Blackheads Begone: A Guide

For many of us with oily or combination skin, blackheads are a cruel, unjust reality. They are truly to your face what the Kardashians are to popular culture: ALL over the place and totally uninvited. The origins of blackheads are innocuous enough. They’re simply caused by excess oils that have accumulated in a widened hair follicle. But, the upkeep and extractions to keep that oil and skin debris from forming its natural habitat in your pores can feel like a full-time job.
Plus, there are so many items on the market that promise to magically eradicate them, when anyone who’s afflicted can tell you that precious few actually do the job. So, we tested the best blackhead busters on the market and spoke to some skin-care experts to glean the goods on how to score the facial equivalent of a Roto Rooter. Quash those blackhead innards now with these skin-care essentials and tips.
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If Your Blackhead Distribution Is Like Ben-Day Dots
For a robust constellation of blackheads (lucky you!) it’s all about a manual extraction. Wallet-friendly Biore Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips adhere to that oil below the skin’s surface and yank it out in the most satisfying manner. The addition of menthol, witch hazel, and tea-tree oil yields a refreshing minty-on-your-face feeling without irritating even sensitive skin. The Korean brand, The Face Shop's Volcanic Clay Blackhead Aloe Nose Strips is also a great option and is less expensive than Biore’s. Cheapest of all? Try Carmindy’s tip that she shares in her book, Crazy Busy Beautiful: “Elmer's Glue is just as good as a pore strip for removing blackheads from your nose.” It doesn’t get more economical than that, friends. For a professional cleaning every month or so, try Dermalogica Academy’s MicroZone Face Mapping Treatment at just $20 for 20 minutes of extractions.
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If Your Blackheads Are More Of A ‘Dalmation-esque’ Situation
If physical removal isn’t quite what the doctor ordered and simply clearing out your clogged pores via some good-for-your-skin ingredients will do, check out Somme Institute Transport Pads. At $58, they aren’t cheap, but you can double your allotment by first cutting them in half with sterilized scissors. (A half-pad works fine). We’ve been using the entire Somme Institute 5-step regimen and have noticed a massive improvement in texture, clarity, and acne/blackhead reduction and it’s all thanks to the brand’s exclusive sytem, called Molecular Dispersion Technology (MDT5). Many skin-care ranges boast an impressive cocktail of vitamins, but they fail at epidermal absorption, while this one delivers them like Cliff Claven of “Cheers” fame. MDT5 is a compound of five vitamins (A, B3, B5, C, and E) attached to specific proteins customized by the brand to target skin-cell receptors. This allows the vitamins to penetrate the skin in their active forms at high concentrations, consequently creating a road to recovery for many conditions, from acne to pigmentation.
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Oil, dirt, and grime can cause a bevy of blackheads, especially 'round the nose. But, this face wash has skin-clearing ingredients like 1% salicylic acid to keep those unwanted dots away. The fruity scent, courtesy of raspberry and cranberry extracts, doesn't hurt either. Sound good? Wait 'til you hear this — the cleanser is free with this rebate, so you’ve seriously got nothing to lose. Well, except those blackheads.

Clearasil® Daily Clear® Refreshing Superfruit Wash, $5.24, available at Rite Aid.
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If Your Blackheads Resemble A West-Coast Starry Night
Charcoal is so good at absorbing toxins, it’s even administered internally in emergency rooms to patients who have ingested poisonous substances. So, it often makes a cameo in skin care and yet, it’s not always effective. GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment is the exception: Smooth a thin layer onto your face and you’ll see that it gets darker in the areas where you’re oilier, like the T-zone and on the blackheads on your nose. Once it’s dry (after about 15 minutes), you rinse it off to reveal glowy, unplugged pores. The best part? If a few pores are still clogged, the innards slide out when you apply just a small amount of pressure. Disgusting or awesome? To prevent future blackheads from invading your face party, Annet King, director of global education at Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, says to “apply your cleanser to damp skin and rinse well, especially around the hairline, as blackheads will result if makeup gets stuck here.”
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If Your Blackheads Are More Like The (Sort-Of) Visible Stars In An NYC Sky
If your blackhead dealings are mostly preventative, or you want to maintain the results of your recent facial, it’s all about using glycolic acid a few times a week. An alcohol-free serum like Renee Rouleau Glycolic Serum or Beauty Rx Daily Exfoliating Therapy Serum will keep the buggers at bay. Says dermatologist and Beauty Rx founder Dr. Neal Schultz, "Facials are a good way to unclog pores and treat blackheads. In addition, it is important to use an exfoliating product that can dissolve blackheads and stop them from forming in the first place, such as glycolic products or even retinoids. The facials alone may not stop the blackheads from coming.”
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