Banish blackheads with these top pore-cleansing products
Even if your skin is generally clear and breakouts aren’t a major concern, you’re still likely to have to deal with clogged pores once in a while. The best products for blackheads make this problem far more manageable.
Blackheads are the byproduct of the accumulation of dirt caused by outdoor pollution, poor indoor air quality, or bacteria that has been transferred to the face via your hands or even your pillow case. None of us are immune to these nuisances, so a good product to gently get rid of blackheads is a must in every skincare routine.
There are many blackhead-busting products on the market, so it’s important to choose one that specifically targets this issue and won’t damage your skin’s barrier. Some of these products can be on the harsh side, and while they may work, at least temporarily, they might only be treating the surface issue, and your blackheads could come back the very next day.
The key to finding the best products for blackheads is to opt for gentler formulas, and then use them regularly and as directed. We’ve found some of the best pore-unclogging products for you to choose from, and given you a helpful guide so you know exactly what to look for when shopping.
Best products for blackheads: At a glance
- Best overall product for blackheads: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant | £34
- Best budget for blackheads: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA | £8
- Best cleanser for blackheads: CeraVe SA Smoothing Face and Body Cleanser | £14
- Best mask for blackheads: Dermalogica Clear Start™ Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask | £20
How to choose the best products for blackheads
What types of products for blackheads are available?
Products for clearing blackheads come in a range of options, with the main ones being liquid exfoliants, treatment serums, and pore strips. However, for more preventative measures, you’ll want to incorporate deep pore-cleansing products – like cleansers and toners – into your daily skincare routine.
In general, pore strips get a bad rap. While they do provide an immediate – and very satisfying – result, they usually have a strong adhesive that can pull at, and sometimes even damage, the skin. They also do nothing to prevent blackheads from reappearing, meaning that you’ll have to use them regularly. Over time this can prove costly, and isn’t the best thing for your face, especially if you have sensitive skin.
On the other hand, products like serums, and more targeted blackhead treatments, work to eliminate existing blackheads and can help to prevent them from forming in the first place, giving the appearance of smaller pores and smoother skin all around.
Using a gentle exfoliant once a week is another great way to keep blackheads at bay but try to avoid scrubs with coarse physical particles, as this can cause redness and exacerbate sensitive skin. Exfoliating ingredients such as AHAs and BHAs can help to eliminate accumulated dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and increase new cell turnover.
READ NEXT: The best facial rollers
What should I look for in a good product for blackheads?
Here are some of the best features to look for in a good blackhead-fighting product:
AHAs/BHAs – Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), like glycolic acid and lactic acid, and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), like salicylic acid, have gained massive popularity in recent years as they are incredibly effective at breaking down the debris – such as excess oil and dead skin cells – known for causing blackheads. With regular use, products with these ingredients can gently remove the very top layer of skin, taking blackheads and other impurities with them.
Kaolin clay – The use of clay masks is recommended by dermatologists as they can draw out toxins and oils from the pores. Similarly, sulphur and charcoal can often be found in blackhead-busting masks as they also break down dead skin cells and pull out excess oil and impurities.
Non-comedogenic – Any product you’re using, whether it’s specifically for blackheads or not, should be labelled as non-comedogenic, especially if you are prone to these annoying little black spots. Simply put, a non-comedogenic product is designed so as not to clog your pores.
What else can I do?
In addition to finding the right products, there are other simple things you can do to avoid blackheads from developing: always make sure to remove makeup before going to bed, double cleanse at night, and change your pillowcases regularly. Finally, visiting a skincare specialist, or a dermatologist, for a good, extracting facial once every six months – or more often if you have a serious blackhead issue – is highly recommended.
Below you’ll find a selection of products that will help you wave goodbye to your pore-enlarging blackheads, and get you well on your way to smooth and flawless skin.
How we test products for blackheads
At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. To test products for tackling blackheads, we use a selection of the different types of products available, reviewing the results following use. Where formulas are recommended for a particular skin type or use scenario, we test appropriately to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.
Closely following the product instructions, we take note of a formula’s overall ease of use, feel on the skin and its long-term effects on blackheads. We also identify how well key ingredients can work against blackheads. Finally, we confirm the quantity of the product.
READ NEXT: The best rosacea treatments
The best products for blackheads in 2023
1. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: The best overall product for blackheads
Price: £34 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Achieving cult status in very little time, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is our top blackhead-zapping product. Whether you have seriously congested pores, or just suffer from a few blackheads here and there, this wonder product helps to smooth and clear the skin, and it works fairly quickly too.
This leave-on product contains salicylic acid and is super easy to use – just pour a few drops onto a cotton pad or your fingertips and rub all over a clean face. And you can apply it in the morning or evening – just don’t forget your sunscreen if you use it in the morning. It’s non-abrasive, gentle on the skin, and has anti-inflammatory properties to avoid any negative reactions.
Key details – Size: 118ml; Format: Liquid; Key ingredient: Salicylic acid
2. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA: The best budget product for blackheads
Price: £8 | Buy now from Boots
One of The Ordinary’s standout products in its line of affordable yet professional-grade skincare items, is this exfoliator that offers the keratolytic, lactic acid, which has the ability to break down dead skin cells and clean out clogged pores.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA is an affordable serum that can fit right into your daily skincare routine – just after cleansing and toning, and before any other treatment serums, moisturiser or SPF. This is quite a potent product though, so if you have very sensitive skin, you might want to dilute this with a more gentle serum, like a hyaluronic acid, to avoid irritation. Alternatively, there is a weaker 5% formula that’s also available.
Key details – Size: 30ml; Format: Serum; Key ingredient: Lactic acid
3. CeraVe SA Smoothing Face and Body Cleanser: The best cleanser for blackheads
Price: £14 | Buy now from Boots
Since blackheads are most often caused by factors we can’t control, such as air pollution, it’s important to have a good product that can tackle these blemishes on a daily basis, without being too harsh on the skin. CeraVe’s SA Smoothing Face and Body Cleanser is the best place to start. Used once or twice a day, this gentle salicylic acid wash cleanses and exfoliates the skin, removing blackhead-causing particles with ease.
Although it’s powerful enough to eliminate blackheads and smooth out unsightly bumps on the face and body, this highly rated daily cleanser won’t strip the skin of its natural barrier, and will lock in moisture for up to 24 hours. It can be used as part of an acne-fighting skincare routine, and is also suitable for use by those who have keratosis pilaris or skin prone to psoriasis.
Key details – Size: 236ml; Format: Foaming gel; Key ingredient: Salicylic acid
4. Dermalogica Clear Start Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask: The best mask for blackheads
Price: £20 | Buy now from John Lewis
The Dermalogica Clear Start Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask is a sheer pleasure to use and reveals baby-soft skin as soon as you wash it off. It’s not the most affordable item on this list, but a little goes a long way, and you only have to use it two or three times per week, or as needed, so it impressively lasts for quite a while. In fact, you only have to apply it to the congested areas of the face, meaning that it can last even longer.
Suitable for all skin types, this mask – which starts to fizz as soon as it’s applied, giving you the impression that it’s really working! – is made with blackhead-targeting ingredients including kaolin clay and sulphur. These antimicrobial properties help to unstick and remove blackheads, absorbing excess oil to reveal smooth skin. The best part is that you only need to keep it on for three to five minutes before rinsing it off.
Key details – Size: 50ml; Format: Clay mask; Key ingredient: Sulphur, kaolin clay
5. Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips Combo: The best blackhead strips
Price: £13 | Buy now from Boots
Yes, we know we said that pore strips aren’t very good for the skin, however, if the situation is dire and you have a nose that is simply chock-full of extremely visible blackheads, a pore strip can eliminate the majority of them in one fell swoop – and some dermatologists even say that using them once in a blue moon isn’t too bad.
Though they shouldn’t be used by those with sensitive skin, or on any open wounds or live spots, the bestselling Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips Combo can get rid of years’ worth of build up on the nose and forehead in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is clean your face then apply the strips to a wet nose or forehead. Once dry, slowly peel the strip off from the sides, working inwards to reveal your empty pores – and a strip full of grossness.
Key details – Size: 14 strips; Format: Strips; Key ingredient: Bonding adhesive