Blackheads are a form of acne caused by buildup in pores. Normally, pores secrete sebum to moisturize and protect your skin, but a combination of excessive sebum production with accumulation of dead skin cells in the pores causes blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are open to the air, so the exposed sebum plug darkens or oxidizes. Keeping the pores as clean as possible is important, as dirt and bacteria can turn blackheads and whiteheads into acne pustules. Cleansing, exfoliating and bleaching blackheads minimizes their appearance.
Cleanse your skin with a mild cleanser to remove dirt and bacteria to which you are exposed in the atmosphere every day. Dirt and bacteria make blackheads worse.
Exfoliate the area of your face or body that has blackheads. Massage a paste of sugar and water -- which serves as a mild abrasive -- over the affected areas on your skin to remove the oxidized surfaces of the blackheads. Rinse thoroughly to remove the sugar.
Bleach your pores with hydrogen peroxide. Use cotton balls to dab a little hydrogen peroxide on your pores after exfoliating. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach, and regular use can bleach your eyebrows or hairline if you are not careful.
Moisturize while your face is still damp. Massage 1 tsp. of olive, apricot kernel, avocado or jojoba oil over your face. Oil is an emollient, which means it smooths and protects your skin by helping to retain moisture. Moist, plump skin cells make the pores somewhat smaller, reducing the size of the sebum plug exposed to the air.
Combine 1 tbsp. of gelatin with 1 tbsp. of milk in a microwave-safe bowl to begin making a homemade pore strip. Microwave for 10 seconds to dissolve the gelatin. Stir to combine and test the temperature. When the mixture is warm but not hot, use a cosmetics brush to paint it onto your nose and other areas that have blackheads. Wash your brush immediately. Allow the gelatin mixture on your skin to dry completely, and then peel it off. Use your homemade pore strip two or three times a week.
If you don't want to use hydrogen peroxide, dab lemon juice onto your pores instead. Use salt instead of sugar if you prefer, although salt can be drying. Sugar is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to your skin and is a source of alpha hydroxy acid, which softens the sebum plugs in your pores.
Avoid over-exfoliating your skin. If you rub so long and hard that your skin becomes irritated, you remove too much of the stratum corneum, the layer of bonded, dead skin cells that helps to prevent loss of moisture and infection.