Who doesn’t want a flawless complexion, right?! There’s definitely ways to get rid of blackheads without picking and squeezing at your skin (and if you’re doing that, you’ve got to stop!).
In today’s article and video you’ll learn the best diet, lifestyle, and skincare tips for getting rid of blackheads and enlarged pores, plus also what not to do (because you don’t want to make it worse!).
Don’t underestimate the power of exercise and a flawless complexion.
And I’m not exaggerating.
Sweaty exercise in my opinion clarifies and decongests your skin from the inside out like nothing else.
If you’re looking for a remedy for blackheads and congested pores, start exercising daily. Make sure the exercise you’re doing raises your heart rate, warms you up, and gets you sweating. The heat and sweat is what will help soften and unclog your pores.
If you commit to exercising regularly, over time you will see your pores shrink in appearance, with blackheads reducing in size or completely disappearing.
2- CUT DOWN ON COOKING OILS IN YOUR DIET (ESPECIALLY HEATED OILS)
In general, the healthier your diet is, the better your complexion will be. Cutting down on sugar, caffeine, dairy, and processed food will help you have clearer skin and reduce pore congestion.
Out of all foods that are detrimental to your skin, I find cooking oils to be closely linked to enlarged and congested pores, and blackheads.
I regularly tell my coaching clients to cut down on the oils they are using in their cooking, or if they can, eliminate it completely. And they’re always so surprised how much it actually helps their skin.
Based on my own experience, I’ve always noticed that if I ate a particularly oily meal, an hour later my skin would be VERY oily. And it’s not that the oil from my food got all over my face. The oil is literally coming out through my pores, from the inside out. For some people, this type of thing wouldn’t adversely affect their skin, but if you’re prone to breakouts, acne, and congested pores, this could very well clog up your skin and contribute to blackheads.
Some of you already know that many years ago I was on a raw food diet for about 4 years. During that time I only ate raw foods, nothing was cooked and I barely used oil, even in my salad dressings (in those 4 years I was on the raw food diet, I never even finished a bottle of oil, that’s how little I was using). During that time I barely had any blackheads and no enlarged pores, and I attribute that to the fact that I wasn’t having much oil in my diet. I did eat plenty of foods that had naturally occurring fat like avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut meat, etc., but barely any oil.
I suggest you too reduce the amount of oil you’re using in your food and cooking, especially oils that you are heating up. Whenever possible, skip the oils completely. Instead of frying or sautéing your food with oil; steam, poach, bake or grill your food instead.
And remember, I’m not telling you to eliminate fat from your diet – just the oils. So please, continue eating healthy fats every day (like avocado, eggs, meats, fish, nuts/seeds, coconut, etc). You just don’t need the processed oils.
3- EXFOLIATE YOUR SKIN REGULARLY
Exfoliation is key.
Blackheads are a result of oil/sebum, dead skin cells, dirt and debris building up in your pores and on the surface of your skin. And sometimes just cleansing your face isn’t enough to get rid of that build up.
There’s many different methods of exfoliation for unclogging pores and diminishing the appearance of blackheads. For immediate pore perfecting results that smoothes out the surface of your skin, I recommend an exfoliating scrub or mask. For deeper exfoliation that gets inside your pores, I recommend using a serum, toner or mask containing exfoliating acids or enzymes (such as AHAs or BHA). Usually a combination of the two works the best.
Depending on your skin type, you should be exfoliating your skin with a scrub, mask, toner or serum at least once a week, and no more than 3 times a week (every other day).
You never want to over exfoliate your skin which can result in redness, irritation, and dehydrated skin (which can sometimes result in your skin getting even more oily making blackheads worse).
If you’re just starting to add exfoliation into your skincare routine, start with just once a week using either an exfoliating scrub, mask, or serum. As your skin gets used to exfoliation, you can increase the frequency to two or three times a week.
HERE’S A FEW GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW FOR EXFOLIATING YOUR SKIN TO GET RID OF BLACKHEADS:
- Best to exfoliate your skin 1-3 times a week (never every day, always allowing at least one “rest day” in between applications)
- Never use an exfoliating acid and scrub the same day (or in a 24 hour period, so don’t use an exfoliating acid at night, and then a scrub the next morning – that’s too much!)
- Best to only exfoliate your skin at night, avoid exfoliation in the morning or daytime to prevent sun sensitivity or sun damage
- Never exfoliate your skin when you have active pimples or acne (it will irritate your skin more, making it harder for your pimples to heal. Best to only exfoliate your skin when it’s clear and all pimples have healed)
- If your skin is sensitive to exfoliating scrubs – use an exfoliating serum, toner, or mask instead
- If your skin is REALLY sensitive, use an exfoliating mask only on areas where you have blackheads (like applying a clay mask just on your nose).
- Avoid using facial brushes like Clarisonic, rough sponges, or textured clothes (they’re to harsh and abrasive)
TYPES OF EXFOLIATION & RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS:
Exfoliating scrubs can deliver instant results. Your pores will always appear much smaller and your skin will be much smoother after washing your face with an exfoliating scrub. Just be careful not to over use scrubs (it can be tempting!).
When selecting an exfoliating scrub for blackheads, look for a scrub that contains fine exfoliating grains or powders (such as activated charcoal powder, rice powder, oat flour, clays, fine coffee grounds, etc). You never want to use a product with large or sharp grains (like sugar or salt) because they can cause micro tears in your skin and they’re not fine enough to breakup and remove the build-up in your pores.
My favourite facial scrub for blackheads:
Oskia – Micro Exfoliating Balm This is my favourite facial scrub, especially for blackheads and getting a smooth flawless finish. The Micro Exfoliating Balm is a moisturizing balm and exfoliant all in one, so as it’s sloughing off dead skin cells and build up of sebum, leaving your skin moisturized, plumped, and smooth. The exfoliating grains made out of MSM and silica are fine and dense, so they thoroughly exfoliate the skin and pores. This exfoliant can be quite coarse, it can be used on all skin types, except I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive skin.
CLAY MASKS FOR BLACKHEADS:
Another cleansing/exfoliation method that delivers instant results are clay masks. This is one of my favourite treatments for blackheads because it’s much gentler on your skin than a scrub. Clay has the unique ability to draw impurities to the surface of your skin and clean out your pores, plus it will leave your skin soft, smooth and bright.
To exfoliate your skin using a clay mask, you can buy a clay at a health food store (like kaolin clay, french green clay, bentonite clay, rhassoul clay, etc.) and mix it with water or honey. Or, you can buy a facial mask that uses clay as its base.
Favourite clay masks for blackheads:
May Lindstrom – The Problem Solver A great mask for congested and breakout prone skin. This mask has clays, bamboo charcoal, warming spices, all of which makes it a potent clarifying mask. This mask is compatible with all skin types, but if you have dry or maturing skin, I recommend activating it with honey instead of water to make it more hydrating.
Annmarie Skin Care – Purifying Mud Mask This is a great clay mask for oily skin. Made with only three ingredients, this clay mask is gentle, yet deeply cleansing and balancing. Used regularly, you’ll definitely see a reduction in clogged pores and blackheads.
Uma – Absolute Anti Aging Mask I have recently fallen in love with this anti-aging clay mask. It’s clarifying and anti aging all in one. Thanks to the clay, turmeric, yogurt, aloe vera, and honey – it’s firming, soothing, and brightening. This mask is very gentle, suitable for all skin types, and a great addition to anyone’s anti-aging skincare routine.
EXFOLIATING TONER OR SERUM:
Exfoliating toners and serums containing AHAs and/or BHA (like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, etc.) can be a gentler alternative to facial scrubs. Salicylic acid in particular can really penetrate and breakup the build up of sebum and debris clogging up your pores. Best to only use exfoliating serums and toners at night, 2-3 times a week, and always make sure to wear sunscreen.
My favourite exfoliating serum for blackheads:
Drunk Elephant – T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum This serum contains a mixture of AHAs and BHA, which works great for deep and gentle exfoliation. I recommend using it every other night, or every two nights. With consistent use, blackheads will vanish, skin will be clearer, marks and scars will fade, and your skin will be much brighter. This product is suitable for all skin types, especially oily, combination and acne prone skin.
If you want to learn more about the benefits and different types of exfoliation, checkout my blog post, Exfoliation: Best Way To Fade Acne Scars Naturally.
3 THINGS THAT WILL MAKE BLACKHEADS WORSE
1- DON’T STEAM YOUR FACE
I love occasionally going into a steam room, but I want to warn you to be careful of regularly steaming your face with a facial steamer or at home facial steams with boiling water.
Heat and hot water can dehydrate your skin, cause broken capillaries, and irritate your skin.
There’s no such thing as your pores opening and closing. The only thing that steam or hot water will do is soften your pores, which can help to breakup the oil and debris clogging your pores – but you don’t need hot continuous steam applied to your face to do that. Just taking a shower, washing your face with warm water, and/or exercising is sufficient, and won’t hurt your skin.
2- DON’T SQUEEZE, PICK, OR TRY TO EXTRACT BLACKHEADS YOURSELF
Whatever you do, don’t pick, squeeze or try to extract blackheads yourself. Don’t use those metal blackhead tools, or apply tape or blackhead strips to your skin. All of that is just wrong! You’re hurting your skin more than helping it. And you don’t want to risk damaging or scarring your skin.
You might be wondering if it’s ok to get blackheads professionally extracted by an esthetician?
I would be careful. Always make sure you visit a really good esthetician. After a facial with extractions, you should never have marks or any visible signs that extractions were performed on your skin – if you do, the esthetician was being to rough on your skin.
Do keep in mind that in some countries like the USA, extractions are regularly performed by estheticians, whereas in other countries, such as many European countries, extractions are rarely performed. There’s polar opposite opinions whether extractions are beneficial for your skin or not.
I personally like having a facial with extractions, but with the right esthetician that is gentle and knows what she’s doing (in the past, there’s been occasions I’ve had a terrible facial that really messed up my skin, so don’t take it for granted seeking out a reputable and recommended esthetician).
3- BEWARE, SOME SKINCARE PRODUCTS CAN EMPHASIZE THE APPEARANCE BLACKHEADS AND ENLARGED PORES
Here’s a warning, some shiny makeup and skincare products can emphasize the appearance of blackheads.
In particular, facial oils.
This is not to say they cause them. In fact, many people notice that when they use a facial oil as a cleanser, the appearance of blackheads reduces dramatically, and overtime pores appear less clogged. Which is great, and what we want! But, when you apply an oil as a moisturizer and leave it on your skin, the shine from the oil can magnify the appearance of blackheads, making them much more noticable.
So, the oil isn’t giving you blackheads, but it’s causing them to be more noticeable on your skin.
If you’re nodding your head right now because you’ve seen this happen to you, all you need to do is use something to reduce the shine like blotting papers, finishing powder, or a pore perfecting or mattifying makeup product.