a woman using a clay mask to remove blackheads

What causes blackheads and how can you prevent them?

If you’ve noticed little dark spots on your skin, especially in your T-zone, chances are you’ve got blackheads. Wondering what causes these pesky blemishes and how you can avoid getting them in the future? Read on…

First of all, what are blackheads?

Blackheads are a form of acne which you’ll be able to distinguish from regular spots by their dark colour.

Typically, what causes blackheads is a build-up of bacteria and dead skin in your pores. These things can react with oxygen in the air, leading the pores to appear a darker shade on the surface of the skin1.

How can I get rid of blackheads?

If blackheads are an issue for you, don’t despair! There are plenty of things you can do to help get rid of them, including:

Avoid picking at them

Much like you’re not supposed to pick or pop whiteheads, you should also avoid the temptation to touch blackheads. Buying pore strips or extraction tools may seem like a good idea to remove them quickly. However, you should use these with caution as they can also remove oil that your skin naturally needs to stay healthy2.

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate

The easiest way to clean out your pores if you have blackheads is to use a gentle exfoliating product. Don’t scrub too hard, though, as you might scar your skin. Instead, splash your face with warm water and rub it in gently. Next, remove the exfoliator with more warm water or a warm flannel.

When it comes to choosing skincare products which will effectively clear your skin of blackheads, be on the lookout for something that:

  • Doesn’t contain benzoyl peroxide – While this is a popular chemical in a lot of acne-fighting products, it’s not designed to combat blackheads3.

  • Is oil-free – Oily products are not a good match for skin that’s prone to blackheads. That’s because they’re caused by a build-up of sebum in the pores. Consequently, using an oily skincare product could just make them worse!

  • Has salicylic acid as a key ingredient – Salicylic acid is a go-to ingredient when it comes to dealing with acne-prone skin. It’ll help to break down the bacteria that are clogging your pores, whether that’s from dirt, oil or makeup4.

Avoiding blackheads from returning

If you’d rather banish blackheads forever, there are a few easy steps you can take to reduce the chances of them returning:

1. Use a clay mask regularly

Clay masks are great for tackling problem skin. They work by gently removing dirt and dead skin from the pores and nourishing the skin with numerous essential vitamins and minerals5.

2. Moisturise everyday

Think moisturiser will clog your pores? Think again. Moisturiser not only softens and hydrates the skin, but it can also protect it from the sun (if it’s got SPF in it) and harmful pollutants which may block your pores. Choose one that’s right for your skin type; if you’re prone to acne, an oil-free, non comedogenic one will be right for you6.

3. Regularly cleanse your skin

It’s a good idea to wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser that contains salicylic acid. This will keep your skin clean while allowing natural oils to remain in the pores7.

After some handy tips on how to achieve blemish-free skin? Have a read of our guide to getting clearer skin.

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Last updated: 26 March 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-get-rid-of-blackheads
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-get-rid-of-blackheads#pore-strips
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-get-rid-of-blackheads#benzoyl-peroxide
  4. https://www.allure.com/story/how-to-get-rid-blackheads
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-get-rid-of-blackheads#clay-mask
  6. https://www.allure.com/story/how-to-get-rid-blackheads
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-get-rid-of-blackheads#salicylic-acid
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