Blackheads can be a confidence-squasher, but how do you remove them? Attempt self-extraction? Are over-the-counter products an option? When dealing with blackheads, it’s a good idea to learn about the top causes of blackheads and the best ways to remove them.


Blackheads pop up on your face when your pores become clogged with material like oil, dirt, and dead skin. Unlike whiteheads, blackheads don’t close over, which is why blackheads are also called open comedones. Since blackheads are open pores, the material inside gets exposed to oxygen, which causes the material inside to go through a reaction called oxidation. This reaction is what gives blackheads their dark color.

The material that clogs your pores can come from a variety of places. If you have naturally oily skin, too much sebum (an oily material that helps hydrate your skin) may be to blame for your blackheads. If you work out or sweat excessively, sweat and dirt can get into your pores and lead to blackheads. Products that you use every day, such as sunscreen, makeup, and even hair products, can leave a pore-clogging residue on your skin.


There are many different ways to remove blackheads, but some of them aren’t the best for your skin. For example, when you try to self-extract your blackheads by squeezing them with your fingers, you can end up pushing the clogged debris deeper into the pore. This can release more bacteria into your pores that can lead to even more blackheads and possibly scarring.

There are two ways to safely and instantly remove blackheads: pore strips or professional extractions. Using a cleanser with salicylic acid is a slower but still effective way to get rid of blackheads. Lastly, medications prescribed by a dermatologist can also help remove blackheads over time. Here are some of the best ways to remove blackheads without damaging your skin:

  • Pore strips
  • Cleansers with salicylic acid
  • Professional extractions
  • Prescribed medications


Pore strips are the easiest method as they can instantly remove blackheads from your skin. Compared to other removal methods, pore strips are an easy removal method that you can do in the comfort of your own home. Skincare experts will agree that this is a much safer way to remove blackheads than using your fingers to try and extract them. The good news is that pore strips are available over the counter.

When searching for a pore strip, do your homework because not all pore strips are made the same. Look for pore strips that use the power of cationic ions to bind to blackheads and not skin. This kind of pore strip uses positively charged ions to bind to negatively charged blackheads, dirt, and oil, working like a magnet to effectively and safely remove deep down blackheads. In addition to instantly removing your blackheads, with weekly use of pore strips, your pores will also appear visibly smaller.


Salicylic acid is a top ingredient in over-the-counter blackhead treatments because it goes deep into your pores to dissolve blackhead-causing debris. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (or BHA), which helps to aid exfoliation to break down dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and deep inside the pores. The benefits of salicylic acid do not happen overnight. For the most effective results, you should use a cleanser with salicylic acid as part of your regular skincare routine.


Estheticians and dermatologists can perform manual pore extractions to remove severe or excessive blackheads. During a consultation, licensed professionals can also give you individualized advice for your personal skincare needs.


Over-the-counter treatments like cleansers and toners with salicylic acid may not work with severe skin conditions. In this case, a dermatologist can prescribe stronger medications to help prevent pore plugs from forming. Prescription medications typically contain AHAs, BHAs, retinoids or vitamin A and can help new and healthy skin cells to develop.


Finding the right skincare routine can take time, depending on your unique skin. Use these tips as a guide to figure out how best to help remove blackheads from your skin.

  1. If you wear makeup or sunscreen, use a cleansing cloth to remove products from your face.

  2. Cleanse your skin daily with a salicylic acid cleanser.

  3. After cleansing, apply toner to refine pores and deep clean your skin.

  4. Once a week, use a pore strip to remove deep down dirt, oil, and blackheads.

  5. Gently scrub your skin with a gentle facial scrub 2-3 times a week to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and excess oil from your skin.

  6. Treat your skin to a facial mask once a week to cleanse away impurities and excess oil that can cause blackheads.


  • Don’t pick or squeeze your pores to remove blackheads. This can cause even more problems!

  • Pore strips and professional extractions are the only way to remove blackheads instantly. Use cleansers with salicylic acid daily.

  • Use an exfoliating scrub and facial mask at least once a week to help remove dead skin cells and excess oil from your face.

  • Talk to your dermatologist about prescribed medications for more severe blackheads.

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