It’s unfortunate, but blackheads happen. “Almost anyone whose skin has produced oil at any time of their life will likely have blackheads, and almost everyone wishes they didn’t,” says celebrity aesthetician Renée Roleau. To keep our skin free of the tiny dots for longer, we tapped top aestheticians for their skin-whispering secrets—specifically asking, “How do we get rid of blackheads once and for all?” Their tips, below.
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According to celebrity aesthetician Ildi Pekar, taking good care of your skin will help keep blackheads from popping up in the first place. “Having a proper exfoliation regimen will reduce the very buildup in the skin that leads to blackheads, whiteheads and overall congested pores,” she says. “Practice a balanced exfoliating regimen one to three times a week, depending on your skin type, to remove sweat, dirt and pollution buildup on the skin.”
Don’t underestimate the power of professionals.
“My number-one tip for ridding your skin of pesky blackheads is to get professional facials that include extractions and high-frequency treatments,” says Virginia Oliveira, aesthetician at Maria Bonita Salon & Spa. “Whether you remove them yourself or have a professional facial, blackheads must be manually extracted,” says Roleau. “There is no magic pore strip that will easily lift them out.”
Remove it properly, if you must.
According to celebrity aesthetician Biba de Souza, step one of properly removing blackheads yourself is applying a mask containing alphahydroxy acids (she says this will soften the corneal layer of the skin). “Once you rinse, gently push blackheads out of the skin with your fingers, but be sure to wrap them in gauze or tissues.”
Keep pores clean.
“Once the pores are clean, it’s important to incorporate products into your routine that use acids, such as alphahydroxy acids and betahydroxy acids, to absorb directly into the pores and keep them cleaned out, as well as preventing the oil from filling back up so quickly,” says Roleau, noting that acid-based products should not be used for at least 24 hours after any type of extractions.
Expert aesthetician Amy McLain says the easiest ways to keep pores clear of blackheads once they’re extracted is to exfoliate regularly. While the number of times we should exfoliate varies with our skin type and conditions, McLain says one of her all-time favorites is HydroPeptide 5X Power Peel ($68). “It combines five methods of exfoliation, but is super gentle.” Celebrity aesthetician Shani Darden says she loves Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads ($88) for blackhead-busting upkeep. “The AHAs are going to do so much to clear the dead skin cells from the surface and the BHAs are going to keep the pores clear.”
Prevent oil from oxidizing.
Blackheads are actually oil that has oxidized, so if you can prevent the oil from oxidizing at all, you’ll fade the look of blackheads. Easy enough, right? According to Roleau, antioxidant-infused skin care works well for this—hence the name “antioxidation.” According to Oliveira, the use of gentle exfoliants, along with a serum or treatment containing salicylic acid or vitamin C, will work to keep pores clean by preventing the buildup of oxidized oil.
Look to lasers.
For an extra boost of breakout-busting power, Slone Mathieu, aesthetician at Joseph A Russo, MD, says in-office procedures go a long way. “Nonablative, low-energy therapies can treat the dermis to normalize cellular irregularities such as over-productive sebaceous oil glands,” she explains, adding that the heat generated with treatments like Clear + Brilliant or Laser Genesis will reduce the development of bacteria. “Coupled with a HydraFacial, you will get targeted delivery of active acids, as well as deep pore cleaning and replenishment to fine tune the results.”