Blackheads that stick around can be embarrassing and annoying. These deeply embedded black dots form when oil and sebum mix in the hair follicle and come to the surface of the skin. Air causes the pimple to oxidize, which in turn leaves a black mark on the skin. The bad news is that blackheads don't typically banish on their own; the good news is that there's a lot you can do to help the process. You can try to dislodge these unsightly marks by following a strict cleansing routine with products made to slough off dead skin cells and clear bacteria from your pores.
Take a hot shower. The steam will help open your pores and loosen the skin around your blackheads. Wash your face for one minute with an acne-fighting cleanser featuring salicylic acid. Rinse well with lukewarm water. The salicylic acid is necessary to exfoliate the layer of dead skin cells near the blackhead. It also helps keep the pores clean and open.
Place a cotton ball over a bottle of toner and tilt to saturate. Swipe the cotton ball over your entire face or simply concentrate on the areas with persistent blackheads. This is an important step for those with oily skin or markedly plugged pores, says Yale-affiliated, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Alicia Zalka. Choose a toner with alpha hydroxy acids, anti-inflammatory properties like aloe, and restorative ingredients such as Totarol.
Smooth a kaolin-based or acne-cleansing mask featuring benzoyl peroxide over your face twice a week to draw out blackhead congestion. Make sure to completely cover the areas where blackheads are a permanent fixture. Allow the mask to penetrate the skin for about 5 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water once it turns tacky and starts to change color. Leaving it on any longer draws out necessary skin moisture and can cause irritation.
Pour alcohol over your extraction tool to disinfect it. Place the smaller end of the tool directly on top of the permanent blackhead. Press down firmly yet gently. The blackhead should begin to dislodge. Press down a second time to completely lift the blackhead out of the pore. Stop trying if the blackhead won't budge.
Visit a board-certified dermatologist if you've tried the above steps for six weeks to no avail. You may need a prescription-strength retinoid to help dislodge the blackheads. Your dermatologist might also recommend microdermasbrasion, chemical peel treatments and comedone extractions depending on your skin's condition.