Blackheads are open pores, or comedones, that have gotten plugged at the surface with oil and dirt. When exposed to air, this unwelcome gunk oxidizes, resulting in a dark blackish appearance. Attributed to various factors, from heredity and age to skincare habits and hormones, blackheads are more visible on some people’s skin than others. Whether you’re a teenager or are navigating the changes in mature skin – or you’re somewhere in between – you can create a healthy, natural skincare routine that clears away blackheads.
Keep in mind that because of the variables involved in what causes blackheads, you may need to go through some trial and error to find the treatment method that works best for you. Fortunately, with a little patience and persistence, you can manage the occurrence of blackheads long-term. Plus, by using natural remedies, you’ll feel confident about both your skin and your lifestyle choices.
Natural blackhead remedies
There are plenty of benefits to practicing a natural beauty routine, from keeping your skin healthy and safe from harsh chemicals to supporting eco-friendly practices. Whether you’re motivated by the need to save money, prefer pampering your skin in the comfort of home or simply enjoy natural methods of caring for your skin, you can choose from DIY options that are easy and efficient to put together.
Looking for convenient natural alternatives in the form of high-quality skincare products? Keep reading to get the best of both worlds, and send your blackheads packing.
- Exfoliation. Exfoliating sloughs away dead skin cells that could potentially clog your pores and lead to blackheads and breakouts. As Dr. Alicia Zalka, Connecticut-based dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, tells the Huffington Post, “Exfoliating is one of the only variables we do have control of when it comes to minimizing the appearance of blackheads.” According to Everyday Roots, the process of exfoliating also stimulates circulation (albeit temporarily), leading to a fresh, radiant glow and a smoother, softer complexion. Ready to give your skin a healthy scrub? You likely already have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen.
- DIY: Baking soda exfoliant. According to Dr. Zalka, “Baking soda is an ingredient that is often used in microdermabrasion which as a method of exfoliating, can aid in minimizing blackheads when done regularly.” Try mixing water with enough baking soda to form a thin paste, then gently massage into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water and follow with moisturizer. You can also use apple cider vinegar in place of water, taking advantage of its astringent and anti-bacterial properties to cleanse your pores. Just be sure to use a light touch with this exfoliant, as baking soda can be abrasive, and limit treatment to once or twice a week.
- DIY: Sugar scrub. Take a sweeter route with an easy, cleansing sugar scrub. Start with about a cup of brown or white sugar and 4 tablespoons of jojoba oil, which is the oil that most closely resembles the sebum our skin produces. If you don’t have jojoba oil, you can opt for grapeseed, olive or sweet almond oil. Add some essential oils if you’d like for fragrance, and stir it all together. Massage the scrub over wet skin, using circular motions. Rinse with water and follow with moisturizer. To avoid drying out or irritating your skin, use this exfoliant no more than two or three times a week.
- Product recommendations: Look for a product that contains salicylic acid, such as Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution. This formula contains 2% salicylic acid to unclog pores but foregoes other harsher ingredients that can further irritate acne. As Dr. Jennifer MacGregor of Union Square Laser Dermatology notes to the Huffington Post, “The best way to break down oil in clogged pores is by using beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic) or combination peels containing salicylic acid.” You can also look for a product with glycolic acid, such as June Jacobs Anti-Aging Blemish Control Peel Pads or Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner. With consistent use, these ingredients can “prevent the blackheads before they form and help clear existing pores,” says Dr. MacGregor.
- Clay masks. A clay mask can gently exfoliate and draw out impurities from the skin, while also helping to absorb oil, according to Dr. MacGregor. Start with one of these easy recipes or choose a readymade mask made with natural ingredients.
- DIY: Bentonite clay mask. Bentonite is a mineral-rich clay that can treat blackheads and improve circulation. Mix about a tablespoon of clay with apple cider vinegar or, if you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for water. Apply the paste and let it sit for 10-25 minutes, depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Rinse the mask off with warm water and apply your usual moisturizer.
- Product recommendations: Absorb excess oil, purify skin and reduce the appearance of blackheads with Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Clay Mask. Your skin will feel smooth and invigorated, without risk of over-drying due to harsh ingredients. You can also minimize blackheads with Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask, which can be worn overnight for clearer, calmer skin, or try Joey New York Bye Bye Blackheads.
- Pore strips. Pore strips, whether commercial or homemade, can be effective in treating blackheads if they’re part of a regular, preventative skincare regimen. Create your own pore strips with these easy recipes or choose a product made with tea tree oil, enzymes or other natural ingredients.
- DIY: Honey pore strips. Honey offers gentle antiseptic and antibacterial support for your skin, making it an optimal choice for natural, budget-friendly pore strips. To make your own, mix a tablespoon of raw organic honey with 1 teaspoon of milk. Heat the mixture for 5-10 seconds in the microwave, then blend together and wait till the mixture cools enough to apply a thin layer over your blackheads. Pat a strip of dry, clean cotton over the honey formula and wait 20 minutes to dry before peeling the strip away. Rinse your skin with cold water and finish with an oil-free moisturizer such as Juice Beauty Oil Free Moisturizer. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of honey and cinnamon, which improves circulation and increases blood flow. Mix the two ingredients together, then apply the paste and cotton strip for three to five minutes before rinsing off.
- Product recommendations: Earth Therapeutics Clari-T, Pore Cleansing Strips contain tea tree to naturally purify skin and pull dirt from the pores. You can also peel away blackheads with Pevonia Speciale Enzymo-Spherides Peeling Creme, which is formulated with natural ingredients like pineapple and papaya enzymes, along with gingko and calendula, to eliminate dead cells and blackheads.
- Toner. Although it isn’t possible to actually shrink your pores, you can make them appear smaller with the help of some natural formulas. Choose the best option for your skin type from the at-home remedies below, or take a shortcut with a readymade product.
- DIY: Lemon juice. Lemon juice contains alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), which acts as an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Natural Living Ideas advises creating your own lemon toner by squeezing about a teaspoon of organic lemon juice into a bowl. After washing your face with a gentle cleanser like June Jacobs Anti-Aging Blemish Control Foaming Cleanser, dab the lemon juice onto your blackheads using a cotton ball. Let it dry at least 10 minutes – or overnight – and rinse your face with cold water. You can apply this toning treatment as often as once daily.
- DIY: Green tea. According to Natural Living Ideas, green tea contains vitamins and antioxidants that can help acne-prone skin by fighting excess oil and reducing inflammation. To benefit from the skin-healthy properties of green tea, steep two green tea bags in boiling hot water for an hour. Let the liquid cool until it’s lukewarm, then dab onto your blackheads and let it dry for about 10 minutes. Rinse your skin with cool water and follow with a natural moisturizer that helps balance skin and control oil, such as Astara Blue Flame Oil Free Moisturizer.
- DIY: Apple cider vinegar and mint. Break down blackhead-causing bacteria while cooling and tightening your skin with an apple cider vinegar and mint toner. Just combine 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons crushed or finely chopped fresh mint leaves, then let the mixture sit for a week in a cool, dry place. Strain the mixture, add a cup of water and use nightly after rinsing your face. You can apply the toner with clean cotton balls and let it sit overnight or for several hours, depending on the sensitivity of your skin. Rinse in the morning and finish with a healing moisturizer, such asPevonia Problematic Skin Care Cream.
- Product recommendations: For an easy and convenient toner option, try Topix Solvere Acne Clearing Toner Pads, which exfoliate with the combined power of glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Natural ingredients like witch hazel, green tea extract and zinc PCA help soothe oily, acne-prone skin and reduce inflammation.
Preventative skincare habits to stave off future blackheads
To avoid aggravating current blackheads and to prevent future breakouts, first keep in mind what not to do: Refrain from squeezing, picking or over-scrubbing blackheads, as this can exacerbate oil production and lead to more blackheads and irritation. In fact, squeezing blackheads is actually the worst possible approach, according to experts like Dr. Zalka. She tells the Huffington Post, “This can make skin inflamed, infected and even cause scarring. Be careful not to use any sharp tools on the skin. Leave that to the professionals!”
The best route to maintaining clear, blackhead-free skin is to diligently follow a preventative skincare regimen, utilizing the treatments above along with these everyday tips.
- Cleanse wisely (and gently). Avoid using harsh cleansers, which can irritate skin and increase oil production, leading to more blackheads. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser such as June Jacobs Anti-Aging Blemish Control Foaming Cleanser. Consider investing in a Clarisonic system such as Clarisonic SMART Profile Sonic Cleansing System or Clarisonic Mia 2 Value Set – Peony. Used together with Clarisonic Deep Pore Daily Cleanser, a Clarisonic skincare device can gently deep-clean pores to refine skin and prevent blackheads.
- Limit contact with dirt, oil and pore-clogging products. Wear as little makeup as possible to let your skin breathe, and wash your pillowcase weekly to eliminate buildup of oil and dead skin cells.
- Manage excess oil. Blot your face throughout the day with oil blotting papers like Jane Iredale Face Blotting Papers to soak up excess oil. You can also add to your routine a daily treatment likeAstara Blue Flame Purifying Treatment to help unclog pores and minimize oil.
Blackheads can be a persistent and disheartening concern, but with a little know-how, you can manage breakouts and take preventative measures using natural, DIY methods that align with your beauty goals, budget realities and eco-friendly intentions. Keep blackheads at bay now and in the years to come with this handy guide to at-home treatments and natural ingredients – and feel confident in your clear, healthy skin!