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How to get rid of blackheads at home

Squeezing blackheads can lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation. Instead, learn about the best product types and key ingredients for blackhead removal.

Published Oct 12, 2023
5 min. reading time
four products for blackheads on purple background

If you’re reading this, you’re likely looking for a solution to blackheads. But what causes them? These pesky skin imperfections are a result of open pores or hair follicles being clogged with bacteria, dead skin cells or oil during cell turnover. 

Often, they form on or around your nose, chin and sometimes on your cheeks and back.

And truth is, they’re darn difficult to get rid of.

The good news? Making them less prominent and clearing them out completely is possible — with the right products. 

From salicylic acid, a chemical peel, to a smart skin brush, we’re sure we’ve got our editors researched and tested the blackhead solutions for you. Read on and discover how to get rid of blackheads at home.

Read more: Soothe your skin with these top eczema products

Our favorite blackhead removal products

paulas choice 2% bha liquid exfoliant
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% Bha Liquid Exfoliant
$35 at Paula's Choice
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Exfoliating Blemish Solution
Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
$6.50 at Ulta
pmd smart cleansing brush
PMD Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device
$99 at Sephora
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion
$11.70 at Sephora

1. Use an exfoliator

When we think of an exfoliator, we typically think of those harsh scrubs that make a lot of promises — but it turns out that they’re not the best for your skin. When products use harsh ingredients like sugar, it can cause microtears on the skin, which can in turn lead to more bacteria getting into your skin. That’s why we prefer a liquid exfoliant. 

Exfoliators essentially remove excessive amounts of dead skin cells, which can build up and lead to blackheads — they work as a treatment and a preventative method.

One of our personal favorites, this Paula’s Choice liquid exfoliant is responsible for our ever-improving skin — it’s great for evening out skin tone, reducing breakouts and removing dead skin cells that turn into blackheads. 

The lightweight fluid feels seamless on the skin and we found that after using it, we could feel how much smoother and clearer our skin looked and felt. And after repeated use, our blackheads visibly decreased.

2. Wash your face with salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is one of the best ingredients for blackheads. It also has numerous beneficial properties other than blackhead removal — it’s a great acne treatment, fights inflammation and can even soothe sunburn.

This water-based serum with 2% salicylic acid gently exfoliates the skin, eliminating dead skin on the surface. The Ordinary claim that since this serum is lipophilic (oil-soluble), this will penetrate and unclog pores, which will control acne blemishes and get rid of blackheads. 

Simply apply this serum every night, apply your moisturizer afterwards, and voila, you’ll wake up with a smooth, clear and (after a few weeks) blackhead-free face!

3. Try a cleansing skin brush

If you want to let a device do the hard work and get deep under the skin, then a smart cleansing brush might just be for you. Simply use it when washing your face, and it’ll effortlessly remove dead skin cells and help prevent blackheads from forming.

Not only does this brush help eliminate blackheads by providing a deep cleanse, but it also lifts, firms and tones your face — sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us!

It runs at 7,000 vibrations per minute, and the bristles are soft enough that it doesn’t feel too harsh on the skin, but it still provides enough cleansing action to start reducing blackheads. 

We love that this brush is made from silicone, which makes it super easy to clean. It’s also odor-resistant, antibacterial, waterproof and hypoallergenic — what more could you want

4. Use a topical retinoid

If you have enlarged pores and blackheads or have acne-prone skin, a topical retinoid might just be the answer — it’s also one of our favorite options if you’re looking to add an anti-aging product to your everyday skincare routine.

This serum is a mix of solubilized hydropinacolone retinoate — which we promise isn’t as scary as it sounds! This form of retinoid helps protect your skin against the signs of aging, and it’s also great for uneven skin texture. 

We think this serum is the best of both worlds — the 2% emulsion formula means you get the benefits of retinol use, without the common cons associated with retinol use such as dryness, peeling or redness. 

5. Remove imperfections with a clay mask 

A clay mask is a great blackhead solution if you typically have quite oily skin since the clay can help absorb excess moisture. They can also help reduce the appearance of pores and smooth your skin texture.

This cooling clay mask is perfect if you want to feel a little pampered while performing your skincare.

Formulated with alpine willow herb and snow lotus antioxidant botanicals, they work with the cooling aspect of the mask to refine pores, soothe your skin, and give a mattifying finish. 

After 10 minutes, add cool water to your face, and the mask will turn into a lather that will remove any extra oil production and impurities — we do recommend using a moisturizing cream or serum after this mask since it can be a little drying!

origins clear improvement clay mask
Photo: Sephora

One of our editors swears by this active charcoal mask by Origins to clear out blackheads and soothe breakouts instantly. And we mean instantly.

If you feel like your blackheads are flaring up, especially the intensely stubborn ones on your nose, simply wash your face with the face wash of your choice — and apply this mask for around 20 minutes (or however long it takes for it to dry).

Next, rinse it off with water and pat your skin dry with a towel. Now, for the grand reveal. Take a close look at your pores and see the difference.

Pro tip: You can leave the mask on for longer to allow it to work its magic. But if you have particularly dry skin, then it’s probably better to just leave it on until it sets and dries.

6. Think about a chemical peel

A chemical exfoliant is great to deeply exfoliate your skin — however, it’s important to be careful using them. Chemical exfoliants are typically quite harsh (but effective) on the skin, so it’s important to ease your skin into it. 

We recommend using once a week at first, before transitioning into maximum twice weekly use.

This product combines chemical and physical exfoliation into a hydrating, calming peel which when rinsed off, will leave you with smoother, healthier-looking skin. It works by dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds your epidermal cells together and the bonds between cells — making it a highly effective exfoliant. 

We think this will be super helpful in your journey getting rid of your blackheads, since it penetrates deep into your pores, helping you get all the gunk out. 

Our verdict: What are the best blackhead treatments?

It’s clear there are multiple routes on how to treat blackheads — it’s all about discovering which one works best for you. Bear in mind that none of these solutions will be instantly effective. 

We recommend routinely using each method for six to eight weeks to see if it works for you before moving on to the next option. 

If you don’t want to wait for this amount of time, we recommend finding a dermatologist for a professional extraction (rather than trying to manually extract them yourself and risk damaging the skin), and then use of these products to help prevent blackheads forming in the future. 

If you need this list narrowed down a little more, then here are our top three methods for blackhead removal:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% Bha Liquid Exfoliant: With this editor’s seal of approval, this has become a staple in our skincare routine, and we’ve visibly noticed our blackheads disappearing after extended use. 

  • PMD Clean Smart Facial Cleansing Device: While this is great for helping remove the blackheads on your face, we think one of these smart facial brushes should be in everyone’s everyday skincare routine since it helps deeply cleanse your face. 

  • OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge Pore Mask: A clay mask is one of our favorite ways to pamper ourselves — they feel luxurious, and cooling and they’re a great way to unwind on an evening — the fact that it helps eliminate blackheads is just a bonus!

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Prices updated on 10/12/2023. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.

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Written by
Phoebe Davenport

A book aficionado, you will always be able to rely on Phoebe Davenport for the best book recommendations. On the weekend, you’ll probably find Phoebe at a bottomless brunch in London, at a museum, or chilling at home with her two cats.