I began seeing blackheads on my skin after giving birth to my daughter. But now I know a few tricks for how to clear them out.
What Are Blackheads?
Blackheads are essentially impacted pores. Excess sebum, build-up of dead skin cells, and bacteria reacting with oxygen all contribute to giving them their signature black color.
Many people suffer from them, and squeezing them out is not only painful but also damaging to your skin. Although it might be rather satisfying, I highly suggest you avoid that method at all costs (even though sometimes we just can't help ourselves . . . myself included).
I've been pretty blessed my whole life in that I really didn't need to wash my face excessively and never really had bad acne. After giving birth to my daughter, however, I noticed that I had a load of large blackheads covering my nose and was having breakouts pretty regularly, possibly due to hormones. So on my adventure to rid myself of this problem, I picked up quite a few tricks to clear out blackheads and minimize my pores.
In this article, I'll share those tips and tricks to help you get a handle on those pesky blackheads.
Hack #1: Exfoliating Face Wash
My biggest issue that I realized I have is dead skin build-up. People will put labels on skin types as dry, oily, etc. But my face tends to be dry and oily at the same time, and the result is a lot of build-up on the skin after just a day or so.
The first and most important step of getting rid of acne and blackheads is just a good face washing routine. So you need to determine: what kind of issues is your skin actually having? Are you getting this build-up from dry skin, like myself, or oily skin?
My issues are mostly in my T-zone (nose, forehead, and the skin next to nose), and this is true for a lot of people. If your skin is just oily and not very dry—and you're not noticing a build-up or anything when you wash—you may not need to exfoliate as often as others. I do so every other day and also follow up with another pore clearing and brightening face wash afterwards.
My Favorite Exfoliator and Face Wash
Personally, I use Posh BFF (Best Face Forever) Exfoliating Face Wash, along with Innisfree Brightening and Pore-caring Facial Cleanser. I have very sensitive skin, and for years I just thought it was normal to have burning red face after washing. But that's absolutely not healthy!
If you can find something cheaper that works for you, however, go for it! As long as you're seeing results, the price tag doesn't matter. For me, even Oil of Olay sensitive formulas caused me issues. So while I am spending quite a bit on my regular routine, it's worth it for me. The amount of product you get in each one makes it worth it as well, because it does last a long time, and you really don't need to use more than a pea-size amount of each.
I was using just the Innisfree for a little while, but I realized that my face really needed the exfoliating—and it was leaving me very, very dry. What introduced me to that brand in the first place, however, was that I was in desperate need of a moisturizer and was unwilling to spend the money on shipping for Posh to get their Moisturize 911.
My Favorite Moisturizer
So I picked up the Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Cream with Green Tea Seed. This is absolutely the best moisturizer I've ever used hands down. It smells amazing, and it does such an amazing job and goes so far. I've had it for at least three to four months now, and I'm not even halfway through it.
Hack #2: Face Masks
There are a lot of face masks out there, and I personally love them. As someone with lots of build-up, I really like exfoliating types of masks to help on a more long-term level.
If you're someone with extremely oily skin, however, you may benefit a lot more from a clay-type mask. Hydrating masks are also extremely beneficial for dry skin types. If you get a lot of build-up, then combining these with exfoliating masks can be a lot of help in the long run by reducing how much you're actually shedding.
Most of the face masks that I've used have been from Posh. And while I do really love most of their products, they are very pricey. I have experimented a lot with different sheet-type masks, and these are definitely great alternatives. This is especially true if you're not looking to spend $20 and just want to give it a go and see what the results are.
I highly suggest trying cheap, quick pick-up masks for experimenting to see what benefits your skin the most.
Hack #3: Peel Masks and Nose Strips
There is a lot of controversy on whether or not these are good for your skin. But the bottom line for me is that the Bioré Nose Strips do an amazing job of clearing out your pores. If you haven't had much success with using them, I have some tricks that will help you.
If you've read the instructions, you already know you need to have dampened skin for the nose strips to stick on properly. You don't want it to be too wet. But if you don't have enough moisture, then they will definitely not be lifting up much.
Opening Up Your Pores With Heat
With that in mind, you may or may not know that heat will open your pores. My suggestion is to use a very, very warm (not burning) wash cloth and just leave it on your face for a few minutes before using the nose strips. This will help open your pores up and give that strip a better opportunity to help grab at it.
Making a Baking Soda Paste
Another trick that I have seen work but have not personally used myself is to use a little baking soda and turn it into a paste. After heating up your face and opening your pores, as suggested above, massage the paste into your nose and those side cheek areas next to it. This should help bring those blackheads even closer to the surface, giving the nose strips a much better chance at grabbing them and pulling them out. Make sure to wash it off before applying the strip.
Are Nose Strips Actually Bad for You?
Now, some people will say that you're not supposed to be using these nose strips. They say the strips will only enlarge your pores, and you're pulling out something that is supposed to be there and will always, always grow back. This is true and not true. Of course, they will grow back if you leave your pores open and do nothing to reduce them. Yes, even if you do reduce them, they will still grow back anyways. It's just the natural order of things. With my next hack, however, you will be able to reduce that effect drastically. So in the long term, you will have less noticeable build-up—without the gaping pores.
Are Peel-Off Black Masks Effective?
As far as those peel-off black masks go, I do use them myself. I do not apply them fully to my face unless I'm really needing to pick up dead skin, however, because honestly they don't really do a great job of picking up the blackheads. The one I use contains charcoal, so it still does something as far as clarifying the pores. Normally, I will only apply that to my T-zone.
Hack #4: Close and Shrink Your Pores
There is a method to follow as far as skincare routines, and I would consider this last hack to be the most important one.
On a typical day, you would cleanse and moisturize and call it a day, right? Say you wanted to do a face mask though. Instead of moisturizing directly after cleansing, you would moisturize after the face mask. It's the same with nose strips: after cleansing, before moisturizing.
What I do is add in an extra step that comes before moisturizing. If you haven't been using facial toners before, you will be so amazed by what an impact this has on your overall skin health.
The Facial Toner That Dramatically Changed My Skin
I use a facial toner from Bioré with witch hazel, and it's absolutely changed my skin's appearance dramatically. I was struggling really badly with large pores and blackheads, and this completely eliminated my problem more so than anything else. I hardly use the nose strips anymore, just because I don't really need to now that I've added this into my routine. If you're at the point where you need an immediate fix for blackheads, definitely use the nose strips beforehand.
So my daily routine, without anything fancy now, is to cleanse, tone, and then moisturize. Have you ever seen those videos where they were dunking their faces in cold water after cleansing? Toning is kind of the same idea as that. Warm/hot water will open your pores and cold will close. Toning leaves a cooling feeling on your skin, while also cleansing, and it does an amazing job of shrinking your pores.
So, remember those complaints about nose strips enlarging your pores in the long run? This is the solution! I only wish at this point—now that I'm sharing it with the world—that I had a before picture of how bad my blackheads were and how large the pores on my nose were before I started this routine.
If you plan on using a face mask after cleansing, follow up with toner and then moisturizer. I started noticing results in a week and, like I mentioned before, I don't even really use nose strips anymore, because I just don't need them. I'm not saying I don't use them at all. But now instead of using them once a week, it's maybe once a month or once every two months.
If you're sweating a lot, doing a lot of heavy activities, or cooking in places where there's a lot of grease in the air, you may have a different experience than myself. But that also means you should be cleansing and doing a full skincare routine (cleanse, tone, moisturize) more often, especially after the above mentioned circumstances.
Recommended Products and Where to Find Them
I mentioned before that I really like Posh. It is really expensive, however. And while you can go online and order it, unless you're ordering multiple items, it can be pretty expensive to ship. Their products are really great and, to my knowledge, all naturally derived. If you can find a consultant near you who has things on hand, I would highly suggest reaching out to them if you like brands that are focused on naturally derived ingredients.
Innisfree is also quite pricey. I personally got mine from Sephora, but I've noticed that it's also available on Amazon. So that's extremely convenient and honestly a great brand that I really fell in love with. It is a South Korean cosmetics brand, and I again highly suggest their green tea moisturizer. I will likely pick up their exfoliating cleanser when I run out of my Posh BFF to try it out. I'll probably update this once I do to let you know how I liked it and how my extremely sensitive skin handled it.
You can find Bioré products all over, from pharmacies to grocery stores and, of course, Amazon. I have personally never tried any other toners, because this one has just worked for me and the price is great. You get a pretty large bottle for between $5–$10, and it does the job. If you take nothing else from this article, take away that toner is your solution to large pores.
If you have any suggestions on different products or methods that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to leave it in the comments! I love trying new things, and it's always great to hear what worked for others and get some ideas on new things to try out. Thanks for reading, and I hope this article has helped you in some way!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.