Blackheads, also known as comedones, are a mild form of acne caused by excess oil that clogs your pores. They are unsightly, but luckily, there are lots of ways to remove them and to prevent them from coming back. Following a good skin care regimen is the best way to keep your skin clear of blackheads, but you can also extract the blackheads you already have, as long as you are very careful not to cause further damage to your skin.
- Consider seeing a professional. Extracting blackheads at home can cause irritation, infection, scarring, and discoloration of the skin if you don’t do it correctly. For this reason, it may be a good idea for you to see a dermatologist or an esthetician to have stubborn blackheads professionally extracted.
- In addition to extractions, skin care professionals can also provide services such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels, which can reduce the appearance of blackheads.
- Some people have skin that is naturally more prone to inflammation and scarring. If this is the case for you, it is even more important that you do not attempt to manually extract blackheads by yourself.
Prepare your skin for extraction. If you choose to attempt extraction at home, no matter which method you choose, you will need to prepare your skin properly for the best results. You will want to make sure that your skin is clean and your pores are opened.
- Always wash your face thoroughly before attempting any kind of blackhead extraction. Make sure any makeup is completely removed from your skin.
- Use steam to open your pores. You can do this by applying a warm, wet washcloth to your face for several minutes, by placing your face over a vessel of hot water and covering your head with a towel to prevent the steam from escaping, or by taking a hot shower. If you plan on doing this often, you may want to purchase a facial steamer. Whichever method you choose, be very careful not to burn yourself!
Use your fingers. Once you have properly prepared your skin, you can attempt to extract a blackhead from your forehead by applying pressure with your fingers. The key to this technique is to be gentle. If you use excessive force when attempting to extract a blackhead, you may cause your skin to become inflamed, and you may even end up with a permanent scar, though this is rare.
- When using this method, apply pressure from opposite sides of the blackhead using your two index fingers. If your first attempt is unsuccessful, try moving your fingers to another position.
- Make sure your fingers are not touching the blackhead. You want to apply pressure around the blackhead, not on top of it.
- Wrap your fingers with a tissue to protect your skin. It is very important to not use your fingernails to extract a blackhead, as this can damage your skin and introduce bacteria into the pore.
- If the blackhead does not come out after two attempts using gentle pressure, it’s time to give up. If you really want to extract that stubborn blackhead, it’s best to see a skin care professional. You should also stop your attempt if your skin becomes red at all.
Use a comedone extractor tool. This is a small metal tool with a loop at the end that can be used to extract blackheads from your skin. Comedone extractors can be purchased at most beauty stores or pharmacies. These tools must be used with extreme caution in order to prevent scarring. If your tool comes with directions, follow them precisely, or ask your dermatologist to show you how to use it properly.
- Before using the comedone extractor tool, make sure it is sterilized. A good way to do this is to place it in boiling water for five minutes. Make sure to let it cool down before using it.
- Position the loophole of the comedone extractor carefully around your blackhead.
- Apply gentle pressure to one side of the comedone extractor at a time. If the blackhead does not come loose, do not use excessive force. Instead, try again in a few days or see a skin care professional for a professional extraction.
- Some comedone extractors have a lancet on one end, which is used by professionals to puncture the skin in order to remove whiteheads. This part of the tool is not necessary for the removal of blackheads because they are not covered by a layer of skin. Furthermore, it is extremely easy to damage your skin with this tool, so it is best to leave it to the professionals.
Use blackhead removal strips. These strips are widely available at beauty stores and pharmacies, and are made by a variety of manufacturers. They work by pulling the oil and bacteria from the pores in your forehead when you peel the adhesive strips away from your skin. They are much less likely to cause damage to your skin than other extraction methods, but they are also less likely to remove the entire blackhead, so they may not be a good long-term solution to your blackheads.
- Be sure to dampen your face before applying the strip. This allows it to fully adhere.
- Make sure to read the directions on the package and leave the strip on your skin for the specified amount of time in order to achieve the best possible results.
Treat your skin after extraction. After you have finished extracting blackheads from your forehead, it is important to clean your skin using an antibacterial cream or toner. This will help prevent infection and, hopefully, the recurrence of the blackheads.
- If these products are too harsh for your skin, you can also try apply tea tree oil after an extraction.
- While skin care products that contain acids are generally recommended to help prevent blackheads, it is best to avoid these products for 24 hours after you manually extract a blackhead.
Co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD
“THIS VIDEO MAY CONTAIN DERMATOLOGIC SURGICAL AND/OR PROCEDURAL CONTENT. THE CONTENT SEEN IN THIS VIDEO IS PROVIDED ONLY FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION PURPOSES AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT.“