Why do we get blackheads?
We all have pores and when those pores become blocked with debris, oil, or dead skin cells when you get a blackhead. They are called blackheads because all the oils in them become oxidized. So it’s not the dirt that is black, it is just oxidized oil.
It’s an ongoing battle
The best way to deal with blackheads is to recognize that the underlying problem is the excess oil that is being produced. Therefore, while looking at treatments, it’s important to recognize that blackheads will reform every 20 to 40 days.
Physical exfoliators are the best place to start as it is the simplest option. Seeing as exfoliation removes the upper layer of dead skin cells, it prevents things like old skin cells and makeup getting blocked inside the top layer of pores. Using something abrasive on the skin, such as a face cleansing brush or a face scrub with granules in will help to buff away the top layer. Try to exfoliate in a gentle manner, as over-exfoliating can sometimes worsen the spots or cause dryness and irritation. Exfoliating once a week is recommended for acne or oily-prone skin.
Chemical exfoliants are also good for treating blackheads, such as AHA’s (alpha-hydroxy-acids) and BHA’s (beta hydroxy acids) which cause a chemical disintegration of the top layer of skin cells, so they dissolve everything, which in turn, unblocks the pores.
Using a clay mask once or twice a week can be beneficial if you have acne or blemish-prone skin. When it comes to drawing impurities out of the skin and reducing oil production, clay masks are super effective! The trick is to exfoliate before applying the mask, as this allows it to really penetrate the skin.
If you’ve tried all the above and you’re still getting blackheads, then it might be time to book an expert extraction facial. This should most definitely NOT be done at home. An aesthetician trained to properly extract blackheads should do this treatment, otherwise, the inflammation could be pushed deeper, causing spots and scarring. The treatment involves steaming the skin, allowing the oil in pores to be loosened. They will then use an extractor tool or physically squeeze them out.
A medical-grade chemical peel is also another option involving glycolic or lactic acid that will be used on the skin to dissolve dead cells and unclog pores. As blackheads reform, this treatment should be repeated every 4-6 weeks to keep on top of the issue.