No matter how much time or money you spend on your skincare routine, blackheads will always surface. But despite how satisfying it may feel, removing blackheads without a pore strip takes serious self-control... and might actually save your skin.
Blackheads (also known as open comedones) are pores that fill up with oil or dead skin cells that block the follicle, which causes clogged pores. “They appear black due to the process of oxidation and are not actually related to dirt in the skin as some people may think,” Dr. Marisa Garshick, a New York City-based dermatologist, tells TZR. Blackheads tend to be stubborn because they're a result of irregular skin cell turnover. If the pores are enlarged enough, they may be more likely to fill up with the "bad" stuff, she says. And if your skin is already susceptible to acne, your pores clog faster.
Pore strips, which are shaped to fit the bridge of your nose and come equipped with some sort of adhesive on the back, do get the job done quickly. However, they can do more damage than good according to Dr. Howard Sobel, a New York City dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin. "The strips tend to affect the skin’s laxity and make your pores larger," he notes. Instead, he recommends cleansing your face with a salicylic acid wash each day to help penetrate into the pores and loosen up the dirt and oil. "You can also use a salicylic acid mask or peel to speed up the process, anything you can leave on, so it gets a chance to work longer,” Dr. Sobel explains.
Replacing your pore strips with beneficial products like an efficient exfoliator that contains salicylic acid, charcoal-based masks, and retinoids (which increase cell turnover) won't just remove them — but they'll prevent that fleeting moment of pain that occurs once you snatch the strip off. Post-cleansing, try using non-comedogenic or oil-free moisturizers to keep your pores open. "Removing the blackheads is just as important as what can be done to prevent them," Dr. Garshick says.
Ahead, shop the best blackhead fighting options that will send your pore strips into extinction.
Salicylic Acid Wash
This wash gently cleanses deep into the pores, while the salicylic acid helps to prevent future acne from forming.
Dr. Garshick notes that this wash also acts as a very gentle exfoliator.
Masks & Peels
Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
"Charcoal-based products can also be effective at lifting off dirt, oil, and bacteria because they're very absorbent," Dr. Garshick says.
Blackhead Solutions 7 Day Deep Pore Cleanse & Scrub
This Blackhead Solution works as a cleanser, scrub, and a mask. It helps keep oil production controlled so that future blackheads don't have the chance to form.
Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor Exfoliating Clay Mask
This product works as a lathery wash, or a peel-off mask if left on for 10 minutes.
Yuzu Lemonade Peel
This newly released peel from Savor Beauty contains 2 percent salicylic acid that unclogs the pores. The hero ingredient, Yuzu oil, is full of vitamin C — another great blackhead treatment.
Beauty Sleep Power Peel
Treat blackheads while you sleep with this peel. It has a combination of retinol and glycolic acid that aids in skin renewal. The formulation reduces the size and appearance of pores.
This powder mask helps to bring blemishes to the surface of the skin, and the Kaolin clay and zinc oxide help to heal any congestion.
Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
Dr. Sobel says that Differin can help reduce sebum production and treat blackheads. It's the first over-the-counter acne-fighting retinoid that calms inflammation of the infected area.
Vit C Brightening Pads
Dr. Sobel notes that vitamin C can also help prevent blackheads, since it stops oil and prevents dirt from oxidizing. In addition to the vitamin C that the pads contain, there's also added salicylic acid that helps to renew the skin.