Sunday, January 4

3 Step Method for Removing blackheads

Blackheads will not go away on their own. They are stubborn, deep, hard little plugs that need dealing with!! Despite what the adverts tell you, there is no quick fix and scrubbing them with grapefruit scented soap will do nothing at all. Read this post to understand the what and hows of blackheads and click here for more about your pores, read on to discover the methods for removal that work.

Best used all together your 3 methods are;
1.) Salicylic acid
2.) Hot oil massage
3.) Physical extraction.

1.) Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliator which is able to get into your pore and exfoliate it from the inside (as opposed to glycolic acid which exfoliates on the surface only). Over time salicylic acid dissolves the plug of dead skin cells and oil to finally clear out your pore. Of course we can hurry things up a bit with steps 2 and 3. As the salicylic acid dissolves and softens the plug we can work on moving it up the pore to the surface.

Paula's choice salicylic acid lotion and serum. Chemical exfoliation for blackheads and clear pores.
Paula's choice is always my go-to site for salicylic, a great range, just click here

How to use salicylic acid
A chemical exfoliator needs time on your skin so a facewash will literally do nothing. At all. Use a salicylic acid lotion/serum or toner instead. There are different concentrations available and if your skin is sensitive start with 2% or even 1%. Unlike other ingredients your skin will be able to build up to a higher concentration, watch this video by DermTV to better understand progressive exfoliation. Apply in the morning before your moisturiser.
N.B. Don't use with retinol in the evening or it will stop the retinol from working.

2.) Hot oil massage
Before physical extraction a hot oil massage is said to loosen the blackheads and soften the plug ready for your comedone remover tool. 

Sweet almond oil, castor oil, the oil cleansing method and 1 pink face cloth and 1 muslin cloth. Mineral oils, natural skincare

I'm constantly singing the praises of the wonderful, fabulous, acne-killing oil cleansing method and hot oil massage seems a great extension of that.  I stumbled across this post by Renee Rouleau and am curious to have a go. Don't go as far as trying to squeeze out all the blackheads with your fingers; it's easy to scar your skin. However the method she describes for opening your pores and massaging all around the blackheads sounds smart and can only help to ready us for the final step, the actual removal of the blackhead. . .

3.) Physical extraction
We've all jabbed our fingernails into our skin and ruthlessly tried to squeeze out our blackheads - on the new, shallow blackheads it may have worked but for the most part, we ended up with red, sore skin and the blackheads remained, right?

Forget the occasional attack of your delicate skin, let's do it properly!

N.B. If you have a new, shallow blackhead to remove - I get tiny ones around my lips - a quick squeeze with your fingers after step 2) may be enough. But for those deeper blackheads read on. . .

You'll need a comedone remover/extractor - a double ended tool which you can pick up for a couple of £/$/euro/(insert chosen currency here!) from ebay, amazon or a beauty supplier. On one end is a little spoon-like hole on the other a very small wire loop to push down all around the pore so that the blackhead pops out. Needless to say it's best to have a good beautician do this for you - at least the first time. If done wrong you could scar your skin and cause broken capillaries so please please don't just jump into it - if you're not squeamish, watch a demonstration on YouTube.

Comedone extractor tools. Blackhead removal for clear pores. Remove blackheads.

Start with a clean face, clean fingers and clean extraction tool.

First, the 'plug' needs softening over time - Method 1) Salicylic acid

Second, you need to open your pores and soften the blackhead - Method 2) hot oil massage is one way or I don't know about you but my pores are never more open than when I've had a bath or been working out.You can also spend time with a bowl of hot water and a flannel as described in the oil cleansing method  -- don't rush this step, your success depends upon it!

pin up girl in bathroom after a bath wearing a red robe with kitten heels. 1940s vintage pin curls hair.
I love sitting around in a lush red robe and high heels when I've just had a bath :-)
Let's extract!
Grab your comedone extractor, position it over the pore and push down using the wire loop. It will exert even pressure all around the pore so hopefully the blackhead will come wriggling out. If it doesn't work the first time try another couple of positions, if it still doesn't work, accept that today isn't the day and choose another blackhead.

Don't think "the harder I press the more blackhead will come out", this won't work. Without the plug at the root there's no point damaging your skin just to remove some gunk just under the surface.

When you're finished, tone and apply your salicylic acid treatment - it may tingle! Then clean your extractor tool.

Leave it a few days until you try again, once a week will be enough but you may want to try every 3-4 days if you're zealous!

Of course prevention is better than cure, so while we take care of the annoying blackheads we already have, let's keep our other pores clean. If we follow the anti-acne rules and routine to keep our pores clear and bacteria-free, stick on the DIY Bentonite, bi-carb pore-cleansing mask every week, hopefully, our blackhead dramas will end!

Clearing blackheads is not an easy or quick process - no matter what the Neutrogena adverts tell you! There isn't any pus there to clear the pore like a spot, so they'll never go away on their own. Be prepared for a long journey, frustration and anger. But then, one day, you'll look in the mirror and notice a positive change, your blackheads will suddenly look much better and maybe by this time next year they'll even be gone!

As I said in Know your blackheads, KILL your blackheads, don't let blackheads make you feel self-conscious. Mineral make-up will cover them without making them worse and remember they are very small, other people will probably not notice them at all and are certainly not staring at them while you chat.

Here's to a clean-pore new year!
Ciao for now

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