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February 24, 2021

You might follow a saintly skincare regime, and religiously take your makeup off before bed, but still find yourself at the mercy of a bad breakout.

Acne is one of the most troublesome, and challenging to treat, skin issues. An equal opportunist, it doesn’t discriminate with sex or age, with people getting acne well into their adult life.

Whether you have one lone spot hiding in your hairline or a cluster across the T-Zone, a breakout can knock your confidence. Annoyingly, it can also be hard to treat without expert advice.

And of all the spots, blackheads are one of the most stubborn and frustrating types. But help is out there. Skincare advancements give us more options than ever. So read on and find out how to get rid of blackheads permanently.

1. Do your prep

Doing your research comes in handy when it comes to defeating acne and blackheads.

Blackheads are a mild type of acne, medically known as open comedones. A blackhead is a blocked hair follicle or pore that has become saturated with dead skin cells, sebum and bacteria. The congested follicle becomes a wide opening at the surface of the skin which turns black when it is oxidised after exposure to air.

Anyone can get blackheads but those with oily skin are more prone to outbreaks. It’s important to be aware that having acne or blackheads doesn’t mean that your skin is actually dirty. Reasons for getting blemishes include:

  • A hormonal imbalance.
  • Genetics.
  • Poor diet.
  • Lack of sleep and self-care.
  • Using the wrong skincare products.

Some breakouts last a few days, but more stubborn blemishes can stay for months. But you can take control of your skincare regime to help banish these breakouts.

2. Rethink your routine

Keep it simple with products that are kind to the skin as well as specific to your skin type. Targeted products deliver only the most suitable ingredients to your skin and leave out what you don’t need to avoid a product overload.

3. Choose a clarifying cleanser

A stripped-back routine doesn’t mean a lazy one. A proper cleanse could help to minimise your acne.

A thorough cleanse is essential for not only removing makeup but for cleaning the epidermis underneath, and for this, you need a clarifying cleanser. Look for products that also contain ingredients like salicylic acid, which work deep into the pores to decongest the most clogged up of complexions. Other targeted formulations use glycolic acid on blackheads.

For an even deeper clean, invest in a cleansing brush. These help your product to penetrate the skin more effectively. Start by using this once or twice a week with a mask, and remember to be gentle. Punishing your skin won’t make it better!

4. Add oil-free moisture

Yes, oil and acne are best kept apart, but moisture is crucial to avoid dehydrated skin. Choose an oil-free formula that delivers hydration without clogging up the pores. Other ingredients like chamomile and aloe vera effectively soothe irritated skin, and hyaluronic acid is effective on acne, as well as pore-shrinking niacinamide.

5. Upgrade your serum

Serums are the hero products in most regimes, with concentrated doses of active ingredients that work alone and promote the effectiveness of other products. Again, go for a serum that targets your skin concern. Complexion boosting actives include azelaic acid, especially in a high strength which will target acne and reduce painful inflammation.

6. Look for ingredients not empty promises

Searching for spot slaying ingredients such as retinol, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid will help you better understand whether the products are geared to your skin type.

For starters, retinol encourages cell turnover and effective exfoliation. Benzoyl peroxide is an anti-bacterial often found in spot treatments and salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that helps to break down dead skin cells.

A word of warning though, these ingredients are potent and retinoid, in particular, needs to be added to your routine gradually. The strength you need will be based on your skin type but using a product containing retinol every three nights is advised before eventually progressing to nightly use. You must also take care not to mix products containing different acids without checking the safety of the combination to avoid redness and irritation.

7. Give it time

You can’t hurry good skincare and it’s important to give a new product at least 28 days to work to be able to make an informed decision. 28 days is the average length of the skin cycle and what is recommended by dermatologists to see whether a product makes a genuine difference to the skin.

8. Establish a night routine

It’s this simple. A night skincare regime is as important as a morning one. Dirt and sweat will build up on the skin throughout the day resulting in excess sebum. The perfect environment for spot promoting bacteria! Getting your beauty sleep is also beneficial, as lack of sleep can produce excess cortisol. So, find what relaxes you and get into that zone before bed.

9. Remove blackheads gently

Removing spots used to be a big skincare no-no, but you can speed up the process without risking scarring if you carefully follow the steps below:

  • Begin by gently washing your face with a mild cleanser. Go for a rinse-off formula to keep your face fresh and free of any unwanted oil and debris.
  • Dermatologists recommend steaming your face before any extractions to relax and open your pores. This will soften the blackhead and make it easier to remove. If you don’t have a facial steamer, simply place a warm cloth over your face for at least three minutes.
  • Wash your hands and use a tissue to gently apply pressure on either side of the bottom (root) of the blackhead without squeezing too hard. The tissue will stop bacteria from under the fingernails from infecting the spot. Use a back-and-forth rocking motion to release any dirt and oil. The spot should pop out but if it doesn’t it may happen the next day. Alternatively, you can use specially designed comedone tools to extract the blackhead.
  • Stick to a two-try rule. If the blackhead doesn’t come out after a couple of attempts, leave it for now and come back to it another day. Persistently attacking a blackhead will put you at risk of permanent scarring.
  • Follow your extraction by applying ice, wrapped in tissue, or a cooling mask to calm and soothe the area. Apply a light moisturiser once the skin has recovered and leave it 24 hours before applying any product containing acids.

10. Seek professional advice

Getting acne under control is key to an improvement in both your complexion and your self-esteem. If you’re feeling low, plan a trip to your GP. They may suggest prescription medication to help to clear your skin and prevent future breakouts.