.

Price at time of publish: $15

Key Ingredients: Adapalene|Skin Type: Normal, oily, combination, mature|Size: 0.5 oz.

Best for Large Pores

Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner

Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner

Perricone MD

What We Love: It’s a comprehensive solution for aging skin and enlarged pores — and it won’t irritate skin.

What We Don’t Love: This product is so popular that it frequently sells out.

In addition to blackheads stretching them out, pores enlarge with age — just another casualty of skin laxity, unfortunately. Those with especially large pores should check out this toner from PerriconeMD. It uses salicylic acid to clear out buildup from within the pores, then a blend of firming ingredients like a copper complex and DMAE to help fortify loose skin, which in turn helps shrink the look of pores. 

This well-blended formula is non-drying and non-sensitizing, making it an option for all skin types, which is just one of many reasons it’s so popular — and why it so frequently, unfortunately, sells out.

Price at time of publish: $45

Key Ingredients: DMAE, copper, salicylic acid|Skin Type: Normal, oily, dry, combination, sensitive, mature|Size: 4 oz.

Best for Oily Skin

Image Skincare I Mask Purifying Probiotic Mask

Image Skincare I Mask Purifying Probiotic Mask

Image Skincare

What We Love: The formula is absolutely loaded with good-for-you ingredients.

What We Don’t Love: This potent product will cause a skin purge, so make sure your social calendar is clear before committing.

If you want a mask that not only works, but features ingredients you recognize (rather than alphabet soup-style, chemical-sounding ingredients), check this one out. It’s packed with tons of fruit extracts, including superfruits like açai, mangosteen, and pomegranate, as well as yogurt-derived probiotics to help balance skin. 

“This mask includes purifying green clay and charcoal to help detoxify and clear impurities from pores, and help leave the skin feeling cleaner and smoother,” says Dr. Jeanette Graf, a New York City-based dermatologist who also recommends this formula for its hydrating properties. 

Clay and charcoal are excellent for mattifying oily skin as well as helping pores purge. This mask really pulls gunk from deep within the skin to the surface, so be aware — no one loves being surprised by a purging period.

Price at time of publish: $52

Key Ingredients: Green clay, charcoal, willowherb|Skin Type: Normal, oily, combination|Size: 2 oz.

Best for Sensitive Skin

Bliss Blackhead Breakdown Blackhead Purifying Stick

Bliss Blackhead Breakdown Blackhead Purifying Stick


What We Love: It fits easily into a pocket and a tight budget.

What We Don’t Love: You should only expect around 30 or so uses from this product.

It’s always nice to have a travel-ready skincare treatment, and this new, solid stick from Bliss is the latest on rotation. It features a unique triangular shape that allows you to target tight spots like the crevices around the nose — a notorious breeding ground for blackheads. 

While this rinse-off formula does feature salicylic acid, the main exfoliant here is cellulose beads, a plant-based ingredient that gently scrubs away pore-clogging dead cells. You’ll also find oil-absorbing pink clay plus gentle ingredients like nourishing vitamin E and hydrating aloe, making this a pick that is mild enough to detox sensitive skin. Just know that you should expect to buy at least one of these a month — there are about 30 treatments in the stick, and you’re meant to use it two to three times a week. 

Price at time of publish: $18

Key Ingredients: Pink clay, cellulose beads, salicylic acid|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily, sensitive, mature|Size: 0.53 oz.

Best Scrub

Clinique Blackhead Solutions 7 Day Deep Pore Cleanse & Face Scrub

Clinique Blackhead Solutions 7 Day Deep Pore Cleanse & Face Scrub


What We Love: This formula is gentle enough to use every day, yet effective, making it a nice option for those with sensitive skin.

What We Don’t Love: Although it dissipates quickly, it has a strong, sharp scent.

While not everyone will enjoy the astringent scent of this product, many will be satisfied by the cleanser-scrub hybrid formula, which makes it easy to incorporate into your regular routine. Even better, because the scrub is not very abrasive, courtesy of nourishing vitamin E, it can be used daily, even by those who have sensitive skin. It also uses a blend of kaolin clay and silica to draw grime out of pores, plus salicylic and glucosamine to resurface and clarify. 

Price at time of publish: $27

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, kaolin, vitamin E|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily, sensitive, mature|Size: 4.2 oz.

Best Face Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Cleanser

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Cleanser


What We Love: The price is hard to beat, plus we love the fragrance.

What We Don’t Love: This formula can be very drying if your skin is not very oily.

When shopping for a cleanser for oily skin, look for a gel formula, which is better at cutting through grease than milky or creamy textures. This face wash from Neutrogena is one of the bestsellers in the category and it’s definitely one of the most pleasant feeling and smelling. 

Grapefruit extract imparts a zesty fragrance, which really enhances a morning routine (and will most certainly wake you up), while the two percent salicylic acid works to clear up breakouts, including blackheads. You’ll finish your cleanse feeling fresh-faced and clear — just don’t overdo it, especially if your skin type leans toward the normal side. This formula is potent and can be drying, so it’s best reserved for daily use only for those with oily skin.

Price at time of publish: $10

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, grapefruit extract, vitamin C |Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily|Size: 6 oz.

Best Spot Treatment

Payot Pâte Grise L’Originale

Payot Pâte Grise L’Originale


What We Love: A little of this iconic formula goes a long way.

What We Don’t Love: Though it’s easy to find in France (it’s at drugstores!), it’s harder to track down stateside and you’ll have to buy it online, which may not be your preference.

Pâte Grise is a longtime French drugstore staple — this legendary product has been clearing up blemishes for over 70 years. Just a tiny dab on trouble areas will help decongest skin (thanks to zinc and shale) without stripping it (where the sweet almond oil comes into play). 

However, it is really only available online in the states; you’ll struggle to find this product same-day in the USA if you’re having a skincare emergency.

Price at time of publish: $25

Key Ingredients: Zinc oxide, shale extract, sweet almond oil|Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily, sensitive|Size: 0.5 oz.

Best Overnight Treatment

Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment

Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment


What We Love: It actually delivers on the promise to decongest skin overnight.

What We Don’t Love: It’s a bit like a science experiment: While at rest, the formula separates into a clear top portion and a lower pink — which shouldn’t be shaken — and to apply, you’ll need to dip a q-tip down to the very bottom carefully without disturbing the two.

Kate Somerville’s bestselling spot treatment has been a hero product for InStyle’s senior beauty commerce editor, Kaitlin Clark, and a nightmare for blackheads and blemishes. 

It’s truly a powerhouse treatment: Formulated with the highest level of sulfur allowed for clinical acne control (hence the science-y scent), the lightweight liquid penetrates deeply into pores to rinse out scum while a cocktail of BHAs shrink the appearance of large pores and soothe red, irritated areas for a clear, smooth complexion. The addition of zinc oxide helps tamp down on overactive sebum production both in the short term and for the long haul.

Despite the trio of super strong ingredients, it works well with all skin types, even those with sensitive, reactive skin (like Clark’s). While it’s best known for its ability to pull deep pimples up and out of the skin, it’s also an effective blackhead fighter, making it a multitasker worthy of having on rotation. 

It’s best applied in the evening as an overnight treatment, which is great news both for our skin and our egos, as the formula dries down on skin in a pale pink hue. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Key Ingredients: Sulfur, zinc oxide, BHAs|Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily, dry|Size: 1 oz.

Best Mask

Tatcha The Clarifying Clay Mask Exfoliating Pore Treatment

Tatcha The Clarifying Clay Mask


What We Love: The sensorial experience of this mask is truly delightful.

What We Don’t Love: This mask is surprisingly potent, so don’t leave it on too long.

We know masks can be time consuming, but we all have three to five minutes — and that’s how quickly this mask gets to work. Plus, using this formula is a blast. It warms on contact, which the brand says helps to open up the pores, offers a gentle exfoliation with konjac as you massage it in, all the while changing color from pale green to pink. 

Once you wash it away, you’ll see how the clay and ash in the treatment soaked up excess oil and drew out impurities while niacinamide tamed oil production and tightened up your pores. Word to the wise: Be sure to rinse after five minutes — you may be tempted to leave it on longer, but that won’t give you better results. It’s effective in the allotted time frame, and irritates the skin if you exceed it.

Price at time of publish: $70

Key Ingredients: Okinawa Kucha clay, Japanese konjac, volcanic ash|Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily|Size: 1.7 oz.

Best Toner

Hero Cosmetics Pore Release Blackhead Clearing Solution

Hero Cosmetics Pore Release Blackhead Clearing Solution

Hero Cosmetics

What We Love: It’s already pretty affordable, and the fact that a little goes a long way makes it even more wallet friendly.

What We Don’t Love: This may be too gentle for those who are used to more aggressive treatments.

This exfoliating toner combines resurfacing glycolic acid with pore-purging salicylic acid and gently-refining PHA gluconolactone for a triple factor treatment. It can be used as an all-over product or just applied to the T-zone with a cotton pad — and all you need is a few drops, making the budget-friendly product highly economical. 

However, keep in mind that if you are a power user of potent exfoliants, Pore Release is on the gentler side and may not give you the results you’re used to achieving with harsher products.

Price at time of publish: $20

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, gluconolactone, glycolic acid|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily|Size: 3.38 oz.

Best Retinol

Malin+Goetz Retinol Correcting Serum

Malin+Goetz Retinol Correcting Serum


What We Love: This is one of the most nourishing retinol formulas we’ve ever tried.

What We Don’t Love: The lightweight, opaque packaging makes it hard to gauge how much product is left.

Though this new formula from Malin+Goetz features a .20 percent retinol (which is reasonably strong by most standards), it doesn’t feel irritating or stripping like others we’ve tried. There’s a few reasons for this: The serum itself is a milky texture, as it’s formulated with softening ingredients (including vitamin E, rapeseed oil, and glycosphingolipids), while its two most potent ingredients — retinol and vitamin C — are encapsulated. 

Encapsulation allows the ingredients to absorb more slowly into the skin, which in turn, reduces sensitivity and promotes better penetration to deliver better results without the side effects. 

We love that this product offers a one-two punch of pore-refining retinol with brightening vitamin C — that means it’ll give you impossibly clear and radiant skin. We just wish we could tell how much product was in the packaging somehow. The light tube makes it hard to determine what’s left when we’re getting low.

Price at time of publish: $70

Key Ingredients: Encapsulated retinol, encapsulated vitamin C, vitamin E|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily, mature|Size: 1 oz.

Best Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant


What We Love: This high-performing product is easy to integrate into your routine.

What We Don’t Love: If you’re prone to redness or irritation, this formula may exacerbate that.

This product is a beauty industry icon and is a favorite of TikTok skinfluencers and editors alike. It’s earned countless awards, including our own InStyle Best Beauty Buys, thanks to its impressive efficacy when it comes to clearing out pores and resurfacing skin (thanks to salicylic acid). While that sounds potentially abrasive, it’s balanced with green tea extract to soothe and protect skin. 

It’s easy to use — just apply it with a cotton pad after your cleansing and/or toning step, no rinsing required — and comes in a travel-friendly size so you can take it with you everywhere. 

Be aware that two percent is a high concentration for salicylic acid and this may leave especially sensitive skin red, raw, or irritated.

Price at time of publish: $34

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, green tea|Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily, mature|Size: 4 oz.

Best Serum

SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Clearing Serum


Skin Better

What We Love: Like all Skinbetter Science formulas, this product is clinically tested and dermatologist-approved.

What We Don’t Love: It takes a moment to fully sink into skin.

Many dermatologists recommend this formula to their patients, including Dr. Shamban. “It combines zinc with AlphaRet — the brand’s retinoid and lactic combo — with niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate for moisture and retexturizing,” she says. “It’s good for overnight use.” 

It’s a great retinol option for those who have acne-prone skin, especially considering it also contains salicylic acid, another blackhead buster, but anyone who wants clearer skin will surely benefit. 

Although this highly-tested and -researched formula is worth the investment, it works best on it’s own, so you won’t have to worry about layering (or purchasing) additional topicals.

Price at time of publish: $135

Key Ingredients: Retinol, lactic acid, salicylic acid|Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily, mature|Size: 1 oz.

Best Tool

Dermaflash Dermapore

Dermaflash Dermapore


What We Love: This tool does double duty as a blackhead remover and serum infuser.

What We Don’t Love: The charger can be finicky.

While a lot of blackhead extractors out there are basically recipes for scarring — sharp round metal tools that people end up forcing into and breaking the skin — this one is gentle. That doesn’t mean it won’t get the job done! So long as you’ve properly steamed your skin and you’ve given the tool a wet surface to glide across, it pushes congestion out of the pore, leaving a satisfying buildup of grime on the tip of the spatula. 

The device also can be used to press your treatment serums deeper into the skin for better results. Keep in mind the Dermapore must be charged to work, though — and while we haven’t experienced it, some users say that this product stops holding a charge after several uses. 

Price at time of publish: $99

Skin Type: All | Modes: 2 Features: Water-resistant and cordless

What to Look For

Active Ingredients

There are many, many ingredients used in the treatment of acne, including blackheads. One you’ll find frequently is the potent benzoyl peroxide. “It’s a peroxide with antibacterial, irritant, keratolytic, anti-inflammatory and comedolytic properties,” explains Dr. Corey L. Hartman, a board certified dermatologist in Alabama. 

Dr. Shamban adds, “It is bactericidal, meaning it kills bacteria, rather than simply slowing down their growth, but it can be very drying to the skin.” She recommends using it moderately, ideally blended with other ingredients. Those with severe acne may recognize this ingredient as one commonly used in prescription-strength treatments.  

The “gold standard” of skincare ingredients, retinoids, is another pick. “Retinoids can aid in the prevention of pore-clogging that can lead to blackheads,” explains Dr. Graf. “Retinoids also speed up the skin’s cell turnover, which can shorten the lifespan of various kinds of acne, including blackheads.” 

You’ll find .20 percent encapsulated retinol in Malin+Goetz Retinol Correcting Serum, which delivers a slow release of the powerful ingredient to keep skin clear and smooth. Dr. Shamban points out that the most effective form of retinoids for treatment of acne, including blackheads, will be a prescription-strength formula, which you’ll be able to get from your dermatologist. You can also check out Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, which is a formerly prescription treatment that is now available over the counter.

Oil-absorbing ingredients like clays, ash, chitosan, and charcoal can also be reliable allies in the fight against blackheads. “Charcoal can help to treat blackheads by absorbing dirt, oil and debris on the skin before it gets trapped in your pores, causing a blackhead,” says Dr. Hartman. “When you wash away the charcoal, you’re washing away the dirt, oil and debris you don’t want on your skin.” 

Many options on this list, including Image Skincare I Mask Purifying Probiotic Mask, Bliss Blackhead Breakdown Blackhead Purifying Stick, Tatcha The Clarifying Clay Mask, and Clinique Blackhead Solutions 7 Day Deep Pore Cleanse & Face Scrub, contain oil-absorbing ingredients that can help detoxify the skin. 

Dr. Shamban also likes the mineral zinc for blackhead treatment. “It helps regulate keratinocytes, protein in our skin cells,” she says. You’ll find it in The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1% Serum and Payot Pâte Grise L’Originale.

However, the most commonly found ingredients in blackhead treatments are typically alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs and BHAs. These ingredients are chemical exfoliants. “Oil or water soluble, they gently loosen the upper layers of skin and can produce a light peeling action,” says Dr. Shamban. “They may also help fade pigment and help smooth textural issues.” 

AHAs, frequently glycolic or lactic acids, work primarily on the surface to remove dead skin cells that can block pore openings. BHA, generally salicylic acid, exfoliates within the pore. “By sloughing the dead skin cells off the pore walls to help unclog, [using a BHA] results in a smooth flow of sebum,” says Toronto-based dermatologist, Dr. Geeta Yadav. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads combines a blend of AHAs and BHAs for comprehensive treatment with chemical exfoliants. 

Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliants

While we all love the feel of a good scrub, a simple formula will not get the job done when it comes to blackhead treatment. “Physical exfoliants are not what I usually recommend for treating blackheads because their benefits are only skin deep and don’t penetrate the outer layer of the skin to clear out blackheads or prevent their root cause,” says Dr. Graf. “Some physical exfoliation can be beneficial for removing dead or dull skin on the surface, but it is not my top choice for treating or preventing acne.” 

Physical exfoliation can also cause inflammation, irritation, and microtears; this can be especially damaging to those with deeper skin tones, which are often more prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation, says Dr. Shamban, who believes that chemical exfoliants are preferable overall: “Chemical exfoliation will dissolve the dead skin cells, sebum, connective bonds and pore deposits.”

If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to stay cognizant of the percentage of ingredients used in your chemical exfoliants. If it’s too high, you may face redness or irritation. “Start with a lower percentage once or twice a week, and if your skin tolerates it, you can up the percentage or up the number of times a week you use a chemical exfoliant,” suggests Dr. Hartman.

While salicylic acid is the most common chemical exfoliant used in blackhead products, you’ll also find AHAs, like mandelic, lactic, and glycolic acids, and enzymatic exfoliation. “Enzymatic exfoliation such as bromelain and papain, are great natural chemical exfoliants for skin soothing and exfoliating blemish-prone skin,” says Dr. Shamban.  “Papain is full of beta-carotene and acts as a strong anti-inflammatory.” 


The definition of non-comedogenic is “non-pore clogging,” so it’s a good idea to look for formulas labeled as non-comedogenic when possible. “The entire goal of treating blackheads is to unclog the pore,” points out Dr. Yadav. “If you use comedogenic ingredients when trying to treat blackheads — such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, or beeswax — you may exacerbate existing blackheads and contribute to the formation of new ones.” 

However, Dr. Hartman adds that some people experience clogged pores even after using non-comedogenic products. “My rule of thumb is to start one new product at a time,” he says. “If you notice after incorporating a new product that you are having more blackheads, stop using that product.” 

It’s also critical to take your skin type into account when shopping for new formulas,” says Dr. Graf. “If the skin is dry, using a richer product would be better, while oily skin may want a lighter lotion,” she says. 

Your other beauty products should be considered, too. Makeup is a common pore clogger (which is why washing your face is so important), as are hair products. “Refrain from using styling gels or spray,” says Dr. Graf.

Your Questions, Answered

Why do we get blackheads?

Simply put, they’re a form of acne. “They’re made of a mix of sebum and dead skin cells that has thickened to the point that it has created a ‘plug’ in the pore,” explains Dr, Yadav. “The material oxidizes when exposed to air, causing a dark appearance.” 

Blackheads can appear anywhere on the face or body, but tend to be concentrated in the oiliest area of the face — the T-zone. While anyone can get them (especially people with oily skin), blackheads are most common in teens and young adults. “Their hormone levels are skyrocketing and their bodies are producing more sebum,” explains Dr. Hartman.

Do blackheads go away naturally?

In some cases, yes, but it’s better to deal with them —blackheads can cause lasting damage to your pores. Preventative measures go a long way toward combating blackheads and they’re pretty straightforward. Always remove your makeup at the end of the day and wash your face before bed; you may also want to wash your face in the morning with a true cleanser if you’re prone to blackheads. 

“A salicylic acid cleanser can help loosen the ‘gunk’ in the clogged pore and wash oil away,” says Dr. Hartman. 

According to Dr. Graf, if the blackheads you have aren’t too deep, an exfoliant may be enough to get rid of them. But in some cases, that may not be enough. Dr. Hartman recommends using an AHA serum a few times a week in the morning and a retinol at night a few times a week. Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Clearing Serum combines both AHA and retinol. For treatment of particularly stubborn blackheads, it’s best to see your dermatologist.

Can you manually remove blackheads?

Yes, but just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. “It’s my duty as a dermatologist to strongly advise against DIY extractions,” warns Dr. Yadav, who adds that the Dermaflash Dermapore Deep Cleaning Device is the exception to this rule, as it taps ultrasonic technology to extract blackheads without damage.

How do you close pores after removing blackheads?

The reason it’s so important to treat a blackhead ASAP is because — contrary to popular belief — you cannot close your pores. “Pores are not doors that open and close,” says Dr. Shamban. “As cells collect inside the pore builds up with no outlet, it causes pressure against the structure of surrounding skin, breaking down the collagen and elastin that keeps skin supple and tight, stretching the structure and eliminating support, making the pores visibly larger.” 

That’s not to say you’re necessarily doomed to huge-looking pores. “You can shrink the appearance of pores on the skin after removing blackheads by using a pore refining treatment or exfoliating the skin with products like AHAs, BHAs, or retinoids,” says Dr. Graf.

Why Shop With Us

Emily Orofino is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant with over a decade of experience in the beauty industry. Though she loves her skin and takes excellent care of it, the blackheads on her nose have long been the bane of her existence. For this piece, she interviewed four board-certified dermatologists Dr. Corey L. Hartman, in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Jeannette Graf in NYC, Dr. Geeta Yadav in Toronto, and Dr. Ava Shamban in Beverly Hills.

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