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How to get rid of blackheads without popping them

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?)...

The right way to remove blackheads

Yes, blackheads are evil and you want them gone like yesterday, but popping them puts you at risk for skin damage... not to mention how not sexy you'll feel when your sig-o is trying to kiss you and your face is all inflamed. But don't fret: A few simple tweaks to your beauty routine will get rid of blackheads in no time.

1. Switch to a face wash with salicylic acid

"Over-the-counter salicylic acid products help remove excess skin oil and remove dead cells that clog pores," says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. "This allows blockages to clear out of your follicles."

Try: Bioré Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser (, $8)

2. Clay mask it up once a week

Use an oil-absorbing clay mask once a week to help absorb excess oil and skin impurities.

Try: Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil Absorbing Mask (, $19)

3. Use pore strips

The adhesive strips attach to the blackheads and pull them out when you remove them. To get the most out of your strips, it's best to use your salicylic cleanser for a few days to "loosen up" your clogged pores beforehand.

Read more: DIY pore strips

If a hot date's on the horizon and you don't have a few days, The Dermatology Review recommends steaming your pores before applying a pore strip. Fill your sink with uber-hot water, drape a large towel over your head and lean over the sink for about 15 to 20 minutes. With your face moist but not wet, apply your pore strip and follow the package directions for the length of time you should leave it on and how to best remove it.

Try: Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips (, $8)

4. Detox your makeup

"Make sure your makeup foundation has a 'non-comedogenic' claim," says Dr. Roshini Raj, co-founder of TULA skin care. "Comedogenicity is a tendency of any topical ingredient to cause or worsen buildup in a pore that can lead to the development of blackheads." Your best bet would be to use a foundation that's actually been tested not to increase the number of blackheads.

Try: Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup (, $12)

5. Keep your skin calm

Give your skin a chill pill when it becomes inflamed or red by using topical probiotics. "Recent research shows that topical probiotics could help with skin conditions such as acne or rosacea," says Raj. "By secreting anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory substances, they help form a protective barrier that stops your cells from reacting to bad bacteria and developing inflammation."

Try: TULA Hydrating Day & Night Cream (, $50)

More skin care tips

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