Give Clogged Pores the Boot With These 15 Best Blackhead Masks

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Best Blackhead Masks

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

While blackheads aren't necessarily a cause for concern, they can be hard to ignore when staring at yourself in the mirror. Even if you're well past your teen years and have otherwise clear skin, there's always a chance they'll rear their ugly heads.

"Blackheads form when a pore becomes clogged with dead skin cells and oil," explains NYC-based dermatologist Hadley King, MD, FAAD. "When this material becomes oxidized by exposure to air, it appears black—hence the name blackhead." Luckily, there's an entire skincare category focused on tackling the issue, one of the most effective solutions being masks.

According to Claire Wolinsky, MD, the goal of a mask should be to lightly exfoliate. The derms we spoke to recommend AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids), and enzymes, as well as absorbent ingredients, such as clay. If this sounds a little too scientific, don't worry, because we took notes from these experts and rounded up standout options for every budget.

Meet the Expert

Here, the best blackhead masks to clear your pores.

Our Top Picks
The hero ingredient in this formula is BHA, or salicylic acid, for unclogging pores.
This blackhead mask gets the job done without wrecking your wallet.
A Byrdie writer notes, "not only is it super affordable, but it's really effective at clearing clogged pores."
It may be on the pricier side, but this product delivers clear, soothed skin.
This pick relies on BHA to clear congested skin.
AHAs featured in this formula help to peel away at old skin to reveal a clean complexion.
A Byrdie fave, this clay mask removes gunk and cleans out pores.
This next-gen peel-off mask for blackheads will give your skin a serious glow.
This award-winning treatment goes above and beyond to balance oily complexions.
Easily irritated complexions will appreciate that this pick gently exfoliates without irritation.

Best Overall: GlamGlow Supermud Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask

GlamGlow Supermud
What We Like
  • Exfoliating

  • Clears pores

  • Suitable for all skin types

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

Our number one pick is none other than GlamGlow Supermud. This iconic all-in-one facial pulls out all the stops to clear your pores. We're talking BHA all-star salicylic acid, AHA superhero lactic acid, plus activated charcoal and kaolin.

"Masks containing kaolin clay are good choices for oily skin," notes Dr. Wolinsky. She explains that these absorbent ingredients decrease excess oil, which can lead to clearer skin and reduce the appearance of pores. But this blackhead-clearing treatment isn't just for the oily-skinned set.

It's gentle on sensitive skin and can be used to target only the T-zone if you have otherwise dry (combination) skin. Thanks to GlamGlow's Pore-Matrix technology, you'll be able to see little dots where it's extracting gunk from your pores. We also like that you can use Supermud as a spot treatment for pimples.

Key Ingredients: Kaolin, charcoal, lactic acid, salicylic acid | Amount: 0.5 ounces, 3.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget: Bioré Instant Warming Clay Charcoal Face Mask

Bioré Charcoal Instantly Warming Clay Facial Mask for Oily Skin
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Works in one minute

  • Single-serving packets

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

OG blackhead-clearing brand Bioré is an excellent choice for babes on a budget. This clay and charcoal mask comes in single-serving packets, warms on contact with your skin, and gets the job done in a minute flat.

Key Ingredients: Kaolin, charcoal | Amount: 0.25 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

biore charcoal instant warming clay mask

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

What Our Testers Say

"It was like I’d placed a warm, steamy towel on my face." —Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best Drugstore: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Contains only one ingredient

  • Multi-use product

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be messy

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay has a well-deserved following. This single-ingredient drugstore icon contains 100 percent bentonite clay—nothing more, nothing less—to soak up the oil that's causing blackheads.

Key Ingredients: Bentonite clay | Amount: 16 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge: Kypris Deep Forest Clay Detoxifying Mask + Exfoliant

Kypris Deep Forest Clay Detoxifying Mask + Exfoliant
What We Like
  • Dissolves sebum

  • Soothing

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

If you're super-serious about battling blackheads, it might be worth splurging on an Elsa-esque tub of Kypris Deep Forest Clay. Strongly recommended by licensed esthetician Dana Murray of Babe + Beauty, this brilliant mask calls on clay, oceanic salt, and botanical exfoliants to dissolve sebum, plus algae to soothe inflammation.

Key Ingredients: Clay, oceanic salt, algae, botanical exfoliants | Amount: 1.55 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best BHA: Herbivore Blue Tansy BHA and Enzyme Pore Refining Mask

Herbivore Blue Tansy BHA and Enzyme Pore Refining Mask
What We Like
  • Esthetician-approved

  • Exfoliating

  • Soothing

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

"Hands down, salicylic acid (aka BHA) is the most effective," says Murray. That's why she loves Herbivore's Blue Tansy Mask. This blackhead treatment gets its BHAs from white willow bark and goes above and beyond with fruit enzymes for gentle exfoliation and soothing aloe for good measure.

Key Ingredients: White willow bark (BHA), fruit enzymes, blue tansy oil, aloe | Amount: 2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best AHA: Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask

Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask
What We Like
  • Exfoliating

  • Dissolves sebum

  • Improves skin texture

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

From Soko Glam founder Charlotte Cho, Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Mask is a game-changer for those with blackheads. Containing 6 percent AHAs, including glycolic and lactic acid, this exfoliating tincture does an excellent job of clearing congested pores.

Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, resveratrol, rose petals | Amount: 1.76 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Clay: Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask 2X

Innisfree Volcanic Clay Cluster Mask
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Exfoliating

  • Absorbs oil

What We Don’t Like
  • Leaves slight residue

Murray is also a fan of clay masks for blackheads, like Innisfree's Pore Clearing formula. This affordable treatment contains exfoliating lactic acid and actual volcanic lava clusters to absorb oil and minimize the appearance of pores. It's no wonder former Byrdie editorial director Faith Xue says she can't get over how much gunk this mask removes from her pores.

Key Ingredients: Volcanic lava, lactic acid | Amount: 3.38 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

innisfree super volcanic clusters pore clearing clay mask

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

What Our Testers Say

"The clay brought my whiteheads up and soaked up the excess oil from my t-zone and cheek areas on the first use." — Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best Peel-Off: No B.S. Charcoal Detox Peel-Off Mask

No BS Charcoal Detox Peel-Off Mask
What We Like
  • Absorbs oil

  • Pain-free removal

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Not as effective on oily skin

  • Expensive

Prominent blackheads can give you a real hankering for a peel-off mask. If that's your cup of tea, we recommend this charcoal-infused option from No B.S. In addition to absorbing oil, it moisturizes with squalane for an all-around balanced complexion. We also like that removing it is pain-free.

Key Ingredients: Charcoal, glycerin, squalane | Amount: 3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Skin: Beneath Your Mask Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask

Beneath Your Mask Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask
What We Like
  • Award-winning formula

  • Absorbs oil

  • Balances complexion

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

Oily skin? Beneath Your Mask has you covered. The brand's Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask contains absorbent clay, antimicrobial honey, vitamin-rich coconut milk, and soothing aloe vera. In other words, this award-winning treatment goes above and beyond to balance oily complexions. King explains, "Areas with larger pores and more oil production are more likely to have blackheads. Those who are genetically determined to have oily and acne-prone skin will be more likely to have blackheads."

Key Ingredients: Clay, honey, coconut milk, aloe | Amount: 3.4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: Golde Papaya Bright Face Mask

Golde
What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates

  • Soothing

  • Natural formula

What We Don’t Like
  • Small amount

Dr. King is a fan of fruit enzymes for blackheads. With this in mind, we suggest Golde Papaya Bright for sensitive skin. The ultra-gentle yet effective exfoliants work hard to clear clogged pores, while marshmallow root extract calms inflammation.

Key Ingredients: Fruit enzymes, sea buckthorn, marshmallow root extract | Amount: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask

Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask
What We Like
  • Prevents breakouts

  • Absorbs oil

  • Soothing

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Expensive

To keep both blackheads and breakouts at bay, your best bet is the Peter Thomas Roth Sulfur Mask. In addition to sulfur, it uses kaolin clay to absorb oil and aloe to hydrate and calm the skin.

Key Ingredients: Sulfur, kaolin, aloe | Amount: 5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for All Skin Types: Caudalie Vinergetic C Instant Detox Mask

Caudalie Vinergetic C Instant Detox Mask
What We Like
  • Clears pores

  • Exfoliating

  • Suitable for all skin types

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains alcohol

Celebrity cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, CMO and founder of PFRANKMD and the author of "The Pro-Aging Playbook," stands behind Caudalie Vinergetic C. "This will extract and dry up what is clogged in the skin," he tells Byrdie. "Make sure you don't put this on dry or dehydrated skin and moisturize after."

Key Ingredients: Bentonite, fruit enzymes, glycerin, lactic acid | Amount: 2.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Preventative: Dr. Dennis Gross DRx Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask

Dr. Dennis Gross DRx Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask
What We Like
  • Absorbs oil

  • Not overly drying

  • Prevents breakouts

What We Don’t Like
  • Small amount

The best defense against blackheads is preventing your pores from clogging in the first place. With this in mind, the Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Mask blends colloidal sulfur, kaolin, and bentonite clay to absorb excess oil without overdrying the skin.

Key Ingredients: Colloidal sulfur, kaolin, bentonite clay | Amount: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best K-Beauty: Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam

Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Exfoliating

  • Dissolves sebum

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

Our favorite K-beauty blackhead treatment is Skinfood's Egg White Pore Mask. In addition to egg whites, it's formulated with lactic acid and niacinamide to keep sebum in check and minimize the appearance of pores.

Key Ingredients: Egg whites, lactic acid, niacinamide | Amount: 3.52 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Multi-Use: Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask

Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask
What We Like
  • Multi-use product

  • Absorbs oil

  • Soothing

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

Believe it or not, even Estée Lauder's target market deals with blackheads now and then. The brand's Perfectly Clean mask-cleanser hybrid can be used as a three-minute mask or a daily clarifying face wash. Either way, you can count on unclogged pores and a healthy-looking complexion.

Key Ingredients: Myristic acid, glycerin, caffeine, algae | Amount: 5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Final Verdict

The best blackhead mask overall is GlamGlow Supermud (view at Sephora). Containing AHAs, BHAs, charcoal, and kaolin, this effective treatment covers all the bases to clear pores. For something a little easier on your bank account, go with Bioré Charcoal Instant Warming Clay Mask, an oil-absorbing solution that gets the job done in 60 seconds.

Hayag suggests testing a blackhead mask on a small patch of skin before using one for the first time. And “if you have sensitive skin, avoid masks with fragrances, dyes, parabens, and other chemicals that may cause a reaction,” she says.

What to Look for When Choosing a Mask to Treat Blackheads

Exfoliating Ingredients

The dermatologists we interviewed all said exfoliating ingredients are the best defense against blackheads. Beta-hydroxy superstar salicylic acid came up the most, as it breaks down excess oil and dissolves dead skin cells. "Glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that's derived from sugarcane, also helps release and dissolve dead skin cells and debris on the surface, clearing up blocked pores and blackheads," adds Dr. Frank.

You'll also find formulas that call on plant-derived enzymes to clear pores. "Fruit enzymes offer a gentle option for exfoliation. [They're] particularly great for those with sensitive skin who cannot tolerate salicylic acid," notes Dr. King.

Absorbent Ingredients

Another key component of blackhead masks is ingredients that absorb oil and sebum, like sulfur, charcoal, and different types of clay. For instance, as Dr. Wolinsky explains, kaolin clay helps decrease excess oil to prevent blackheads and minimize the appearance of pores.

Application

You'll also want to consider the application. Since blackhead masks absorb oil, most are supposed to be rinsed off after a short period (usually anywhere from one minute to 20 minutes) to avoid drying out the skin. There are also sheet masks and peel-off options, as well as versatile mask-cleanser hybrids.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Theresa Holland is a skincare aficionado and commerce beauty writer. For this article, she interviewed five dermatologists and a licensed esthetician for product recommendations and insight into ingredients and formulations. She read through reviews, pored over specs, and considered dozens of products from a wide range of brands before making her final selections. From this list, Theresa is personally fond of GlamGlow, Then I Met You, Dr. Dennis Gross, and Peter Thomas Roth.

Meet the Expert

  • Licensed esthetician Dana Murray of Babe + Beauty.
  • Celebrity cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, CMO and founder of PFRANKMD and the author of "The Pro-Aging Playbook."

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough blackhead masks from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Kim JH, et al. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Marine Drugs. Published 2018 Nov 21. doi: 10.3390/md16110459

  2. Mekas M, et al. An Evaluation of Efficacy and Tolerability of Novel Enzyme Exfoliation Versus Glycolic Acid in Photodamage Treatment. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2015 Nov;14(11):1306-19.

  3. Kim SJ, et al. The effect of physically applied alpha hydroxyl acids on the skin pore and comedone. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2015 Oct;37(5):519-25. doi: 10.1111/ics.12244. Epub 2015 Jun 26.

  4. Bonaterra GA, et al. Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidative Effects of Phytohustil and Root Extract of Althaea officinalis L. on Macrophages in vitro. Frontiers in Pharmacology. Published 2020 Mar 17. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00290

  5. Woodruff, A, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of a 2% salicylic acid cleanser for improvement of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Published 2013 April 1.

  6. The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Do Face Masks Really Work? The "Magic" Behind Face Masks — and How to Get the Most Out of Them. Penn Medicine. Published 2020 Mar 2.

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