The Ultimate Guide to Unclog Blackheads

Young brown skin woman extracting acne in the mirror with a surprised/painful look on her face.

What are blackheads, and how do they form?
Although people who have oily skin are more vulnerable to blackheads, anyone can get them.  Blackheads happen to be one of the most common forms of acne. They form when pores become clogged with a combination of dead skin cells and excess oil (sebum) from your sebaceous glands.

Unlike whiteheads, which create closed pores, blackheads have open surfaces, which creates an oxidation that’s dark in color.  It may be har to resist, but to try not to pinch or push the black plug out.  This can cause unnecessary scarring and other damage to your skin. The great news is that there are an abundance of options that contain effective ingredients to exfoliate, soften, and even remove blackheads.


Clay mask work to draw out oil, impurities and toxins out of the skin, which helps to unclog pores. In addition to being rich in beneficial minerals, clay has the capacity to draw out and soak up acne-causing impurities. Clay is absorbent, exfoliating and astringent. It not only tackles the root causes of breakouts but also addresses ongoing traits that plague breakout-prone skin.  Clay masks are often considered must-haves for oily skin. 

Advantages Of Clay Masks For Acne Prone Skin
Clay masks are considered a miracle worker for acne prone skin.   Below you'll find five ways that clay face masks help improve breakout-prone complexions, as well as some pro tips to getting the best results.

Lift Impurities & Clears Pores
Free your pores from dirt, buildup, and gunk, dead skin cells and making way for balanced, renewed, and brighter skin. 
Clay works similar to a magnet. It is composed of negatively charged particles that bind to positively charged impurities (like toxins, bacteria, and dirt) and pulls them out from your pores. This produces an astringent action that relieves congestion from pores and allows them to shrink back to their normal size. 

Every blackhead and pimple begins with a clogged pore, and a crucial first step is unclog blockages and lift away dead skin cells. 

Absorb Oil & Minimize Shine
Clay doesn’t just unclog pores and expel them onto the skin’s surface. When wet, clay swells and binds to impurities and, as it dries, soaks them into its center. In addition to absorbing sebum and bacteria that have been drawn out of pores, clay acts like a sponge and sops up excess oil and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. This action is a gentle exfoliation.  It not only rids skin of acne-causing contaminants, but it also reduces surface shine and contributes to a more even complexion.

Restore Balance
One of the primary causes of acne is excess oil production. When the skin overproduces sebum, the pores enlarge and stretch to hold in the excess oil. The oil coats the skin’s surface, excess oil becomes trapped within pores, where it combines with dead skin, bacteria, and dirt, and breakouts get triggered. 

Sebum is essential to our skin health.  A Clay mask’s, answer isn’t to suck all the moisture from your skin. It is to helps to lubricate and soften its surface and restore balance. Clay has an inherent ability to absorb excess oil from the skin’s surface without compromising necessary hydration. The result: a perfectly balanced complexion. 

Suitable For All Skin Types
Even if you’re not plagued by breakouts, clay can be rich in minerals and acids that benefit other skin types. You may have dry or dehydrated skin. Clay masks are often composed of a variety of types which can address a multitude of skin types and conditions. Clay is known to unclogs pores and softens skin and suitable for all skin types. 

Maintain Skin Health
Along with its purifying properties, clay also provides essential nutrients and minerals to maintain your skin’s health. Clay is rich in beneficial elements like silica, calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, iron and potassium (to name a few). Silica, in particular, is required for collagen production and plays a key role in keeping skin plump, firm and elastic. This may be helpful in shrinking the appearance of ice pick acne scars which are often the most difficult to address.

Other Things To Consider: 
Make sure you’re using noncomedogenic products
The right cleanser, mask, and exfoliator may do little good if you don’t use noncomedogenic makeup and face products. Noncomedogenic means that the product in question won’t cause clogged pores. Not all products are noncomedogenic, so you’ll have to read labels carefully.

Don’t sleep in your makeup
At the end of a long day, the last thing you may want to do is to take off your makeup, but If you are sleeping in your makeup you are asking for more blackheads. Even noncomedogenic makeup can clog your pores if left on over night.

Getting Best Results
Masking is best for an evening skincare routine, because there are exfoliant properties in the clay you want to avoid daytime masking to prevent exposing yourself to increase sun damage or sun sensitizing.

Do NOT mask more than 1-2x per week.
Overtime Blackheads will lessen and disappear. As I mention in many of me my blogs, you MUST be consistent with your routine to get the best results and the most from your products. It takes at least 4-6 to really see how a product is performing.  

Dry / Sensitive skin apply every 2-4 weeks.  You will still get great results.

Spot Treaments
You can use the mask to spot treat troubled areas or breakouts.

Never use the mask the same day you use a facial scrub or other exfoliants 

Avoid pore strips and other home extraction methods.  You’ve already learned that picking, scratching, and popping acne is considered off-limits. However, we know it can still be tempting extract and get rid of those pesky blackheads. There are an abundance of masks, pore strips, and extraction tools that promise clean pores.  Resist the need to over mask.  It may help remove gunk from your pores, but if you do it too often it can start to remove elements that actually help your skin stay healthy. Like, natural oils and hair follicles. Over masking Removing can cause your skin to dry out and become irritated. Stick to 1x per week.  If you have oily skin you can apply 2x per week.

Don’t waste your time on benzoyl peroxide
When it comes to drugstore acne spot treatments, you’re likely to find that many products contain benzoyl peroxide. The problem with benzoyl peroxide is it doesn’t work for all types of acne.  Benzoyl peroxide works by reducing swelling, which a key marker of inflammatory acne, which includes cysts and pustules. It can also get rid of underlying bacteria in a pimple.  However, blackheads aren’t considered inflammatory. Blackheads are not caused by bacteria, so products featuring benzoyl peroxide won’t do much good.

See your dermatologist or skin professional for extraction
Any new skincare routine including one for blackheads, can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to take effect.  If you continue to see new and preexisting blackheads after this time, you may need to make an appointment with your dermatologist or skin professional. They can use professional tools to extract blackheads.

Avoid masks with alcohol, synthetic frangrances, mineral oil Witch Hazel, SLS (sodium Lauryl, Sulfate), Artificial Colors 

Pro Tips:

  1. Use a clay mask 1 - 2x per week if you skin produces a lot of oil
  2. A clay mask will help pull out (detox) the dirt from you skin and pores
  3. For best results, apply a clay mask for 15-30 minutes, rinse or use as a spot treatment for the same amount of time and rinse.

How to get started
  1. Remove Makeup
  2. Cleanse Face, Pat Face Dry (do NOT rub)
  3. Apply clay mask to face, neck and decollate area (chest)
  4. Leave on 15-30 minutes 
  5. You can rinse in 2 ways: 1 use an ultrasonic nano mister in the moisturizing mode, push the clay mask off (in an upward motion, be sure not to pull or tug on skin) with the device and wipe and rinse/wipe as you go.  If you don’t have this device, use damp fingers, gently massage face in small circular motion
  6. In the Tone & areas where most black heads live massage very small circular motion, use large circular motions in less congested areas
  7. Do NOT pull or tug on your skin.  The clay should not feel rough or course on your skin.  Gentle massage should last 3-5 min
  8. Once finished rinse with Luke warm to cool water
  9. If using a wash cloth, go easy on the skin (again) do not pull tug or press hard the clay has enough exfoliant properties that you don’t want to wipe to hard and irritate the skin.  You may need to rinse the cloth multiple times
  10. Finish with hydrating face serum and deep penetrating moisturizer

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