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How to get rid of blackheads

04.07.2021 | Skincare

Blackhead breakouts are considered a milder form of acne, but these pore-sized polka dot spots can plague the skin, affecting first and foremost the health of the skin as well as the appearance, tone and texture. 


Blackheads are essentially a blocked hair follicle or sebaceous gland that has been plugged by a tasty combination of excess sebum (skin oil), dirt, debris or dead skin. Typically found on the face, these blockages can appear anywhere on the body where there’s hair.  

Whiteheads are known as closed comedones as their contents are sitting ‘closed’ beneath a layer of skin. Blackheads, however, are known as open comedones due to the pore’s entrance still being open and exposed to further debris and oxidation.  


Whilst the origin of the blackhead is the oil and general dirt within the pore, it is actually the oxidation of the melanin of dead skin cells in the open pores which turns it that visible black colour. This chemical reaction occurs due to the pore still being open to air and oxygen. 


Blackheads, as with most breakouts, can have a number of influences to their cause. On a physical level are the result of excess oil mixing with dirt, debris and dead skin to block the hair follicles. When this occurs, it can accelerate into infection such as aggressive cysts or sit on or below the surface as a blackhead or whitehead.

Excess oil production as a key factor can be a result of environment, routine, hormones, skin type (hello genetics) but can be managed through a tailored AM and PM recipe.  Also contributing to the cocktail of clogged pores is excess bacteria or excess dead skin which is why cleansing is fundamental to clear skin above and below the surface.


When it comes to removing blackheads, Salicylic Acid and Beta Hydoxy Acids are your best friends. With molecular structure small enough to penetrate the pores, these formulas ensure your pores remain blockage-free. 


Keeping pores and the skin’s surface clean regularly is the top priority for blackhead prevention. This removes any dirt and dead skin that can clog the pores. Our Salicylic Acid Cleanser is a non-drying, lightly foaming cleanser that removes makeup and dirt, while penetrating deep into pores helping to reduce blackheads and breakouts. As well as effectively cleansing the skin, this 2% Salicylic Acid cleanser has an added zinc compound. Together they help with oil-control, reducing blackheads and breakouts and promoting a more even looking complexion.

HOW TO USE: Use daily in the AM and PM. Gently massage onto dampened face and neck for at least 60 seconds. Rinse thoroughly with water OR leave on for 10 minutes as a deep clean face mask.


BHA is an exfoliator that works beneath the surface of the skin to help unclog pores, target blackheads and reduce excess oil. Containing 2% Salicylic Acid which means it can penetrate deeper into your skin, helping to unclog pores, fight blackheads and breakouts and reduce pore appearance. BHA is great choice for oilier skin as its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties can help calm breakout prone skin. Thanks to added 1% Hyaluronic Acid it is non-drying to skin.

HOW TO USE: BHA can be used in the AM or PM. Gently pat 1-2 drops into the face and neck after cleansing and follow with preferred serums and moisturizer. It can also be used as a more targeted treatment for blemish prone areas.


This exfoliating acid unsticks dead cells from the skin’s surface which prevents them getting sucked into the dirt and debris that can block and clog the pores, forming blackheads.
This 10% Glycolic Acid exfoliating toner helps to reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines, as well as support smoother and brighter skin.

Derived from sugar cane, this Glycolic Acid helps improve the overall appearance of skin texture and brightness. Formulated with 10% Glycolic Acid for maximum effect, and 5% Witch Hazel to help reduce excess oil and soothe. Recommended for those with oily or congested skin.

HOW TO USE: For use in the PM. After cleansing, saturate a cotton pad and wipe your face and neck. You can also use on other blemish-prone areas, including your back and chest. Follow with preferred serums and moisturizer. No need to rinse.


Whether it’s a brutal breakout or a barrage of blackheads, this non-drying targeted treatment clears blemishes fast, reduces inflammation and prevents clogged pores. With a cream formula, it is easily layered under makeup without drying or flaking.

With 2% Succinic Acid, the treatment gently reduces blemish size, reduces oil levels and unblock pores whilst also helping prevent them from clogging again after use. Combined with 2% Sulfur and 1% Salicylic Acid, this targeted treatment will help shrink blemishes and blackheads whilst remaining gentle on the skin.

HOW TO USE: Can be applied to a blemish up to three times per day. Place a small amount onto a clean finger and apply directly onto the blemish or blackhead area. If you would like to use other skincare or makeup on top, leave the formula to dry for 5 minutes before applying.


When it comes to pores, sometimes we need to go deep. Treat your skin to a more intense cleanse a couple of times per week and give those pores some extra attention.  This natural, deep-cleaning face mask uses high-grade clay to help absorb excess oil. Great for oilier an blackhead-prone skin. The white clay helps to draw out impurities and improve oil control. Plus, it can be used regularly without drying the skin. Kaolin Clay is gentle, so it's perfect for all skin types as a deep clean once or twice a week.

HOW TO USE: Use in the AM or PM, 1-2 times a week. Apply a thin layer to dampened cleansed skin and leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Pat face dry and follow with your preferred serums and moisturizer. Can be used on other blemish-prone areas, including your back and chest. 


One of the main causes of blackheads is related to excess sebum production. Our  lightweight, power-packed serum containing 10% Niacinamide, a naturally occurring B3 vitamin, helps to effectively reduce excess oil, blemishes and redness. Its thin consistency is formulated with 1% Hyaluronic Acid for added hydration and effective delivery.

HOW TO USE: Use both in the AM and PM. After cleansing and hydrating with Hyaluronic Acid Serum, gently pat a pea-sized amount into face and neck. 

View all products that target blackheads


DO NOT squeeze blackheads. As much as the satisfaction of seeing that chunk of gunk ease out of your pore can be next level, you could also push the infection further into the pore causing inflammation, scarring and making the pore excessively visible. Similarly, avoid over-exfoliation as this can make blackhead breakouts worse by spreading the infection. 

Whilst PORE STRIPS can offer a quick extraction and instant gratification, their results can be short lived and, if not cleansed efficiently, can leave the pores vulnerable to being instantly filled up again. The strips do not address the cause of the acne such as excess oil production and genetic/lifestyle impacts on the skin’s processes which, when treated, create a more sustainable and long term solution. Pore strips and other DIY blackhead extractions can also be traumatic to the skin structure so are not recommended unless done by a professional. 

WASH your skin regularly to prevent the buildup of debris, oil and bacteria which are the major causes. Check in on your skincare routine - is it tailored to your skin type and concerns? Does it factor in products to maintain oil production? Do you have a sufficient cleanser?

If you’re prone to blackheads and clogged pores, opt for oil-free or non-comedogenic makeup, creams and SPFs. Whilst your skin is designed to pump out excess oil, if it’s struggling with dealing with its natural oil production or battling blockages, it’s always good not to add to the pressure. 

Still bothered by blackheads? Contact the team at #askINKEY or create your own personalized routine with our Recipe Builder.

Photo of Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Our askINKEY team are available 24/7 on our live chat. A friendly bunch, all experts with deep product knowledge, ready to make skincare as simple as possible. Whether you are an ingredient expert or starting your journey, no question is too big or too small, no judgement or jargon, we’re here to help and be part of your journey.