Think of your blackheads as your toxic ex — they make you feel bad about yourself, you’re better off without them, and you definitely don’t want them coming back ever.
But if you’re like me, you’re also probably done with painful extractions, dry AF clay masks, and those damn nose patches that always seem to pull out a bit of skin, give you a Rudolf red nose, and never seem to yield long term results.
Enter your new BFFs — BHAs and AHAs! If you incorporate them suitably into your skincare routine, I promise you’ll never need another patch or metal extractor again.
Check out my 4 easy as pie steps to a blackhead/ whitehead-free existence below.
Note: This post is not going to go into the nitty gritty of BHAs and AHAs, and they will sometimes just be referred to as ‘acids’. Just know that they are chemical exfoliators for both the surface and the deeper layers of your skin, keeping your complexion clear and glowing. Science, bitch!
1. Invest in a good oil cleanser
A clean nose begins with clean skin that is free of makeup, sunscreen remnants, and daily debris. Because blackheads are essentially a giant pile-up of sebum, dirt, and impurities in your pores.
Invest in a dependable oil cleanser that will deep clean all the pollution and dirt from your pores every night, and — here’s the key — USE IT EVERY DAY. Remember, if it does nothing but sit on your dresser, it doesn’t count.
Where it goes in your routine: An oil cleanse is Step 1, and then followed by your normal water-based cleanser. If you’re not that familiar with the magic of double cleansing, check this out.
OK, what do I buy? I really love the Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil EX. It smells like your personal hanbang garden, doesn’t break me out, doesn’t strip my skin, and always removes my makeup perfectly. Get it here for ~$50 – $60.
2. Find your Holy Grail heavy-duty acid
The difference between painful metal extractors and an acid is that while the first is invasive, and creates micro-tears in your skin (that might later lead to MORE pimples, gasp), the latter uses chemicals to literally melt the buildup in your pores and sweep away surface dead skin cells. Result? Clean, glowing skin.
Find yourself a Holy Grail heavy-duty acid to use 3-4 times a week (or as much as you like) to really get in those pores.
It might take a few goes, and you’d probably have to adjust your frequency to find what works best for you, but I promise you that if you keep it up, you will find your blackheads and whiteheads disappearing in giant patches, never to be seen again.
Where it goes in your routine: Typically after cleansing. Lotion P50 (featured above) doubles up as a pH-adjusting toner, so you can use it during your toning step on a cotton pad. Otherwise, use as directed by the bottle.
OK, what do I buy? You guys have heard me wax lyrical about Lotion P50 endlessly, so if a $100 toner in your budget, GET IT. Also, I’d recommend ignoring all the lengthy debates out there about which ‘version’ to get, and just get yourself the classic P50 or P50 1970. Glow hard or go home.
Other great alternatives:
- Another cult favourite is Pixi Glow Tonic (~$40 for a full bottle), which is milder (however, less effective)
- For a more budget-friendly option, check out COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid ($19), sold by Cocomo on Shopee. I don’t find the results of this as long lasting as P50, but it’s an inexpensive way to start exploring acids.
Glow tip: Don’t use your acid in the same routine as your Vitamin C. I’ve found that this creates a lot of irritation in my skin. I solve this problem by using Vitamin C in the morning (sans acid), and my heavy-duty acid at night.
If you really want to use both in the same routine, I recommend leaving your acid on your face for 10-20 mins before proceeding with your Vitamin C serum.
3. Get yourself a daily ‘maintenance’ acid for good measure
What? Is my Holy Grail acid not good enough?
If you have more stubborn blackheads and whiteheads, I suggest getting a very mild acid (sometimes even just AHAs will do) for the days you’re not using your heavy-duty acid.
This will help keep your emerging blackheads and whiteheads at bay, while not irritating your skin with too strong chemical exfoliation.
Where it goes in your routine: Similar to your heavy duty acid, your milder acid usually works as a pH-adjusting toner too. Use this on days you’re not using your heavier acid. As times goes on, you’ll find yourself needing your heavy duty acid less, and using your milder one more — just to keep those blackheads and whiteheads from rearing their ugly heads again (aka, just for maintenance).
Glow tip: Since these are milder acids, I’ve found you don’t really need a cotton pad to use them. Just pat gently until absorbed by skin.
OK, what do I buy? I really adore the COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol (pictured above). Not only does it soothe my skin (thanks propolis), it also speeds up healing of pimples, making it really great for oily and acne-prone skin. I initially bought it to help my skin get over a really bad breakout, but realised that it was really helping to keep my skin clear and free of those nasty blackheads. And for $15 a pop? Score! Get it here.
- I’ve been through at least 5 bottles of the DrGL Post Cleanser Step 2 ($108), which contains a very mild lactic acid for gentle exfoliation. It’s mild enough to use in the morning, which is a lovely bonus!
- For another soothing toner that you can use day and night, check out the COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment toner ($16.90), which contains a high amount of willow bark water to soothe the skin and give you a light exfoliation.
4. Bonus round: Treat yourself to a pore-clearing warming mask
I never knew I needed a warming mask until I stumbled across this Ginseng one by Korean cult brand “I’m From”. Not only does it contain anti-aging ginseng extract to detoxify your skin and gently clean out your pores, it also feels super comforting.
Where it goes in your routine: Right after your 2nd cleansing step, slather this on your face. I believe it says ‘a thin layer’ on the bottle, but I always go for a nice thick layer. It will start warming up the second it hits your skin.
The warming isn’t a gimmick — it helps to open your pores so that the gunk and deeper level dirt can be purged. It also smells heavenly.
I use this 2 times a week, and I’ve found it to be very deep cleansing. Say goodbye to your rough scrubs and drying clay masks — this is where it’s at.
Where to buy: Wishtrend sells this on Shopee for ~$40.
And there you have it — 4 easy as pie steps to clean, glowing skin! You glow girl.