Acne and blackheads affect an estimated 17 million men and women in the United States, according to Brown University. Blackheads, or open comedones, occur when a combination of oil, dirt, skin cells and bacteria plugs the pores in your skin. When these plugs make contact with the air, they oxidize, harden and turn black. Blackheads commonly affect the face, neck, back and shoulders, and may become inflamed or scar if left untreated. You can safely remove blackheads with the facial wax contained in many over-the-counter hair removal waxing kits.
Wash the affected area with warm water and a mild cleanser to remove any oil and dirt. Wax will not stick to oily or dirty skin.
Boil water in a large pot. Hold your head about 6 inches from the steam for several minutes. The steam will open your pores and make your blackheads easier to remove. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
Heat the wax according to the manufacturer's directions on the packaging. Most home waxing kits are designed for heating in the microwave.
Apply the heated wax to the affected skin using the enclosed applicator. If you did not receive an applicator with your wax, you can smooth the wax over your skin with a clean Popsicle stick. Use smooth, gentle strokes to apply the wax.
Lay the paper strip included with your waxing kit against the wax. Press down firmly, and then rub your fingers back and forth across the strip. If paper strips did not come with your home waxing kit, use a piece of muslin instead. Allow the wax to cool for at least one minute before removing the strip.
Pull the strip away from your skin by grabbing one end of the strip with your thumb and fingers. Work quickly to reduce pain and to ensure all of the wax is removed from your skin. Your blackheads should dislodge from your pores as the wax is pulled away.
Apply aloe or a moisturizing lotion to your skin to soothe any discomfort and reduce skin irritation. Avoid using oil-based products, as these contribute to clogged pores and can increase your chance of developing new blackheads.
If you are not comfortable using a home waxing kit to remove your blackheads, many salons offer this service during hair removal procedures.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."