In order to understand how blackhead clearing works, we must first look at what a blackhead is and what causes some people to have them, while others seem to escape without a single one.
Blackheads (or comedones, to give them their medical name) are caused by excess natural oil or sebum which collects in pores and hair follicles. This mixes with another natural product of our skin called keratin, to form a plug that blocks the follicle. If one end is open to the air, which is particularly common on the nose, this material oxidizes and becomes dark colored at the surface. This is what makes blackheads appear black.
When the same thing happens in a closed hair follicle, the material does not oxidize. In that situation it remains yellow or white, and is called a whitehead. Whiteheads can also contain some infected pus, which is less likely with a blackhead.
The cause of blackheads is usually hormonal. It is your hormones that control the amount of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands. Anybody with oily skin is likely to get blackheads, especially at times of high hormonal activity such as puberty or, for women and girls, around the time of menstruation.
So how does blackhead clearing work? There are many methods that you can use to clear the clogged pores and prevent a recurrence.
One of the most popular products for getting rid of acne, including blackhead clearing, is benzoyl peroxide. Another is salicylic acid. Many of the most successful commercial acne products include this as the main active ingredient. Check labels on brands in the drugstore and experiment to see which works best for you.
Salicylic acid is the main ingredient in aspirin, so you may want to try this as a simple home remedy. If your blackheads respond to products containing salicylic acid, you may want to try using an aspirin mask on your nose or other affected areas. Test this first on a hidden area of skin to check that your skin is not sensitive to it.
The simplest way to do this is to mix some soluble aspirin with a little water and spread it over the area. Leave to dry or overnight (but not the first time, in case of a reaction) then wash off with warm water. Used once or twice a week along with blackhead clearing products daily, you may find that this has a good effect on your blackheads.
You will not be able to stop your glands producing sebum, and in fact you would not want to, because this is the skin’s natural protection from the weather. It moisturizes the skin and keeps it looking young and healthy. However, you can do things that will prevent sebum from solidifying in the follicles and causing blackheads.
Products that include an exfoliant can be very effective in blackhead clearing. To both remove and prevent blackheads you will need something that you can use every day. This means that it has to be gentle, in order to avoid damaging the skin.
If you have large blackheads that you want to remove with an extractor, the best method is to exfoliate first, then give the face a steam bath for 5 minutes to open the pores. Extract the blackheads, then use an astringent toner or lemon juice to close the pores again. Afterward, you will need to establish a daily preventive for permanent blackhead clearing.