Clogged Pores? Try a DIY Blackhead-Removal Mask

Skip the chemical-laden products. These homemade versions can do the job, too.

Woman treating blackhead and clogged pores in mirror.

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All acne can be a drag, especially once you’re an adult. I mean, you paid your dues when you were a teen, right? But blackheads can be particularly bothersome because unless they are dealt with, they never seem to go away. First, let’s talk about how these little boogers come to be in the first place.

What Are Blackheads?

Close up of blackheads on skin.

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Unlike whiteheads, blackheads form when hair follicles in your skin get clogged. Each follicle contains one hair and a sebaceous gland that produces oil, which helps keep your skin soft. Dead skin cells and oils collect in the opening to the skin follicle, causing a bump to form, a dermatological phenomenon called a comedo, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The bump is referred to as a whitehead if the skin over the bump stays closed. If the skin over the bump opens, exposure to the air causes it to look black — hence the term blackhead.

Blackheads often form where excess oil can clog up pores on your face—in creases, around your lips, and near your nose. When I was growing up, there were two ways to get rid of blackheads: using a facial scrub religiously or paying a beautician $100 to pop your face raw.

Today, though, you can try a DIY blackhead-removal mask before making an appointment with a dermatologist or aesthetician. Here are a few masks to try:

1. Gelatin and Milk

Take 1 spoonful of each and mix together until completely dissolved in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for 5 to 10 seconds, let it cool a bit and test the temperature on your hand (never on your face). Then brush it on your skin, let it dry for at least 10 minutes, and peel it off.

2. Egg White and Lemon or Lime Juice

Sliced lemons and limes on a table for blackhead treatment.

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Mix the egg white and a spoonful of the lemon or lime juice in a bowl. Then apply it to your nose or wherever you have blackheads. Gently press a tissue on the egg white, dab some more egg white on the tissue to hold it in place, and let it dry for some time. Alternatively, you could wait 5 minutes between layers of egg white without the tissue. When it’s fully dry, peel it off slowly.

3. Honey and Milk

Milk and honey for a skincare blackhead treatment on a wood table.

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Mix together a spoonful of each and apply it to your blackheads. Let it harden for 10 to 15 minutes, then slowly peel off.

For optimal success, try steaming your face ahead of using these masks. This will help your facial pores to open and improve extractions.

After you try these home remedies for blackheads, try dabbing a little lemon juice on your pores to close them up. And don’t use these concoctions too often, as they will dry out your skin and cause your glands to produce even more oil.

As for future maintenance, you can take precautions to prevent blackheads from returning. Always wash your face thoroughly at the end of each day, removing makeup fully. Be sure to exfoliate your face on a regular basis, i.e. wash it with a mildly abrasive cleanser or ingredient like baking soda, salt, or sugar at least once per week. Eliminate any thick creams or cosmetics that you think might be exacerbating the problem. Last but not least, remember to change your pillowcase every one to two weeks so you're not sleeping on oily fabric that could contribute to clogged pores.