You are not alone—everybody gets blackheads! The secret's out. And the experts have spoken: One of the best ways to keep blackheads at bay is to maintain a regular skincare regimen, especially at night and even more especially if you wear makeup. While blackheads can be a natural occurrence affected by what we eat or our genetics, clogged pores can exacerbate them. "We all get blackheads, but some more than others depending on their skin type. The only way to prevent them is by getting rid of buildup within the pores," said Cecilia Wong, celebrity facialist and founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare. Here, we spoke to four estheticians and one makeup artist on their insider tips for treating and preventing blackheads. Behold their tried and true pearls of wisdom:
6 Beauty Experts Share Their Best Blackhead Techniques
1. Become religious about washing your face.
"The best way to do this is by washing your face daily, especially at night. Never go to bed with makeup on! When you take good care of your skin, dirt, germs and bacteria are less likely to linger within the pores," Wong said.
2. Keep up with exfoliation and do weekly clay masks.
Natural beauty esthetician and holistic health coach Britta Plug agrees and thinks exfoliation and masking are key to blackhead prevention. "I’m currently loving Leahlani’s kalima powder cleanser a few times a week—it has the perfect amount of fine grit," she said.
"Once a week follow with a clay mask—they are awesome for drawing out toxins, and also supporting lymph drainage, which will aid in clearing blackheads from the inside out," she said.
Pro tip: don’t let clay mask dry, especially in the winter! It will leech too much moisture from your skin. Keep the mask wet by periodically spritzing with a little spray bottle of filtered water (Plug likes to hang on to a hydrosol or rose water bottle when it runs out and upcycle it for this purpose in particular. Plug recommends Laurel Whole Plant Organics detox mask or Evan Healy pink clay for sensitive skin.
3. Once a week, go for the two-step exfoliation approach.
"I’ve found that a twofold exfoliation approach can dramatically reduce blackheads," said Hannah Brady, in-house esthetician at non-toxic beauty mecca, Credo Beauty. "I love starting with a gentle scrub, and following with an AHA/BHA peel, if skin is not too sensitive."
For scrubs, Brady loves Acure’s Brightening Facial Scrub or Cocovit’s Besan + Turmeric Polishing Grains. She recommends following these with an AHA/BHA treatment, like Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel Sensitive (or Full Strength for brave beauties), or Goldfaden MD’s Fresh A Peel Multi-Acid Resurfacing Peel.
4. Switch to an oil cleanser.
"My number one recommendation to those of us who get 'em (...everyone!) is to use oil on your face. It seems counterintuitive, but oil dissolves oil, and it’s hardened oil that clogs pores, filling them with debris, so using a face oil meant for your skin type (jojoba is good for just about everyone) can be a game changer," said green beauty expert and celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno.
Founder of Rescue Spa, Danuta Mieloch, who treats blackheads in her clients and trains her staff estheticians to do the same, said to avoid ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. "It tends to dry skin out to the point that the skin overproduces sebum, causing a vicious cycle. This makes it much more difficult to get rid of blackheads." Yikes! All the more reason to switch to an oil cleanser.
Denno swears by the Clear line from True Botanicals, and the oil from Jenette All natural skincare. You may also want to try double cleansing, which includes using both an oil-based and water-based cleanser—a skin-clearing step borrowed from the famous 10-step Korean beauty regimen.
5. If you're going to squeeze them...
First, don't. Try to resist! (You can do it.) "You'll never walk away from a picking session and think 'I just did a great thing for my body,'" Plug said. Every expert mentioned that it's best to leave it to the professionals to prevent scarring and additional inflammation. But if you're going to go there, Wong recommends the following steps:
- Cleanse skin thoroughly and rinse with warm water.
- Extract blackheads. Gently press on the skin around the blemish with clean hands, fingers wrapped in tissue. Be cautious not to press hard enough to break capillaries, and use fingertips, not finger nails.
- Rinse face with water and apply a toner.
- Apply either a mud or hydration mask to minimize pores, and fend off any harmful bacteria that might be left on the skin. This step is the most important as it prevents damage and infections.