How to Remove Blackheads at Home (Without Ruining Your Skin)

Updated 09/23/16
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The truth is that everyone deals with blackheads. “They certainly are frustrating,” celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau says. “While there’s no miracle product that removes them from the skin, there are definitely things you can do to discourage their formation.” From at-home extraction tips to helpful products, Rouleau offers a step-by-step guide to dealing with the common problem below.

Step 1: Steam

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The first step? Unclog your pores. Whether you remove blackheads yourself (gently, of course) or have a professional facial, manual extraction is a must. In a professional facial, your esthetician will raise the temperature of the skin by applying warm steam and performing a facial massage to “melt” the hardened oil within the pores to make for easier extractions. For do-it-yourself extractions, it’s best to remove blackheads after a shower since your skin’s temperature is higher than usual then.

Step 2: Moisturize

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If you’re going the DIY route, apply a thin coat of the heaviest moisturizer you have to your skin post-shower. The rich moisturizer creates a temporary occlusive seal to keep the heat trapped in the skin (which is necessary for extractions). Next, cover the area with plastic wrap and apply warm, damp towels on top for five minutes.

Step 3: Extract

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Remove the plastic and wrap tissue over each forefinger before gently squeezing to remove blackheads. To avoid creating squeeze marks, go easy and be sure to relocate the position of your fingers often. For example, position fingers at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and then 5 o’clock and 10 o’clock. Afterward, apply a cooling mask to reduce any redness.

Step Four: Focus on Acids

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Once your pores are clean, it’s important to incorporate products into your routine that use acids, such as AHAs and BHAs, to absorb directly into the pores and keep them clean, as well as preventing the oil from filling back up so quickly. Skincare products with acids, include cleansers with beta hydroxys such as salicylic acid, serums, and at-home pore-cleaning peels, are worthy investments. (Be sure the products are gentle and do not contain SD alcohol 40 or denatured alcohol.)
Note: Do not use any acid-based products for at least 24 hours after manual extractions.

Step Five: Stop Oxidation in Its Tracks

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Lastly, you want to prevent oil from oxidizing. Perhaps not surprising, given their name, that’s what antioxidants do. Think of it like this: When you cut an apple into pieces, you can apply lemon juice, which is high in vitamin C, to prevent it from turning brown. The same rule applies to the skin and blackheads.

What are some of your favorite tools, products, and tips for fighting blackheads? Sound off below!

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