A Beginner’s Guide to Removing Blackheads


image courtesy of Pixland/Thinkstock

Beauties, do you peer into your mirror only to see a speckling of blackheads staring back at you? These pesky clogged pores look as if dirt is stuck in your skin and can even be slightly raised. While it's always best to seek professional treatment before popping pimples and blackheads, we all get the urge to pick at our face. And with the proper technique, you can safely remove blackheads yourself (just follow the below tips to the letter!). We spoke with Annet King, the director of global education for Dermalogica, to find out the correct way to rid yourself of blackheads.

Begin with clean skin

When starting any treatment, you should always begin with makeup-free, clean skin. "If you can soften the pores first—either with a hot face cloth or steam bath—it will be much easier to extract the blackhead," says Annet. Contrary to popular belief, heat doesn’t open up pores, but does soften the debris, making it easier to get the bad stuff out.

Always squeeze with a tissue

"There are more germs under your fingernails than anywhere else on your body, except inside your mouth," says Annet. It's essential to wrap your fingers in a tissue before squeezing, as these germs cause inflammation and pimples once you poke and prod your skin. "Most people squeeze a blackhead without protecting their fingers, and once they get it out they infect the pore with dirt and germs. This is why they end up with a pimple or pustule the next day," explains Annet.

Use the proper technique

The worst way to squeeze a blackhead is by using your fingernails and squeezing from the top. "You want to remove the blackhead from its root, so you have to start from the bottom of the pore," says Annet. Position your fingers around the blackhead (the base of your fingernail is a good place) and rock your fingers back and forth to gently release the debris. "Think of it as squeezing toothpaste from the bottom of the tube," says Annet. "That is the motion that you want to replicate.” If your blackhead doesn't come out, dab an antiseptic gel (preferably one with salicylic acid) onto the infected area and leave it on overnight. More often than not, the blackhead will come out by itself the next day.

Finish with an antibacterial cream

Once you've removed the blackhead, it's important to sterilize the area properly. If you don't, you leave your pore open to infection and pimples. All of that squeezing and picking causes trauma to your skin, and the last thing you want is scarring! Clean the area with an antiseptic wipe and dab on a little spot treatment. "This will decrease inflammation and help to further clean the pore," says Annet.