Skin breakouts are never fun, and while we can accept that perfection should be self-defined, blemishes like blackheads — a mild form of acne — can be annoying. These little dark spots are unlike moles or beauty marks and they often occur when pores become clogged and plugged with oil, bacteria or dead skin cells.
Thankfully, there are all kinds of blackhead removers out there to help. But before we get into the best blackhead remover, let’s run through some basics.
How To Use a Blackhead Remover Tool
The best blackhead remover products are pretty straightforward, but there’s a small learning curve for blackhead remover tools, aka acne tools or blackhead extractors. There are basically two kinds of tools: lancets, which are often useful for whiteheads, and comedone extractors, which are useful for both whiteheads and blackheads.
Comedone extractors are generally stainless steel tools with two metal loops at each end. Lancets are basically sharp needles used to pierce, or lance, and pop open closed whiteheads. Some tools feature a lancet on one end and a loop on the other, and the tools usually come in sets to offer different sizes and angles of loops.
However, using these tools can make your problems worse if you’re not careful, so here’s what you need to do for the best results:
- Open your pores with a shower or warm washcloth: To be clear, you’re not literally opening pores here. But the warm water can help cleanse and soften skin, which can make the blackheads easier to remove.
- Clean and sterilize your skin and tools: This is critical to ensure the tool isn’t adding more bacteria into the equation. Rubbing alcohol is ideal for sterilization, but using soap and water will be sufficient for most people at home.
- Identify the blackhead and tool of choice and get to work: A lot of people make the mistake of grabbing the tool, hovering over the blackhead and then just pressing down as hard as possible while scraping back and forth. That will work to remove the blackhead, but it may also leave some blackhead behind and cause additional skin damage, all of which could be more unsightly than the blackhead itself. Instead of trying to force the blackhead out in one fell swoop, rock the tool back and forth around the blackhead and apply slight pressure first. That should begin to loosen it or even begin to lift it out. In theory, if you can’t dislodge the blackhead this way, you should stop. But we know you won’t. Proceeding at your own risk, you can apply more pressure to the blackhead in the hopes that it will pop out.
- Use a lancet to pierce the whitehead: The process for removing whiteheads is more or less the same as that for blackheads. But you’ll need to use a lancet to open the whitehead first. We can’t emphasize enough how important sterilization and steady hands are for this, and we encourage you to go to a derm or esthetician for this. But if you’re going to do it, gently pierce the whitehead near the top of the bump. This will create an opening that the accumulated buildup can escape from when you use the blackhead remover tool.
- Clean and dry your skin and tools: Once again, make sure to cleanse and/or sterilize your skin and any tools you used during the blackhead removal process. A warm washcloth will feel nice and cleanse the skin. Finish with a cold compress to help stiffen up and “close” the pores.
If you start bleeding at any point, you should consider stopping as the blackhead is likely all gone (or as gone as you can get it) and you’ve likely damaged the skin.
But don’t just take our word for it. Check out some of the best blackhead remover products below and start getting rid of your blemishes today.
1. Tweezerman Skin Care Tool
BEST OVERALL TOOL
If you are tempted to use your fingers to physically remove your blackheads, a better route is an item like the Tweezerman Skin Care Tool. Your fingernails can contain bacteria and microbes so using them may add to the problem. The Tweezerman has a long, flat loop that can roll out clogs in your pores. Follow the directions and use it with care. It works best after a warm steamy shower to soften and open pores. Sterilize the tool as directed before and after each use.
2. Menoly Blackhead Remover Pimple Popper Tool Kit
For a minimal investment, you can purchase a complete kit of blackhead remover tools. The Menoly Blackhead Remover Pimple Popper Tool Kit features 10 types of tools meant to remove blackheads, whiteheads, acne, various, blemishes and zits. The handles are anti-slip to help reduce your chances of damaging your skin and are made from stainless steel for long-term use.
Every tool here is either a lancet or a metal loop tool, except for one that has a flat head. That tool can be useful to press around the blackheads and whiteheads to help center all the gunk. When used in conjunction with a loop tool, it can help push the acne out.
3. Miserwe Face Skin Cleansing Scrubber
BEST SKIN SCRUBBER
The Miserwe Face Skin Cleansing Scrubber uses high-frequency vibrations to clean and exfoliate the skin. “As a person who suffered from bad skin and being on ‘the other side of the business,’ one of my favorite at-home skin care devices that I’ve tried is the ultrasonic scrubber,” says Masha Amelina PA-C, owner of Visage Sculpture, Newton, MA. “Ultrasound is well known for breaking the impurities down.”
Still, it is best to follow the directions, which include using the scrubber slowly. It is best to be mindful and use caution to avoid bruising and skin irritation. It has a timing function that should turn off after five minutes to help avoid overuse.
4. Vanity Planet Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush
BEST FACIAL CLEANSING BRUSH
The Vanity Planet Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush will deliver the spa treatment your skin deserves.
The water-resistant brush comes with three heads, including a daily cleansing brush, a weekly exfoliating brush and a soft silicone brush for sensitive skin, all of which pack into a traveling case.
Alas, it relies on two AA batteries to run. Though we’d prefer a rechargeable battery, that helps keep the sticker price a bit cheaper and it’s still one of the best facial cleansing brushes for buffing and exfoliating blackheads away.
5. Bioré Nose+Face Deep Cleansing Pore Strips
BEST PORE STRIPS
One of the best blackhead remover tools that you can have in your arsenal of skin care products is the pore strip. Products such as Bioré Nose+Face and Deep Cleansing Pore Strips can bind to the blackhead like a magnet and remove the oils causing the plug. They are hypoallergenic, oil-free, vegan and cruelty-free. You don’t need to pull with force and be mindful when you yank, especially if you have sensitive skin.
6. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid Acne Treatment
BEST RETINOL TREATMENT
The AAD states that dermatologists recommend the OTC retinoid Adapalene, which can be found in products such as La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid Acne Treatment. In addition to helping to prevent blackheads, whiteheads, clogged pores and acne blemishes, retinoids are often recommended to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles so that you may see an improvement in your skin’s overall tone and texture.
7. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash with 10% Benzoyl Peroxide
BEST ACNE FACE WASH
Since blackheads are a form of mild acne, you can also try an acne face wash that contains bacteria-fighting benzoyl peroxide. There are products like PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash. It has 10% benzoyl peroxide, is non-comedogenic, dye, paraben, nut oil and extract-free. It also contains emollients to combat dryness which can at times occur when using anti-acne face washes.
8. Patricks FS1 Face Scrub
BEST FACE SCRUB
It might be pricey, but the Patricks FS1 Face Scrub is one of the best exfoliating face scrubs out there. Alpha hydroxy acids combine with volcanic sand and crushed diamond (no joke) to buff and break down blemishes. At the same time, despite having such abrasive particles, skin never feels stripped and the scrub smells fantastic to boot. If you’ve been searching for the best face scrub to improve signs of aging and acne, you can stop looking.
9. Bulldog Original Face Scrub
ALSO CONSIDER FACE SCRUB
We know most guys aren’t forking over nearly $100 for a face scrub, which is partly why we love the Bulldog Original Face Scrub. A two-time SPY award winner, this affordable face scrub uses bits of oat kernel, almond shell and olive seed powder to mechanically break down blackheads and whiteheads. Add in soothing aloe vera and antioxidant green tea and you can see why this is a winning face scrub for all men.
10. Disco Overnight Pimple Sticker
BEST PIMPLE STICKER
We recently had the chance to review the Disco Overnight Pimple Sticker. Our conclusion? It’s no pimple Houdini, but it absolutely minimizes noticeable blackheads and whiteheads. With just one overnight treatment, any given pimple will come out smaller, less red and just plain less visible than the night before.
If you know you’re only targeting one blackhead and don’t want to run the risk of using a metal blackhead remover tool, this pimple sticker can be a highly useful alternative.
11. Disco Rejuvenating Clay Detox Face Mask for Men
BEST BLACKHEAD FACE MASK
Yup, we’re double-dipping with Disco because the Disco Rejuvenating Clay Detox Face Mask for Men is one of the best clay masks for acne. Using bentonite clay and charcoal, this mask soaks up oil and grime, minimizing existing blackheads and the likelihood of more blackheads appearing down the road.
12. Omnilux CLEAR Face Mask
BEST LED FACE MASK
Believe it or not, LED face masks with the right kind of light are scientifically proven to minimize acne, including blackheads.
The Omnilux CLEAR Face Mask uses blue light therapy to treat mild to moderate acne. It’s not for everyone because it does require patience and commitment: You’ll need to use it once a day in 10-minute increments for around six weeks to start seeing results. But if you can manage that, you will definitely notice less acne.
What’s the Difference Between Blackheads and Whiteheads?
Before you go removing anything, let’s talk about the differences between blackheads and whiteheads. If you’re dealing with acne, these are the two blemishes you’ll encounter the most, and both are caused by a buildup of bacteria and sebum, the oily substance produced by sebaceous glands in the skin.
According to dermatologists and skincare professionals we’ve spoken to as well as the American Academy of Dermatology, both blackheads and whiteheads are comedones, but with one key difference: whether they’re open or closed. Whiteheads are closed comedones, meaning the pore is closed and filled with pus, resulting in a white, yellowish or flesh-colored bump. Blackheads are open comedones, exposing the skin’s melanin and buildup to oxygen, which oxidizes them and darkens the color of the blemish.
How To Remove Blackheads: Your Options
There are the classic blackhead remover tools — the metal tools you see in popping videos — but there are also acne face washes and cleansers, clay face masks for acne, blackhead pore strips, pimple stickers and even LED face masks and facial brushes out there, all of which can help minimize blackheads.
Though they all work a little differently, they’re all focused on minimizing and/or removing blackheads. For most people, they’ll manage just fine with the best blackhead remover tool and a great acne face wash.
Why Trust SPY?
Because we’re acne experts and regularly test all kinds of blackhead remover products. We wouldn’t tell you how to use a blackhead remover unless we knew exactly how to use it, and we know how to use it because we’ve been using blackhead removers for years. Whether the best blackhead remover is an acne wash, a metal acne tool, pore strip or face mask, we’ve used it, know how it works and know how effective it will be in the short and long terms.