Blackheads may not cause you the kind of intense discomfort that you associate with skin irritation and rashes, but they are no less annoying. After all, blackheads don’t go away on their own and they are often a prelude to acne.
The excess of sebum, bacterial infections, and inflammation can contribute to clogging of hair follicles, which results in blackheads. While blackheads might be easy to hide with makeup, that doesn’t really solve the problem for good.
OTC blackhead removers can offer respite, but they often contain harsh ingredients that can cause further skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
This makes natural blackhead removal techniques the safest resort. When it comes to natural treatment for blackheads nothing beats essential oils, so sit back and relax while I take you through Olivia’s ultimate guide to everything you need to know about how to get rid of blackheads. First things first…
What Causes Blackheads And How To Prevent Them
Our skin consists of tiny pores with sebaceous oil glands that send sebum (natural oil) to the surface of the skin. A plug at the opening (follicle) of the pore blocks the sebum from escaping and traps it within the follicle. Blackheads typically contain oil, dead skin cells and bacteria which is why they can turn into cysts if they are not treated on time.
The good news is that there are a few simple ways to prevent blackheads. Avoid greasy cosmetics and creams as these can result in blocked pores and always make sure you take off your make up before you go to bed. Mild to moderate exercise will make you sweat which will help to cleanse your pores.
Make sure that you wash your face thoroughly after you exercise. However, do not wash your face several times during the day as this will make your skin dry and flaky. Your skin is delicate so do not scrub or rub it vigorously as this could increase the risk of blackheads. Follow a daily skincare regimen to keep your skin clean and prevent blackheads.
Facts About Blackheads
They are pesky rascals: There is no way to get rid of blackheads, at least not permanently. Let’s face it; this is a normal and important function of your body being used against you. The oil that forms the base for the gunk in those pores is needed to keep your skin healthy and safe.
So, you cannot get rid of the function nor the problem of blackheads. In fact, try as hard as you may, blackheads will come calling, usually in the same spots, every 20-40 days.
Going psycho scrubber on them is not going to help: The harder you scrub, the greater will be your risk of seriously irritating those blackheads and developing a secondary infection (read pimples).
Also, scrubbing may remove too much oil from your skin, leaving it vulnerable. Plus, when you dry your skin, you simply send a signal to your body to increase sebum production. More oil coming out of those pores equates to more sticky stuff available to form clogs, and that’s not what you want.
You can’t squeeze them out: Think of blackheads as lard/hard butter in a thin plastic container. Even if you were to use big enough pliers to squeeze the container, do you think you’ll be able to get all the lard or butter out? No! So, popping a blackhead can dislodge a part of the plug at best and at worst it can cause inflammation and open up the pathway for a pimple.
There is no dirt involved: The common misconception is that blackheads are simply dirt filled pores. Actually, there is absolutely no dirt or dust involved in the blackhead equation. The grime is made of sebum and dead skin cells.
As the oil surfaces, it comes into contact with air, which causes oxidation and gives it a dark color. So, although they are called blackheads, they are not always black but come in various hues of brown and black.
Cleansing Your Face Prior To Using Essential Oils
Essential oils can help in multiple ways to control and treat blackheads, but their efficacy is directly proportional to their reach. What this means is if there is an extra coating of sebum on your face, those oils won’t get to the areas, where they ought to be.
So, cleansing is a must before the use of essential oils. However, remember that a harsh, skin-drying soap won’t help. Here is a recipe to try instead:
Not sugar, but honey and spice and all things nice
This is a scrub and cleanser rolled into one that also offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Plus, it improves circulation and works as an astringent. So, you are not only going to say goodbye to those blackheads but also oiliness, wrinkles and more. You will need:
- 2 heaped tablespoon pomegranate or orange peel powder
- 1 tbsp licorice root powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 cup honey (raw) (manuka preferred)
Mix all the ingredients and store in a glass jar in a cool, dry place; no need to refrigerate. Splash some water on your face before you start. Then, take about a teaspoon of this mixture and use it as you would a face wash. Gently massage the mixture using circular motion all over your skin.
Spend about 30-45 seconds on the nose, the forehead, the chin and any other areas of the face that have blackheads. You can spend more time in such areas, but don’t increase downward pressure. You are going for a total of 5-7 minutes of massage. Then, wash your face with warm/room temperature water and that’s all there is to it.
Typically, once a day usage is all it takes to deal with excess oiliness, blackheads and whiteheads as well as open pores.
How Do Essential Oils Help Get Rid Of Blackheads?
I have already told you how blackheads come to be. Now, let me explain how essential oils can stop the process in its tracks.
Making those sebaceous glands behave themselves
The tonic effect of many of these oils not only clears sebum off your skin but also helps to modulate the secretion of the natural oil. With less oil made, there isn’t much to clog the pores.
A strong astringent effect
Also, these oils have a pore clenching effect, which means that whatever oil is making it up to the surface of the skin through the pores, gets squeezed out. Also, because there is little room to hold back the sebum in the narrowed pores, there is less accumulation of the oily substance and simply not enough of it for oxidation.
Melt the grime
Because essential oils are mixed with carrier oils for topical use, the blend, regardless of its content, helps to melt the grime in the pores and makes it easy for the sebum to flow out of the pores on its own or for you to remove it out.
Deliver the antioxidant punch
Nearly all essential oils offer some degree of antioxidant benefits. However, with the right mix of extracts, you can ensure that the blend not only offers protection from free radical damage but also stops the oxidation of sebum. No oxidation means the sebum will not turn completely or as dark as it normally does.
Stop the critters from causing trouble
These extracts are also powerful antimicrobial agents that can keep the dermal microbiota in check. So, you won’t have to worry as much about those blackheads turning into zits.
7 Essential Oil Blends To Eliminate Blackheads
Blackheads can appear on the chest, back or arms but they most commonly affect facial skin, especially around the nose. You can use essential oils to treat and prevent blackheads and whiteheads.
Here are 7 ways in which you can get rid of your blackheads with essential oils.
1. Orange Essential Oil Cleanser
A 2018 study showed that citrus oils such as orange essential oil have potent antimicrobial effects which makes them effective in treating skin ailments. Undiluted orange essential oil can irritate the skin so mix it with a carrier oil.
To make your own facial cleanser for blackheads, mix 6-8 drops of orange essential oil in 1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil along with 1 teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice. Soak a cotton pad in this mixture and use it to cleanse your skin on a daily basis. This facial cleanser will help to prevent blackheads and give you a clearer complexion.
2. Tea Tree Oil Face Pack
Terpinen-4-ol is the active ingredient in tea tree oil. It has broad-spectrum anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and studies show that it can be used in the treatment of acne and similar skin conditions.
To make your tea tree oil face pack, you will need to mix 4 drops of tea tree oil diluted in a tablespoon of avocado oil and 1 tablespoon of fuller’s earth. Add 2 teaspoons of water to form a thick paste. Steam your face for 8-10 minutes before you use this face pack as it will help to open up and unclog your pores.
3. Frankincense Essential Oil Face scrub
A 2017 study show that frankincense essential oil helps to reduce skin irritation and provide an even skin tone which makes it ideal for a face scrub for blackheads.
Mix frankincense with jojoba oil as this carrier oil has anti-inflammatory properties and researchers found that it is effective in treating inflammatory skin lesions and acne. It can also help to prevent skin infections, promote wound healing and slow down the aging process.
To make your own face scrub for blackheads, mix 5 drops of frankincense essential oil in 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil along with 2 teaspoons of crushed uncooked oats. Mix these ingredients thoroughly and add 1 tablespoon of rose water to form a thick and grainy paste.
Apply this paste evenly over your face and then use gentle circular motions to cleanse your skin. Rinse your face with cold water and allow it to air dry. Use this face scrub at least twice a week to treat and prevent blackheads.
4. Lavender Essential Oil Moisturizer
A 2016 study indicated that lavender essential oil promotes wound healing which is why you should use it as a moisturizer after you remove your blackheads.
Add 4 drops of lavender essential oil to a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and use a clean cotton pad to gently dab it all over your face. Virgin coconut oil has proven anti-inflammatory and skin protective benefits so it will help to prevent blackheads and give you a clearer complexion. This recipe is suitable for all skin types and you can use it on a daily basis instead of your regular moisturizer.
5. Juniper Berry Oil Compress
Juniper Berry oil has strong antimicrobial properties and helps to soothe inflamed skin. It is also a natural astringent that helps to get rid of excess sebum within your pores – the root cause of blackheads.
Add 5 drops each of juniper berry oil to a tablespoon of rosehip oil to a small bowl of hot water. Soak a clean towel in this water and wring out the excess water before placing it over your face. Repeat this several times to help loosen blackheads so that they can be easily extracted.
6. Chamomile Essential Oil Toner
Chamomile essential oil helps to prevent bacterial skin infections and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, researchers found that the natural compounds in chamomile essential oil penetrate the skin surface and reach the deeper skin layers which makes it an excellent choice for a skin toner.
Mix chamomile essential oil with witch hazel oil to make your own essential oil toner. Witch hazel has a high tannin content which gives it astringent properties. To make your toner, mix 8 drops of chamomile essential oil with 2 tablespoon of witch hazel oil. Gently dab the oil over your entire face and wait for at least 15 minutes before applying a moisturizer.
7. Oregano Essential Oil Spot Treatment
P. acnes and S. epidermidis are two of the major acne-associated bacteria. A recent study found that oregano essential oil is very effective against these bacteria and can significantly reduce and even eliminate them within hours of application.
When blackheads become infected, they turn into pimples so applying oregano oil to blackheads will prevent acne breakouts.
Mix 2 drops of oregano essential oil with 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil and use this as a spot treatment for blackheads as well as acne.
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Safe Use Of Essential Oils
Essential oils are very effective in treating a wide range of health issues but keep in mind that these oils are potent and using them incorrectly will do more harm than good. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using essential oils:
1. Always dilute them
Essential oils are highly concentrated and using them undiluted can cause skin irritation and even skin damage. Most essential oils are safe at a 2-3% concentration and you can go as high as 5% depending on the essential oil.
A good rule of thumb when making a 2% dilution is to add 12 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil; 3% would be 18 drops and 5% is 30 drops in an ounce of carrier.
Carrier oils such as almond oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil can hydrate your skin, prevent skin infections and speed up the wound healing process. Some essential oils such as cinnamon bark oil, clove oil and oregano essential oil are highly potent and should be used at a 1-2% concentration. Always check the labels of your essential oil bottles before use.
2. Conduct a patch test
When using an essential oil for the first time, conduct a patch test to ensure that you do not have an adverse reaction to the oil you are intending to use.
Wash the inside of your elbow with soap and gently pat it dry with a towel. Apply the diluted essential oil to a small patch (approximately the size of a nickel) and wait for 24 hours. If you experience any itching or redness during this time, wash the area immediate with soap and warm water and discontinue use.
3. Avoid contact with your eyes and mucus membranes
Essential oils contain potent natural chemical compounds that will irritate the sensitive tissues in your eyes, nose and mouth.
When applying essential oils to your face, make sure that you do not apply the oil to the areas around your eyes, nose and mouth. If the essential oil accidently comes in contact with your eye, rinse it out with a few drops of olive oil or plain vegetable oil and then wash your eye repeatedly with warm water.
How To Remove Blackheads Naturally / 8 Home Remedies For Blackheads
1. The good yogurt
You will need two tbsp yogurt (non-sweetened, non-flavored). If there is a little bit of whey in it, don’t fret it. Just let the liquid be. Add ¼ tsp each of turmeric and cinnamon powders to the yoghurt along with 1 tsp of used coffee ground. If you don’t have coffee ground on hand, add 1 tsp of dried herb mixture; it does not matter what kind as long as it does not have pepper (black, chilli, cayenne or any other) in it.
Mix the ingredients together to form a paste and apply a medium thick layer all over your face. Let it remain on your skin for 10 minutes. With what’s left back, massage your face for 5 minutes using circular strokes and focusing on areas that have open pores and blackheads.
Once you are done with this two-step process, wash your face using warm water and a mixture made from water and orange/pomegranate peel powder. Use this routine 2 times a week for noticeably clear and blemish free skin.
2. Aloe and mint
This is a very simple recipe that involves mixing crushed mint leaves with aloe gel/juice. You will need to start with a cup of mint leaves and about 3-4 tbsp of aloe juice. Crush the leaves in the mortar or use your food processor. Mix the two ingredients and apply on your face. Wash off after 20 minutes.
3. The citrus juices
Citrus fruits are full of micronutrients as well as citric acid, which can be used as a mild alpha hydroxyl acid. Just remember to include a few pieces of the rind in the juicing process. Dilute the juice with some water; go for 2 parts juice and 2 parts water for normal skin and 1 part juice with 3 parts water for sensitive skin. Apply with a ball of cotton wool.
Leave on your face for 5 minutes then go for a second application and then a third, each spaced 5 minutes apart. Wash your face off with room temperature water. Exfoliate with a mechanical exfoliant (brush or botanical abrasives) after 24 hours. The most important thing is to not take a heavy hand here. Remember, you CANNOT scrub the oil or those blackheads away.
This is another easy recipe that works as a preventative measure as well as a treatment. Soak oatmeal in warm almond/coconut milk or any other plant based milk. Add a tbsp each of raw honey and apple cider vinegar to the soaked oatmeal. Mix well and apply on your face. Wait for 10 minutes and then massage your skin with the mixture covering your face. Wash the mixture off your skin with warm water.
5. Baking soda
This one is the simplest recipe in the book. You simply start with a heaped tbsp of baking soda and add enough water to it to make a medium thick paste. Apply the alkaline mixture on the affected areas and let it work its magic for 5 minutes. Then, use it as a scrub by gently massaging the mixture on your face. Wash with room temperature water.
6. Tea with lemon
Start with strong brewed green tea and by strong I mean use 3 times the quantity of tea leaves that you normally use. Add the juice of 1 lemon to a cup of the tea. Soak a face mask sheet in this mixture and place it on your skin. Keep it on for 15 minutes, making sure to not let the fluids drip or flow into your eyes. Wash off with room temperature water.
7. Oil and steam
Massaging your face with a non-comedogenic oil (hazelnut, grapeseed, rosehip seed oil, etc.) and then using steam to melt those pore plugs away also helps. You start with a 10 minute massage. Then, steam your face for 5-7 minutes.
Next, use another round of massage to dislodge the pore plugs. This time, mix 2 tsps of sugar with the oil and use it as a natural and effective scrub. Limit facial steaming to one session in 15-20 days.
If you have any inflammatory skin condition or don’t respond well to mechanical exfoliation, use flax and sesame seed meal as scrubbing particles. After about 5-7 minutes of massage, you can either turn this process into a facial with a clay mask following the second round of massage or you can simply wash your face with a mild soap and some warm water.
8. Tomato and potato
You will need a cup of tomato and potato juice. I highly recommend that you use your juicer for the job because you will need fresh juice and you will have to use it immediately. Apply using cotton wool and let it stay on your face for 5 minutes. Go for two more rounds of application each after 5 minutes and then rinse the juice off your face with room temperature water.
Homemade Blackhead Mask / DIY Blackhead Remover Mask
Here are two face mask recipes that can help greatly to keep those pores clean. However, if you want to put the performance of these masks in fourth gear start with oil massage and steaming and then use one of these two recipes.
- Egg white (1 egg)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp orange/pomegranate peel powder
Mix the ingredients together and apply the mixture with a face mask brush. Because egg white forms the base of this recipe, the layering has to be thin or you will have droplets dripping all over your body and around you. So, give the mask about 5 minutes after the first application. Then, apply a second layer and a third.
Allow the mask to dry completely on your skin and then peel it off. Don’t expect it to come off in one piece. You will have to peel it off in bits. This will not impact the effectiveness of the mask just remember to not use your nails to peel the mask off. What cannot be peeled off should simply be washed off with warm water. Keep this mask away from your hairline, eyes and eyebrows.
- 1 tbsp bentonite clay
- 1 tsp chickpea flour (garbanzo beans flour)
- 1 tsp matcha
- Rose/lavender hydrosol as required
Mix all the ingredients to make a smooth and thick paste that has the consistency of cake batter. Apply in a medium thick layer, avoiding the area around the eyes, the hairline and the eyebrows.
While you have the mask on your face, do not move your facial muscles. You don’t want the mask to crack. Also, you don’t have to wait for the mask to dry completely. About 20 minutes of time should be enough to pull out the oil and the grime from your pores. Wash the mask off your skin with room temperature water.
How To Remove Blackheads From Nose Permanently
Use a toner
A non-alcoholic toner can help to reduce pore size and control excess sebum production. Witch hazel is one of the best products for the job. Apply after cleansing your face, but don’t use right after exfoliation (mechanical or chemical). Give your skin at least 12 hours between exfoliation and toning.
Exfoliate gently but regularly
Do not scrimp on exfoliation. You need one round every alternate day and it would be best to use a mix of mechanical and chemical exfoliation. Using AHA and BHAs to get rid of excess sebum and dead cells helps a lot but limit the chemical exfoliation to 2 times a week and alternate with 2 rounds of mechanical exfoliation per week for faster removal of cellular debris and stale sebum.
Be mindful of what you use on your face
Go through the ingredients list of all your skincare products with a fine toothed comb. Avoid products that contain pore clogging ingredients like mineral oil, viscous carrier oils, synthetic fragrances, colors and preservatives, isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl myristate, Lauryl Sulfate, lanolin, plant butters, algin, wheatgerm oil and glyceryl stearate among others.
Don’t add to the woes of your pores
Don’t add to the grime in your pores by sleeping with your makeup on or layering skin care and makeup products on your skin several times through the day.
Always, remove your makeup and cleanse your skin before bed time. Before reapplying your makeup, use micellar water or a hydrosol to remove the sweat and grime from your skin then apply a second layer of sunscreen, makeup or any skincare product.
Retinoids can help
The topical application of retinoids not only helps with premature skin ageing but also offers an effective way to control sebum secretion and to keep the pores clean. However, if you have never used a retinoid product before, start slowly with alternate day application and with low concentration products, and then work your way up to daily usage.
Sweat and heat can make things worse
Whether you like to spend time outdoors or enjoy sweating it out in the gym, keep that sweat off your skin. The combination of heat and the salts in sweat will add to pore clogging.
So, don’t wait to get back home to cleanse your skin. Instead, spray some hydrosol or some green tea on your face and wipe away the grime and oil.
Peel off the blackheads from your nose
Once a week, use a peel-off mask on your nose. Use the recipe given above or mix some honey and whole milk (2-3 tbsp milk with 1 tbsp honey) for a quick peel off mask.
Apply the mixture on your nose with some cotton wool and then use a cloth strip or a paper waxing strip on your skin. Smooth it on the nose and leave it be till the milk mixture dries. Then, gently peel off the strip along with the black portion of the grime in the pores.
How To Get Rid Of Blackheads With Diet?
There is a lot of debate on whether diet can actually make an impact on the appearance of blackheads and the prevalence of acne.
Dietary fats do not find their way to the surface of the skin. However, any food item that influences hormone levels (androgen) and Insulin Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) will lead to excess sebum production, which will eventually cause blackheads and possibly acne.
Also, some food items help to limit inflammation and boost immune functions, thus lowering the risk of bacterial colonization that turns blackheads into pimples. So, here is a look at the foods to avoid and those to fill up on to keep your skin free of blackheads and other blemishes.
Enjoy these food items:
Fruits and veggies
I am sure you were expecting this one. I can’t help it; the fact is that the micronutrients in dark colored vegetables and fruits are the most potent restorative agents. They not only help to control inflammation but also restore balance in the body, modulating the functioning of all physiological systems.
So, get your 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables, particularly berries, leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, sprouts, citrus fruits, carrots and pomegranates.
The good bacteria restore health to the gut, and your tummy has a crucial role to play in hormonal balance. So, when your stomach is healthy, your hormone levels and regulated. This, in turn, balances immune functions and reins in those wayward sebaceous glands.
Load up on zinc
This is the most important micronutrient for those who suffer from oily skin, blackheads and acne. Foods like chia and hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, legumes, nuts and whole grains will give you all the zinc you need. But, I would still recommend using a supplement as well, if blackheads and acne are a big problem for you.
Vitamins A and C
These are two other nutrients that can keep your skin clear and free of excess sebum and blackheads. Spinach, carrots, oily fish, sweet potato, collard greens, kale, squash, red pepper, Swiss chard, mango, papaya, tangerine, grapefruit, guava and liver are rich in vitamin A.
For your daily dose of vitamin C, gorge on berries, citrus fruits, kiwis, bell peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, black currant, broccoli, papaya, cherries, rosehips, thyme, mustard spinach and parsley.
Go high on fiber
All those fruits, nuts, veggies and seeds also happen to be high in soluble fiber, which not only cleans the digestive system but also encourages the growth of gut friendly bacteria.
Seafood is good for you
The Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and zinc in oily fish also help to control inflammation and balance the levels of various lipids in the body.
Go slow on:
Meat and dairy
The issue is not so much the fats in these food items as the use of hormones on livestock. These chemicals do make their way into the meat and milk derived from the animals and from there into your body. This can impact the balance of hormones. Plus, dairy products raise the levels of insulin and IGF-1, which leads to excess sebum secretion.
Refined/simple carbs and added sugar
These not only increase the body’s inflammatory response but are also their high glycemic index leads to higher insulin levels and consequently higher levels of IGF-1. So, stay away from foods and even fruits that have a high glycemic index and high glycemic load.
Although these do not directly increase sebum secretion, they do cause heightened inflammatory responses, which can increase your risk of suffering from acne.
Salt, caffeine and alcohol
All three of these can cause dehydration in the body, and your skin is always the first to suffer from the lack of moisture. In response, your body increases the secretion of sebum to keep the dermal layers from drying. But, you don’t want more sebum, so stay away from alcoholic and caffeinated beverages and salty foods.
Blackheads vs Whiteheads
What the difference?
A blackhead is essentially an open pore, which has sebum and dead skin cells blocking it. The dead skin cells contain a substance called melanin, which gives your skin its color. When exposed to air, this melanin oxidizes rapidly and turns brown/black.
Normally, this sebum would flow out of the pores and onto the surface of the skin. But, dead skin cells get combined with the sticky, oily sebum and increase its viscosity, slowing down its movement from inside the pores to the skin surface. This gives the trapped gunk enough time to get oxidized.
Whiteheads are also a mixture of sebum and dead cells trapped inside the pores. However, the pore closes with the gunk trapped inside, thus preventing its exposure to air. Since the sebum does not get oxidized in this case, it does not change color.
So, unlike blackheads that have a distinctly darker, almost black, appearance, whiteheads look like tiny bumps filled with white/yellow stuff inside. They don’t get as big as pimples nor are they as soft or turgid as pustules.
Because blackheads involve open and even enlarged pores, they are far easier to treat than whiteheads that manifest from the pores closing down on the trapped sebum plug.
Known as closed comedones (literally, closed pores), whiteheads cause little or no inflammation. However, both whiteheads and blackheads can cause acne. Also, both conditions result from excessive sebum production and dead skin cells that stay on the surface for longer than they should.
Because whiteheads are harder to get rid of than blackheads, prevention is your best option when dealing with them. The good news is that you can use the same treatment modality for whiteheads as you do for blackheads.
The Final Word
Here you go, everything you needed to prevent and get rid of blackheads. Let me know if you’ve tried any other recipe or what’s your secret to eliminating blackheads because I want to hear from you too!