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Pore Strips Not Working? Here’s How to Beat Blackheads

Here’s how to keep those stubborn bumps at bay.

Even if you have a relatively flawless complexion, chances are you’ve had to battle blackheads on more than one occasion. But what’s the story behind these pesky little pimples? Blackheads aren’t like other kinds of acne — and they certainly shouldn’t be treated the same way.

First Things First: What are Blackheads?

Unlike cystic pimples, which are caused by bacteria, blackheads belong to a category called comedonal acne. “Comedone” refers to a plug of oil and dead skin clogging the hair follicle or pore. Blackheads are also known as “open comedones,” meaning that the top of the plug is exposed to air. This exposure to air oxidizes the contents of the pore and gives blackheads their signature dark hue. The plug on a “closed comedone” is not exposed to air, so these pimples manifest as small colorless bumps.

What Won’t Work — And What Will

Pore strips are a common solution to the blackhead blues, but the fact of the matter is, they only provide a temporary fix. Picking at blackheads is also ill-advised — it might be gratifying to squeeze them, but it’s certainly not worth the risk of developing lasting scars.

The best way to clear your pores is actually through chemical exfoliation. Products containing benzoyl peroxide are championed for clearing up inflammatory breakouts, but when it comes to comedonal acne, your best bet is to use a nightly topical treatment containing tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene. Salicylic acid is another well-known topical ingredient that will help keep your pores comedone-free.

If stubborn blackheads and whiteheads persist, picking at your skin won’t cure the problem. For healthy extractions, visit a licensed esthetician regularly for acne facials. You’ll get cleared up in no time.

Keeping Pores Blackhead Free

Once you’ve found a good topical treatment, you’re well on your way to clearer pores! But without proper maintenance, good products are only a temporary solution. Be sure to wash your face gently twice a day, use moisturizer, and always wear sunscreen. If you find a routine you can stick to, your pores will soon be looking clearer (and smaller!) than ever before.

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