If you have oily or blemish-prone skin, there’s a good chance you’ve dealt with blackheads. Blackheads on the nose and chin are very common, and they can affect anybody, from teenagers to skincare savvy adults. What’s more: They can be stubborn, and where there’s one blackhead, there are usually several.
Thankfully, as far as blemishes are concerned, blackheads are one of the easier types of blemishes to get under control. Preventing and treating blackheads require following a dedicated skincare routine and treating blemishes when they appear.
Ahead, we’ll give you the rundown on what blackheads are and why they develop. Plus, learn how to get rid of blackheads (or at least reduce their appearance) with effective Kiehl’s skincare products for blemish-prone skin. Read on for everything you need to know for calmer, clearer-looking skin.
What Are Blackheads and What Causes Them
Blackheads are a mild type of blemish that develops when dead skin cells and oil build up within pores. The contents of the clogged pores darken, or oxidize, when exposed to the air, making the blemish look like a black or brown speck on the skin.I Because the color of blackheads comes from oxidation (not dirt), blackheads can only occur within open pores; oil and bacteria trapped within closed pores are known as whiteheads. Blackheads typically develop on the face’s oiliest areas, including the forehead, nose, and chin (otherwise known as the T-zone).
Several factors can make you more susceptible to blackheads. For example, your skin type plays a huge role in how likely you are to develop blackheads. Those with oily skin are more prone to developing blemishes because their skin produces more pore-clogging sebum. Other factors that can cause or worsen blackheads include genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors, including sun exposure.II,III
Can You Prevent Blackheads?
Prevention is a tricky word in skincare because it’s absolute. The reality is, there is no way to definitively prevent any type of skin concern. You can, however, take steps to reduce the risk factors. Read on for our top tips, but keep in mind these aren’t one-and-done treatments; they are steps you should incorporate into your skincare routine regularly to help prevent blackheads on the face.
How To Reduce The Risk of Blackheads Tip #1: Use a Mask To Absorb Excess Oil
Skincare products designed to reduce oil on the face can help keep clogged pores, and therefore blackheads, at bay. We recommend Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask, which contains absorbent Amazonian white clay. This top-selling mask draws out impurities, such as dirt and sebum, from within the pores. In fact, it’s clinically demonstrated to reduce the skin’s surface oil production by 46.7 percent in just one use.* Over time, it also helps refine skin texture and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores
How To Reduce The Risk of Blackheads Tip #2: Balance Your Skin With Toner
Using a toner can help keep skin balanced and hydrated. For oily or blemish-prone skin, we recommend Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion. This unique formula (first formulated in 1964) features a blend of sodium PCA, menthol, and refreshing camphor. It helps balance and soothe oily skin after cleansing. The toner can be used as a spot treatment, but we recommend applying it all over oily areas to help prevent blackheads and keep the skin refreshed and healthy-looking.
How To Reduce The Risk of Blackheads Tip #3: Use Non-Comedogenic Products
For the unfamiliar, “non-comedogenic” means a product won’t clog pores. If you have oily or blemish-prone skin, it’s a good idea to avoid heavy treatments or topical oils that aren’t explicitly labeled non-comedogenic to avoid clogging pores and worsening breakouts.V That said, it’s still crucial to moisturize in order to keep your skin’s moisture barrier healthy and functioning at its best.
We recommend using an oil-free moisturizer, such as Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream. This oil-free cream contains a blend of effective, non-comedogenic ingredients, including glacial glycoprotein and desert plant extract. The formula deeply hydrates the skin with lasting, 24-hour hydration. It has a lightweight feel and absorbs quickly for a hydrated, refreshed appearance.
How Do You Get Rid Of Blackheads?
If you have acne-prone skin, you’ve likely considered squeezing blackheads to remove them. Don’t. Popping blackheads—or any other type of blemish, for that matter—can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and lead to stubborn post-blemish marks and scars.VI Instead, follow our tips below to help clear blackheads when they occur (and help stop more from forming).
How To Get Rid of Blackheads Tip #1: Exfoliate All Over
Exfoliating helps clear the skin of dead skin cells and other debris, which results in smoother skin and fewer clogged pores. We recommend reaching for a product containing a chemical exfoliant such as salicylic acid (a type of beta-hydroxy acid). Salicylic acid can dissolve in oil, so it’s very effective at clearing clogged pores.IV
You’ll find this powerful ingredient in Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment. The foaming daily face wash helps thoroughly cleanse pores and reduce the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads. With regular use, it also helps prevent new blemishes from forming.
How To Get Rid of Blackheads Tip #2: Hydrate Your Skin
If your skin is naturally oily, you may be hesitant to moisturize out of fear that doing so will only exacerbate the problem. But in reality, the opposite is true. Research shows that skin produces more oil when it’s dry, likely in an attempt to keep the skin’s natural moisture barrier hydrated.VII Moisturizing regularly can help reduce the dryness leading to excess oil production. Of course, it’s crucial to find the right moisturizer for your skin type to avoid further breakouts or irritation.
We recommend Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion to help clear blackheads and prevent new ones from forming. This daily moisturizer features niacinamide (a.k.a. vitamin B3), aloe vera, and 1.5% salicylic acid. Use it daily to help visibly reduce blemishes and improve skin texture for clearer, more even-looking skin.
How To Get Rid of Blackheads Tip #3: Treat Problem Areas
For stubborn blackheads or to treat larger problem areas, reach for a spot treatment, such as Blue Herbal Spot Treatment. This effective formula contains salicylic acid, frankincense, and ginger root extract. The potent spot treatment targets blemish-prone areas and helps minimize active breakouts, including blackheads and whiteheads. It’s our go-to treatment for diminishing blackheads and promoting clearer, more comfortable skin.
*Based on results two hours after use vs. untreated skin.
I. .”Acne: Signs and Symptoms.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/symptoms
II. “Acne: Who Gets and Causes.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/acne-causes
III. “Is Your Workout Causing Your Acne?” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/workouts
IV. Arif, Tasleem. “Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review.” Clinical, cosmetic, and investigational dermatology vol. 8 455-61. 26 Aug. 2015, doi:10.2147/CCID.S84765
V. “Acne: Overview.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/overview
VI. “Acne: Overview.” Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. 2016.
VII. “Moisturizer: Why You May Need It If You Have Acne.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/moisturizer