But first, a little bit of blackhead 101. (Because yes, those tiny stubborn spots are actually very misunderstood!) Although an automatic assumption is that the sprinkling of black dots around our complexion is the visual proof of trapped dirt within our pores, that’s only partly accurate. According to celebrity esthetician Melanie Grant (who regularly works with Victoria Beckham), blackheads are caused when the opening of a hair follicle becomes clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, and other debris. Said trapped debris becomes oxidized by air, thus creating that dark, namesake appearance.
Another important thing to address? While there is a slew of strategic products, rituals, and treatments you can enhance your regimen with in order to decrease and prevent blackheads—like high-quality cleansers—the only way to truly expunge blackheads is to book an in-office appointment for professional extractions. “Typically with blackheads, they would need to be extracted,” celebrity esthetician Shani Darden tells us. “However, there are a few ingredients like AHAs, BHAs, and retinol that can help to decrease and prevent them.”
As the ultimate blackhead prevention prescription, our experts agreed using a chemical cleanser consisting of pore-purging acids (think glycolic, lactic, salicylic, etc.) three to four times a week is your best bet.
“I recommend incorporating a salicylic acid–based cleanser or serum to deep-clean the pores and reduce inflammation,” continues Grant. “Formulas with BHAs are best as they penetrate deep into the pore, cutting through oil and liquifying the sebum. Avoid heavy, occlusive creams and oils, and add a clay or charcoal-based masque two or three times per week to draw out impurities and mop up excess oil.” As a note, salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA within the beauty industry, and since it’s oil-soluble, it’s an especially fantastic antidote for clogged pores.
Additionally, if you’re really oily or tend to wear a lot of makeup, Grant recommends opting for a double cleanse using a gentle, acid-based cleanser. (Avoid harsh scrubs, please!) The first cleanse will remove the top layer of makeup, dirt, and surface debris, while the second will be more efficiently able to deep-clean your pores by removing oil, dirt, pollution, and dead skin cells.
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