Blackheads are possibly the most annoying things ever. They're not quite pimples, which would inspire fury to all they plague. But they are mean. They are tough to kill. Blackheads are mocking little things that can make you want to just squeeze them out of existence (thus damaging your skin), but it doesn't have to be that way! There are a lot of ways to prevent them and cure them once they begin to multiply.
What causes blackheads and how to prevent them
But wait, before you go charging into combat, you need to know what causes blackheads in the first place. Blackheads are formed when too much oil gets backed up in your pores. The oil then mixes in with dead skin cells. When this yucky combination is exposed to air, it darkens, hence the term "blackheads".
In other words, the best ways to prevent BH is to:
1. Make sure the oil lessens or flows freely onto the surface of your skin. Hormone imbalance can cause excessive oil production - you might need to take some oral medication as prescribed by your dermatologist, if this is the case. Otherwise, if you're just oily because of your genetic makeup, then the best thing you could do is to wear cosmetics that don't clog pores, and to blot the oil ASAP.
2. Regularly slough off dead skin with an effective cleansing and toning routine. Choose facial washes with a mild exfoliating and anti-oil feature (something like the Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser or Pond's Deep Cleansing Facial Foam). Use an alcohol-free toner after cleansing to remove any remaining dead skin/ pore blockages.
3. Use light, water-based, gel moisturizers. Moisturizers that are too rich and too oily can block your pores. Try the Clinique Moisture Surge, Laneige Water EX Sleeping Pack, Celeteque DermoScience Acne Clearing Facial Moisturizer Gel (or Hydration Moisturizer) and the Neutrogena Hydro-boost Water Gel Moisturizer.
4. Regular facials cleanse your skin of impurities on a deeper level. So do it once a month if you can!
Techniques and products to use
Here are some of my tried-and-tested techniques and products in the war against blackheads!
1. Use a vegetable facial sponge or a fine, microfiber cloth to gently exfoliate your face. You can do this before your facial wash - just soak your sponge/cloth in warm water (the hotter the better) and gently massage all over your face. You can also use the sponge/cloth with your facial wash, as if you're washing the dishes. Sud 'em up and massage all over.
2. Instead of using exfoliators with harsh physical scrubbing agents, use a gommage exfoliator. I highly recommend the Cure Natural Aqua Gel. This is a gentle exfoliator that will get rid of dead skin, product build-up, and any remaining surface oil without messing up your moisture barrier. Exfoliate twice a week!
3. Apply salicylic acid or products with salicylic acid on the affected area. This mild acid can calm inflammation and exfoliate the skin. You can buy salicylic acid over the counter at Mercury Drug (ask advice from the pharmacist for the appropriate concentration), or get those acne gels with that prominent ingredient. It's best if you ask a dermatologist for your own tube, though, as he/she can recommend the best one for your skin.
4. Mask up! A clay mask can help absorb any left-over oil in your pores, and maybe pull out some of the deeper blackheads. Try the Etude House Wonder Pore Mask or the Formula 10.0.6 Deep Down Detox Ultra Cleansing Mud Mask
4. Blot oil as soon as it seeps out. Use oil-blotting sheets!
So there you go. Hope this helps! :) Let me know if you have more questions.