Getting clear skin is no easy feat, especially when you get up close and personal and notice all those nasty whiteheads and blackheads sitting on your pores. Unfortunately, they’re not the easiest to get rid of, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with them. With a few tricks and tips, you can unclog your pores and transform your skin.
Here are five effective ways to get rid of those pesky whiteheads and blackheads once and for all.
1. Steam It Out
First you’ll want to clear out those pores, and you can do so using steam. You can even just take a soft hand towel and drop it into hot water. After you check that it’s not too hot, place the towel onto your problem areas, and the heat will open up pores.
2. Use Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is ideal for dissolving blackheads. Use a leave-on product to increase your exposure to the active ingredient, and continue use for several weeks.
3. Exfoliate With Oatmeal
Oatmeal can help get rid of dead skin cells as well as bacteria on the face that could be causing your whiteheads and blackheads. Create a face mask using oatmeal and yogurt, and let it sit on your face for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water, and repeat twice a week.
4. Use A Floss Stick
This DIY trick involves using disposable flossers to help extract your whiteheads and blackheads. Drag the floss over your nose in a scraping motion. You should notice some white pus coming out (ewww, we know, but you’ve got to get it out!). This option is much cheaper than using a metal extractor. Watch this video for a tutorial:
Many people avoid moisturizers because they think they will make them break out, but many treatments strip the skin of its natural oils, and you want to make sure the skin maintains its proper balance. Moisturizing can help replenish the skin and prevent any future whiteheads or blackheads from clogging pores.
Are You Know?
Jessica Alba’s Honest Company recalling organic baby powder
U.S. abortion rate drops to lowest level since Roe v. Wade
Woman died from superbug resistant to antibiotics in US
7 Ways to Get Rid of Blackheads
How to Get Rid of Blackheads, According to Top Dermatologists
Blackheads, much like cockroaches, are the worst for this very reason: Every time you squeeze one of them away, you find dozens more to tackle. (How's that for a fun visual?) We turned to eight top dermatologists to find out how to get rid of them — for good.
First, understand exactly what blackheads are, so you don't damage your skin by trying to scrub them away.
"Blackheads are just an oxidized mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores — the exposure to air is what causes them to oxidize and turn black. Having them is not a sign that you're too dirty, so don't cause more damage by being rough with your skin and scrubbing really hard." — Rachel Nazarian, dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City
Leave a salicylic acid gel on your blackheads.
"Salicylic acid is a great option for dissolving those blackheads away, and it can be found in over-the-counter products. Ideally, you'd use a leave-on product rather than a cleanser or soap, since the longer the exposure to the active ingredient, the better it'll work. After using a salicylic acid product for several weeks, many of the blackheads will resolve, but others will just loosen." — Nazarian (We like the Best of Beauty-winning Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment.)
Or, try a retinoid.
"Retinoids are a great treatment for blackheads, and while many people with sensitive skin are loathe to try them, there are low-strength retinoids (we like Kate Somerville's RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream), which are often more tolerable." — Rebecca Kleinerman, a dermatologist at of Schweiger Dermatology Group
Use an enzymatic exfoliator at least twice a week.
"I like masks that have papaya, charcoal, pineapple extract, or clay to debride — or wash away — surface skin cells." — Jason Emer, a cosmetic dermatologist and aesthetic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California (We recommend the Herbivore Botanicals Brighten Pineapple Enzyme + Gemstone Instant Glow Mask, the Pixi Beauty Peel & Polish, or the Lancôme Energie de Vie The Illuminating & Purifying Exfoliating Mask).
Try using a Clarisonic.
"Just be sure not to overdo it, because irritation from the brush could flare up other acne. One to two times a week should be sufficient." — Jeremy Fenton, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group (They now come mini-sized, FYI.)
Consider taking acne medicine.
"Prescription medicines like oral contraceptive pills and Spironolactone can reduce oil production and prevent your pores from being blocked. They will get rid of blackheads and prevent new ones from showing up in the future. But these medicines are reserved for people with more than just the occasional blackhead; they are more for people with moderate to severe acne." — Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor in the dermatology department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City
Go for a micro-needling treatment.
"Low-energy, low-density, non-ablative lasers like Clear + Brilliant, and microsecond lasers like Aerolase will literally heat the under-surface of the skin without damaging the top layer, so there is zero downtime." — Emer (You can also try micro-needling at home, like this Allure editor did.)
Don't forget to moisturize.
"All of these methods may strip oils from the skin and be drying, so you might be surprised to learn that you need to moisturize to treat their blackheads. It's important to maintain the right balance in the skin, and moisturizing will allow you to continue using exfoliating products without any issues. If a retinoid is too drying, try applying it over moisturizer (or even between layers of moisturizer). Also, choose non-comedogenic moisturizers only so they won't clog the pores." — Fenton (Slather up with these water-based options.)
11 Simple Remedies to Get Rid of Blackheads
After doing the list on home remedies for acne, we started getting a lot of questions about blackheads in particular. Common and annoying, blackheads occur when your pores become clogged with excess sebum (an oil created by the sebaceous glands that keeps skin supple) and dead skin cells. The difference between a black head and a white head is simply whether or not the pore is open or closed. If the pore is open, the plug of sebum/skin cells oxidizes as it is in contact with the oxygen in the air, which turns it black. Blackheads are not caused by dirt. Let’s make that clear from the beginning. Scrubbing your face obsessively is not a good way to get rid of your blackheads, and is only going to make it worse as you’ll just end up drying out your skin, which will cause more oil to be created to make up for everything you stripped away, and…well it’s a vicious cycle. For this reason, don’t use some of these remedies more than 2-3 times a week, such as the sugar scrub and pore strips. I know it can be hard to resist, but your skin will be better off this way.
1. Clay Time
Bentonite clay is a mineral rich healing substance that has been used for centuries to treat a number of ailments, chiefly skin related. Because of its molecules “electrical charge” when wet, it does an amazing job of drawing out oils or other impurities locked in your pores. When you apply the mask your skin gets to drink in all the minerals, while the clay simultaneously draws out the blackhead. It also helps with circulation, which helps with overall skin tone and health. You can mix the clay with water or apple cider vinegar, maybe sticking to the former if you have dry or sensitive skin. Experiment! This mask will make you feel like your face is tightening as it dries. Whether or not you let it dry entirely is up to your preference-I tend to let it dry most of the way and then just moisturize afterwards, but other people find that dries their skin out and irritates them.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon (roughly) bentonite clay
-Water or ACV
Mix in enough water or ACV to form a paste that is thick but still applicable. Using clean fingertips cover your face with a thinner layer of paste and let it sit for 10-25 minutes, depending on how long you are letting it dry. Rinse off with lukewarm water and moisturize as usual.
2. Egg White Mask
Egg whites form an easy mask that can be used to temporarily tighten pores, thus reducing chances of future blackheads, and will also remove current blackheads. Egg whites are also rich in nutrients for your skin, and are a little less drying than some other home remedies for blackheads.
You will need…
-Facial tissue or toilet paper
-A small bowl
-A clean towel
Separate the yolk from the white and rinse your face. Pat your face dry and then apply a thin layer of egg white over your skin. There are two ways to go from here-
Place a strip of facial tissue or toilet paper over the wet egg white, being sure to press it onto your face gently. Allow the first layer to dry. Carefully apply a second layer of egg white over the tissue (try dipping your fingers in it and dabbing it on so the tissue doesn’t slide around a bunch. Let this layer dry as well before applying a third (optional.) When the mask is dry, your face may feel tight-this is supposed to happen. Peel the tissue off, and then gently wash your face to remove any residue. Pat dry and moisturize as usual.
Alternatively, you can leave out the tissue and simply apply 3-5 layers of egg white, being sure to let each layer dry in between applications. If you do not let the layers dry, this will not work!
3. Honey and Milk Pore Strips
Milk and honey both have properties that are good for skin. Honey has antibacterial properties, and the lactic acid in milk is said to help keep skin soft and supple. The main purpose here though is, when mixed together, to act as an adhesive.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon of organic raw honey
-1 teaspoon of milk
-Clean strip of cotton
Mix 1 tablespoon of organic raw honey with 1 teaspoon of milk. Heat it for 5-10 seconds in the microwave, and then mix again to blend thoroughly. When it’s a comfortable temperature, apply a thin layer over blackheads, and then gently but firmly pat a strip of dry, clean, cotton onto it. Let dry (to play it safe, wait at least 20 minutes) and carefully peel the strip away. Rinse with cold water and moisturize as usual.
4. Cinnamon & Honey Strips
It sounds like a delicious candy, but cinnamon and honey make a wonderful combination for getting rid of blackheads. Again, the anti-bacterial agents in the honey can help keep away bacteria that are causing acne (not necessarily blackheads, but still a bonus) as well as act as the adhesive to pull out anything clogging your pores. Cinnamon improves circulation, and this increased blood flow gives your skin a smooth, healthy, glow.
You will need…
– 1 part cinnamon powder
-1 part organic, raw, honey
-Clean strips of cotton
Mix the honey and the cinnamon together until you have enough paste to cover the affected area. Apply in a thin layer over the blackheads and then press a strip of clean cotton over it. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes before removing and rinsing your face. Don’t forget to follow up with a moisturizer!
5. H2O Daily Blackhead Treatment
While pore strips and face masks work wonders, they can only be used several times a week to avoid drying your skin out to much. If you want to do something daily to prevent your blackheads, a gentle rinsing with water 1-2 times a day is the way to go. This keeps things that can make your pores appear larger-such as excess sebum and dead skin-flushed away and your pores clear. Be sure to use a light moisturizer when you are done to prevent your skin from trying to produce excess sebum to accommodate for dryness.
You will need…
-A clean fluffy towel
Twice a day splash your face with clean, fresh water. Pat dry with a soft towel and apply moisturizer as usual. I suggest doing this early afternoon (so you wash away anything that has built up in the first part of the day) and evening, but morning and evening works as well.
6. Toner for Tighter Pores
Since blackheads are caused by open, clogged, pores reacting to oxygen, it only makes sense that “shrinking” your pores down will help. Lemon juice is just the astringent substance needed to get the job done, however, it can lighten skin temporarily and it does make you sensitive to the sun, so load up on sunscreen if you plan on using this method in the summertime. If you have sensitive skin, try diluting the lemon juice with water first.
You will need…
-A small bottle
Rinse your face and pat dry. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bottle and then use just enough to dampen a cotton ball. Apply to affected areas 3-4 times a week, at bedtime. When you wake up, rinse your face with luke-warm water and apply moisturizer as usual. Store the rest of the juice in the refrigerator for up to a week. Be aware-the juice can sting sometimes!
7. Sweat It Out
Although sweat glands and hair follicle pores aren’t the same thing, sweating can still help minimize blackheads. When you work up enough of a sweat, the liquid naturally flows over and softens/flushes anything clogging your pores. It is absolutely vital, however, that you wash your face immediately before and immediately afterwards, otherwise the affect can be detrimental. If you leave on make up or anything before this the sweat can carry it into your pores, and if you don’t wash afterwards not only is all that stuff still in there but now there’s dried sweat blocking up your pores as well. So on one hand sweat can cleanse pores, on the other; it could also clog them. Be sure to do it right from the start!
You will need…
-Motivation to exercise OR a steam room/sauna
-A clean fluffy towel
Rinse your face, than work up a good sweat. Rinse your face with water, than pat dry with a clean fluffy towel. Moisturize as usual.
8. Baking Soda & Water
A little baking soda goes a long way for blackheads, but don’t overdo it, as it can seriously dry out your skin thanks to its saltiness. While pH may or may not have a role to play in blackheads, the biggest reason baking soda helps is because of it’s small, fine, granules that can work as a natural and inexpensive way to occasionally exfoliate and remove anything clogging your pores (and therefore causing blackheads.)
You will need…
-1 part baking soda
Mix water with enough baking soda to form a thick, but spreadable, paste. Using a gentle circular motion, massage the paste into your skin. Rinse thoroughly with plain water, pat your face dry, and then make sure you moisturize.
9. Cleansing Sugar Scrub
Sometimes all you need is a good exfoliating followed up by moisturizing. Exfoliating does one very important job-it sloughs away dead skin cells. These are the skin cells that could potentially clog up your pores, leading to acne, whiteheads, and of course, blackheads. It also temporarily revives circulation and it leaves you with a healthy glow and soft skin. If possible use jojoba oil, as it is the oil (technically liquid wax) that most closely mimics our skins own sebum. If you don’t have jojoba oil, grapeseed, olive, or sweet almond oil are all fine substitutes
You will need…
-1 cup of sugar (brown or white)
-4 tablespoons of jojoba oil
-An airtight glass jar
-Essential oils (optional)
Mix 4 tablespoons of oil into 1 cup of sugar, stirring until everything is fully incorporated. Add several drops of essential oil for fragrance if you like. Store in a cool dark place in a glass jar for up to the shelf-life of the oil you chose to use (although if for some reason I haven’t used it all, I personally make a fresh batch after about 1 ½ months.) Stir before using and then wet face, scoop some scrub onto your fingertips, and massage it over your skin in circular motions. Rinse with water and moisturize as usual. Do this no more than 2-3 times a week, otherwise you risk drying out and/or irritating your skin.
10. Steam It Out
Steam may not literally open your pores (see blackhead myths below) but it can help reduce the appearance of them by softening up trapped sebum/dead skin cells that can fill out your pores and form blackheads.
You will need…
-A large bowl
-A soft clean towel
Fill a bowl with boiling water. Let it cool briefly, then cover your head with a towel and lean over it for 5-10 minutes to allow the steam to loosen anything in your pores (form the towel like a tent so no steam escapes.) Be careful not to get to close or you risk burning your skin. When you are done, rinse your face with warm water and pat firmly but gently dry with a clean towel (or gently wipe away the blackheads.) Moisturize as usual. Repeat this several times a week, or as needed.
Skin care is a balancing act-keep that in mind whenever you’re doing something that involves cleansing or washing (or pore strips.) Overdoing it is going to make matter much worse in the long run. Pore strips are great when you really need them, but it’s best to try and prevent the blackheads in the first place by keeping up a good skin care regime.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar & Mint Toner
Make your own toner by mixing together ACV and crushed mint leaves. The apple cider vinegar can help breakdown the stuff causing the blackhead, while the mint creates a cooling “tightening” sensation on your skin. If the area around the blackhead is swollen or irritated (e.g. you were picking at it even though you shouldn’t be) the menthol can help tame the inflammation. Inflammation can make it harder for whatever is clogging your pores to come loose in the first place.
You will need…
-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
-3 tablespoons of finely chopped/crushed fresh mint leaves
-8 ounces of water
Combine vinegar and mint in a small bottle and let it sit for 1 week in cool dark place. Strain, add a cup of water, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Use nightly, rinsing your face first with water and then using clean cotton balls to apply the toner. Leave on overnight or up to several hours (if you have sensitive skin) and rinse off in the morning. Follow up with a moisturizer.
2 Big Blackhead Myths
Like acne and so many other skin conditions, myths abound about how to get rid of blackheads. Below are the 2 most common.
Blackheads Are Caused By Dirt: Just in case you missed this part in the intro, blackheads are not caused by dirt. If you have larger pores, the dead skin/sebum build-up reacts with oxygen turning the substance black. Voila-a blackhead! A whitehead occurs when the pores’ opening is smaller and the sebum plug does not react to the oxygen.
You Can Shrink Your Pores: Nope, not possible. Pores are not muscles, therefore they cannot open or close. They are simply holes that house the hair follicles and sebaceous glands that are covering your body. Some things, however, can make pores appear smaller-such as lemon juice, which is an astringent and causes contraction of skin tissue. Otherwise, keeping them clear from blockages that can stretch them wider is the way to go. Genetics, age, and sun exposure can all play a role in how large your pores appear, but there really is no magic trick to making them “shrink.”
What is a pore strip?
Some of these remedies are homemade versions of pore strips, but heres a brief explanation so you can experiment with making some on your own. Pore strips are made up of some sort of adhesive, and something to attach said adhesive to (at home, this can be gauze or even a strip of clean cotton cut from an old shirt.) When you pull the strip off, you pull the plug of sebum and dead skin cells out of the pore, and voila! The blackheads are gone. Keep in mind this does not prevent blackheads-only gets rid of them after they have popped up. The nice thing about making them at home is they save a decent amount of money, and you don’t have to worry about commercial adhesives on your face.