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If you’ve recently gotten rid of blackheads or had professional treatment for them, you may be wondering how to prevent them from coming back. Add these steps into your weekly skin care routine to achieve blackhead-free skin.

What are blackheads, again?

Blackheads are a common type of acne spot that forms when a pore becomes clogged with excess oil (sebum) and skin cells. They can appear almost anywhere on the face, but are often found on the nose, forehead, and cheeks.

A general skin care routine follows two essential steps: gentle cleansing and moisturizing.

Below are extra steps to add to your routine that can help keep those pesky blackheads away. Some of the steps can be done daily, while others should only be done a few times a week, depending on the sensitivity of your skin.

Here are some dermatologist-recommended products along with tips on how to use them to prevent blackheads.

Dermatologist recommended

  • When: During the cleansing or moisturizing step of your routine.
  • How: Apply directly to the skin as part of your cleanser or moisturizer, or apply as a spot treatment for blackheads.
  • How often: A few times a week or daily if your skin isn’t dried or irritated by it.

Salicylic acid is a common acne-fighting skin care ingredient. It works by breaking down acne lesions. Many skin care products on the market, including cleaners and moisturizers, contain salicylic acid.

Skin care products that contain salicylic acid tend to be overly drying, so it may be difficult to use these products daily.

  • When: At night. Wait at least 20 to 25 minutes after washing your face before applying.
  • How: Apply a pea-sized amount of the retinoid and spread over areas where you’re prone to acne.
  • How often: Every night if possible, but if dryness or irritation happens, it can be used every other night or every three nights.

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives commonly used in anti-aging skin care products. However, topical retinoids are the first-line treatment for treating and preventing blackheads.

Retinoids work by unclogging blocked pores and affecting skin cell growth, which helps to prevent acne formation. Retinoids should be an essential part of your skin regimen.

Topical Differin is available over the counter while more potent retinoids are available by prescription. It may take 3 months to see results.

Be aware that retinoids increase UV light sensitivity and can cause an increased risk of sunburn. Take extra care to protect yourself from the sun when using topical retinoids.

In addition, retinoids should not be used by people who are planning on becoming pregnant or are already pregnant.

  • When: In the morning and at night.
  • How: Apply a few drops of your moisturizer and massage directly into the skin.
  • How often: Daily.

Moisturizing is an essential final step in a daily skin care routine. Depending on what your skin needs, there are many types of moisturizers on the market.

Emollients are moisturizers that are thick and hydrating for dry skin that flakes or peels. Hydrating serums are a great way to rehydrate the skin, especially when left on overnight. For oily skin types, lighter lotions can help make the skin feel less oily.

A good moisturizer will help to calm the skin and restore the protective skin barrier, which promotes healthy skin.

Comedogenic products can lead to clogged pores, which can cause an increase in acne spots such as blackheads. If you’re trying to prevent blackheads from returning, use non-comedogenic, oil-free products in your skin care routine.

Look for cleansers and moisturizer products that are lightweight and gentle on the skin. Heavy, skin-irritating products can make you more prone to acne spots.

Face masks are not needed or especially useful for preventing blackheads. But if you enjoy them, here’s how to include them in your routine.

  • When: Right after the exfoliation step of your routine.
  • How: Follow the product instructions to apply your mask and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
  • How often: 1 to 2 times per week.

Face masks are touted anecdotally to have many different benefits in a skin care routine, from cleansing to exfoliating to moisturizing. Some masks are designed to be applied and left on the skin, while others come in the form of a “mask” that can be draped over your face.

Both charcoal and clay masks are said to work to prevent the formation of blackheads by pulling oil and other impurities out of your pores. However, these types of masks can dry out your skin. At most, you should use them only a few times per week.

Keep in mind that the evidence supporting the use of these face masks for any kind of acne is anecdotal. It’s also possible that you may break out worse from using some of these masks or develop a rash, so take precaution.

Here’s a sample weekly routine that’s also great for sensitive skin. It keeps gentle cleansing and moisturizing at its base.

Day 1

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • oil-free moisturizer as needed during the day
  • gentle cleanser at night
  • retinoid at night

Day 2

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • re-moisturize as needed during the day
  • cleanser with 4% benzoyl peroxide or 4% salicylic acid at night
  • skin serum at night

Day 3

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • re-moisturize as needed during the day
  • gentle cleanser at night
  • retinoid at night

Day 4

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • re-moisturize as needed during the day
  • cleanser with 4% benzoyl peroxide or4% salicylic acid at night
  • skin serum at night

Day 5

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • re-moisturize as needed during the day
  • gentle cleanser at night
  • retinoid at night

Day 6

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • re-moisturize as needed during the day
  • cleanser with 4% benzoyl peroxide or4% salicylic acid at night
  • skin serum at night

Day 7

  • gentle cleanser and moisturizer with SPF in the morning
  • re-moisturize as needed during the day
  • gentle cleanser at night
  • retinoid at night

For more sensitive skin

If your skin is very sensitive, consider:

  • avoiding the use of a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid wash completely
  • using the wash less frequently or for shorter duration

Blackheads can form easily from oil and skin cell buildup, and it can be frustrating to keep them at bay. Adding a few extra steps to your skin care routine can help prevent blackheads from coming back.

Once you have your basic skin care routine down, consider adding the steps above into your weekly routine. All these steps are beneficial in keeping you as acne-free as possible, which can prevent blackheads from forming and allow your skin to remain clean and glowing.