Blackheads (comedones) are a form of acne. Open pores over the skin are filled with dead skin cells and oil and choked up. These dead cells turn black when exposed to the air. Usually, people with oily skin are more prone to blackheads, but it can affect anyone. The cause of frequent acne may be hormonal imbalance and may need a consultation with your doctor.
There are many ways to get rid of blackheads apart from picking, squeezing, and popping blackheads. Some of the ingredients are effective in removing blackheads, which include:
- Salicylic acid: They are the most common skin cleansers available as over the counter (OTC) options. It breaks down dead skin cells and extra oil before they can clog the pores. Use products with salicylic acid to cleanse your face as advised by your dermatologist. Salicylic acid is useful in removing
- Daily dirt
Salicylic acid may not be suitable for everyone; hence, use it every other day rather than using it daily.
Depending on the intensity of breakout, you may need a 1-2% concentration of salicylic acid in the face wash.
- Retinoid products: Retinoid creams or lotions consist of vitamin A that helps to unclog the pores. Vitamin A helps in the generation of new skin cells. It’s always better to get retinoids with a dermatologist’s prescription, although you can buy it as an OTC product. Apply this medication in the evening, starting with three times a week, shifting gradually to daily use as your skin becomes used to it. Because retinoids increase skin’s sun sensitivity, they are best to apply before hitting the bed or while sitting at home. Sunscreen application when outdoors is a must when using retinoid creams.
Topical retinoids may sometime induce dryness and red skin
- Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA): Exfoliating with AHA and BHA can help to shed the surface of the skin, which helps in unblocking and cleansing pores. Regular exfoliation helps to remove excessive amounts of dead skin cells that can lead to clogged pores. AHA or BHA is generally not so harsh on the skin and can be useful in
- Smoothing fine lines and surface wrinkles.
- Improving skin texture and tone.
- Unblocking and cleansing pores.
- Improving skin condition in general.
Some products that would be useful in eradicating blackheads include:
- Skin brush: A skin brush can help you to get rid of the built-up dead skin cells that contribute to acne. It also helps in slowing down the aging process. You should moisturize the skin after using a skin brush. The dermatologist may help you to choose the correct skin brush based on your skin type and instruct you to use it correctly.
- Noncomedogenic makeup products: These products are oil-free, so they do not block the pores, which prevent the formation of blackheads. You may find cleansers, moisturizers, and makeup that are non-comedogenic.
- Chemical peels: Chemical peels are not the usual recommended treatment for blackheads. However, if you desire anti-aging benefits too, chemical peels are the best solution. You can get treatment with chemical peels at a dermatologist's office. Chemical peels consist of salicylic, glycolic, and retinoic acids. Because chemical peels mainly have acids, it can cause
- Skin discoloration.
- Masks: Chemical or charcoal masks help to draw out oil and other impurities. Use these masks once or twice a week after an exfoliating treatment.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil application on the skin has shown good results in reducing the blackheads. Sometimes, it may need dilution in a carrier oil before we use it.
How to prevent blackheads?
Try the following tips to prevent blackheads:
- Use alcohol-free skin products
- Wash your face after waking up, before going to bed, and after exercising
- Shampoo oily hair regularly
- Use sunscreen or sunblock before stepping out in the sun
- Change pillowcases often
- Limit the number of times you touch your face
- Apply nonabrasive cleansers on the skin gently
- Use water-based makeup products
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