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In order to banish blackheads, you first need to know how they even happen in the first place. Blackheads are just an oxidized mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores — the exposure to air is what causes them to oxidize and turn black. Having them is not a sign that you’re too dirty, so don’t cause more damage by being rough with your skin and scrubbing really hard. 

Blackhead diagram

If someone has a lot of blackheads (or open comedones), you can feel it—the skin is rough, scratchy, and bumpy. Of course, dermatologists can help, but if you want to face it on your own, try the following treatments:

1. DIY steam treatment

Giving yourself a facial steam at home is simple and requires no specialized equipment. A steamer and blackhead extraction tool is all you need. There’s a reason why it is used so much in professional facials! Here’s the complete step-by-step DIY steam guide.

2. Use a clay mask to minimize oil

Girl applying face mask

Using an oil-absorbing clay mask once or twice a week for 10 to 15 minutes helps control the amount of oil that sits on your skin. And the less oil you have on the surface, the less your pores will be clogged, and the fewer blackheads you’ll see. 

Bentonite clay is a powerful detoxifier. When mixed with water and applied to the skin, it acts like a magnet, drawing impurities (blackheads) out of pores. Charcoal masks are another alternative to clay. Choose a formula that has clay and plenty of moisturizing ingredients.

Products to try:

• Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Bentonite Clay. Buy It: $10.95, amazon.com; INR 800, amazon.in


• L’Oréal Paris Charcoal Pure-Clay Mask. Buy It: $8.54, amazon.com; INR 750, nykaa.com

• Tjori Blemish Fighting Bentonite Clay. Buy It: INR 300, nykaa.com

3. Try tea tree oil

If you’ve heard that this essential oil could help treat acne, you’ve heard right. Its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a savior for unblocking sebaceous glands, combating breakouts, and banishing blackheads simultaneously. 

Just 3 simple ingredients is all you need to make a DIY Tea Tree Oil Face Toner to remove any remaining bits of oil, dirt and debris that your cleanser couldn’t catch, and to nourish and hydrate the skin. 

Tea Tree Oil, apple cider vinegar Toner DIY

Fill a small spray bottle halfway up with raw, organic apple cider vinegar, fill remainder of the bottle with filtered water and then add in 5-6 drops of tea tree oil. Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.

To use, spray the toner directly onto cleansed face (be careful of your eyes) or use a cotton pad. Follow up with a moisturizer.

Products to try:

• Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Buy It: $18.94, amazon.com; INR 650, amazon.in


• The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil. Buy It: $6.65, amazon.com; INR 645, nykaa.com

4. Slather on salicylic acid

Looking for a long-term solution for how to get rid of blackheads? Salicylic acid works to dissolve gunk that’s stuck in pores. Luckily, you don’t need a prescription to reap its blackhead-eradicating benefits. There are plenty of over-the-counter products. The longer the exposure to the active ingredient, the better it will work.

You can either apply gel, lotion or cream containing salicylic acid every night before bed, or exfoliate with an oil-free scrub that contains salicylic acid after steaming the face. 

Products to try:

• Biore Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser. Buy It: $4.50, amazon.com

• Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Facial Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid. Buy It: $6.67, amazon.com

• Neutrogena Deep Clean blackhead eliminating scrub. Buy It: INR 140, nykaa.com

• Globus Remedies Glycolic Acid And Salicylic Acid Face Wash. Buy It: INR 145, nykaa.com

5. Reach for a topical retinoid

Retinoids are the best topical treatment to combat blackheads and the appearance of pores, as they increase cellular turnover resulting in newer skin and tighter pores. 

Be mindful that retinoids come in different strengths and you’ll want to ease into them (they can be very drying and cause redness) by applying it at night. 

If a retinoid is too drying, try applying it over moisturizer (or even between layers of moisturizer). Also, choose non-comedogenic moisturizers only so they won’t clog the pores. Here’s a complete guide on how to use a retinoid/retinol effectively.

Products to try:

• The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion. Buy It: $9.80, sephora.com

• Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster. Buy It: $52, paulaschoice.com

• St.Botanica Retinol 2.5% + Vitamin E & Hyaluronic Acid. Buy It: INR 1500, nykaa.com

NOTE

» It all starts with prevention. Start applying sunscreen daily. It’s a long-term investment. You will not see the effects of sun exposure immediately, but chronic sun exposure over years may lead to large pores, blackheads, and/or whiteheads. 

» If you’re still not seeing progress after using your new at-home regimen for a month  and a half, make an appointment with your dermatologist.

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