By Stephen J. Praetorius for GQ.
From shaving properly to remembering to moisturize, combatting oil to managing acne as a grown adult, you've got a lot on your plate when it comes to taking care of your face. But even with all that effort, chances are that at one point or another, a blackhead or two is going to pop up somewhere between your ears. Life's just unfair that way.
Now, though they may be less conspicuous than their pulsing acne cousins, blackheads can be just as unsettling. And if left untreated, they can and will get exponentially worse--just check out a few of YouTube's truly abhorrent extraction videos if you need proof. And that's why it's important to do everything in your power to fend them off at first sight. Here, a few of our best tips on how to clean out clogged pores and regain clear, pothole-free skin.
Step Away from the Strips
We've all seen the commercials: A pretty girl, lamenting the "poor quality" of her obviously flawless skin, applies what appears to be a piece of tape to her nose. Then, what we're told is ten or so minutes later, she removes the tape, scrunching her little brow upon seeing all the muck now stuck to it. It's all very convincing. Unfortunately, it's also kind of B.S.
The fact of the matter is, while skin strips may work in the short term to get rid of offending blackheads, they do nothing to treat the root of the problem--the oil, dirt, and dead skin cells buried deep in your pores. On top of that, they're also not at all gentle on skin, especially if it's already vulnerable due to dryness, breakouts, or sunburn. So instead, we suggest trying a pore extractor. The same tool a dermatologist would use, it'll help to force out all the gunk that's really ground in there, so your blackhead problem won't come back to haunt you before you know it.
Read more: Everything You Can Do To Get Rid of Pimples
Get Your Hands on the Right Stuff
Looking for a solution that's a little less hands-on? Then the first thing you need to do is swap out your regular grooming products for those that contain a few key blemish-fighting components. One such ingredient: salicylic acid. Found in products like Lab Series Oil Control Solution, it'll help keep blackheads at bay by unpacking pores and encouraging skin to shed dead cells. Retinoids, like those in Neutrogena Men Age Fighter, are another option, acting similarly but with the added bonus of also fighting wrinkles. Sounds like a win-win to us.
Exfoliate Every Day
While dirt and oil are often seen as the biggest culprits, in actuality it's often your own dead skin cells that choke pores the worst. For that very reason, exfoliating is a must if your skin is particularly blackhead-prone. That could mean switching up your soap to something like Baxter of California's Exfoliating Body Bar. Or it could mean going heavy-duty and investing in a handheld electric exfoliator, like Clarisonic's Alpha Fit. Either way, make sure to scrub daily for best results.
As Always, Moisturize
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Only good things will ever come of moisturizing. That sentiment holds true just as much here as it does anywhere else. Aside from keeping the skin's oil content in check, applying lotion on the regular also keeps cells healthier for longer, so they're less likely to find themselves buried in your pores.
Leave It to the Pros
Want clear skin on your face, but don't want to put in all that work? Well, you're not the only one, which is why facials are a thing. So suck up your pride and go get one. Trust us, your face will thank you. Plus, you might even enjoy it.
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