I don’t know about you, but blackheads are the bane of my existence. (At least when it comes to tricking people into thinking I have perfect skin.) From big to small, and all of the ones in between, they are overly stubborn, although there are tons of products on the market promising to create the annoying black dots vanish, I have never had much luck. (And should you have, pray to tell.)
That said, the one and only thing which has helped them look and incidence of my blackheads are extraction-heavy facials from my favorite star esthetician, Renée Rouleau. Based in Austin, Texas, Rouleau comes around L.A. every so often to appeal to her celebrity and beauty business acquaintances and has nursed my acne-prone skin back to apparent, glowy, blackhead-free health more often than I could count. So who better to ask all of my burning blackhead-related questions?
As Rouleau explained to me, blackheads are basically a fact of life, and nearly everybody can experience them at some point or another. Essentially, they’re inevitable, but there is definitely some strategy (and hope!) When it comes to handling and treating them. And yes, the sole way to eliminate them is to physically extract them.
“Whether you eliminate them yourself or have a specialist facial, blackheads have to be manually extracted,” explains Rouleau. “There’s no magical mask or pore strip that will easily lift them out, and while certain products will help the pores from clogging again, they won’t actively clear out a pore that’s already clogged.”
In accordance with Rouleau, the best way to manage blackheads is to opt for routine facials and extractions–that keeps the pores clean and clear. Nevertheless, if you don’t have the time or funds for that kind of qualified upkeep, fear not! Ahead, I asked Rouleau everything you have ever wanted to understand about blackheads–what they are, what causes them, and yes, even how to remove them in the home. Keep scrolling!
According to Rouleau, blackheads are big, open pores containing oil that has oxidized from the atmosphere and causing it to turn black. “Unlike what most people think, blackheads aren’t trapped’ dirt;’ it is merely oxidized oil trapped on your pore. You can eliminate the blackhead by extracting it, but once the oil fills back up in the pore, then the atmosphere will cause the oil to darken once more.” So unfortunately blackheads can become a sort of a vicious cycle, which means extractions and care is critical.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads at Home
“Throughout a professional facial, an esthetician will boost the warmth of their skin by applying warm steam into the skin and executing a massage to’melt’ the eucalyptus oil inside the pores to make for simpler extractions,” Rouleau tells me. “If the skin is properly prepared, extractions shouldn’t leave skin with significant red marks. A cooling, post-extraction, helps calm skin and lessen any visible redness.”
The good news? You may actually create an identical encounter at home. (Though if your blackheads are really bothering you, you have a lot of these, or you’re only straight-up intimidated, it might not be a bad idea to see a pro, even if it’s only the first couple of times.) Follow the steps below for Rouleau’s at-home extraction program –you’ll need plastic wrap, two washcloths, facial tissue, heavy moisturizer, and a blackhead extractor instrument (or your fingers). Oh, and make sure that you remove your blackheads immediately after a shower, because the skin temperature was raised, which softens the hardened oil within the pore, making for simpler extractions.
Step 1: Apply a Thick & Creamy Moisturizer
“After showering, use a thin coating of the heaviest moisturizer that you have available to the area you are wanting to extract,” Rouleau educates. “By employing a rich moisturizer, you’ll create a temporary occlusive seal to maintain the heat trapped inside the skin, which for extractions purposes, is needed.”
“Next, cover the region with cellophane/plastic wrap, and apply the first hot, damp washcloth. Then get the second washcloth fine and hot, and use it on another one. The best one will help the one under (that is touching the skin) to keep its heat more. Then, remove the plastic and keep skin moist by using a little more moisturizer, as more than likely, it will have wiped off on to the washcloth.”
Step 3: If You Are Using Your Fingers…
“If you are using your palms (versus a blackhead extraction instrument )then wrap tissue across each forefinger and gently squeeze to remove blackheads or clogged pores. The goal with squeezing would be to avoid positioning the fingers too close as this will not enable the blackhead to come out. Widen them a little so the blackhead will be pulled easier from the deeper level of the skin.
“To prevent making squeeze marks, proceed simple, and be sure to relocate the position of your fingers. By way of instance, place palms at 3:00 and 9:00 after which 5:00 then 10:00, 2:00, and 7:00. My general rule is…three strikes and you’re out. Meaning, if it doesn’t come out after three attempts, don’t do it, or you’ll risk damaging the skin or possibly breaking up a capillary.”
Step 3: If You’re Using an Extraction Tool…
If you are using a tool versus your fingers, step three will proceed as follows. “Hold the tweezers in 1 hand, and place the open strategies on both sides of this blackhead you plan to extract. Together with the tweezer body perpendicular to the region to be extracted (curved part of tips in contact with skin) and employing the curved, curved ends, gently press on every side of the blackhead until it starts to release. Employ slow, even pressure, and once you’re able to, gently pinch the tweezers and pull the blackhead from the skin to pull it. In case the blackhead does not release easily, don’t continue to try the extraction. We are going for what I like to call’responsible squeezing.'”
Since Rouleau reiterates to me, even once blackheads are extracted, it’s easy for them to creep back up again–and it can happen quickly. Therefore, keeping them under control is all about vigilance and normal skincare maintenance; notice that certain kinds of products and ingredients are going to be a lot more beneficial to you than others.
For example, Rouleau does not recommend pore strips (as satisfying and tempting as they may seem) because when there’s a blackhead–aka congestion of hardened oil–it actually needs to be lightly extracted manually, and a strip just won’t be as effective as the industry wants us to think. Below, we’re outlining the strategic products and ingredients which will help slow down or lessen the appearance of blackheads.
“Once the pores are clean, it’s important to integrate products into your routine that utilize acids, such as AHAs and BHAs, to consume into the pores and keep them washed out, as well as preventing the oil out of filling back up so quickly,” Rouleau informs me.
Everything out of acid-containing cleansers to serums to at-home lotions are fair game, but only heed Rouleau’s information and make certain the products you’re choosing are mild and don’t comprise SD alcohol 40 or denatured alcohol. Another important suggestion? Steer clear of acid-based goods for at least 24 hours following professional or DIY manual extractions.
After that 24-hour window, nevertheless, choose from my favorite three formulas below! (I have been hooked on Rouleau’s lineup for almost a year now and have noticed a dramatic reduction in the rate and seriousness of my blackheads.)
Vitamin C + E Products–AKA Antioxidants
Preventing the oxidation procedure from the get-go is an integral portion of reducing the appearance of blackheads. “Antioxidants used in skin care products have many benefits, such as encouraging collagen production, lightening discoloration, and slowing down the production of skin-damaging free radicals, but one unexpected advantage is their ability to stop oil from oxidizing, thus the title antioxidants, meaning’ antioxidation,'” shares Rouleau. “I can’t talk for many antioxidant products, but I can tell you for sure that our Vitamin C & Treatment utilizes three kinds of stable, no-sting vitamin C, making this product not just acceptable for preventing blackheads however also a fantastic option for sensitive skin too.”