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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,” says New York City 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? Well, 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.
The best face washes for blackheads
“Face washes with salicylic acid are the best way to treat blackheads,” says Dr. 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.
“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,” says Dr. 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.
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.
Another salicylic acid treatment, this intensive product includes exfoliating crystals and a microencapsulated enzymatic complex to diminish the appearance of whiteheads and blackheads.
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.
The best face masks for blackheads
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,” says Dr. 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.
“My favorite retinoid product is the Differin Acne Gel featuring 0.1% adapalene as the active ingredient,” says Dr. Markowitz. “This gel was the first FDA-approved prescription-strength retinoid and is now available as an over-the-counter gel.”
This cleanser and mask hybrid contains 3.5% benzoyl peroxide acne medication to treat existing breakouts while also using kaolin and bentonite clay to absorb excess oil on the skin.
This peel-off mask 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.
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.
For more stories like this, check out:
- How to effectively treat acne scarring, according to dermatologists
- 15 dermatologist-approved face washes for acne-prone skin
- I tested the pore mousse that went viral on TikTok — and it works like a dream