Everything You Need to Know about Removing and Preventing Blackheads

Blackheads (a type of acne caused by clogged follicles) can contribute to dull skin and make it difficult to maintain a glowing complexion. Luckily, blackheads are manageable with the right skincare routine and can be both prevented and treated with the right methods. While some removal methods - like pore strips or extractions - only temporarily clear your skin of blackheads, other methods can help manage blackheads for the long haul. 

Ahead, you’ll find everything you need to know about blackheads - from how to identify them properly to the skincare ingredients you should be adding to your regimen if you are prone to those pesky little black dots.

Can you get rid of blackheads?

Yes, it’s possible to get rid of blackheads with the right skincare routine for your skin type. But first, it’s important to understand what a blackhead is and how you might get them. Blackheads may appear when a pore gets clogged with debris, bacteria, excess oil (known as sebum) and/or dead skin cells and remains open.

If a pore becomes clogged but remains closed (known as closed comedones), it becomes a whitehead, which will appear white or flesh-colored. Blackheads (open comedones) on the other hand, appear dark because the build-up inside the pore has oxidized and is visible near the top of the pore. Despite popular belief, the dark dots on your cheeks, nose, and chin that you may have closely scrutinized in front of the mirror are not filled with dirt, so it’s important to avoid harshly scrubbing those areas. Instead, a routine consisting of cleansing and hydrating ingredients and avoiding habits that clog pores will help keep blackheads away for good.

What’s a good skincare routine for blackheads?

Skincare products containing the following ingredients have been proven to treat or prevent blackheads: 

  1. Niacinamide: Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) is a well-known inflammatory that has been proven to help treat blackheads, acne, and dehydrated skin. Niacinamide is also well known for preventing oiliness that could contribute to clogged follicles that lead to blackheads. You can add Niaciminaide to your skincare routine with Sahara Rose’s Sumptuous Regenerating Cream, which contains niacinamide along with all-nature ingredients like saffron stem cells, prickly pear seed oil and aloe vera.
  1. Topical Retinoid: Retinoid (a compound derived from Vitamin A) is often prescribed by healthcare professionals and dermatologists for deeply exfoliating acne scars, aging skin, and blackheads. Retinoids have been proven to be effective at cleansing away dead skin cells that can cause blackheads.
  1. Hyaluronic Acid: One way to treat blackheads is to prevent inflammation before it occurs. Products containing hyaluronic acid (like our Sacred Energy Radiance Mist) help keep skin hydrated and provides much-needed antioxidants for preventing flakiness and dissolving impurities from pores. Skincare products containing hyaluronic acid may be best for dry or sensitive skin types prone to flakiness.
  1. Salicylic Acid: Found in many over-the-counter skincare products, salicylic acid can be found in cleansers, facial moisturizers, and serums. Salicylic acid is a popular skincare ingredient that can keep your pores free of makeup residue and sweat that can clog your pores.
  1. Charcoal and Clay: Some of the best blackhead masks (like our Resplendent Detoxifying Mask) contain charcoal, clay, or a combination of both. Charcoal and clay are effective at lifting excess oil, makeup, sweat, impurities, and dead skin cells from your pores. Charcoal and clay masks may be suitable for oily skin types.

How to get rid of blackheads

Getting rid of blackheads includes analyzing your skin, paying attention to how certain ingredients affect your skin, and keeping up with your routine.

Understand your skin type: Taking the time to analyze the blackheads on your face can make a big difference in helping you figure out treatment options. Consider talking to your dermatologist or an esthetician to help you identify both your blackheads and skin type. For example, if you tend to have oily skin, a dermatologist or esthetician might have product recommendations for preventing excess oil that is likely causing your blackheads.

Avoid clogging your pores: Take a look at the skincare products you are currently using and make sure you are using non-comedogenic skincare products. This means that your products won’t clog your pores in the first place. Other habits, like sleeping with makeup on or not washing your face after working up a sweat at the gym, can also lead to clogged pores.

Extract carefully: Squeezing and picking your blackheads should definitely be avoided as they can cause scarring and only remove blackheads temporarily. If you do decide to use pore strips or extractors to lift highly visible blackheads before a big event, make sure to do so gently (and according to package directions) and only do so every once in a while. If possible, try to get extractions done by a licensed esthetician or healthcare professional since they have experience with blackhead removal techniques that won’t harm your skin. Aggressively extracting your blackheads could lead to long-term scarring and inflammation that could also require additional treatment.

Exfoliate with care: Blackheads may be stubborn, but scrubbing them harshly may cause further irritation. Consistently exfoliating with facial scrubs with hydrating and cleansing properties can help you treat existing blackheads and prevent new ones from appearing. 

Pick your skincare products carefully: Treating and preventing blackheads is possible but requires a long-term skincare plan. Make sure that your skincare routine does not include too many products with harsh or irritating ingredients and that you take time to recognize which products and ingredients are working best for you.