Acne may be one of the most common skin conditions, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing when you have it. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that acne affects nearly 50 million Americans, with those affected getting breakouts for whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples.
While more extreme cases of acne require a visit to the dermatologist, acne breakouts like blackheads can be treated with home remedies or cosmetic tools available online. In this article, we go through all the available blackhead removers and what is the best blackhead remover for your skin condition.
Why Do I Have Blackheads?
If you want to understand why you have blackheads in the first place (which can help you understand why some blackhead removal methods may or may not work on you), you need to know a little bit about acne.
Acne is a skin condition that causes bumps on the surface of your skin, usually your face, neck, back, and shoulders, though this can appear anywhere else on your skin where there are pores. These bumps can be classified into three types: whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. The general cause of acne can be traced back to hormone changes, and different factors may determine whether acne turns into whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.
Regular acne will come and go even without you having to do anything, while some require over-the-counter treatment or prescription medication from a dermatologist. However, acne can be prone to breakouts: when you get acne in one area, more form around it. While acne isn’t dangerous, it can leave scars and can damage your confidence.
What Causes Acne?
Your skin is covered in pores. These are the holes where an oil called sebum (produced by your sebaceous glands under your skin) travels up your hair follicles and onto your skin. This oil creates a protective coating that keeps your skin moist and soft.
When sebum travels from a sebaceous gland to your skin, it also brings with it dead skin cells. When there are too many dead skin cells, your pores can clog up. This leads to excess oil building up in your pores. From there, three things can happen that can cause three types of acne:
- Whiteheads – when your pores get clogged and close up, causing hard whitish bumps that stick out of your skin.
- Blackheads – when your pores get clogged but stay open; exposure to air causes it to turn black.
- Pimples – when your pores open, allowing the excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells to go under the skin. These are red, slightly painful bumps that have a pus-filled top (from the bacteria).
How to Spot and Treat Blackheads
Because of their color, blackheads are easy to spot on the skin. They’re slightly raised but aren’t inflamed like pimples, so they should not hurt when you touch it. However, avoid touching them too much as it could trigger a bacterial infection.
Over-the-counter blackhead treatments are available in your local supermarket in the cosmetics section or in your local drugstore. We’ll tackle more about this later, but take note that some OTC products may be better than others, so it’s up to you to find one that works best for your skin.
More severe cases of blackheads may require a visit to a dermatologist who may prescribe stronger topical medication or antibiotics. And if you’ve seen videos like Dr. Pimple Popper, there are also extreme cases where dermatologists of skincare professionals will manually remove the blackheads from your pores. Some people may find this video satisfying, but be warned that some may be uncomfortable watching this.
Now that you know why you have blackheads, let’s look at the different ways to remove blackheads and which are the best blackhead removal tools and procedures.
Best Blackhead Remover Tools
Aside from cleansers depending on skin types like dry, oily, and combination, there are also facial cleansers specifically made to remove blackheads on your face. It goes without saying that these are only applicable for smaller blackheads on your face (blackheads on other parts of your body are bigger and more difficult to remove).
Here are our top picks, but if these aren’t available in your area, you can try different brands as long as they specifically mention blackheads.
- Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser (for oily skin)
- Biore Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser (for all skin types)
- COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (for all skin types)
Facial Steamer + Clay Mask
Aside from a cleanser, dermatologists recommend following a blackhead cleanser with a facial steamer to open up pores and then use a clay mask to gently pull the dirt particles, dead skin cells, and excess oils from your face. This can help clear out any clogged pores.
This added step to your skincare routine can remove any stubborn blackheads that may be difficult to remove with just a facial cleanser. However, if you’re not sure about buying a steamer at home, you can have this service done in a spa or salon.
Here are some links where you can buy these tools, but make sure you moisturize and use a toner after to make up for the lost oils.
- NanoSteamer 3-in-1 Nano Ionic Facial Steamer (includes a 5-piece stainless steel skin kit to help remove stubborn blackheads)
- Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Blackhead Remover Vacuum
If you find several types of skin vacuums, choose one specifically designed to suck out blackheads. These are for the larger and more stubborn blackheads, but maybe too much for smaller blackheads. This can work well on any type of skin.
- SUNRAR Blackhead Remover Vacuum (comes with 5 stainless steel blackhead remover tools)
- POPPYO Blackhead Remover Vacuum
- LONOVE Blackhead Remover Vacuum (comes with 4 stainless steel blackhead remover tools)
Blackhead Skin Scrubber
Technically you won’t find a scrubber designed specifically for blackheads, but the effect of ultrasonic skin scrubbers is the removal of dirt, oil, grime, and other residue particles that cause clogging. After using one of these scrubbers, use a deep-cleansing blackhead facial cleanser and then finish with moisturizer.
Also known as the loop extractor, these are hand-held stainless steel tools with a loop at the end. You place the blackhead in the center of the loop and press down until that clog is pushed out of the pore.
It’s great for hard to reach areas other blackhead removal tools can’t reach. But fair warning that there is some pain and pressure when you press down on a blackhead until it comes out. It might be easier if you steam your pores first to let them open before pressing on it. Avoid excessive pushing or dragging, as this can tear your skin.
- Anjou Blackhead Remover Comedone Extractor
- Pimple Popper Tool Kit
- Professional Blackhead and Blemish Remover (2-in-1 Extractor Tool)
The simplest tool on this list, pore strips are available in supermarkets and drugstores. These are strips that you apply to the affected area, let sit for several minutes, and then peel to remove the blackheads.
This may not be effective for all types of blackheads, and some dermatologists do not recommend strips because of how it can also remove skin. So, do your research first and see if other users would recommend a specific brand.
- VASSOUL Blackhead Remover Mask
- Biore Charcoal Deep Cleansing Nose Strips (specifically for blackheads on the nose only)
- BAGLAK Blackhead Remover Pore Strips
Aside from these blackhead removal tools, you can also reduce the risk of developing blackheads through these natural remedies at home.
- Wash your face and shower regularly. It’s recommended that you wash your face after you wake up and before you go to bed to reduce oil buildup. Use a gentle cleanser and avoid washing more than twice as it can irritate your skin and remove too much oil.
- Wash your hands and face after eating oily food, as the oil from the food can end up on your skin and clog pores.
- Avoid cosmetic products that contain oils.
- Exfoliate your skin at least once a week. Dead skin cells, makeup residue, and other dirt particles may still linger on your skin. Do not over-do this, however, as it can leave your skin raw and susceptible to other conditions.
- Remove all your makeup before going to bed. Heavy makeup can clog your pores.
- Reduce carbohydrates and sugars in your diet. These foods can increase insulin, which can cause your glands to produce more oil. Alternatively, add more whole grains, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and food rich in zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E.
Blackheads can be a very embarrassing skin condition to have, but they are treatable. Some of these blackhead removal tools may not work or be effective on your skin, but that doesn’t mean you should give up trying to find a solution. In case you find that your blackheads are stuck on your pores, visit your dermatologist to get a possible diagnosis and a more medical treatment.