Blackheads, much like cockroaches, are the worst for this very reason: Every time you squeeze one of them away, you find dozens more to tackle. (How’s that for a fun visual?) As satisfying as that squeeze may be in the moment, the peskiness of blackheads can wear on anyone. They just keep. Coming. Back. In search of answers, we turned to top dermatologists to find out how to get rid of blackheads — for good.
Before you go about trying to rid your skin of blackheads, it helps to first understand what they actually are. “Blackheads are just an oxidized mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores, [and] the exposure to air is what causes them to oxidize and turn black,” explains Rachel Nazarian, a board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
The technical name for a blackhead is an open comedone (and comedone is the scientific term for an acne lesion). There are two different types of comedones: open (blackheads) and closed (whiteheads). As Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University, explains: “[Blackheads] are characterized by a dilated opening of a hair follicle, caused by the build-up of sebum, which is oil, P. Acnes bacteria — the primary bacteria responsible for causing acne — and inflammation.”