Blackheads on cheeks are incredibly common – and incredibly annoying. While they are generally painless, most will want to do what they can to clear up the area. The cheeks are particularly prone to blackheads, but thankfully, it is possible to treat them with the right products and preventative steps.

Read on to learn more about how to treat blackheads on cheeks, as well as what products to use.

What Causes Blackheads on Cheeks?

Blackheads occur when pores become clogged with debris, such as bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells, sebum, and sweat. When these debris are exposed to oxygen, they turn a black or grey color.

Blackheads on cheeks can come from a variety of factors. Some people are simply more genetically predisposed to blackheads. Changes in hormone levels can also lead the body to produce excess oil. This excess oil can end up clogging the pores, which can lead to blackheads. External factors that cause debris to build up and clog the pores can also lead to blackheads. This can include talking on a phone with a dirty screen, sleeping on dirty pillowcases, or not washing off makeup, sunscreen, or dirt daily.

How to Get Rid of Blackheads on Cheeks

In order to get rid of blackheads on cheeks, you need to implement two important steps into your skincare routine: cleansing and exfoliating.

1. Cleanse Your Cheeks

Cleansing twice a day is vital for preventing new blackheads from forming. It swipes away any debris on the surface of the skin so that they don’t clog the pores. You don’t need to find a cleanser specifically meant for blackheads. An effective but gentle cleanser will get the job done – there is a great recommendation below.

2. Exfoliate Regularly

Exfoliating is key for treating blackheads and keeping the pores clear. It gets rid of the debris both on the surface and inside the pores, dislodging any clogs that are forming blackheads. There are two methods of exfoliation:

  • Mechanical Exfoliation - Mechanical exfoliation is when you use a tool – like a sponge or scrub – to physically get rid of the debris on the skin. It can be tempting to harshly scrub the skin, especially when you are trying to get rid of blackheads. However, it is possible to be too harsh on the skin, and it will likely lead to redness and irritation. The key is to use a gentle touch when using a tool for mechanically exfoliating the skin. That way, you’ll effectively exfoliate without harming the skin.
  • Chemical Exfoliation - Chemical exfoliators don’t require you to do any work – you simply apply them to your skin. They may contain salicylic acid (a BHA) and/or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs, such as glycolic acid). Chemical exfoliators work by dissolving anything that is holding dead skin onto the surface, and unclogging debris in the pores. This process reveals clean skin underneath. Salicylic acid is particularly useful when it comes to blackheads, as it is oil-soluble and able to dive deep into the pores.

Best Products for Blackheads on Cheeks

There are a variety of cleansers and exfoliators available on the market that you can use to get rid of blackheads on cheeks. It is important to note that, once your blackheads are clear, you still need to continue using a cleanser and exfoliator to prevent new ones from forming. The following are effective products that are highly recommended.

1. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser (Preventing Blackheads)

cerave foaming facial cleanser (to prevent blackheads)

Best for: preventing blackheads from developing

This cleanser contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which work together to gently cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. It also contains niacinamide, which is anti-inflammatory and can help calm the skin. The formula is fragrance-free, and effectively sweeps away any debris that could potentially clog pores and cause blackheads on cheeks.

How to Use: Wet your face with lukewarm water. Dispense a pump into your hands and gently massage it into your face for about 30 seconds. Rinse with lukewarm water, and then gently pat dry with a towel. Use twice daily.

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2. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (Treating Blackheads)

paulas choice 2% BHA (to prevent and get rid of cheek blackheads)

Best for: preventing and getting rid of blackheads

The key ingredient in this incredibly popular product is salicylic acid. As mentioned above, salicylic acid is a BHA that can dive deep into the pores to break up any clogs. This chemical exfoliator has a 2% concentration, which means it is effective but still gentle on the skin.

How to Use: Apply the product on clean, dry skin. Soak a cotton ball or round, and sweep the product across the cheeks, as well as any areas that are prone to or experiencing blackheads. Do not wash it off after applying. Use 1 to 2 times daily.

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3. Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment 4% BHA (Stubborn Blackheads)

Paula’s Choice Resist Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment 4% BHA (Stubborn Cheek Blackheads)

Best for: stubborn cheek blackheads

This is the next step up from the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. Paula’s Choice Resist contains a concentration of 4% salicylic acid, making it appropriate for more stubborn blackheads. Since it is stronger, skin dryness is more likely to occur when using this product. If you use this product, try applying it every other day, and then working up to daily use if necessary.

How to Use: Apply the product on clean, dry skin. Soak a cotton ball or round, and sweep the product across the cheeks, as well as any areas that are prone to or experiencing blackheads. Do not wash it off after applying. Start applying it every other day, then work up to daily use if you don’t experience excessive dryness.

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4. My Konjac Sponge (Preventing Blackheads)

My Konjac Sponge

Best for: preventing blackheads

This is an excellent option if you are looking for a mechanical exfoliation tool. The konjac sponge is gentle on the skin, so it is safe for all skin types. However, while it may be gentle, it is still able to effectively exfoliate the skin, getting rid of any pore-clogging debris. The My Konjac Sponge is made with activated charcoal, which is also beneficial for people dealing with blackheads on cheeks. It draws out oil and debris from the pores, helping to further cleanse the area.

How to Use: Use this sponge with a facial cleanser, like the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser recommended above. While taking a shower, get the sponge wet, and then add cleanser. Gently scrub the sponge on the cheeks to get an exfoliating cleanse.

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Additional Tips for Preventing Blackheads on Cheeks

Beyond using some of the products recommended above, there are a few additional steps you can take to prevent blackheads from forming on the cheeks in the first place. These steps include the following:

  1. Clean Your Phone - If you spend a lot of time talking on your phone, you may be contributing to your blackhead problem. Our phones collect a lot of bacteria on the screens from all the swiping and tapping. When you are pressing it up against your face, you are introducing the bacteria to your skin. Buy some disinfecting wipes and be vigilant about cleaning your screen regularly.
  2. Clean Your Pillow Cases - Pillow cases can also be major culprits when it comes to blackheads. When we sleep, they collect dirt and bacteria from our hair, face, and body. In order to prevent this bacteria from getting into your pores, it is essential that you clean your pillow cases on a regular basis.
  3. Wash Your Face Immediately After Working Out - Every time you hit the gym or go for a run, you need to make sure you cleanse your face as soon as you are done. Sweat and bacteria builds up on our skin as we work out, and can easily clog the pores. Carry a cleanser with you in your gym bag to make it easy to wash your face ASAP.

When to See a Dermatologist

Unfortunately, these steps don’t always work for everyone. If you have tried the products and preventative steps above, and are still dealing with blackheads on cheeks, it may be time to meet with a dermatologist. They can work with you to determine the best course of action to get rid of blackheads once and for all.


How do I get rid of blackheads on my cheeks?

In order to get rid of blackheads on cheeks, you need to implement cleansing and exfoliating into your skincare routine. It is also essential that you take preventative steps to help them from forming in the first place, including cleaning your phone screen and pillow cases.

Why am I all the sudden getting blackheads?

There are a variety of factors that could be causing you to suddenly get blackheads. If you have started using a new facial product, it may be clogging your pores, resulting in blackheads. Hormonal changes (such as puberty, menopause, and pregnancy) can also lead to an increase in oil production. This excessive oil can clog the pores, resulting in blackheads.

Summary: How to Get Rid of Cheek Blackheads

The Bottom Line

Many factors can lead to blackheads forming, including hormonal changes, genetic predisposition, and external factors introducing bacteria and pore-clogging debris to the skin. Blackheads on cheeks can be cleared with an effective cleansing and exfoliating skincare routine. Blackheads can be prevented by cleaning your phone screen and pillowcases, washing your face as soon as possible after working out, and sticking to a consistent skincare routine.