When it comes to getting rid of blackheads, it's commonly believed that pore strips and blackhead extractors are the most effective methods. Is this true? Or, are there less invasive ways of getting rid of blackheads? Here's what you need to know.
What Are Blackheads and Why Do They Develop?
Blackheads are the result of a build-up of skin cells and sebum. Unlike whiteheads however, they become exposed to the air – known as oxidation – and turn a dark color. They can occur on any skin type, but are most likely to appear on naturally oily skin in places where there are high concentrations of sebaceous glands. The environment1, such as pollution or sun exposure, can also be responsible for blackheads.
Traditional ways of getting rid of blackheads include squeezing with the fingers, pore strips, blackhead extractors, and dermatological procedures such as microdermabrasion. However, it's important to know that any time you push or pull at your skin, you risk spreading bacteria and/or damaging the fragile epidermis.
How Salicylic and Glycolic Acids Can Get Rid of Blackheads
Skin care ingredients such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid have been proven to "exfoliate and penetrate deep into the pores and aid in the removal2 [of blackheads]." Salicylic acid has properties that enable it to break up the skin’s follicular keratotic plugs - in other words, the oily components of a blackhead3. This means that they can be washed right off instead of forcing them out. Glycolic acid4, meanwhile, acts as an exfoliator and promotes profound cell turnover so that pores do not become blocked. These two ingredients are a great way to get rid of blackheads, without spreading bacteria.
So, before you apply pressure to your face, think about the more gentle - yet effective - topical solutions as part of a skincare routine, which can also prevent skin damage, acne scarring and can help get rid of blackheads.
1 J.S. English, R.S. Dawe and J. Ferguson, "Environmental effects and skin disease" in British Medical Bulletin (2003) 68.1, pp. 129-42 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757713]
2 VL. Mitchell, "Vacuum your pores?" in Health: University of Utah. Published June 26, 2017 [Accessible at: https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2017/06/pore-vacuum.php]
3 H. Liu, H. Yu, J. Xia, L. Liu, G. J Liu and H. Sang, "Topical azelaic acid, salicylic acid, nicotinamide, and sulphur for acne (Protocol)" in Cochrane Database of Systematic (2014), issue 11. [Accessible at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011368/full]