Ugh, blackheads. Even after we spend years battling acne and finally manage to get rid of it, blackheads remain a painful reminder that, try as we might, our skin will probably never be perfect.
Blackheads and pimples aren’t all that different. The main difference is that blackheads don’t have the same puss-like fluid and usually don’t bleed if you pop them. Instead, they typically have a small, pin-sized black tip followed by an opaque “plug.” They’re usually very easy to remove and only need a little bit of pressure.
What about when your blackheads keep refilling, though? When a blackhead keeps coming back, it can be super frustrating! Is there a way to get rid of them permanently as we did with our teenage acne?
Today, we’re going to share some of the most common methods that you can use to reduce the number of blackheads that come back. We’ll also show you some strategies for how to get rid of the root of the problem itself- your enlarged pores.
First, though, let’s go over exactly what a blackhead is so that we can tell you why your blackheads keep coming back.
How Do Blackheads Form?
Blackheads are your face’s natural response to dirt, debris, and excess sebum (facial oils) that collect on the surface of your skin. A blackhead is nothing more than a clogged pore.
The human face has around 20,000 pores. They’re responsible for regulating our facial temperature by opening up and producing sweat when we’re hot or by closing up to form a protective barrier when we’re cold.
Sometimes, when there is too much debris and oil on our skin’s surface, it becomes trapped inside the pore. The reason why the tips turn black is due to the oils oxidizing.
The longer they’re exposed to sunlight and oxygen, the darker they get. If there’s actually dirt in the pore, that could also contribute to a darker blackhead.
What Happens When I Remove A Blackhead?
Removing blackheads is usually easy. Simply apply a small amount of pressure to the sides of it and it should pop right out in a couple of seconds. Many find that steaming their face before removing blackheads makes the process easier.
Some use a blackhead vacuum, microdermabrasion machine, or comedone extractor. You may end up with a hole after removing the blackhead, but it should go away on its own if you’re careful.
Blackheads are typically far easier to remove than normal pimples since they’re completely uncovered. In contrast, regular pimples are deeper under the skin’s surface and have developed a proactive barrier.
That’s why they’re harder to remove.
Blackheads Keep Refilling?
When you remove a blackhead by using your hands, a tool, or a blackhead strip, what’s left behind is a clean, empty pore. The only problem is that now, this pore has been stretched out a little bit, especially if you had a particularly large blackhead.
You have to understand that your face is rarely entirely free from dirt and oils. Just taking a quick walk around the block is enough to attract a whole new layer of debris to our faces.
Even if we can’t always see it, it’s there.
So, even though we’ve effectively removed the blackhead from the pore, it’s still an open hole that’s just waiting to become clogged again.
The reason why we often get blackheads over and over again in the same place is that those pores are already larger than usual. They attract extra dirt and grime.
What To Do If A Blackhead Keeps Coming Back
So, let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to prevent blackheads from coming back or minimize how many pop up at a given time.
1. Exfoliate First
Before you start popping your blackheads and pimples, it’s always a good idea to exfoliate your face first. You can use an exfoliating brush, a scrub, or a tool like a sonic facial brush.
We love the Foreo Luna shown above.
Exfoliation will help remove all of the excessive dead skin cells on your face that often cause blackheads.
Additionally, it will also strip the skin of excessive oils.
By exfoliating, you’re deep-cleaning your face and removing all of the grime. While the results are often short-lived, exfoliating once or twice a week is an excellent way to keep a glowing, radiant skin tone and reduce the number of blackheads that you get!
2. Always Use Clean Hands And Tools
One of the biggest reasons why so many blackheads come right back or even develop into larger pimples is because the person popping them didn’t have clean hands or tools!
As you squeeze the pore, you’ll often be mashing the dirt from your own hands and fingernails right back into the same pore you’re supposed to be cleaning.
The best way to prevent this is to either use a pair of latex or nitrile gloves or to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
If you’re using a blackhead removal tool, make sure that you spray it down with some rubbing alcohol and wipe it off before using it on your face.
It’s also not a bad idea to regularly clean your makeup brushes and tools.
3. Use A Toner To Cleanse The Area
After you remove the blackheads on your face, you should immediately apply a toner. Toners are typically anti-inflammatory, can kill bacteria, and can also reduce the size of your pores!
There are some name-brand toners on the market, but the easiest and cheapest method is to just use some witch hazel. The active ingredients can reduce swelling and redness, clean the pores, and reduce their enlarged appearance.
Simply dab some on the area with a clean cotton ball when you’re finished popping everything.
And if you have to, consider covering any lingering blackheads with concealer.
Enlarged Pores? Here’s How To Shrink Them
As we’ve alluded to throughout the article, recurrent blackheads’ root cause is that your pores have become enlarged. Thankfully, there are several easy at-home treatments that you can do to reduce their size and get your face back to its previous state.
Remember how we said earlier that the colder your face is, the tighter your pores close to keep you warm?
If you want a quick, instantaneous solution to shrink your pores quickly, then just rub an ice cube across your face until you notice it getting a bit numb.
Dermarollers are small facial rollers that have tiny hypodermic needles attached. These needles penetrate the epidermis and stimulate the body to start sending collagen-rich blood to the area.
This, in turn, causes the old, damaged skin to quickly heal over the course of a few months’ worth of treatments.
Rollers with longer needles are only available through the guidance of a dermatologist. But shorter-needle rollers are now freely available for home use. They’re great for stretch marks and are fantastic for acne scars.
One of the latest and most high-tech ways of reducing your pore size is simply to use light therapy. These handheld devices flash bright pulses of light across the surface of your skin.
The Tria Smooth Beauty Age-Defying Laser is an excellent example of one of these devices.
They function very similar to derma-rollers, in that they also trigger collagen production. They also hurt a lot less!