Let's cut to the chase: A sexy topic, blackheads are not. However, they're a fact of life and the majority of the human population has probably had one (or 10) at some point in time. Like most skin concerns, blackheads also range in both stubbornness and ferocity. First, there are the larger, more noticeable species (i.e., that big black abyss that causes you to swear off all public outings), and then there are the sneakier ones: the pin-size pariahs that go virtually undetected.
Despite their differences in size and severity, blackheads are all caused by the same thing: pores plugged with dead skin cells and an oily, protective substance called sebum. According to Medical News Today, blackheads have nothing to do with trapped dirt or the cleanliness of the skin: In reality, "the dead skin cells in the open pore react with oxygen in the air and turn black, forming a blackhead."
How do you get rid of them? Routinely exfoliating with a face wash that includes strategic ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, witch hazel, clay, and charcoal is key to sloughing off dead skin and clearing pores of all the gunk. So we combed the internet and curated a list of some of the best face washes to incorporate into your routine if you're struggling with pesky blackheads.
Keep reading to see which best-of-the-best face washes we'd take into battle.
This 100% natural cult-favorite face wash from Tata Harper cleanses and purifies pores (while also brightening and evening out tone) in one fell swoop. It's loved for its quadruple-action four-in-one formula that features rose clay, willow bark extract, noncomedogenic essential oils, and teensy exfoliating beads to reduce the appearance of blackheads.
Containing 5% benzoyl peroxide (bye, blackheads), this still-gentle acne treatment from Kate Sommerville specifically targets congested pores to reduce existing breakouts and keep excess oil and sebum at bay. It'll do more than just banish your blackheads—it'll also prevent them from coming back.
Typically we steer clear of products that promise too much of a good thing. So although this cleanser talks a big game, it also walks the walk. Since it warms on contact, congested pores are able to open, while purifying and radiance-boosting agents like charcoal, vitamin P and C, and artichoke leaf perfect the skin.
As one the most highly regarded brands in the skincare universe (it's loved by celebrities, dermatologists, and beauty editors alike), it’s no wonder SkinCeuticals has a solution that promises to control, treat, and prevent blackheads. Surprisingly, it gentle enough to use twice daily and combines supercharged cleansing agents with blackhead-busting LHA, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid.
An under-the-radar diamond in the rough, this top-selling face wash from Cecilia Wong is one of the best for those struggling with blackheads who also crave the clear, radiant, dewy skin of their dreams. (So basically everyone, right?) Not only is the fresh, citrusy scent absolutely delectable (thanks, oil-nixing, tangerine), it also contains natural yet potent oil and blackhead-fighting agents like alfalfa, borage, parsley, and aloe.
It's no secret that Mario Badescu's infamous Enzyme Cleansing Gel makes practically every face wash roundup. And there's good reason for that: It works. You can count on the natural fruit enzymes and a side order of alpha-hydroxy acids (from papaya and grapefruit extracts) to wash away impurities every time.
If you want to break up with blackheads for good without breaking the bank, this anti-blackhead formula from Bioré is one of our favorites. It boasts the same warming, pore-opening technology as some of its pricier counterparts and has many of the same key ingredients, like clay and salicylic acid.
Cruelty-free, dermatologist-tested, pH-balanced, and noncomedogenic, this face wash is a great pick for both acne and blackheads. (Believe it or not, the two are technically not synonymous.) Enriched with basically every single ingredient blackheads hate most—among them, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, witch hazel, allantoin, and the brand's patented sebum-squashing polymer—this formula's so good at getting the job done.
Murad is a beauty-editor favorite thanks to its effective, gentle formulas, so it's not surprising that this face wash for blackheads and congested skin is a game-changer. Witch hazel (a natural astringent) and copper gluconate nix oil while maintaining the skin's natural moisture stores. Plus, pomegranate and Japanese alder flower extracts add a hit of antioxidants.