It seems simple, but do you really know how to get rid of blackheads? Personally, I’ve been at war against my blackheads since I first discovered Bioré pore strips back in high school. Seeing that black gunk is just so satisfying! However, that may not be the best way to get rid of them—or to prevent them in the first place.
First, it helps to know what blackheads actually are. “A blackhead is a clump of oil and dirt mixed together in a pore,” Cecilia Wong, a celebrity facialist based in New York City, tells SELF. “If you don’t take care of your pores, eventually the dirt and oil will accumulate. If someone has a lot of blackheads, you can feel it—the skin is rough, scratchy, and bumpy.”
Pores, also called comedones, are little dimples in the skin that surround a hair follicle, SELF explained previously. They also house your sebaceous glands, which produce the oil (sebum) on your face. When those pores get clogged, a blackhead can form. Blackheads are also called open comedones because, unlike whiteheads, they don’t have a layer of skin cells on top. That allows the gunk inside the pore to be exposed to the air and get oxidized, which causes it to change to a darker color.
Basically anyone can get blackheads, but those with combination or oily skin are most prone to developing them, Marnie B. Nussbaum, M.D., New York City–based medical, cosmetic and laser dermatologist, tells SELF. And if you feel like you get them around your nose more often than anywhere else on your face, you’re not imagining it: The skin around your nose has a particularly high concentration of sebum glands, meaning extra oil and a higher potential for clogged pores.
Perhaps because blackheads are both so common and so frustrating, people have tried countless weird (sometimes reckless) ways to remove them, including the grits exfoliation technique from Reddit and the DIY gelatin mask.
But at the end of the day, we’ve found that the best—and least damaging—ways to treat and prevent blackheads tend to be on the simpler side. If you’re wondering how to get rid of blackheads, here are 15 helpful dermatologist-approved tips to make it easier to get rid of blackheads on your nose, chin, and forehead.