Blackheads can be one of the most pesky skin problems. Those little dark spots appear when your hair follicles get clogged due to the oil and dead skin cells, leading to an open comedo. The black appearance isn’t because of dirt but rather because of oxidization when it’s exposed to air. Cheeks, being a common area for them, can make many feel conscious.
I’ve been there, staring at myself in the mirror, poking and prodding, trying every face wash, scrub, and DIY mask out there. I used to think that maybe this was just something I had to put up with.
I’ve spent a lot of time (and, let’s be real, money) figuring out what actually works and what doesn’t. After a bunch of trial and error, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 hacks that are approved by experts and really work.
1. Regular Cleansing
An impeccable skincare routine is the foundation for blackhead-free skin. By ensuring that your face is free from oil, dirt, and makeup residue, you decrease the chances of pore blockages.
The Right Cleanser
The importance of selecting the right cleanser can’t be overstated. Gel-based or foaming cleansers with salicylic acid or alpha hydroxyl acids can aid in unclogging pores, making them excellent choices for those with blackhead-prone skin.
Regularly cleansing your face, especially after activities that cause sweating or after wearing makeup, will prevent the buildup of impurities that can lead to blackheads. A gentle cleanse twice a day can do wonders.
2. Exfoliation Is Key
Exfoliating the skin helps to slough off dead skin cells. This process can be particularly beneficial in preventing and getting rid of blackheads on the cheeks.
Products containing active ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid can penetrate the skin and dissolve the debris that clogs pores. These are known as chemical exfoliants and can be found in toners, serums, and peels.
Physical or manual exfoliants contain tiny granules that help buff away dead skin cells when massaged onto the skin. They should be used gently and not more than once or twice a week to avoid skin irritation.
3. Masks And Clays
Masks, especially those formulated with clay, can draw out impurities from the skin and provide a deep cleansing effect.
Clay, particularly kaolin and bentonite, can absorb excess oil and draw out impurities from deep within the pores. Using a clay mask once a week can help minimize the appearance of blackheads over time.
These masks can be satisfying and effective. Once applied and dried, they can be peeled off, often pulling out blackheads in the process. However, they should be used judiciously as frequent use can irritate the skin.
4. Non-comedogenic Products
The term “non-comedogenic” is key for those prone to blackheads. It refers to products formulated to reduce the chance of clogging pores, thus preventing blackheads and breakouts.
Pay Attention to Ingredients
Not all skin products are created equal. Those labeled non-comedogenic have been specifically designed to not block pores. Key ingredients to look out for are hyaluronic acid, sunflower seed oil, and neem, among others.
This doesn’t only apply to skin creams or lotions. Makeup products can also be comedogenic. Choosing non-comedogenic makeup, especially foundations and concealers, can make a significant difference in your skin’s health.
5. Steam Your Face
The benefits of steaming have been cherished for ages. It helps open up the pores, facilitating the easier removal of blackheads and impurities.
The Steaming Process
To steam your face at home, take a bowl of hot water and lean over it, covering your head with a towel to trap the steam. Do this for about 5-10 minutes. This process helps in opening up the pores and preparing your skin for the next steps of your skincare routine.
After steaming, it’s easier to extract blackheads or apply a mask for maximum benefits. However, always remember to close the pores after. Using a toner or splashing cold water will constrict the pores, preventing further clogging.
6. Professional Extractions
While DIY solutions are great, sometimes, the expertise of a professional can be invaluable. Dermatologists and estheticians often offer extraction services for stubborn blackheads. Professionals use a sterile tool to apply pressure around the blackhead, releasing the sebum and debris.
This process, when done correctly, causes minimal irritation and can effectively rid the skin of blackheads. After getting extractions, your skin may be slightly red or irritated. It’s essential to avoid makeup or any harsh products for at least 24 hours.
Following up with a soothing moisturizer and sunscreen (if stepping out) can be beneficial.
7. Retinoid Treatments
Retinoids, derived from Vitamin A increase cell turnover, unclog pores, and prevent the formation of new blackheads.
Prescription vs. Over-the-counter
While there are over-the-counter retinoid products available, prescription retinoids are often stronger and more effective. Products like tretinoin or adapalene can be prescribed by a dermatologist for stubborn blackheads.
Retinoids can make your skin sensitive, especially to the sun. It’s crucial to use them during the nighttime and always apply sunscreen during the day. Start with a small amount to gauge skin sensitivity, and avoid combining with other potent actives to reduce irritation.
8. Hydration Matters
While it may seem counterintuitive, keeping your skin hydrated can actually help with this problem. When the skin is dehydrated, it can produce more oil, leading to more blackheads.
Choosing a Moisturizer
Opt for a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer that will hydrate without clogging pores. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera are great for hydrating without causing breakouts.
Internal hydration is just as crucial. Drinking ample water throughout the day helps maintain skin health, and elasticity, and can indirectly help in keeping those blackheads at bay.
9. Pore Strips and Tools
Pore strips and blackhead removal tools can provide an immediate, albeit temporary, solution to the blackhead problem. These adhesive strips, when applied to wet skin and allowed to dry, adhere to the blackhead.
Upon removal, they pull them out from the skin. However, over-reliance can lead to skin irritation.
Blackhead Removal Tools
Stainless steel tools, often with looped ends, can be effective when used with care. After cleansing and steaming the face, the tool can be used to apply pressure around the blackhead to release it.
Always ensure the tool is sterilized before use to prevent bacterial infections.
10. Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Often overlooked, your lifestyle choices play a significant role in the health of your skin. Addressing these can often reduce the occurrence of blackheads and enhance overall skin health.
Foods with a high glycemic index can lead to increased oil production, heightening the risk of blackheads. Opting for a balanced diet with whole grains, leafy greens, and omega-3-rich foods can make a noticeable difference.
Stress can exacerbate skin issues, including the occurrence of blackheads. Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even regular physical activity, can be beneficial for both your mind and your skin.
Can I Use Toothpaste to Remove Blackheads?
Using toothpaste is a popular DIY hack circulating online. However, it’s not recommended. Toothpaste is formulated for cleaning teeth and might contain ingredients that can irritate the skin.
While it may provide a temporary drying effect, it doesn’t effectively address the root cause and can lead to other skin issues.
Are Blackheads a Sign of Poor Hygiene?
Not necessarily. While keeping the skin clean can prevent blackheads to some extent, their formation is more about how your skin naturally produces oil, the turnover of skin cells, and hormonal factors. Even people with impeccable hygiene can still develop these.
How Often Should I Get Professional Extractions?
The frequency of professional extractions depends on your skin type and how prone you are to blackheads. For some, monthly sessions might be beneficial, while others might need them less frequently.
Always consult with an esthetician or dermatologist to determine what’s best for your skin.
Is It True that Dairy Products Can Increase the Chances of Getting These?
There’s ongoing research about the link between dairy and acne. Some studies suggest that certain dairy products might increase sebum production or inflammation, potentially leading to blackheads and other forms of acne.
However, the reaction can vary from person to person. If you suspect dairy is a trigger, consider reducing your intake and observing any changes.
Can I Prevent Them by Just Using Makeup?
Using makeup can help camouflage blackheads temporarily, but it won’t prevent or treat them. In fact, using heavy or comedogenic makeup without properly cleansing it off can exacerbate the problem by clogging pores further.
Always opt for non-comedogenic makeup and ensure you remove it thoroughly at the end of the day.
Blackheads, while a common concern, are treatable. Whether you opt for daily skincare routines, over-the-counter products, or professional treatments, the key is consistency and understanding what works best for your skin.
Everyone’s skin is unique, so, while these hacks are generally effective, it’s essential to find what combination of methods works best for you.