Blackheads Don't Stand A Chance Against These Masks

Like drama on a reality show, which can only ever escalate, there's only one way a blackhead can go... and that's up. Or, as New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, explains, blackheads must move up and out of the pore to be cleared. So what’s the best way to usher all this gunk out from under the surface of our complexions — or, better yet, help prevent it from building up in the first place?

According to Dr. Zeichner, deep-cleansing masks made with ingredients like clay and charcoal do the heavy lifting when it comes to pulling oil from the skin. "Adding a paste made from a few crushed aspirin and water to your mask may help reduce inflammation even further," he says. When these ingredients are paired with others that soften pores and exfoliate (such as fruit enzymes), they can also prime the skin for safe blackhead extraction.


“When done the right way, I am not totally opposed to DIYing extractions. Evenly-applied, gentle downward pressure can help express the blockage within the pore,” Dr. Zeichner says, but he adds this caveat: “Be careful not to push too hard, as this may traumatize the skin, and any breakage in the skin can potentially lead to an infection or even a scar.”

Of course, the best way to minimize blackheads is by keeping pores clean, which helps prevent those complexion-marring suckers from developing in the first place — and there may be no better time to start this line of preventative care than now. “While there’s no data to suggest that blackheads pop up more frequently in the summertime, we know that hot weather and humidity means more oil may be trapped on the surface of the skin,” Dr. Zeichner says. See the deep-cleaning masks we’ll be using to ward off excessive oil and blackheads all season long, ahead.

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The swirl of black and white charcoal masks doesn't just look perfectly Instagrammable in the jar: When blended together on the skin, they form a gentle treatment with a gel-like consistency that leaves our complexions feeling clean, with zero tightness or irritation.
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Can a single-use skin-care product live up to a $16 price point? Our experience with this one dashed any doubts: The gel mask comes in two sections for a custom fit that doesn’t slide around (and it's packaged with enough excess serum to cover our neck, decolletage, and arms). Thanks to powdered charcoal clay inside, our skin felt ultra clean after 15 minutes, and looked brighter and more supple right away. Somehow, it also managed to reduce redness, too, making this multitasker the perfect tool for prepping skin ahead of an event.
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You’d never guess just by looking at it, but this clay-based powder mixes into an aerated, spongy foam with the addition of a few drops of water. The formula — which includes activated coconut charcoal to assist in deep cleaning, and turmeric and marshmallow root to help kick inflammation — left our skin feeling clean, but hydrated.
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This charcoal mask smells like baby powder and comes in a variety of forms — including a handy Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal SnapMask Stick (which is packaged like deodorant and can be swiped directly on the face) and Yes To Tomatoes Mask Bar + Charcoal Brush (a tray of the mud-like mixture that comes bundled with a brush). But we're digging this single-use multi-masking kit, which provides exactly what we need when addressing a few blackheads on our nose along with other localized skin issues, like redness on the skin near our nose and mouth and dryness on our foreheads and chin.
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For those who don’t have time to chill for a full 15 minutes while a deep-cleaning mask does its thing, there's this bentonite- and kaolin clay-based option, which is made to absorb oil and soothe (thanks to aloe vera and licorice root) in just one minute.
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This mask may be priced like a drugstore find, but it performs like a luxury product. The ultra-smooth paste yields a little bit of tingle ten minutes in, and doesn’t transform into a cracked, scorched-earth finish that’s hard to rinse away.
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This fan-favorite, which is made with a mineral-rich clay sourced from Italy, is an excellent pick for sensitive skin. It has a silky, almost gel-like texture and doesn’t dry out skin after removal.
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Designed to be used as a cleanser, exfoliator, or deep-cleansing mask, this organic kaolin clay-based powder mixes into a pale yellow paste with water (hey there, turmeric!) and leaves our skin beaming after 15 minutes.
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Sure, the bright turquoise paste that comes out of this tube is pretty. But this mask’s real trick is its ability to deep clean and minimize the look of pores without drying skin. When rinsed with cold water as directed, the skin feels icy cold, an effect designed to mimic the cold-plunge aspect of sauna and hot-springs rituals — and to reduce inflammation.
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We love this mask for its ingredients alone: Activated charcoal and clay work with probiotics and fruit enzymes to help deep clean, lift dead skin cells, and brighten without irritation. But we were even more taken with its quick-change act: With a bit of water (or apple cider vinegar), the fine-ground powder turns to a completely smooth consistency that looks and feels more like a bubbling oxygen-infused mask.
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Some clay and charcoal masks are so thick, they feel like they’re suffocating your face. This light formula spiked with activated charcoal is not only comfortable while you wear it; it also makes skin feel soft, not tight.
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