Here are my top 5 ways to get rid of blackheads on your face and maintain a clean, fresh professional appearance.
1. Chemical exfoliation
Chemical exfoliation is one of the slowest but most effective ways to get rid of blackheads on your face. It works by removing dead skin cells and excess sebum, gradually unblocking pores, which reduces the size and number of blackheads in your skin.
There are two main types of chemical exfoliants, AHA’s and BHA’s. AHA’s are more suitable for normal to dry skin; BHA’s are more suitable for normal to oily skin. Depending on your skin type and severity of blackheads, you can use them in a cleanser, toner and/or lotion.
If you stop using chemical exfoliation, your skin eventually return to its previous condition so don’t be tempted to stop using it once your skin has cleared.
2. Manual exfoliation
Manual exfoliation is more aggressive than chemical exfoliation and is more suitable for normal to dry skin. In normal to oily skin, it can cause increased oil production and inflamed acne.
One of the benefits of manual exfoliation is that it has an immediate effect on the appearance of blackheads but can damage and irritate the skin if used too often. Also, the exfoliant material should be fine and gentle. Large, coarse exfoliants are often used in less expensive brands and should be avoided as they will damage your skin.
3. Topical retinoids
Topical retinoids are very effective at getting rid of blackheads on your face but work in a different way to exfoliants. Because of this, they take longer to work and sometimes cause a breakout of inflamed acne within the first few weeks of treatment. Once this breakout has cleared, however, your skin will look much clearer than it did previously.
There are different types of retinoids available on the market but try to ensure that you use one that is suitable for your skin type. If you have dry skin, use a low strength cream. If you have oily skin, you should be able to tolerate a medium to high strength gel. Using the right type of retinoid will help to reduce the dryness and irritation that is common with this treatment.
Retinoids are a prescription medication in many countries so talk to your doctor or dermatologist about this treatment if exfoliation hasn’t worked for you. As with exfoliants, if you stop using retinoids, your skin will eventually return to its previous condition so don’t be tempted to stop using it once your skin has cleared unless advised to do so by your doctor or dermatologist.
Extraction is best performed by a professional as part of a facial treatment. Your skin must be cleaned and then steamed to open the pores before the blackheads are extracted by gently applying pressure with the fingers. Avoid using a blackhead removal tool (spoon) as these can damage the skin and make the problem worse.
Performing this treatment yourself is possible but difficult to do correctly so I recommend consulting a professional wherever possible. It is crucial that your skin, and everything in contact with it, is clean and free from bacteria to minimise the risk of infection. The pressure should also be applied in a careful, controlled manner so as not to damage or irritate the skin.
5. Professional treatments
Aside from extraction, there are various professional treatments that can be used to get rid of blackheads on your face quickly. These treatments can only be carried out periodically so are best used as an initial or booster treatment. One of the other methods described in this article should be used as a maintenance treatment.
Chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser peels are all examples of professional treatments that can produce excellent results in a matter of days. They all have minor side effects, however, so shouldn’t be performed immediately prior to an event where you need to look your best.
The type of treatment that’s best for you depends on your skin type, the severity of your blackheads and how much you want to spend. These should all be discussed with you during your consultation.