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.