How to Get Rid of Blackheads, According to Dermatologists in 2023 — Expert Tips, Product Recommendations

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Some people wrongfully assume that black speck is dirt, but as evidenced above, that’s not the case. “Having [blackheads] isn’t a sign that you’re dirty,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. But if you frequently get them, it’s worth trying to pinpoint why. 

Why do you get so many blackheads?

Carmen Castilla, MD, a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, warns there are several reasons you can’t escape blackheads. Where it gets complicated, per the pro, is that it’s “all the same pathogenesis.” In simpler terms, the triggers leading to blackhead formation in one person may also be responsible for acne vulgaris and whiteheads in another.

That being said, one of the primary culprits for blackheads is excessive oil production, which can be influenced by genetic and hormonal factors. Dr. Cheung further clarifies that individuals with naturally oily skin are more prone to visible blackheads due to their skin type and larger pores.

Other causes that might surprise you? Using occlusive skin-care products, Dr. Castilla continues. Occlusive products create an airtight protective barrier on the skin to keep in moisture but can cause clogged pores on oily skin types.

Is it OK to squeeze blackheads?

If you take away anything from this article, please let it be that you shouldn’t — under any circumstances — squeeze your blackheads. Dr. Cheung warns that doing so may “push the blackhead deeper or even cause scarring that can lead to larger pores.” Even worse is the possibility of infection, because you’d potentially add bacteria into the area with your hands, warns Dr. Castilla. 

Will blackheads go away on their own?

Yes and no. “If the blackhead is small and near the surface of the skin, it can potentially resolve on its own,” says Dr. Castilla. On the other hand, deep blackheads don’t and often require professional extraction, she says. While she admits that it can be difficult to tell how deep a blackhead is, she explains that, “typically, the larger the black dot is on the surface, the deeper the blackhead is.” 

What softens blackheads for removal?

If you’re a dedicated fan of professional facials, you might think the only way to banish pesky blackheads is through manual extraction. However, Dr. Cheung dispels this common misconception and presents a compelling alternative: chemical keratolytics. Among them are salicylic acid, retinol, glycolic acid, and more. The pro deems these exfoliating substances the preferred methods to tackle blackheads at home because they target and break down clusters of skin cells responsible for blackheads sans tweezers or invasive tools.

How do you treat blackheads?

When it comes to getting rid of blackheads or any acne for that matter, there are two things you can do: You can use expert-recommended skin-care products at home and see if they help, but visiting a dermatologist may be the most helpful for a personalized course of action based.

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