If you’re reading this then you’re probably very familiar with the annoying little black dots that grace your beautiful face. To understand how you can combat the issue of blackheads, you should know a little bit about your skin, as well as the tools available to you in this battle.
- What You Need to Know About Face Masks for Blackheads
- Top 9 Best Face Masks for Blackheads 2021
- 1. Best Overall Face Mask for Blackheads Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Exfoliating Mask
- 2. Best Premium Face Mask for Blackheads Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask
- 3. Best Face Mask for Sensitive Skin MAJESTIC PURE Moroccan Red Clay Facial Mud Mask
- 4. Best Face Mask for Acne Acne Free Sulfur Mask
- 5. Best Budget Face Mask Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay
- 6. Best Sheet Face Mask LAPCOS Charcoal Sheet Mask
- 7. Best-Smelling Face Mask Green Tea Matcha Facial Mud Mask
- 8. Best Multi-Clay Face Mask L'Oreal Paris Skincare Pure Clay Face Mask with Charcoal
- 9. Best Peel Off Face Mask Vassoul Peel Off Blackhead Mask
- The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Face Mask
- Treat Yourself to the Best Face Mask for Blackheads
What You Need to Know About Face Masks for Blackheads
To help understand how and why face masks for blackheads work, we’ll explore what blackheads are and the best ways to treat them.
What Actually Are Blackheads?
Firstly, what blackheads aren’t – they’re not dirt, and don’t really reflect on the hygiene of the person. They also don’t reside in your sweat pores.
Blackheads are formed in the hair follicle, which is commonly referred to as a pore, and is not to be confused with a sweat pore. Within the hair follicle you will find sebaceous glands that excrete oil, also referred to as sebum. Through a combination of excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, the pore can expand and fill up, appearing as a black dot upon oxidation with air.
Difference Between Blackheads and Sebaceous Filaments
There is an important distinction to make between a sebaceous filament and a blackhead. As previously described, a blackhead is a mixture of excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria, resulting in an enlarged, blocked pore. A sebaceous filament, however, is the sebum coating found within the hair follicle.
Now, hold up – it’s not as contradictory as it may sound. A sebaceous filament is a natural and necessary occurrence. This coating of sebum along the hair follicle aids in wicking away the sebum from the gland onto the surface of the skin, resulting in oiliness – nature’s moisturizer.
The sebaceous filaments do appear as tiny little dots, most often seen on the nose, and can be easily mistaken for blackheads. Difference being, the sebaceous filament is a perfectly normal part of your skin that maintains its health, while a blackhead is a blockage of the follicle resulting in an unsightly appearance.
The filaments are often observed on oily skin, particularly the T-zone, as well as the trunk of the body in some people. If your skin is oily most likely these sebaceous filaments are more noticeable while not necessarily being true blackheads.
So How Can You Treat and Prevent Blackheads?
While it may be tempting, you don’t want to pick at the sebaceous filaments and attempt to remove them, as you risk damaging and scarring your skin for a temporary solution. The sebum will come back within days. This is important to remember as when pampering your skin you don’t want to damage. You must be patient and not give in to the temptation of a quick fix.
By keeping your skin exfoliated and clean you can minimize the appearance of these sebaceous filaments and prevent blackheads from forming. It’s all about being regular and consistent, rather than using a harsh treatment once in a blue moon. Regular masking to exfoliate and absorb excess sebum will greatly help with the fight against blackheads.
If you need a little more guidance with choosing the right mask for you, or you’re simply interested in the detail, there’s an in-depth guide at the bottom of this article to take you through skin types, ingredients, and more.
Now, it’s time to jump into the best face masks for blackheads available.
Top 9 Best Face Masks for Blackheads 2021
1. Best Overall Face Mask for Blackheads Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Exfoliating Mask
- Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid
- Suitable For: All Skin Types but be Careful if You Have Sensitive Skin
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get:7 fl oz
The Andalou mask is not only great for your skin but also will make you smell like pumpkin pie, at least for as long as you have the mask on. If you enjoy making DIY masks out of ingredients in your kitchen, then this mask will save you the hassle and be more effective at the same time.
The mask includes aloe and honey which will soothe the skin, as well as fruit extracts, such as pineapple and lemon, to help brighten it. The seed oils will not only nourish the skin, but also help to cleanse it as they will be able to dissolve the natural skin oils to some extent.
The main active ingredient is glycolic acid which is amazing at sloughing off the dead skin cells and leaving you with a brighter complexion. In turn this exfoliation will help with the blackheads as they will be removed much more easily due to better access.
Although marketed as brightening, the ingredients are still effective at clearing those blackheads. However, glycolic acid and citrus fruit extracts can be quite irritating for very sensitive skin.
As a bonus the formula is gluten free, cruelty free, vegetarian, fragrance free, and essential oil free!
- Gluten free, cruelty free
- Great exfoliator
- Works on more than just blackheads
- Can be irritating to sensitive skin
- Active Ingredients: Australian Pink Clay
- Suitable For: All Skin Types
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get: 1 oz
This mask is packed with plant extracts and ingredients that we know work. It’s a multitasking mask that will clear the pores, tighten up the skin, and generally will make your skin look beautiful and glowy. This mask is cruelty free, vegan, paraben free, and gluten free – as cosmetics nowadays should be. This mask is pretty expensive but at least it’s a good product that is packed with great ingredients and comes with an applicator brush.
The main ingredient is kaolin – specifically the pink one from Australia. And when we say it’s the main ingredient, it is the first ingredient on the list; even water is second in this mask which ensures you’re not getting a watery mess.
The clays (kaolin and bentonite) are there to purify skin and absorb excess oil which will directly help with minimizing the blackheads. This mask also has other beneficial ingredients such as aloe for soothing, witch hazel as an astringent, and plant extracts for moisturization and nourishment, to name just a few.
Although this mask will provide you with the full spa experience, it’s a shame that it contains fragrance, ruining the streak of skin awesomeness. This means the mask is suitable for pretty much anyone, unless you have particularly sensitive skin.
- Plenty of plant extracts that are known to work
- Cruelty free and gluten free
- A premium experience right at home
- Applicator included
- Contains fragrance
- Quite pricey
3. Best Face Mask for Sensitive Skin MAJESTIC PURE Moroccan Red Clay Facial Mud Mask
- Active Ingredients: Kaolin & Moroccan Lava Clay
- Suitable For: All Skin Types
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get: 10 oz
Great masks don’t only come from Korea – this one is amazing at purifying your skin and is made in the USA. The formula should work for pretty much anyone as there is no space for nasties on this ingredients list.
This mask boasts not one, but two different types of clay, both present in significant amounts. These clays are kaolin and Moroccan lava clay which is mineral rich, and good for the skin. The Moroccan lava clay is more moisturizing than bentonite or kaolin, and yes, it is indeed mined in Morocco.
Other great ingredients are included in the formula such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and sea silt. These ingredients in combination with the clays will not only absorb oils and cleanse your skin, but also leave it more moisturized and nourished, more than any other run of the mill clay mask. Plenty of other flower and plant extracts are included as well, which will provide further nourishing effects and leave your skin pampered.
Although this mask doesn’t contain any chemical exfoliators like the LAPCOS mask, the combination of clay and nourishing ingredients will do a good job at clearing out your pores, removing impurities, and minimizing the blackheads – all without irritation.
The inclusion of British rose may get you excited for the benefits, but it’s included specifically as a fragrance ingredient rather than a nourishing one. That being said, let’s appreciate that the fragrance is labeled specifically as rose gel, which will make it much easier to determine if you’re fine with this addition or not.
- Not tested on animals
- Great ingredient list
- Transparency with fragrance content
- Does contain fragrance
4. Best Face Mask for Acne Acne Free Sulfur Mask
- Active Ingredients: Sulfur 3.5%
- Suitable For: Acne Sufferers
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get: 1.7 oz
Not pretty, fancy, or chic, but effective. If you have acne and struggle with breakouts as well as blackheads then this may be the product you’re looking for. Though it seems the company was trying to make up for not being cool, by adding ultramarines to boast ‘color changing technology’, which feels like a bit of a gimmick, but at least it’s not harmful.
Sulfur is a known ingredient used as an acne treatment – both for blackheads and whiteheads. It’s not as popular today as other ingredients are, purely because of the smell. Bentonite and kaolin are also included in this mask which help to absorb excess oils and tighten the pores.
Due to the clay components tightening the pores and absorbing excess oils, the skin can feel tight and a bit dry afterward. It’s important to remember that you should moisturize your skin (using non comedogenic products) to prevent the pores from gunking up again with oils.
As it does contain sulfur there is a slight scent to it, which can be unpleasant but is minimal. In line with the more clinical feel of the product, the formula is fragrance free and essential oil free making it suitable even for more sensitive skin.
- Contains sulfur, a proven acne treatment
- Contains clays to help and purify
- Free from fragrances and essential oils
- Can smell a little
- Skin can feel a little tight afterward
5. Best Budget Face Mask Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay
- Active Ingredients: Bentonite Clay
- Suitable For: All Skin Types
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get: 1 lb.
This face mask became popular both for its merits as well as downfalls. The reason why people love it? It’s strong. And why do people hate it? Well, it’s STRONG.
The only ingredient in this mask is Natural Calcium Bentonite (Green) Clay. Nothing more, nothing less. This means it comes as a powder, and what you do with it is ultimately up to you.
Since it’s a powder you have to mix it up with water, or some other liquid of your choice to get it to a mask consistency. Perfect if you want to do a little experimentation and not just get the ready product like the Andalou mask.
It’s a love it or hate it product but one thing is true for sure – it’s strong as hell. People with more sensitive skin or struggling with dryness tend to hate this as it burns their face, and they’re left with red and angry skin. However, people with resilient, thick skin love it as it’s the only thing that helps them clear their blackheads and pimples.
Doing a little research into recipes for masks is a good idea, as well as finding out which liquids will make this clay more compatible with your skin. The bentonite powder is affordable and allows for experimentation – treat your blackheads however you want.
Some ideas: Yoghurt or honey will help to help soothe the skin. Apple cider vinegar is (recommended by the manufacturer) for hardcore cleansing; however, that is probably a bit too much for most people.
- Very customizable
- Super oil absorbing
- Affordable, no-fuss effectiveness
- Can be too strong for some people
- Not a formula that’s ready to apply
6. Best Sheet Face Mask LAPCOS Charcoal Sheet Mask
- Active Ingredients: Charcoal Powder & Glycolic Acid
- Suitable For: Oily and Normal Skin
- Mask Type: Sheet
- How Much You Get: 5 Sheet Masks
The masks in the charcoal series are created to purify your skin and clear the imperfections. The masks have plenty of serum; they’re fully saturated with plenty left to massage into your face afterward. The high amount of liquid ensures the mask doesn’t dry out during the time you have it on, but it can get a little drippy.
Formulated with charcoal powder which will act to cleanse the skin, as well as Sciadopitys verticillata root extract (also known as Japanese umbrella pine tree), utilized for its protective and skin softening and smoothing properties.
Glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid are also included to act as an exfoliant and a humectant respectively, along with plenty of fruit and flower extracts.
This sheet mask is most suitable for people with oilier skin that is not sensitive. The addition of beneficial ingredients is all good and well. But there are also some questionable ingredients involved.
Alcohol is found near the top of the ingredient list, indicating a pretty high concentration, and suggesting the product relies on the drying properties of the alcohol to tighten pores and remove impurities. In addition, fragrance is also included in concentrations higher than any of the active ingredients.
The inclusion of alcohol as well as fragrance is a warning sign to people with sensitive skin, that this mask can be quite irritating.
- Plenty of serum in each pack
- A nice collection of fruit and flower extracts
- Can be purifying for oily skin
- Contains alcohol and fragrance
- Not for dry and sensitive skin
7. Best-Smelling Face Mask Green Tea Matcha Facial Mud Mask
- Active Ingredients: Clay
- Suitable For: Normal Skin
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get: 3 oz
Jumping on the green tea matcha hype train, this is a green creamy mask that will help to clear your pores as well as generally improve the appearance of your skin. This mask is also cruelty free and vegan.
The main ingredient of this mask is clay (labeled as volcanic mineral slurries) to provide the pore clearing effects. As the name suggests it also has green tea extracts, but unfortunately they’re in very small concentration right at the end of the ingredients list next to fragrance. At least this mask will tickle your olfactory senses, and aid in some relaxation.
While clay and green tea extracts are great for skin and will provide plenty of pore cleansing benefits, that’s where the hype ends. The rest of the ingredients can be questionable as to the skin benefits, and overall the formula can be said to be simply average. The addition of unspecified fragrance is also not the best as this can irritate some skins, particularly if you’re sensitive.
- Cruelty free
- Smells great
- Effective at treating blackheads and other imperfections
- Contains fragrance
- Average formula that can be a little irritating
8. Best Multi-Clay Face Mask L'Oreal Paris Skincare Pure Clay Face Mask with Charcoal
- Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Moroccan Lava Clay, Montmorillonite
- Suitable For: All Skin Types
- Mask Type: Wash-Off
- How Much You Get: 1.7 oz
L’oreal is trying to stay relevant among all the new organic, hippie brands and isn’t doing badly at all. They’re adjusting to meet the market demands providing you more choice and better products, this mask being a great example of this. However they do still test on animals and sell their products in China, meaning this mask is not cruelty free.
This mask contains not one, not two, but three different types of clay (kaolin, Moroccan lava clay, and montmorillonite) to provide you with the ultimate sebum absorption.
Aside from the clay providing you with the cleansing aspect, the mask also contains charcoal powder. While the effectiveness of charcoal is debatable, at least it’s not harmful and makes the mask look cool and black.
Unfortunately the formula contains fragrance ingredients – limonene, linalool, and straight up fragrance. This makes the mask potentially irritating to sensitive skin.
- Great concoction of three different clays
- Leaves skin feeling soft
- Contains fragrance
- Lackluster ingredients
- Not cruelty free
9. Best Peel Off Face Mask Vassoul Peel Off Blackhead Mask
- Active Ingredients: Kaolin
- Suitable For: Tough, Resistant Skin
- Mask Type: Peel-Off
- How Much You Get: 1.67 fl oz
The only ingredient that somewhat benefits skin is kaolin which minimizes the appearance of pores and blackheads by absorbing excess oil. The oil absorption of kaolin will also help the PVC to adhere to the skin.
This mask works by mechanically removing some of the blackheads, along with the top layer of your skin. It’s a form of mechanical exfoliation, and the removed filaments that you see will most likely not be blackheads per se, but hairs along with the surrounding sebum.
Unless your skin is tough and can handle rough mechanical exfoliation, you should probably avoid this. If you do have problem areas such as the nose, you can give it a go, but don’t apply it to your entire face unless you’re ready for a major facial wax.
While the traditional black masks are black due to the charcoal in the formula, this one is because of PVC black plastic. The ingredient labeled as “aroma” is also dubious as it masks (pun intended) any potential irritants that make up this concoction. The formula contains latex so people with latex allergies beware.
- Provides mechanical exfoliation
- Can be satisfying to use and peel
- Waxes your face, removes peach fuzz
- Can be very irritating to sensitive, thin skin
- No real benefits to the skin
- Contains allergens
The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Face Mask
Treating blackheads is a multifaceted problem that isn’t as simple as doing a single treatment once in a while. Blackheads are something anyone will struggle with at some point in their life, and the only way to keep them under control is to have a good skincare routine to prevent, rather than treat.
Here we will dive a little deeper into the cosmetic content so you can make a better decision regarding what your skin needs and how you want to treat your blackheads. Also, we’ve included a mention of things that don’t work and can even damage your skin.
Knowing the type of skin you have will greatly help you to pick out what’s best for it and avoid unnecessary irritation. Working with your skin rather than against it will greatly improve its health and appearance, and you will simply have a much easier time caring for it. The aim is to help skin be balanced – not too oily, not too dry, but nourished and healthy.
Oily skins tend to produce an excess amount of sebum often resulting in clogged pores and a shiny appearance. The biggest mistake with this skin type is the sheer determination to suck all life out of it by drying it up. By doing this, your skin will rebel and produce even more oils to bring it back to the greasy state.
To prevent this and keep skin happy, proper cleansing and moisturizing are crucial. Not using a moisturizer will backfire and is detrimental to your skin. Using clay masks such as the Sand & Sky clay mask and exfoliators to clear out the pores and absorb the excess sebum is fantastic, but do remember that your skin needs moisture afterward.
Remember – if you put enough moisture onto your skin yourself, your skin won’t have to do it for you. Choose moisturizers and oils that are good for oily skin and non-comedogenic to keep those blackheads and excess sebum at bay.
Dry skin doesn’t produce a lot of sebum resulting in delicate, thin, and sometimes flaky skin. Of course, dry skin still can produce sebum and hence develop blackheads. In such cases using harsh scrubs and exfoliators, as well as strong clays, can often irritate and burn skin as it dries out even more.
For dry skin, using a very hydrating moisturizer after drying masks is crucial to avoid further dryness. A lot of the times opting in for oil cleansers as opposed to clay masks can be much better at getting rid of blackheads without damaging skin.
This is when you have both oily and dry skin at the same time. Usually the T-zone will be oily, while the cheeks and sides of the face are dry. It’s important to remember that there are people who have their own unique spots that are dryer or oilier than others.
For combination skin, multimasking is life. While using more than one mask may seem excessive and annoying, if you’re after results, taking care of your skin’s needs in a more strategic manner can have a great payoff. If you have blackheads specifically on your nose, for example, you don’t need to apply the clay mask all over your face – apply it just to this specific problem area.
Skin sensitivity has nothing to do with how oily it gets. There are people with dry and sensitive skin, just as there are people with oily sensitive skin. People with more resistant skins, rather than sensitive ones, often will find that they can use the strongest treatments out there such as Aztec Secret clay and get great results.
However, people who have sensitive skin need to be more careful with what they put on their faces, in order to avoid irritation and breakouts. Looking out for sensitizing and irritating ingredients, such as fragrance, is a way to minimize the potential risk of irritation of your skin.
The people who don’t have sensitive skin can of course use products marketed for sensitive ones – there is nothing wrong with using more gentle products. Just because your skin can take the abuse, doesn’t mean it should!
Having acne-prone skin is yet again a whole new realm to skincare. You can have any combination of the above skin types and also be acne-prone. The treatment of acne is a topic for another day as not only do you have different types of acne, but a whole host of other considerations. If you’re struggling with acne, we highly advise you to visit a dermatologist to get it treated correctly.
However, as for remedying it yourself at home, it’s important to remember that, whatever you do, you need to be gentle. Treating your skin aggressively by scrubbing, over-exfoliating, and drying it out is a sure way to end with hyperpigmentation and scars instead of glowy clear skin.
Avoid any kind of mechanical exfoliators and treatments such as pore strips (unless advised by your derm). Opt for gentle masks such as the Moroccan red clay mask that will keep your skin balanced, rather than ones that will leave you with irritated, red skin and potentially open wounds. While blackheads are part of acne, and you want to remove them, be gentle, and follow the advice of your derm.
Types of Masks
Pretty much all the masks fall into one of the three categories – wash-off, peel off, and sheet masks. Though you may encounter the odd leave-on mask, which is basically just a moisturizer. All of them have their pros and cons which we cover below.
These are the masks that often have a more of a jelly consistency due to the addition of ingredients that will form the base which you peel off your skin. As the name suggests you put the mask on, it dries and then you peel it off for a residue-free finish. If you’re lucky that is, as some bits always seem to hang around.
While these masks are satisfying to peel off, the benefits are limited. Ingredients tend to work best when they’re in a liquid form on our skins, maximizing the contact area. Once a mask dries down you won’t reap many benefits keeping it on any longer.
In the worst case, you can get masks that will just wax your face, and peel the skin off along with the mask – looking at you, pore strips. Which leads us to….
You could say that these are a subcategory of a peel-off mask, but they became so popular now they get a category of their own. The goal and marketing of these, is to cling onto the gunk in your pores (as well as the peach fuzz), and pull out these columns of sebum out as you peel off the strip.
In reality, it gives you a wax while pulling out the occasional blackhead. It can be extremely irritating to sensitive skin, as well as delicate, thin and mature skin, as these masks tend to just rip off the top layer of skin. Yes, beauty is pain, but this is just ineffective and unnecessary. Unless you’re into being a masochist every so often, or want to wax your face.
The most common type of mask by far, you put it on, leave it for 10-20 mins and then wash it off. Simple. You can find a mask from this category for any skin and any pocket. These masks can cost from just a few dollars such as Aztec Secret clay mask to literally hundreds of dollars.
You have nourishing masks, brightening, detoxifying, purifying, anti-aging, firming, soothing, you name it – the chances are it exists. Most of the blackhead treatment masks, aka purifying/detoxifying ones, fall into this category. The clay is a core ingredient in the purifying masks and requires washing off.
These are a subcategory of the wash-off mask. Overnight masks tend to be highly nourishing, as you leave them on while you sleep, allowing them to do their magic. They tend to be like a very thick, rich, heavy moisturizer, and while they can leave a mess on your pillow at times, it shouldn’t be any worse than if you used a heavy cream.
People with the driest of skins often use these masks as a moisturizer with great results. As for the blackheads – they won’t remove them, and if anything for some people they can make the blackheads worse.
However, it’s a treatment to consider if you’re struggling with dry skin or if you go crazy on the clay treatments. Drying out your skin to a raisin is only a temporary satisfaction of having ‘minimized pores’ before they blow open again, as your skin tries to restore some semblance of moisture.
You could say these are something in between the peel off and wash-off masks. They come in individual packets as a sheet of material pre-soaked in serum that you put on your face. Leave it for 10-20 mins, and slide it off. The serum left on your skin should be rubbed in and allowed to dry – no need to wash it off, as that will just defeat the point of doing a sheet mask.
These masks are very popular as a quick little treatment, with minimal mess but good results. The downsides? It’s not exactly an environmentally friendly practice, especially if you like to mask often. While they are more convenient than a wash-off mask, using these multiple times a week will produce a substantial amount of waste that is just unnecessary. While companies are trying to produce biodegradable masks and recyclable packaging, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re environmentally conscious.
While these masks won’t contain any substantial amounts of clay to treat the blackheads, they can contain exfoliating acids as the active ingredient. They’re nice to use, and will keep your skin in good condition preventing the blackheads from popping through in the first place.
Common Exfoliating Ingredients
Getting rid of blackheads is really a constant battle but there are many different weapons in your arsenal. From the brute force of mechanical exfoliation, to the strategic and diplomatic chemical exfoliation, there’s something out there for everyone. With the main goal to achieve being – get the sebum out of the pore.
Many of the different exfoliating ingredients that claim to remove blackheads are found in masks, so knowing how to treat your skin and which ingredients to go for is the best bet for success. Here are some specific examples of the treatments you will encounter on your journey to clearer skin.
This is the traditional brute force of skincare. It relies on physically taking off the top layer of skin by the means of scrubs or dermabrasion. The extraction of pimples and blackheads is also a mechanical treatment as you apply force to pop the sebum out.
Mechanical treatments are the harshest but can give you instant results. However, they can be very damaging to skin as it’s easy to over-exfoliate and remove too much of the skin, ultimately leaving it irritated, red, and with micro-tears. TLC got it right – no, we don’t want no scrubs.
Sugar scrubs are the lesser evil of scrubs, but should still be reserved for the body rather than the face. The sugar grains start with sharp edges that can hurt if you rub too hard, but with the addition of liquid, these grains start to dissolve making them more round and gentler on skin. While you can abrade the top layer of skin making the access to the pores and blackheads easier, it does nothing to directly remove the blackheads.
From coffee grounds to walnut shards, these scrubs are the root of all evil for your face. With sharp irregular edges and different sized grains, nut shards will shred your skin. While initially you may feel that your skin is softer and fresher, in reality you would have just introduced micro-tears to the skin, and most likely your skin will rebel to let you know what you did to it.
Particularly if you’re acne-prone, and have a breakout, using sharp grit on the face can lead to straight up open wounds – would not recommend. Plus it will do nothing for your blackheads.
If you really need that hit of mechanical exfoliation, a visit to your aesthetician or dermatologist is the safest bet. They will be able to gently abrade your skin, minimizing the damage by using a razor or a ‘sandpaper vacuum’. Microdermabrasion with the suction can be particularly useful for the removal of blackheads.
This type of exfoliation may sound scary but it’s actually a lot more gentle on your skin than scrubbing it. There are constant innovations regarding the chemistry of beauty and how to take care of your skin.
Chemical exfoliators act by dissolving the dead skin cells revealing fresh healthy skin underneath. As these exfoliators are molecules that can penetrate skin, they’re able to clean out the pores and destroy excess sebum. As you can vary the strength of the compounds by adjusting their concentrations, it’s a lot easier to formulate products that will cater to different skin types. These will aid you to have beautiful skin in the long run, effectively aiding your body processes rather than getting in their way.
AHA vs BHA
AHAs and BHAs are the two categories of exfoliating acids you can buy. AHAs are water-soluble and they can’t go into the pore, meaning they act on the top surface of the skin.
BHAs such as salicylic acid, are lipid-soluble and so have a much easier time getting into the pore to do its job. It’s the statistically significant treatment of blackheads. However, for the exfoliant to be effective the pH has to be low enough (3-4) to prevent neutralization.
- Salicylic Acid – BHA
This is the acid that is most often used as a pore cleansing, blackhead clearing treatment. It exfoliates not only the top layer of the skin but is able to exfoliate within the pores as well. It’s the best ingredient to use for blackheads. It’s difficult to find a good mask with salicylic acid though, most often the ingredient being incorporated in cleansers and toners.
It’s the most researched AHA so you can be sure there’s plenty of info out there about this gem of an ingredient. It not only exfoliates skin by removing dead skin cells, but also can help with reducing dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Some people may be sensitive to glycolic acid in which case either try a lower concentration of the acid or minimize its use.
- Lactic Acid – AHA
As with other AHAs, it exfoliates skin sloughing off dead skin cells. Besides, it helps with skin hydration and is an overall amazing ingredient for any skin type including acne-prone and sensitive skin.
- Citric Acid – AHA
Comes from citrus fruits as you might expect by looking at the name. It’s because of this acid that some hacks recommend rubbing lemons on your face. As an AHA it’s an exfoliant and will remove dead skin cells revealing fresh skin beneath. However, it may not be the best choice if you have sensitive skin.
This is a naturally occurring mineral that is ground to a white fine powder. It’s not as aggressive as bentonite, but it’s still effective at absorbing sebum out of the pores. However, because kaolin isn’t as harsh, it’s also less irritating and drying compared to bentonite, making it more suitable for sensitive and dry skin. Kaolin is also used as a colorant to make the cosmetics more opaque and white.
Bentonite is a super common ingredient in all kinds of clay masks, and it’s very effective at its job of oil absorption, hence removing and preventing blackheads. Not only that, but there’s research showing that bentonite can actually improve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis as it’s able to remove pathogens and bacteria out of the pores.
You may notice that clays come in different colors, and sometimes the ingredients list will specify the color. This is because bentonite consists of montmorillonite and other minerals that give the clay its color.
Often used as a synonym for bentonite, you could say montmorillonite is pure, clean bentonite without any extra mineral content. It absorbs sebum and can be quite drying as it’s good at what it does. Some research shows it can be a treatment for skin irritation like contact dermatitis.
The same stuff you’ve learned about in your high school chemistry classes. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties which makes it super effective as an acne treatment as well as a treatment for other skin conditions. It works very well with other acne remedies such as salicylic acid, keeping those pores clear and minimized.
It’s not too popular nowadays due to the unpleasant smell as people do want to use something pleasant if they already go into the effort of masking. However, if you’re serious about your acne and blackheads this is a treatment definitely worth considering. If you have more sensitive skin do a patch test beforehand to make sure the sulfur concentration in the product isn’t too high for your skin.
Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is an amazing anti-acne ingredient that will help with hyperpigmentation and will also soothe the skin. Niacinamide also helps to make skin stronger and healthier, by extension allowing you potentially access some of the harsher masks later down the line, which will help to keep the blackheads at bay.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Mask
To get the most out of your mask, the pre- and post-mask treatments are important, but this doesn’t mean you need to get a ton of other cosmetics.
1. Prepare Your Skin for the Treatment
Take the time to remove your makeup (if you wear any) and thoroughly cleanse your face. Starting with clean skin will mean the mask will be a lot more effective than simply slapping it on dirt. Don’t scrub your skin however, especially if you will follow up with a clay mask as this can make your face burn.
2. Enjoy the Masking Process
Treating your skin with a mask should be a pleasant time to yourself. Apply the mask to your entire face, or play around with applying different masks to different areas of the face depending on what your face needs. Leave the mask on for the desired time but listen to your skin to avoid any irritation.
3. Post-Mask Care
Depending on the mask used either wash it off with some lukewarm water or rub the remaining serum into your face. If using a wash-off mask, make sure to put a protective layer back on your skin to prevent the blackheads from coming back as quickly. Daily care for your skin is even more important than the purifying masks to get rid of blackheads – prevention is much better than the treatment.
While you can put on a mask at any time during the day, it’s best to do it before bed to allow the skin to rest after the treatment, instead of it having to deal with the daily sweat and pollution straight after the cleansing.
Things That Don’t Work for Your Blackheads
There are many hacks out there along with traditional myths and folklore on how to remove blackheads and keep your skin looking great. Unfortunately, most of them don’t work, and for all of them, you have better commercial alternatives.
Beautiful, clear skin requires consistent care and knowing your body. Skin is an organ that takes a constant beating from the environment to protect you, so you should take care of it to keep it healthy. Trying out a hack every so often is simply not useful, and by trying to get results fast you will end up damaging your skin instead of helping it.
Here are some examples of popular things that actually don’t work, and will do nothing to pull the blackheads out of your face:
- Egg whites
- PVA glue
- Detox stuff
Treat Yourself to the Best Face Mask for Blackheads
Finding the right face mask to suit your blackhead removal needs can be a tricky business, but hopefully, armed with the information in this article, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right product for you and your skin.