There's nothing attractive about a blackhead rearing its ugly head. Whether you have one or a cluster to combat, it'll be much easier if you're armed with the proper products and tools. A blackhead forms when oil and sebum in the hair follicle reaches the surface of your skin. When air touches the area, a blackhead -- instead of a pimple -- develops. The good news is that there is a way to safely extract these black spots. But don't be naive about the situation: the only way to banish blackheads for good is to adhere to a strict skin-care regimen.
Wash your entire face with a cleanser that features acne-fighting ingredients. According to Boston-based dermatologist Emmy Graber, M.D., the best blackhead-fighting products include a cleanser with 2.5-percent benzoyl peroxide. Put a dollop on your fingertips, and gently rub it around your entire face. Leave the cleanser on for 15 seconds so it penetrate your pores.
Rinse your face well with warm water. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Refrain from rubbing, as this can scratch the skin and cause more breakouts.
Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl. Use your fingers to make a paste. Scoop a dollop onto your fingertips and apply over the blackhead areas. The apple cider vinegar has anti-bacterial properties that help clear out pores, while the baking soda is used as a natural exfoliator. Rinse well with warm water and pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
Scoop a generous amount of clay mask onto your fingertips. According to Connecticut-based dermatologist Alicia Zalka, a mask that contains kaolin will gently exfoliate and absorb oil. Smooth the mask onto your entire face, making sure to completely cover the forehead, nose and chin areas. Wait about five minutes until the mask begins to turn a lighter color, but is not completely dry. Rinse with warm water, and pat your face dry with a clean towel.
Place your stainless-steel extraction tool directly over a blackhead. Press down with gentle, steady pressure until the blackhead has been completely extracted. Refrain from pressing too hard; forcing the blackhead out can damage the skin.
Pour a small amount of toner onto a cotton ball. Swipe the cotton around your entire face, paying particular attention to the blackhead areas. This not only disinfects the pore you just opened, but it also wipes up traces of leftover cleanser and mask. In addition, toners containing vitamins C and E, witch hazel and salicylic and glycolic acids help to exfoliate and calm the skin simultaneously.
Apply a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide directly onto the area infected with blackheads. Allow the benzoyl peroxide to penetrate the skin for a few minutes.
Place a pea-sized amount of non-oily moisturizer onto your fingertips, and swipe the moisturizer over your entire face. Increase your protection by using a moisturizer that includes an SPF of 15 or higher.
Disinfect the extraction tool with rubbing alcohol after every use.
Visit a board-certified dermatologist if blackheads persist after a few months of using over-the-counter products and sticking to a strict skin-care routine.
These products can be extremely drying to the skin, especially if your skin is sensitive. Always follow your skin-care routine with an oil-free moisturizer, even if you have oily skin.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.