The Ultimate Guide for Unplugging Blackheads At Home

Blackheads: unsightly, reoccurring and impossible to grow out of. Unfortunately, most us of have been picking and prodding at our blackheads since puberty, but there’s an easier way to nix those annoying plugged pores than with all that squeezing.

We turned to two top skin experts to create the no-fail guide for getting rid of blackheads, and it’s easier than you’d think.

You May Also Like: 14 Powerful Products That Zap Away Blackheads

Blackheads 101:

Before tackling blackheads, know your enemy. “Blackheads are pores that are clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, bacteria, makeup, and dirt,” explains dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD. “The surface of the blackhead is open to air, which lets these contents oxidize, leading to the dark color.”

How to Dissolve Blackheads Without Extractions:

“When a client with blackheads comes in for a facial, I start by using steam to help soften hardened oil in the pores and then perform a peel to exfoliate the skin before extractions,” Garnier SkinActive Consulting Aesthetician, Shani Darden. “Using a salicylic acid wash daily can be extremely helpful to gently exfoliate and unclog pores,” adds Dr. Mraz Robinson. By using salicylic acid-based exfoliating products or a facial peel, you’ll be able to slough off dead cells and gunk while drawing out impurities that build up as those tiny, dark spots on your nose.

Our Top Product Picks:

Depending on how often your blackheads feel raised above the skin, use a pore strip like the Dr. Jart+ Pore Master Patch ($35) to pluck out the debris. Another option?  The Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner ($47) to absorb dirt and excess oil after a quick five-minute application.  A daily face wash like the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash in Pink Grapefruit ($8) is a favorite of Dr. Mraz Robinson's to gently exfoliate and keep pores clean in between pore strip sessions. And a facial brush like the Clarisonic Smart Profile ($199) can work wonders for cleaning away cosmetic residue, dirt and oil that causes blackheads in the first place.

Safely Extract Blackheads Without Damage:

Rule number one for blackhead extractions: Never pick or pop them yourself. “Picking at blackheads can push the bacteria deeper into your skin, causing breakouts to worsen or leave scars,” explains Darden. Instead, use pore strips to pull out the grime without causing any trauma to the skin. Pro tip: Apply the pore strip after a hot shower because the steam will have already loosened the contents of the blackheads, making the treatment much more effective. 

How to Ensure Those Pores Don’t Refill:

Witch hazel may be included and are used as an anti-inflammatory and astringent agent to make the skin feel tighter after the pore strips,” says Dr. Mraz Robinson. By using a bacteria-fighting toner like Murad Clarifying Toner ($24), you’ll kill any leftover bacteria stuck in the pores, preventing future breakouts.

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