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Blackheads form when plugged hair follicles in the skin open up and turn dark. While blackheads are not an indication of dirt, it is still important to keep your face and other acne-prone areas clean. Washing your skin with a gentle soap or cleanser can help clear up existing blackheads and prevent future ones from forming.
Facial cleansers and soaps designed specifically for acne can help clear blackheads, though a gentle cleanser may work just as well 2. Regular soap is not usually a good choice for acne-prone skin, since it tends to irritate the skin, which can cause clogged pores to break open and lead to further acne problems. Some cleansers contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to help fight acne. Other soaps are made for sensitive skin and may be labeled as "fragrance-free," "hypoallergenic," "oil-free" or "noncomedogenic."
- Facial cleansers and soaps designed specifically for acne can help clear blackheads, though a gentle cleanser may work just as well 2.
Washing Your Skin
Clogged Pores in Skin
Once you have chosen a soap or cleanser, it is important to wash your face with warm water and a gentle touch twice a day. While you may be tempted to scrub your blackheads away, letting the cleanser do the work is the best way to clear up your skin and prevent future acne. Rinsing your face thoroughly after washing is also important since soap residue can affect the pH balance of your skin, which may react by producing more oil.
Using a soap or cleanser designed specifically for facial or acne-prone skin helps you to avoid washing with products that contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your skin and clog your pores. You may see results quicker when using a cleanser that contains topical acne-fighting medications. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid penetrate into your pores during the washing process to help fight the bacteria that lead to pimples and blackheads.
You may have to try several soaps or cleansers before you find one that works for you 2. Acne is a very personal condition since your skin type, hereditary and hormonal factors all play a role. No soap or cleanser will remove blackheads overnight, but if you are using a cleanser for several weeks without seeing improvement, try a different product or talk to your dermatologist for a recommendation. Avoid medicated soaps if you use other topical acne medications. Using more than one medicated product simultaneously can lead to irritation and make your acne worse.
- You may have to try several soaps or cleansers before you find one that works for you 2.
- No soap or cleanser will remove blackheads overnight, but if you are using a cleanser for several weeks without seeing improvement, try a different product or talk to your dermatologist for a recommendation.
Avoid scrubs and soaps with beads or exfoliating granules if you suffer from blackheads. While these products can remove dead skin cells, they are likely to irritate your skin and make the problem worse. Stop using any product that causes extreme burning, redness or peeling, as these symptoms are often a sign of a contact allergy. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when going outside if you use a cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, as these ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
- Avoid scrubs and soaps with beads or exfoliating granules if you suffer from blackheads.
- Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when going outside if you use a cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, as these ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
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- MedlinePlus: Acne
- DermNet NZ: Soaps & Cleansers
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Antibacterial soap? You can skip it, use plain soap and water. Updated May 16, 2019.
- Cleveland Clinic. Acne. Updated March 22, 2017.
- Mukhopadhyay P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian J Dermatol. 2011;56(1):2–6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542
- Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(5):945-73.e33. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037
Amanda Knaebel is a self-professed gadget geek and loves all things tech, both new and old. Amanda has been working as a freelance writer for over 10 years on topics including technology, health, fitness, nutrition, gardening and many more. She has also worked with Fortune 50 tech and financial companies, both in technical support and content production.