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The right exfoliant can help you keep your blackheads under control. We’ve put together a list of the absolute best exfoliants for blackheads to add to your skincare routine.
1. Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment 4% BHA
Paula's Choice Exfoliant for Exfoliation, Large Pores, and Acne
The 4% concentration of salicylic acid (which is higher than the cult-favorite Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant) helps to unclog pores and promote a more even skin texture and tone. This makes this an excellent exfoliant for those dealing with large pores and breakouts and wanting to improve the overall appearance of the skin.
May irritate sensitive skin
This exfoliant contains additional antioxidant-rich ingredients that protect the skin and fight signs of aging, as well as soothing and hydrating ingredients. This includes glycerin, allantoin, grape seed extract, green tea leaf extract, and matricaria flower extract.
This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliator is one of the best COSRX products for those prone to acne and blackheads. It penetrates deep into the skin to unclog pores, which helps maintain clear, smooth skin.
Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Acne and Blackheads
Tested on animals:
How to use: After cleansing, dispense the product onto a cotton pad, and then gently wipe all over the face.
BHAs are some of the most effective chemical exfoliators when it comes to unclogging pores. This product contains gentle BHAs – willow bark water and betaine salicylate – which exfoliate with a minimized risk of irritation.
Vegan and cruelty-free
May not be suitable for sensitive skin
This product contains sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid) and panthenol, which help counteract some of the potentially irritating side effects of the exfoliating ingredients.
These pads are soaked with a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (or BHA). Salicylic acid is an incredibly effective chemical exfoliator that unclogs pores to help treat current breakouts and prevent new acne from forming.
These alcohol-free pads are textured, which increases the product’s ability to sweep away debris and exfoliate the skin.
This product contains a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that is able to work deep in the pores to unclog and treat breakouts (and prevent new blemishes from forming). It also helps minimize the appearance of pores, and will work to diminish the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from previous blemishes. This concentration is high enough to be effective on acne-prone skin, but still gentle as to reduce the risk of irritation.
May irritate sensitive skin
Additional hydrating and soothing ingredients are paired with the salicylic acid to minimize irritation and reduce redness. This includes glycerin, hyaluronic acid, allantoin, and panthenol.
This is a best seller at Paula’s Choice, and for a good reason. Salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid, or BHA) is an excellent chemical exfoliator that sheds excess skin cells and decongests pores to fight acne and blackheads and promote a more even skin tone.
May irritate more sensitive skin types
This product also contains green tea, which soothes irritation and provides anti-aging benefits.
Blackheads are small gray or black bumps that form when a pore becomes clogged with debris, including sebum, dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria. Many people deal with them in the T-zone area of their face, particularly on the nose. The gray or black color of these blackheads comes from the debris in the pores being exposed to oxygen.
Is exfoliating good for blackheads?
Yes, exfoliation (particularly chemical exfoliation) is a great way to get rid of blackheads and prevent them from forming in the future. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are excellent chemical exfoliators for blackheads, because they are oil-soluble, meaning they are able to work through all the sebum and debris in the pores. They also work deeper in the pores than alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), making them particularly effective when it comes to blackheads.
How do you draw out a deep blackhead?
If you have deeper blackheads that aren’t responding to a chemical exfoliant, one option to consider is using a comedone extractor. That said, it’s very important to first learn how to use this tool properly and safely, as it can damage the skin if not used correctly. The safest (and most effective) option is to talk to a dermatologist about doing an extraction facial or developing another treatment plan.
The Bottom Line
Products containing BHAs are incredibly effective when it comes to fighting blackheads. If you’re looking to add a BHA product to your routine, consider one of the above exfoliants to keep blackheads at bay.
About the author
Kyra is a content writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She works in the health and wellness sphere, and covers everything from beauty to skincare to fitness. She has been passionate about skincare since she was a teenager, and loves uncovering the absolute best routines and products available to help people reach their skin goals.