7 expert-approved tips for getting rid of blackheads

Don't squeeze your blackheads

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Don’t squeeze your blackheads
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Voyagerix/Shutterstock

  • Blackheads can be hard to get rid of.
  • Skin-care specialists note that you should never pick or squeeze your blackheads.
  • INSIDER found out how you can get rid of your blackheads without causing scarring on your skin.

We all have the urge to eagerly give our clogged pores a good squeeze, popping them is never the answer for a clearer complexion.

“Picking at pimples or attempting to extract blackheads can lead to scarring and worsen breakouts,” according to board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology, Dr. David Lortscher. He also noted that sometimes deep divots on the skin called “ice pick” scars can look like blackheads, and trying to pop those will only lead to more scarring.

So, what can be done to rid our skin of these little black blemishes? INSIDER talked to a few skin-care specialists to find out.


Pore strips can help remove blackheads, but can also irritate skin if used too often.

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Pore strips can irritate your skin.
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Alliance/Shutterstock

We’re all familiar with this skin-care favorite. Not only are they ultra-satisfying to peel off, but they’re also great for removing any dirt clogging up your pores.

“Clay and charcoal pore strips can help remove blackheads,” said Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu, the chemist duo behind the beauty myth-busting Instagram page Chemist Confessions, “But the tradeoff is that it can really strip your skin so we would recommend not using it too often and be sure to moisturize after.”

To avoid any further irritation, Dr. Lortscher added that these strips should be used solely for the skin on the top of your nose, which is more tolerant to this harsh skin-care product. He also suggests limiting your pore strip usage to once or twice a week at most.


Retinoids are a great ingredient for treating blackheads and whiteheads.

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Retinoids work well to prevent acne lesions.
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Shutterstock

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian, retinoid-infused creams and skin-care products are some of your best options for ridding the skin of blackheads, whiteheads, and other forms of acne.

“Blackheads, like a whitehead, are formed from a combination of oil, bacteria and dead skin cells that are found in an open pore and exposed to air, which is why they can be pushed out,” Dr. Nazarian told INSIDER, “Blackheads and whiteheads can be treated similarly with products containing retinoids. ProactivMD offers a unique retinoid called adapalene which works well to prevent and treat these types of acne lesions- it dissolves the oil and breaks apart the skin cells that create the blackheads and whiteheads.”


Face masks are a good introduction to cleansing your pores.

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Face masks are not just relaxing.
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Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Face masks are not only ultra relaxing, but Fu and Lu also recommend using them for giving your skin an extra detox, “clay masks are a simple beginner step to absorb excess grime and oil,” they said.


Chemical exfoliants are much better for removing blackheads than mechanical exfoliants.

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Chemical exfoliants are better than mechanical exfoliants.
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Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Fu and Lu advised that you should stray away from mechanical exfoliants and switch to a chemical exfoliant that contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids. “We don’t promote mechanical exfoliating scrubs as a blackhead removal technique since they just scrub at the surface of a blackhead, but don’t necessarily remove them and sometimes can cause blackheads to flare up,” they said. “Consider using AHA and BHA exfoliating heavy hitters in higher doses as a once/twice a week max.”

Dr. Lortscher is also recommended the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid.


Facial cleansers are a classic option for keeping your complexion clear.

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Face cleansers are a classic was to keep your skin clear.
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Tinatin/Shutterstock

If you’re still using bar soap to cleanse your skin, you need to upgrade to a facial cleanser to keep blackheads at bay. Fu and Lu recommended using a cleansing oil to get a deeper cleanse and rid skin of oil buildup.


Acne pads will give your skin an added cleanse.

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Acne pads can be drying
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Shutterstock

If you feel like your skin needs an added cleansing boost, then Dr. Lortscher recommended using acne pads – like the Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads– after washing your face. However, acne pads can be harsh and drying, so sensitive and dry skin types should be wary when using them.


Head to your dermatologist for stronger prescription Ingredients.

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If your skin doesn’t clear up, go to your dermatologist
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Getty Images

If your skin isn’t clearing up, then Dr. Lortscher recommended getting a prescription for higher grade ingredients, such as tretinoin or azelaic acid, via your trusted dermatologist.

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