Blackheads are no fun at all. They look unpleasant and cause embarrassment for those who wear them, and they are a sign of potentially worse things to come, so it’s important to understand what they are and how to take care of them.
Prevention is just as important as removal when it comes to blackheads.
We will cover what these little devils are, why they happen, where they happen most, how to remove them, and how to prevent them from ever coming back without expensive over-the-counter treatments.
What Are Blackheads?
If you’re a teenager, or ever were one, you have probably experienced blackheads.
These unpleasant members of the mild acne family are characterized as dark and small lesions on the skin, typically on the face or neck.
Blackheads contain oxidized versions of melanin, which is the dark pigment made by skin cells when they come into contact with direct sunlight.
Most often we are told that blackheads contain dirt and toxins rather than simple melanin, which is a common myth.
Blackheads occur when pores in the skin are plugged with dead skin cells.
When this plugging occurs, the dead skin cells oxidize and turn black, which is how blackheads got their name.
These lesions are typically visible on the surface of the skin, which makes them all the more unpleasant to live with.
Blackheads are not inflammatory like other acne lesions, because they are not infected.
Because of this lack of inflammation, they do not typically cause pain or discomfort like other pimples do.
They do, however, have a slightly raised texture, although they are still flatter than pimples.
What Causes Blackheads?
Although we know that blackheads are oxidized melanin, we don’t know what makes us susceptible to these ugly pore blockers.
There are several factors that can make a person more susceptible to blackheads than someone else. Those factors include the following:
- Hormonal changes (particularly additional androgen production)
- Overproduction of skin cells
- Blocking pores with cosmetics or clothing
- Sweating heavily
- Shaving or waxing
- High humidity
- Grease or oil on skin or in the air around skin
- Health conditions like PCOS and PMS
- Certain medications
- Steroid-based drugs
Poor hygiene does not actually cause blackheads, as is a popular belief.
In fact, excessive scrubbing and pinching in an attempt to remove them can make blackheads worse, not better.
How To Get Rid Of Blackheads
There are plenty of blackhead removal techniques commercially available to you if you’re willing to invest in them.
However, some are dangerous or plain ineffective, so do your research.
Most dermatologists will tell you that that acne is a naturally occurring thing, and there isn’t a cure.
But there are some things you can do at home that will help you to rid yourself of the embarrassing look and feel of blackheads and other pimples without the invasiveness of extractions and pore vacuums.
Although there are some products on the market that may work for you, like pore strips, clay masks, and prescription strength retinoid products, our focus today is going to be on home remedies for blackhead relief.
DIY blackhead removal is typically much cheaper and just as effective as over-the-counter treatments.
DIY Activated Charcoal Blackhead Removing Mask
One way to remove blackheads is to create a do it yourself mask using products you probably already have at home.
This particular mask will also help to tighten pores to keep blackheads at bay in the future while removing current problems at the same time.
Gather one teaspoon each of activated charcoal powder (available at your local grocery store or pharmacy) and unflavored gelatin, as well as one tablespoon of distilled water.
Set up a double boiler on your stove, keeping it on low heat. Add the activated charcoal powder, followed by the unflavored gelatin to the top container.
Add in the distilled water and blend using a wooden spatula or cleaned and sanitized Popsicle stick. Continue to blend until the dried ingredients are completely dissolved in the water.
Remove the mixture from the double boiler using a hot mitt to avoid burns. Then, let the mix cool slightly before applying it to the areas of your skin most prone to blackheads (typically the nose and chin). Keep the mask on for ten to fifteen minutes for best results.
After your preferred duration, peel the mask of slowly. You should notice the mask pulling our blackheads as it comes off of your face. Once you have removed the mask, you should wash and pat dry your face before applying a light, oil-free moisturizer.
Baking Soda For Blackhead Removal
Baking soda is one of the most versatile products in your cabinet or pantry.
It does everything from help your baked goods come out beautifully to keep your refrigerator fresh, to clean your skin.
Its antiseptic quality is what makes it work so well for your skin. It’s a mild exfoliant and neutralizer in one.
Baking soda will not only help to get rid of the blackheads you are currently experiencing, it will also protect your against future blackheads by reducing oils, balancing your pH levels, and helping to close pores.
In a glass or ceramic bowl, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with water to form a paste. The amount of water is up to your discretion, but typically start with a teaspoon and move up as needed to get your desired texture.
Apply the paste to your face in areas commonly troubled by blackheads and allow the paste to dry there. The drying process typically takes around ten minutes.
Rinse your face with lukewarm water to remove the mask. Do not use a washcloth for this purpose as it may over exfoliate and make blackheads worse or cause damage to pores. After the entire mask is removed, spritz your face in cool water to help close pores.
Cinnamon Mask For Blackhead Prevention
Cinnamon is another nearly magic ingredient that you likely already have sitting in your pantry or spice rack.
The spice is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory by nature, in addition to being incredibly aromatic, which makes it a popular ingredient in the DIY game.
In addition to helping remove blackheads, cinnamon helps to eliminate flaky skin and general acne, as well as all over the body for a glowing complexion and exceptionally smooth skin.
The remedy we describe below should be used daily for best results, and is perfectly safe to be used that often.
Mix one-part cinnamon (preferably organic) with two parts honey to form a paste.
Apply the paste to your skin in a thin layer. You can apply the paste all over your face or just on areas where blackheads are prominent, whichever you prefer.
Leave the paste on your face for around fifteen minutes to let it work its magic, but don’t leave it on too long to prevent further clogs or hardening.
Wash off of your face using a natural, non-oil-based cleanser. Again, do not use a washcloth for help as it may over exfoliate and cause more damage than good.
DIY Lemon Juice Face Wash
Our final home remedy for blackheads involves the use of lemon juice.
Many products that you will find on the market use acids to help remove and reduce the frequency of blackheads, but these acids are often damaging or irritating to skin.
Utilizing the natural acids in lemon juice achieves similar results without irritation.
In addition to unclogging pores and helping to reduce the frequency and severity of blackheads, lemon juice helps to remove dead skin.
It also contains vitamin C which is an antioxidant that will stimulate collagen to improve skin health and reduce the risk of acne scars.
Wash your face with a gentle and natural cleanser; non-oil based is always preferred.
Squeeze one teaspoon of juice fresh from a lemon into a small bowl, utilize the rest of the juice however you would like, maybe put it in your hair for DIY highlights?
Dip a clean cotton ball into the lemon juice and dab it onto existing blackheads, then allow it to dry for a minimum of ten minutes.
Once the juice has dried on your face, gently rinse your face with lukewarm water to remove the juice. You can leave the juice on overnight if you prefer, but that is not necessary. Repeat this process daily for best results.
Blackheads are no fun, but they are super simple to remove with just items you probably already have on hand.
If you utilize one or more of the tricks we’ve shown you above, you will be able to keep your face free and clear of the ugly blackheads for a long time.
Remember, blackheads are caused by oxidized melanin, not dirt in your pores, so proper hygiene will not necessarily eliminate them or keep them away.
Keeping your pores as small as possible, and removing blackheads as they show up are the two best ways to keep your face looking its best all of the time.