Everyone hates blackheads, and almost everyone gets them.
Below, we discuss how and why blackheads form on the skin and cover several treatment methods including blackhead tweezers, suction products, and face masks.
What are blackheads?
A blackhead, or “open comedo,” forms when the grit and oil inside a clogged pore/hair follicle is exposed to the air.
Blackheads are very common. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, blackheads are the most common “skin disorder” in the US.
Blackheads are typically seen on the face, but you can also get them on your shoulders, back, chest, neck, and arms.
The only difference between a blackhead and a whitehead, or “closed comedo,” is that the gunk inside a whitehead hasn’t been exposed to the air.
Blackheads are typically easier to remove because the clogged pore is already open. With whiteheads, the gunk is sometimes too deep inside the pore to effectively remove (more on whiteheads later).
It’s not a good idea to pop, scratch, or pick at acne with your fingers. This can introduce bacteria that will make your acne worse and cause scars to form.
Why do blackheads form?
A blackhead forms when the sebum (oil) in your pores combines with dead skin cells/dirt and gets plugged up. A few reasons you might be experiencing blackheads:
- You have oily skin
- Irritation caused by a buildup of dead skin cells
- Buildup of propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin
- Hormone changes including puberty and menstruation
- Birth control pills and other medications
- A diet high in sugar, carbs, and greasy foods
Blackheads don’t hurt. The only real “symptom” is how they look. Acne can make people feel very self-conscious, but it’s important to note that most people don’t seem to notice mild acne on others.
There are lots of ways to remove blackheads, including tweezers, DIY masks, metal extractor tools, and pore vacuums. Keep reading to learn more!
Blackhead tweezers reviews
Pulling out clogged pores with tweezers is usually my go-to tactic when it comes to blackheads, but I’ll admit that I don’t always do it the right way.
Tweezers have long been one of the best blackhead remover tools, but it’s important to do it right. Your first step is to purchase a product designed for blackhead removal.
As you can see from the picture at left, blackhead tweezers don’t look like normal tweezers. They have a curved tip designed to remove clogged pores and to prevent injury.
The tweezers in the picture are sold by Rapid Vitality (you can get them on Amazon for $9.99).
The tips are made with surgical steel to prevent infection. The tweezers are 5” long and feature “perfectly calibrated tension” for maximum effectiveness and easy use.
Users agree these tweezers are very effective when it comes to removing blackheads. They are also great for removing splinters and handling small batteries.
Make sure to sterilize the tweezers before use.
Blackhead tweezers are often sold in sets with other blackhead removal tools. Vena Beauty’s set includes six tools to remove blackheads and whiteheads. You can get it for just $15.99 on Amazon.
This article is mainly focused on blackhead removal, but it’s also important to know how to remove whiteheads. The tools in this kit effectively remove whiteheads while causing far less damage than if you were to squeeze with your fingers. Here’s how to do it:
- Use the tool with the needle tip to gently prick the surface of the whitehead
- Place the metal loop (on the tail end of the needle tool) over the whitehead and push down to squeeze out oil and grit
The tools in this kit are made with stainless steel and feature a grooved handle that is easy to hold when wet. Purchase includes a carrying case. Users agree they provide effective and painless blackhead/whitehead removal.
Notes on blackhead removal:
- Remember to steam the face before you start
- Sanitize all tools before and after use
- Make sure your hands are clean before you start
- Use a toner or lotion after blackhead removal to prevent redness and speed healing
- Do not apply makeup directly after removing blackheads.
Blackhead extractor vacuum: Molain Diamond 17
According to reviews, this is one of the best pore vacuums on the market. You can find it on Amazon for just $42.99. Molain also sells this product as an “opened box” for $27.94.
The Diamond 17 weighs just 160 grams, making it super portable and easy to use. The package includes 3 suction heads to remove blackheads, 3 diamond tips for microdermabrasion purposes (i.e. to exfoliate skin and minimize wrinkles and scars), and a travel bag.
The product’s double filtration device makes it easy to clean and prevents gunk from building up inside.
Diamond 17 is safe for all skin types. It is easy to use and there are no side effects. Users note that you must steam the skin thoroughly before you use it or it won’t work. You can do this with a face-steaming product or by putting a hot towel on your face.
Masks for blackhead removal
GARYOB mud mask with charcoal and bamboo
Apply a thick layer of this mask to freshly steamed skin. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes, or until completely dry. When you peel it off, the gunk inside your pores will stick to the mask. Make sure to peel it off slowly and carefully.
This black mask looks a little gross, but is definitely worth trying! You can get it for just $9.99 on Amazon.
- Cleans out pores
- Removes blackheads
- Helps to control oil production
- Removes stains/oil spots on face
- Improves circulation
- Leave your face feeling soft and fresh
Make sure to steam your pores before using the mask. Do not apply around lips and eyes. Use a toner or lotion afterwards to minimize redness. Dermatologists recommend using this mask no more than once per week.
DIY mask: honey and milk
Milk and honey are good for your skin. Honey has natural antibacterial properties; milk has high amounts of lactic acid, which keeps your skin soft. When the two are mixed together, they create an adhesive liquid that effectively removes grime from pores.
For this recipe, you will need:
- Pore strips (cotton strips)
- 1 tsp. organic raw honey
- 1 tsp. milk
Combine milk and honey in a small bowl. Heat for 5-10 seconds in the microwave; stir thoroughly. Make sure the mixture isn’t too hot. Apply a thin layer on affected areas. Using your fingers, apply the cotton strip and gently (but firmly) pat into place.
Wait 20 minutes before carefully peeling off the strip. Rinse the area with cold water and follow up with moisturizer.
As I wrote in a previous article, blue light therapy has also been shown to be effective in fighting acne. Click here to learn more.