How to Extract Facial Blackheads

by M.H. Dyer ; Updated July 18, 2017

Blackheads are the result of dry skin cells and bacteria that combine with oil to clog the pores of the skin, forming a small, dark spot, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website. Extracting blackheads by yourself isn't the best way to treat the problem, but if you do choose to extract them, use great care. Rough handling or missteps can irritate the skin and may result in infections that cause scarring.

Wash your face with your regular cleanser, and then pat your skin dry. Extracting blackheads from clean skin reduces the risk that the skin will become irritated and inflamed.

Exfoliate the affected areas using a gentle commercial scrub containing alpha hydroxy acid. Work the scrub into the blackheads gently, using the padded part of your fingertips. Rinse with warm water and dry your skin with a soft towel.

Soften your skin by taking a hot shower or by holding a warm washcloth against the area. Alternatively, steam your face for five to 10 minutes over a saucepan filled with simmering water.

Perform the blackhead extraction in front of a mirror in a room with good light. A regular mirror will work, but a magnifying mirror is preferable.

Wrap both index fingers in tissue. Stretch the skin around the blackhead with your fingertips, then roll the skin back and forth, expelling the blackhead from beneath. Don't attempt to extract the blackhead by popping or pinching it with your fingernails. Wipe the debris away with a tissue, then move on to the next blackhead. Try again the next day if the blackhead isn't easily extracted. Don't attempt to force the blackhead, and don't continue to press and stretch your skin.

Cleanse your skin with an antibacterial wipe to calm and sterilize the skin, reducing the chance of infection.

Purify your skin and tighten your pores with a clay mask. Use a commercial or homemade mask containing bentonite or red kaolin, which are beneficial for oily skin. Rinse off the clay mask after 10 minutes. Finish by applying a moisturizer or skin-care product containing salicylic acid to reduce oil and bacteria.

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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.