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Stop squeezing your blackheads! A derm suggests using these products instead

An optimized skin care routine can help eliminate pesky, persistent blackheads.
Woman washing her face in the bathroom sink, wearing a towel and a towel on her head
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For those suffering from blackheads, it can feel like a never-ending issue. Every time you squeeze one out, there’s plenty more of them just waiting to be dealt with. However, physically pushing out the gunk isn’t the most ideal way of dealing with blackheads.

“Blackheads form when your pore follicles get plugged or clogged with keratin made up of excess dirt and oil,” said New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Orit Markowitz. “If the skin above your follicle remains open, the keratin gets exposed to the environment, oxidizes and appears black in color.”

So, what should you do about those pesky spots? For starters, one of the most important ways to prevent and treat blackheads is by using the right skin care products. Here, we’ve gathered all the best face washes and masks for eliminating clogged pores, recommended by both experts and shoppers alike.

Best face washes for blackheads

Murad Acne Control Clarifying Cleanser

“Face washes with salicylic acid are the best way to treat blackheads,” said Markowitz. “Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that works as an exfoliator and unplugs the follicles, helping to get rid of blackheads.”

Beta-hydroxy acids are oil-soluble and therefore penetrate the skin deeper. This cleanser is formulated with two types of salicylic acid to help purify pores more effectively than other options.

Bioré Charcoal Acne Daily Cleanser

“One of my favorite cleansers is the Bioré Charcoal Acne Cleanser because it basically acts like a plunger and gets the gunk out of your pores,” said Markowitz. “Not only does it include salicylic acid to break down clogged pores, but it also has charcoal, which further helps detox and purify your pores.”

The cleanser is also oil-free, making it good for acne-prone and oily skin types.

Clinique Blackhead Solutions 7-Day Deep Pore Cleanse & Scrub

Considered a cleanser-scrub-mask hybrid, this formula controls excess oil, clears away dead skin cells and dislodges debris from pores using a blend of salicylic acid and kaolin clay.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Cleansing Gel

Using a combination of salicylic and glycolic acid, this cleansing gel washes away acne-causing bacteria with every use. Blackheads are reduced, pores are refined and oil production is balanced thanks to the product’s powerhouse ingredients.

Peter Thomas Roth Microdermabrasion Blackhead Eliminator

Another salicylic acid treatment, this intensive product from Peter Thomas Roth includes exfoliating crystals and a microencapsulated enzymatic complex to diminish the appearance of whiteheads and blackheads.

Best face masks for blackheads

RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Night Cream

While salicylic acid is known as an effective blackhead fighter, it’s not enough to keep them away forever. “To truly diminish blackheads you want to follow-up face washing with a product that will tighten your pores, like one with retinoids, otherwise they will just get clogged again,” said Markowitz.

While this isn’t exactly a mask, its leave-on formula is worth mentioning on this list due to its skin-clearing abilities. This formula accelerates cell turnover to prevent blackheads, pimples and clogged pores.

Differin Acne Gel

“My favorite retinoid product is the Differin Acne Gel featuring 0.1 percent adapalene as the active ingredient,” said Markowitz. “This gel was the first FDA-approved prescription-strength retinoid and is now available as an over-the-counter gel.”

Neutrogena Clear Pore Facial Cleanser/Mask

This cleanser and mask hybrid from Neutrogena contains 3.5 percent benzoyl peroxide acne medication to treat existing breakouts while also using kaolin and bentonite clay to absorb excess oil on the skin.

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask

This peel-off mask from First Aid Beauty contains red clay to deeply cleanse the skin and reduce oil. Simply apply the formula to your face, wait for 20 minutes and then peel off gently at the edges.

Caudalie Instant Detox Mask

For skin that needs a serious detox fast, try this pink-colored face mask. Rose clay purifies the skin, while papaya enzymes and tannins minimize the appearance of pores and brighten the skin.

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This article originally published on May 12, 2021.