When blackheads bust onto the scene, it's never pretty. Whether you have one or a cluster of these black bumps, you are bound to spend some time trying to banish the blemishes and brighten your skin. The good news is that there are a plethora of over-the-counter products made especially to draw out blackheads and cleanse the skin at the same time. The best ones feature a combination of benzoyl peroxide, sulfur and acids that cleanse, tone and purify.
Keep Up With Cleanser
Use a cleanser twice a day made especially for acne and blackheads. An ingredient such as salicylic acid works to dissolve the clogged skin and get rid of the the dirt and oil that helped form the blackhead. Regular use of this ingredient actually helps prevent blackheads from appearing. Other ingredients include alpha-hydroxy and glycolic acids -- two important components used to slough away dead skin cells and brighten the skin.
Minimize Marks With a Mask
Board-certified New York-based dermatologist Dr. Jennifer MacGregor says that regular use of abrasive pastes, powders and clay masks with kaolin do an excellent job of exfoliating blackhead-prone skin and absorbing existing oil. Use a clay mask every few days, but make sure to rinse it off as it starts to turn a lighter hue. Otherwise, the mask can actually work against the skin causing irritation and dehydration. The result is an increase in oil production to compensate for the over-dryness -- where there's oil, blackheads are more likely to form.
Take to Toner Today
While there's been great debate in the beauty industry about the effective use of toner, the general consensus among dermatologists is that the right toner helps exfoliate, moisturize and calm the skin -- especially when it comes to acne and blackheads. Toners with ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, witch hazel, tea-tree oil, vitamin C and aloe are all beneficial, according to MacGregor. Use a cotton pad and swipe the toner around your entire face, being careful to reach the infected areas and along the jawline. Allow it to dry for at least a minute before putting additional products on your skin.
Moisturize With Meaning
Retinoids are essential to keeping the skin free of blackheads. Begin with an over-the-counter formula used in an oil-free moisturizer, and then contact your dermatologist if you need a stronger dosage with a prescription. Retinoids work on skin receptors to change the way skin grows and sheds so that blackheads and impurities take a backseat to clear, even skin. It's important to note that there can be skin irritation and peeling with retinoids, so it's best to start small and back off for a few days if your skin becomes red or scaly.