Blackheads are an annoying skin care problem, and trying to remove them can be extremely frustrating. Blackhead extraction by a licensed esthetician can be a safe, effective way to get that gunk out of your pores, leaving you with clear, healthy skin. But what if you don’t feel like going to the salon for a facial? Fortunately, there are several blackhead extraction techniques you can try from the comfort of your own home. In order to make your blackhead removal as smooth as possible, we’ve outlined our 8 best blackhead extraction tips in this post.
Why do blackheads form?
Before we get into the best blackhead extraction tips, it’s important to have an understanding of what blackheads are and how they form. Blackheads are a type of acne known as open comedones. They appear as small, dark lesions on the skin, primarily on the face and neck. Blackheads form when the pores in the skin become clogged with dead skin cells and sebum (the oily substance that lubricates and protects skin). While most people think that blackheads occur as a result of trapped dirt in the pores, this is actually not true. Rather, when pores are clogged, the melanin in the dead skin cells reactions with oxygen in the air and turns black, forming a blackhead. Thus, blackheads are made of oxidized melanin and not trapped dirt. So you don’t have to feel dirty for having blackheads or feel that your skin is dirty.
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The 8 best blackhead extraction tips
You probably feel relieved knowing that your blackheads aren’t caused by dirt clogging your pores, but you still want to get rid of them, right? Below we have our 8 best blackhead extraction tips that will teach you the do’s and don’ts of removing your blackheads at home.
- Don’t use your fingers
We know, we know. It’s nearly impossible to resist squeezing your blackheads when you get an up-close glance at them in the mirror. Ignoring this temptation would be in the best interest of your skin, however, since picking at blackheads can cause irritation and lead to inflammation in the area where you tried to remove the blackhead. This method can also lead to scarring, infection, and dark spots due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Since the risks clearly outweigh the benefits for this method of getting rid of blackheads, we have some safer blackhead extraction tips below.
- Avoid harsh scrubbing
Remember: blackheads are not caused by excess dirt on the skin! So using harsh scrubs to clean the skin “better” is simply not going to work. In fact, vigorously scrubbing the skin in an attempt to get rid of blackheads can cause the skin to produce more oil, thereby making the problem worse.
- Prep your skin before you extract
Before experimenting with any type of blackhead tool, it’s important to properly prep your skin before you extract. Most experts recommend to start by washing your face with a mild cleanser while taking a warm shower. The steam from the shower will help to soften hardened oil in pores, allowing the oil to be emulsified by your cleanser. (Note: it is a myth that the warm water will “open” pores because pores don’t have muscles around their opening to allow them to open and close!) After your shower, it’s almost time for extraction! The final step to get your skin ready is to apply a thin layer of a heavy moisturizing immediately after getting out of the shower. The moisturizer should contain occlusive ingredients, such as shea butter or jojoba oil, because these ingredients will create a temporary occlusive seal to trap heat in the skin. This allows for easier blackhead extraction.
- Invest in blackhead tools
Since you now know why using your fingers to squeeze out blackheads can do more harm than good, you’re probably wondering what you can use to extract those pesky little guys. This is where blackhead tools come into play. Blackhead tools usually come in a set with a variety of shapes and sizes because each tool is designed to tackle a different problem. After determining which type of blackhead tool is best for your needs, gently press down around the clogged pore to extract the blackhead. It’s important not to apply too much pressure, as this could lead to skin damage and inflammation. Overall, it’s worth investing in a set of blackhead tools so you won’t be tempted to squeeze with your fingers.
- Try a Clarisonic brush
Clarisonic offers many different types of electronic brushes that are designed to cleanse the skin more thoroughly than fingers alone. This can help to further loosen blackheads and allows for easier extraction. However, it’s important not to overdo it. Exfoliating too often with a Clarisonic brush can initially lead to dryness. Then, the skin will compensate for this excessive dryness by producing even more oil, which can make blackheads worse. Therefore, it is typically recommended to only exfoliate with a Clarisonic brush once to twice per week.
- Consider a blackhead suction remover
A blackhead suction remover is another option for blackhead extraction that is painless and easy. These devices function like a cordless vacuum for your face, using a powerful, yet gentle vacuum that extracts impurities and blackheads from your pores.
- Pore strips can be a temporary fix
Pore strips, also referred to as nose strips, work like a strong Bandaid. The strip has a very strong adhesive that will remove top layers of dead skin cells and blackheads after application. However, this solution is only temporary and will not prevent oil from clogging pores and causing blackheads in the future. Plus, the strong adhesive on the strip could actually cause irritation and damage to your skin.
- It’s best to give up on the stubborns ones
The saying “when the going gets tough, never give up” is applicable to most situations in life, except for blackhead extraction. If you encounter a stubborn blackhead that just won’t dislodge, it is best to leave it alone! A good rule of thumb is to try removing the blackhead two times, then give up to avoid the risk of damaging your skin or possibly breaking a capillary. Then, apply a treatment with ingredients that are known to loosen and dissolve blackheads, like salicylic acid or retinol.
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