Popping Blackheads And How to remove blackheads properly, according to dermatologists

 

Popping Blackheads And How to remove blackheads properly, according to dermatologists

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Blackheads are undoubtedly one of the most frustrating forms of acne. Because they’re rooted deep in the pores, they can be difficult to remove in a safe and effective way. I spoke with NYC dermatologists Dr. Hadley King and Dr. Joshua Zeichner about blackheads and the best ways to treat them, and asked them to provide their top product recommendations. Perhaps the most important tip? Blackheads (and visible pores in general) are completely normal, and it’s impossible to totally prevent them.

It’s natural to assume that the dark appearance of blackheads is due to a buildup of dirt, but that’s not quite the case. “Blackheads form when a pore becomes clogged with dead skin cells and oil,” says Dr. King. “When this material becomes oxidized by exposure to air it appears black — hence the name ‘blackhead’.”

Blackheads commonly form on the areas of the face that produce more oil, such as the forehead, nose, and chin (also known as the t-zone). They can also appear inside the conchal bowl of the ears, as well as on the shoulders, back, and chest.

The primary causes of blackheads, says Dr. Zeichner, is genetics. “However, there are some external predisposing factors that can be controlled,” he adds. “We know that stress and your diet can cause breakouts. Skim milk and foods with a high sugar load promote inflammation and oil production, as does stress.”

How to remove blackheads

Good news: there are safe ways to remove blackheads at home — but it must be done properly to avoid irritation, scarring, or even infection.

Squeezing blackheads out with your fingers might be one of the more satisfying ways to remove them, but Dr. King warns that it’s not a good idea. “Squeezing blackheads can traumatize the skin, introduce bacteria and damage the pore,which can spread debris and bacteria deeper into the tissue,” she says.

Dr. King recommends trying any blackhead-removal technique after a warm shower or steaming the skin. This helps to soften the skin and the material that has collected in the pores. It’s also important to gently cleanse the area before and after extraction.

Manual removal

A comedone extractor tool is one way to safely remove blackheads. The small loop on the end of a metal rod gently retracts the skin around the blackhead, bringing the contents to the surface. Dr. King recommends this easy-to-use extractor from Tweezerman. “Unlike squeezing, the comedone extractor does not compress the sides of the pore, so there is less risk of breaking the pore walls,” Dr King says. “However, tissue damage may still occur so it’s important to be very careful if you’re attempting this at home.” Apply light pressure, and if nothing is coming up, don’t keep trying (no matter how tempting it may be).

Pore strips are a classic method of blackhead removal; it’s eye-watering removal elicits memories of slumber party “spa” treatments and rom-com makeover montages. Little did our tween selves know that pore strips should NOT feel as though we’d ripped a layer of skin off. “It’s important to not leave the strips on for too long,” Dr. King warns. “If the strip has completely dried it’s more likely to traumatize and tear the skin when it gets peeled off.”

She also notes that pore strips only temporarily remove the top layer of dead skin cells and blackheads— they’re useless when it comes to preventing buildup. Still, they can be a great, time-efficient solution when you’re in a pinch. Dr. King recommends Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, as well as Boscia Pore Purifying Black Charcoal Strips and Peace Out Pore Treatment Strips.