Dealing With Blackheads

Even though they're tiny, blackheads are pesky. What causes blackheads, and how can you stop them? Unfortunately, they're hard to prevent because they're a result of your skin's natural skin cell renewal and oil production. When oil and dead skin cells clog your pores, the result is a blackhead. So, what can you do to get clear skin?

Pore-cleaning strips are one quick and easy blackhead remover that you can find at the drugstore. The strip of paper will latch on to your blackheads and pull them out. A facialist or dermatologist can also extract blackheads using a special extractor instrument. It's not painless, but it is quick.

All quick fixes aside, realize that you'll never find a magic cure for blackheads. However, a regular skin care regimen including exfoliation two to three times weekly can help keep them under control. Exfoliating will give you a deeper clean to remove more of the dead skin cells and oil that clog your pores in the first place. For extra acne-fighting power, choose a formula containing salicylic acid. Creams containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) also can help by gently exfoliating your skin without being abrasive.

Alternatively, you could visit your dermatologist for a Retin-A cream. The retinoids will cause your skin cells to renew faster so they have less time to clog your pores, and they'll slow oil production. With this solution, you'll need to be patient because retinoids don't take full effect for a few weeks and can cause red, flaky skin.

Other dermatological treatments can help, too. Microdermabrasion, basically a high-powered and high-tech skin exfoliation that you can do at home, can help get rid of blackheads that your regular exfoliation can't. Chemical peels containing glycolic acid will remove dead skin cells and take the blackheads away as well, but that requires a bigger commitment. Whatever you do, do it gently, try one new solution at a time and, above all, resist the urge to pick at the blackheads.

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