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What You Can Do About Blackheads

What You Can Do About Blackheads

Posted by Dr. Hannah Sivak with Brendan Leonard on Aug 6th 2021

If you scroll through a list of today’s hottest skincare trends, you could be forgiven for thinking that the challenges people face on a daily basis are relentlessly niche. New products are getting rolled out each and every day for continually more granular concerns. New creams, serums, cleansers and oils promise the ability to achieve effects that you didn’t even know you wanted until you hear about them.

Meanwhile, the tools! Skincare tools are considered to be one of 2021’s hot trends, one that Skin Actives can’t promote because to our way of thinking, they just seem so superfluous.

But all this endless specificity is really the top of the pyramid.

What do we mean by that?

Well, imagine a skincare hierarchy of needs. At the bottom, where the base of the pyramid is widest, you’d have your most common concerns such as dry skin and acne. As you ascend the pyramid and the shape becomes more narrow, the skincare concerns become increasingly specialized, until at the pinnacle you have some truly esoteric stuff.

But, in truth, to find yourself breathing that rarefied air, you are doing pretty well.

The reality of these intensely specific products your skin is probably tremendously great and you are working out the details. But that isn’t a reality for most people.

The vast majority of people are still struggling with basic, fundamental skin care challenges.

If you scroll through just regular people expressing their skin care concerns, what do you see?

Acne, pores and blackheads.

The Anatomy of a Blackhead

It’s not hard to spot a blackhead, and when you have them, you may feel like they dominate your face. But what is a blackhead really?

The yucky, congealed material that makes up the blackhead is a mix of sebum and keratin.

As we discussed previously, when dead matter and excess oil clog a pore, it creates not only food, but a great environment for p. acnes bacteria to grow.

Having such a mixture residing inside your face is a thought that can bring on a frenetic rush of activity. Sometimes you just want it out. And while the experience of draining these tiny infections can have a soothing effect on our nervous, racing minds, the urge to “do something” about this problem can create long term damaging problems for our skin. Like we always say, sometimes less is more.

It may not be as immediately satisfying to carry out the long-term patient skincare we advise here at Skin Actives Scientific, but it’s almost always better for you.*

Here are a couple of things you should NEVER do to confront your blackhead problem:

  1. Pick - Do not pick at blackheads, it may cause an infection and lead to further irritation and damage of the skin barrier in the area around the blackhead. Your body is already working to heal itself, don’t increase your body’s work exponentially with a potential wound on your face. And what do wounds leave, that’s right: scars. Don’t let a moment of frustration mark you for a lifetime.
  2. Vacuum - This gets back to our general reluctance about devices and tools. Vacuum devices for the face can break blood vessels and cause other skin trauma. Your skin did not evolve over tens of thousands of years to be manipulated and abraded by mass-market consumer tools and devices. These machines are incredibly hard on a vital organ: your skin! Be kind to your skin so that it can be kind to you!
  3. Scour - You might be filled with the urge to turn the water on super hot and blast your face with the most intense soaps and cleansers you can find. Don’t. There are plenty of companies out there trying to lull you into this fallacy. Like picking and vacuuming, there is a lot of potential to do more harm than good. Especially avoid cleansers that contain alcohols such as benzoyl peroxide. Alcohols are rich in free radicals, and while they will kill acne causing bacteria, they will also saturate your skin with oxidants that will age you prematurely and expose you to long term skin health risks.
  4. Conceal - Even though blackheads feel super embarrassing, avoid the urge to paint over them with thick make-up or other concealing products. The clogging of your pores with dead and excess matter is what leads to this problem in the first place, so doubling down is not going to help you get out of it.

So what can you do then?

Lots of things!

Blackhead Eliminating Strategies That Work

Here are a couple of things you can do in the effort to get blackheads out of your life sooner, rather than later

  • Look for products containing retinoids - Retinoids help renew skin so that dead cells don't clog the pores. So look for products featuring vitamin A and vitamin A derivatives. Skin Actives features a host of these products, you can check them out here. Read more about our Ultra Clarifying Blemish Oil with vitamin A, below.
  • Exfoliate, lightly - A light chemical exfoliation can be just what you need, unclogging your pores without causing collateral damage to other skin cells. Some exfoliators, such as those containing salicylic acid, also have antibacterial effects and may help remove the bacteria and p. acnes present on the skin. 
  • Nose strips - Look, this is a bit outside the Skin Actives wheelhouse, but we’re not against them. Nose strips can work, depending on the stage the blackhead is at. The adhesive present in the strip will cause very subtle damage to the skin so remember to clean your skin before and after to prevent infection. That said, be gentle! Anything taken too far or with too much vigor can hurt you more than help.
  • See a Dermatologist - If your blackheads are bad enough, give yourself permission to seek treatment from a doctor. Dermatologists or specially trained skin care professionals use an instrument called a round loop extractor to remove the plug causing the blackhead. After a small opening is made in the plug, the doctor applies pressure with the extractor to remove the clog. Keep in mind that professionals are trained to use these tools!

Skin Actives Blackhead Fighting Routine

All things considered, here is how we prefer to fight blackheads here at Skin Actives Scientific. There is some room here to select the products that are right for you! Just use these great blackhead fighting products, add some time, some patience and mix lightly, and we’ll sure you’ll see positive results.


Start your day off right cleansing with our Salicylic Cleanser. This cleanser removes excess oil and matter that could potentially clog pores causing blackheads. If you find that Salicylic Cleanser is a bit too drying, our Daily Cleansing Gel will do the trick.

Follow up with our Hyaluronic Acid Serum with EGF. This great serum is a blend of hydrating antioxidants that will give your skin what it needs to function while the epidermal growth factor pushes renewal through natural cell turnover.


Cleanse with your favorite cleanser and then follow up before bed with a spot treatment of our Ultra Clarifying Blemish Oil. Ultra Clarifying Blemish Oil fights acne growing bacteria without the harsh chemicals and side effects found in many products. Discourage bacteria, reduce inflammation and improve overall skin health all at the same time with this brand new innovation from Skin Actives Scientific.


Once a week, exfoliate with our gentle Alpha Beta Exfoliator. You only need to do it once a week! Wash away the dead skin cells that your face just doesn’t need any more.

So that about does it for this episode, Skin Actives family! Make sure to check back with us again on Tuesday when we have a brand new blog coming in for you!

*We qualify this remark by suggesting that you always take the advice of your educated, licensed medical professional. Please, please please, do as your doctor tells you.