Attempting to remove a blackhead on your own? It may not be as simple as you think. Here are the dos and don'ts of blackhead removal.
While you may be wise to the fact that errant zits heal best with minimal intervention, you may have a different philosophy when it comes to deep blackheads.
But is it wise to attempt blackhead removal without the help of a professional? Depends on your method. Before you attempt blackhead extractions on your own, get know the dos and don’ts of removing blackheads.
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Is It Bad to Pop Blackheads on Your Face?
Let’s face it: Deep blackheads are tempting to self-extract since they’re so conspicuous. But when it comes to removing facial blackheads, there actually is a method to the madness.
“Ideally, blackhead removal is done by a dermatologist. But it's very difficult to resist popping and squeezing them on your own,” notes Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist in New York and author of Beyond Beautiful.
“The best way to do this at home is to first use a warm washcloth to hydrate and soften the skin. Then use a special tool (such as an extractor) to extract the contents.”
Day also advises using a gentle hand when going rogue with blackhead removal. “If you’re too aggressive in trying to get every last bit of the contents of the follicle out, you can end up creating more inflammation,” Day says.
“Don't squeeze until it bleeds and don't pick off any scabs that form. That only increases your risk of scarring and can increase the likelihood of the blackhead coming back in the same spot.”
Should You Squeeze the Blackheads on Your Nose?
Of all the places blackheads show up, the ones on your nose may be the most tempting to squeeze. Not only are they one of the most noticeable places to spot blackheads, but they almost always appear in clusters.
If you can’t get to a dermatologist for proper blackhead removal, it’s OK to try to extract them on your own with the right tool. But again, temper yourself.
“Blackheads ultimately have only one place to go, which is out. When performed properly, extractions can effectively treat blackheads on the nose and other areas of the face,” notes Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City dermatologist.
“However, applying too much pressure or using sharp instruments or fingernails can traumatize the skin. A broken skin barrier can lead to a skin infection or, in some cases, a scar. Plus, while extractions can remove blackheads that are currently there, they will recur.”
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Blackhead Removal: How Can You Remove a Blackhead Instantly at Home?
Ready to get down to business? There are a few ways to remove a blackhead under the skin at home.
1. Pore Strips
Pore strips, or the OG DIY blackhead remover, are still going strong, and with good reason: They’re a great quick fix for blackheads on the nose, chin, and forehead.
There are loads of masks aimed at blackhead removal, but a popular choice is a peel-off charcoal mask (there are many options), which helps remove impurities.
Not only can exfoliators and scrubs help remove existing blackheads, they also can prevent future ones from forming.
“If you suffer from blackheads, look for products that contain salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid that helps remove excess oil and exfoliate dead cells from the surface of the skin,” Zeichner says. “Neutrogena Acne Proofing Daily Scrub is a good choice.”
Microdermabrasion helps to slough off dead skin, including blackheads, revealing a smoother, clearer complexion.
In the past, microdermabrasion was only done in a doctor or aesthetician’s office, but there are now personal microdermabrasion systems available for home use.
If used properly, a blackhead extractor (which will run you about $5), can become the number one blackhead fighter in your arsenal.
To use, center the blackhead in the middle of the extractor tool loop and press down against the skin. Try not to use too much pressure — a small amount should be enough to force the dirt and oil out in the open.
Back-ne: Can You Remove Pesky Back Blackheads at Home?
Blackheads on back are trickier than the ones on your face for obvious reasons: They’re hard to reach. That said, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of back-ne because you have poor reach.
In fact, the solution is simple: An exfoliating mesh brush. Making sure you thoroughly wash your back every time you shower — preferably with a salicylic acid wash, such as Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash — will help keep blackheads at bay. An over-the-counter acne medication can help for back blackheads, as well.
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Is Toothpaste Useful for Removing Blackheads?
In a word: No. “Toothpaste used to contain an ingredient called to triclosan, which has antimicrobial properties. By lowering levels of acne causing bacteria on the skin, it was reported to help treat acne,” notes Zeichner.
“However, because triclosan commonly caused allergic reactions in the skin, it has been largely removed from toothpaste. So, I wouldn’t recommend using toothpaste as a home remedy for pimples.”