- Blackhead cleansers are formulated to treat existing blackheads and prevent new ones from forming.
- These cleansers often contain salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin and remove excess oil.
- Benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid are other cleansing ingredients that address blackheads by dissolving excess oil and loosening trapped impurities.
- For best results, it is important to choose a cleanser that meets the needs of your particular skin type.
Blackheads, or open comedones, are a mild form of acne that develop when hair follicles become clogged with dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum – the oily substance secreted from pores. When exposed to the open air, these clogs become oxidized and develop a characteristic dark color.
Blackhead cleansers are designed to penetrate pores and break apart the clog so that they can be easily washed away. They also work to prevent blackheads from forming by keeping the skin’s surface clear of debris that can potentially clog pores.
How Do Cleansers Get Rid of Blackheads?
Cleansers for blackheads are available in two main formulas: oil-soluble and water-based. Oil-soluble cleansers work by binding with the oils on the skin and dissolving them. Water-based cleansers instead contain emulsifiers, which wash away excess oil without adding more to the skin’s surface. Both types of cleansers can contain a range of ingredients that fight blackheads.
One such ingredient is salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) proven to effectively treat mild acne. It penetrates deep within pores to loosen debris and break down excess sebum, effectively clearing out blackheads. Regular use will also prevent new blackheads from forming.
Cleansers containing glycolic acid work in much the same way – by dissolving sebum, loosening trapped impurities and helping to break up blackheads. Glycolic acid’s low molecular weight allows it to easily penetrate the skin to effectively treat blocked pores.
Benzoyl peroxide can also prevent the development of blackheads by dissolving oils that block pores. In formulations of 2.5–3.75%, these effects are potent enough to treat blackheads and whiteheads.
How to Choose a Blackhead Cleanser
When choosing a blackhead cleanser, it is important to select one that meets the specific needs of your skin. Many ingredients in blackhead cleansers can be harsh on skin, causing irritation and inflammation that ultimately worsens acne in the long term.
These negative effects can be exacerbated if the cleanser is a poor fit for your skin type. Knowing your skin type and how best to care for it will help you choose the appropriate cleanser.
Cleansing gels are designed to gently remove excess oil and other impurities from the skin. These cleansers are usually mild, and not as drying as foam cleansers. As such, they are unlikely to strip the skin of natural oils or cause it to lose moisture.
Gel cleansers are usually water-based and oil-free; they use emulsifiers to bind the water-based product to oils on the surface of the skin which is then rinsed off.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, consider choosing a gel cleanser. Blackhead treatment ingredients can leave skin dry and irritated; the gentle action of a gel cleanser will help limit these negative effects.
Foam cleansers produce a rich foam when added to water, and are less gentle than gel cleansers. While there is an assortment of foam cleansers designed to address specific skin concerns, those with sensitive or dry skin should avoid these types of cleansers due to their tendency to cause dryness and irritation.
However, these cleansers are ideal for those with oily, combination or acne-prone skin. The astringent effects of foam cleansers make them suitable for dissolving excess oil, and they are formulated with noncomedogenic ingredients that will not block pores.
Those who are concerned about the potential irritating effects of foam cleansers should select one containing glycolic acid. As an AHA, glycolic acid is more hydrating and less harsh than BHAs, such as salicylic acid.
The oil-absorbing properties of charcoal can effectively cleanse the skin of excess sebum. The abrasiveness of charcoal particles also helps with exfoliating dead skin and loosening debris from pores.
Due to the drying effects and slight abrasiveness of charcoal particles, these cleansers are best suited to oily skin types, and should be avoided by those with dry or sensitive skin.
Pore vacuums are a relatively new treatment that works by suctioning dead cells and other debris out of pores. These devices are effective for removing blackheads that have already been loosened by other treatments, however using them on untreated blackheads is not recommended as this may cause skin damage and irritation.
How to Use a Cleanser for Blackheads
Cleansing is the first and most important step in your skin care routine, and works to ensure that your skin is clear of impurities that may lead to breakouts. For the best possible results, a skin care routine should be followed regularly.
However, cleansing too often can strip skin of its natural oils, causing dryness and irritation. If you have normal, combination or oily skin, you can cleanse both morning and night; however, if you have dry or sensitive skin, you may benefit from cleansing just once per day.
To effectively use a cleanser, follow these simple steps:
- Wet your face with lukewarm water
- Pout a small amount of cleanser on your fingertips
- Gently apply the cleanser to your face by moving your fingers in a circular motion, concentrating on areas prone to blackheads such as the nose, cheeks and chin
- Rinse with lukewarm water; pat dry
- Apply toner, moisturizer and any other skin care products within your normal routine
DIY Blackhead Cleanser
DIY solutions are typically less effective than their over-the-counter (OTC) counterparts, as their active ingredients are not as potent. However, DIY blackhead cleansers are more cost-effective, and allow for complete customization, so you can ensure that your formula is a good fit for your skin type.
Bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar cleanser for oily skin
This recipe features bentonite clay, an ingredient with powerful absorbent properties that effectively remove excess oil from the skin’s surface. It also contains apple cider vinegar, which balances the formula’s pH, and furthermore, helps dissolve clogged pores.
- 1 tsp bentonite clay
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp filtered water
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl to form a paste
- Apply the paste to your face with your fingers or a clean brush
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes; wash off with lukewarm water or a wet towel
Blackhead cleansers treat and prevent blackheads in two ways: through exfoliation, which clears the skin of dead skin and pore-blocking debris, and by dissolving excess sebum, which works to loosen the buildup trapped within pores.
Most cleansers contain salicylic acid as a key ingredient, as it can successfully treat and prevent blackheads by removing excess oil and exfoliating dead skin cells from the surface skin, unclogging pores. Other common ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, charcoal and bentonite clay.
Gel and foam cleansers are both effective at treating and reducing blackheads, as their formulas penetrate deep within pores. Foam cleansers are more drying, and are better suited for oily or combination skin; gel cleansers are gentler and have a hydrating effect, which makes them more suitable for dry or sensitive skin.
For the best possible results, a blackhead cleanser should be used daily as part of a well-structured skin care routine.
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