We might be able to forgive blackheads if they weren't so stubborn. But without the help of a skilled esthetician, trying to get rid of those annoying little spots is often a vicious cycle: It feels like you really have to scrub at them (or pull them out with a pore strip) in order to clear out the gunk, but that harsh exfoliation isn't doing you any favors either—in fact, it can worsen the issue. Fun, right?
But before resorting to the big guns (e.g., hardcore chemical treatments or prescription creams), we thought it wouldn't hurt to try a few home remedies for blackheads we've seen floating around the internet—many of which are labeled as "the ONLY thing that has EVER worked" or something to that hyperbolic effect. True or false? You'll have to keep reading to find out.
Lemon Juice Salt Scrub
Deven Hopp, Beauty Director: "I'm typically not a fan of physical exfoliation (glycolic acid all the way), so I was a little intimidated by this salt scrub recipe, which calls for a tablespoon of sea salt, a teaspoon of lemon, and a teaspoon of water. I ended up adding more water to it to make the scrub less gritty and cut the lemon juice a tad. I was expecting the mixture to irritate my sensitive skin, but thankfully it didn't. It was a little messy, but I must admit it felt nice and my skin felt baby soft after rinsing. My skin looked fresh and clean, but the blackhead improvement seemed minimal at best. The ingredients do have antibacterial properties, so perhaps with continued use, you'd start to see a difference. But I think I'll stick with chemical exfoliation in the end."
Clay Powder and Apple Cider Vinegar
Victoria Hoff, Wellness Editor: "I had high expectations for this formula since I usually use clay powder to dry up regular blemishes. The idea is that the clay helps suck out the impurities while the ACV disinfects and helps clarify pores. From the get-go, the appeal for me was how easy it is to throw this together: I simply mixed Aztec Secret's Healing Clay ($8) with Bragg's Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar ($5) in a one-to-one ratio until they formed a paste, smeared it on my nose (which is usually Blackhead City), and let it dry. The crazy thing is that I knew it had worked before I removed the paste because I could actually see the dirt lifted from the pores in little raised dots underneath the clay (TMI?). Sure enough, after rinsing, most of the blackheads were gone. It only lasted a couple of days before they began to reappear again, but considering how little time and effort this requires, I'll take it.
Egg-White Pore Strips
Victoria: "I admittedly love the feeling of peeling off a pore strip, so I was game to give this popular Pinterest hack a try. First, I dipped a piece of paper towel in egg white (which has astringent properties and is also known to tone pores), put it on top of my nose, and then put another layer of paper towel on top of that before letting it all dry. When I felt that the paper towels had hardened—much like a traditional pore strip—I was all set for that satisfying peel. But then… nothing. I looked down and noticed two (TWO!) blackheads on the paper towel and declared this a fail. But not all is lost! That clay paste was really a revelation."
Honey and Lemon
Lindsey Metrus, Managing Editor: "As someone with oily, breakout-prone skin, I definitely have my fair share of blackheads. They're mostly on my nose, chin, cheeks, and scattered around my forehead—okay, so basically everywhere. I usually use cleansers with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide creams, but they're definitely drying and sometimes even make my skin peel. Consequently, I was really excited to try a natural method that would hopefully be less harsh on my poor skin.
"First, I cut a lemon in half and poured about a tablespoon of honey on top of the flesh. Then I sprinkled on some sugar (for exfoliation). I rubbed the lemon all over my skin and immediately felt like it was working. The acid from the lemon was leaving a kind of burning effect on my skin (in a hurts-so-good kind of way), and the sugar was working as a scrub to lift off those dead skin cells. I didn't care too much for the honey and felt like it was more sticky than anything else, but who knows? Maybe it was working its magic!
"I let the lemon-honey-sugar concoction sit for a few minutes and then rinsed it off with water. I couldn't see any visible results, but it definitely felt cleaner and softer. The next morning, however, I noticed that my pores were tighter and the blackheads on my chin and nose were less visible. Success! I was so happy to have discovered a remedy that delivered results—sans the chemicals."
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.