Blackheads are the worst.
They show up unannounced and set up house and home on our face. They live rent-free on our precious face and even invite all their friends and family to move in. Crazy buggers.
And the worst thing is that most dermatologists tell you not to forcibly remove these pesky free-loaders – to ignore our first, animal instinct to squeeze the nasty grossness out of our pores no matter what it takes.
Well, we have to say – this is generally good advice.
Picking at your skin with unclean hands and bacteria-infested fingernails is going to do more damage than good. Not to mention the fury with which some of us go at picking our skin – yes, we know you want to get rid of blackheads but abuse is never the answer.
That being said, we still believe blackheads should be taught a lesson and purged out of your pores – as long as you do it right.
Here is the 3-step guide to extracting blackheads, the right way:
Blackhead Extraction Step #1. Set the Stage
The very first thing you should do before attempting blackhead removal at home is to make prep the designated treatment area: your face.
Start by cleansing your face. The best face wash for blackheads is one that’s gentle on your skin, and water-soluble with exfoliating ingredients. You use a facial cleanser everyday so choose one without irritants and harsh, drying ingredients.
It can be tempting to want to eliminate any and all oiliness but drying your skin out will backfire – your skin will simply produce even more oil to compensate and you’ll be even more prone to blackheads.
So choose a gentle blackhead cleanser.
Our favorite is MyChelle's Creamy Pumpkin Cleanser – it’s pretty much a cult favorite for people who’ve struggled with severe blackheads since it’s one of the most effective cleansers.
It does a great job bringing deep-rooted blackheads to the surface and eventually gets rid of most of them.
You’ll also notice a visible difference in the size of your pores, which is a huge plus. Oh, and it’s an all natural cleanser which makes it even better.
Once your face is squeaky clean, it’s time to open your pores…
The heat from the steam is super helpful for opening up your pores and setting the stage for blackhead extraction.
How to do it: boil some water, pour it in a large washbasin, dump some sea salt and squeeze some lemon juice into it if you want and then hold your face over the washbasin (with a towel on top to prevent the steam from escaping) for 5 – 10 minutes.
If you’re not a fan of the boiling water and towel-over-the-head routine, opt for a facial steamer. These little machines gently steams your face to open clogged pores without any risk of too-hot-steam or the need to re-heat your water. Kinga's nano ionic steamer uses a ceramic heater that poofs out a good, strong stream of micro-fine steam that penetrates deep.
It’s also got a UV lamp inside that sterilizes the steam as it comes out so the steam going in your pores is pure and clean.
Once you’re done steaming your face, get a clean washcloth and dip it in the salty, lemon-infused water, allow the washcloth to cool down a bit and then hold it to your facial skin for around 30 seconds. No need to do this if you used the steamer.
Great, ready to get rid of blackheads?
Blackhead Extraction Step #2. No Fingers, No Nails
Don’t attempt a blackhead extraction with your fingers of nails. You can put undue pressure on sensitive skin or your nails can dig into pores surrounding the blackheads and cause scarring.
Not to mention the oils, bacteria, and dirt that can get transferred from your hands and nails into your facial pores.
The best way to remove blackheads without risking infection or more clogged pores is to use blackhead extractor tools.
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Sounds fancy, no?
They’re really not – blackhead extraction tools are just wondrous little devices that are damn good at evicting stubborn blackheads. These are a little different from pimple extractors in that good pimple remover tools should have a little needlepoint on one end to gently prick open pimples to prep them for extraction. A blackhead extractor, on the other hand, should have two loops – one at each end.
We like this set the best because they have a variety – pretty much everything you’ll need for all your blocked pore woes – and includes the most crucial tool for blackheads, which is the one that has one thin, angled loop and one thicker, flat loop – each of which has its uses depending on the blackhead you’re trying to extract. Here’s a quick video demonstrating how to use this type of blackhead remover tool.
If you’d like more variety for any of your particularly stubborn blackheads, of course you can opt for any of the tools in the Petunia Blackhead Remover Kit – the set of 5 stainless steel extractors will remove blackheads from pretty much any location on your face.
The typical 2-loop blackhead extractor is my favorite but the other circular options are amazing for isolating individual blackheads and coaxing them out, like shown here…
Note: Always, always remember to sanitize your blackhead removing tool before and after usage by dipping it in rubbing alcohol. Also, using the blackhead extraction tool is great fun – but we recommend you only use it around once or twice a week to give your skin some time to rest.
Blackhead Extraction Step #3. The Pore Clean-Up
You’ve emptied out your pores and now it’s time to clean them to prevent new blackheads from moving in.
A good way to clean your pores after a blackhead extraction is to simple disinfect the treated area with an all-natural astringent like witch hazel. Just dab it on those spots to disinfect any bacteria that might be lingering around and you’re all done!
Blackhead Extraction Tips
- Be Gentle. Yes, you really want to get the bugger out, but be gentle about it. Use a light, firm pressure to press down with the extraction tool.
- Some Battles are Better Fought on Different Grounds. If you’ve been pressing on a blackhead for awhile and it doesn’t seem to want to budge – let it win for now and attempt to budge it through other means, like through exfoliation and blackhead masks or with a blackhead-removing cleansing regimen. Don’t harshly force it out.
- Know When to Stop. This blackhead extraction tool can get seriously addicting. If you find the highlight of your day is settling down in the privacy of your bathroom to extract any and all blackheads from every nook and cranny of your face – it’s time to put down the tool and relax a little. We only say this for your sanity.