The worst part of skincare? Examining your face, one that you’ve been pampering for weeks on end, to see that you STILL have … blackheads.

UGH!

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After scrubbing, exfoliating, moisturizing and putting in the work, you find that there are still small, dark bumps that seem to clog a few of your pores. What’s worse, they’re hard to extract and trying to squeeze one only leads to a full on infected pimple or blood. Lots of blood.

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WTactualF, skin?! 

Before freaking out, know that blackheads are ~totally~ normal. You, me, Kpop stars with glass skin, EVERYONE gets them. Well, unless you’re this guy.

“We’re sebum-creating beings. To say that someone has no blackheads ever is impossible,” says Dr. Cindy Bae, a dermatologist based out of New York City. “Everyone gets them.”

What exactly are blackheads?

Unlike what you may think, blackheads aren’t tiny little hairs on the tips of your nose or your cheeks. They’re not even truly black. That discoloration, which is often darker than your skin tone, is actually excess oil and dead skin cells. When you don’t properly exfoliate or moisturize is how they get trapped by a pore. That dark color is when that mixture of sebum and cells oxidizes.

Called a “comedo” by some dermatologists, that very word actually comes from the Latin “comedere,” which means “to eat up.” Traditionally, it was used to refer to parasitic worms. Which makes sense for blackheads as they kind of look like tiny bugs when you extract them. (**Shudder**)

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Blackheads are different from whiteheads in that the latter is the poppable kind. Its tip isn’t hard like a blackhead, rather white, pus-filled and ready to burst. In many ways, whiteheads are much easier to extract since they are “stuck” in a pore. It makes blackheads super annoying. So what can you do to stop getting them? Cleanse, moisturize, pamper, repeat. But it’s also about being realistic. “It’s impossible not to ever get a blackhead again,” she says. “You will always get blackheads. You’ll want to get them professionally extract as well. But proper care will keep the blackheads from forming as often.” Now before you give up on skincare, remember that blackheads are just a part of life. “Think of it like cutting your hair,” says Dr. Bae. “A couple times of month or once a month you’ll want to get it trimmed or washed. It’s the same with your hair and blackheads.” But depending on how good you upkeep your face is how little you’ll have to see your facialist/dermatologist.

While this isn’t news we wanted to hear (like, you can’t banish blackheads FOREVER?! *#^@!), it’s good to know there are measures you can take to make your appointments far and fewer between.

Here’s what you can do on your own:

1 Reset with a facial

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First things first: set up an appointment. Going will only help you get on with your next step and make your skin all the healthier. Ask your facialist to really focus on extractions. Yes, it’ll hurt, and yes, you will be howling from pain, but it will be worth it. This way, you’ll be able to start fresh, blackhead-free.

2 Cleanse and exfoliate ASAP

Cleanse:
The best way to get rid of blackheads is to do your best to prevent them altogether. Again, it’s impossible to say goodbye to blackheads for good. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try your best. That means cleansing your face twice a day to keep sebum at bay and dead skin cells away (say that three times quickly to a Cardi B track). Dr. Bae likes Neutrogena’s line of cleansers. “After you wash your skin you’ll notice your skin is smoother and tighter,” she says. Tight is right especially at night when you produce overnight sebum. The tighter and smaller the pores, the less likely you’ll clog them.
VGL recommends: Try some of our favorite pore-minimizing cleansers of the moment are Missha’s Super Aqua Refreshing Cleansing Foam. It foams up nicely, doesn’t dry your pores, but thoroughly cleanses it. BUY it here, $9
Exfoliate:
As we’ve written at-length before, there are two ways to exfoliate: physical and chemical. The former is using a scrub or something like a Clarisonic brush. The latter, is using acids like an AHA (for dead skin cells) or BHA (like a salicylic acid to get down into pores and break down oil). The latter will also shrink your pores.
If you’re going to go for a scrub, Dr. Bae says to be clear of anything too sharp like ground up walnuts or apricot seeds found in products like St. Ives. “It has sharp edges and can cause micro-abrasions,” she says. Instead, use raw sugar, a much softer ingredient that is just as effective. Dr. Bae says that exfoliating once a day is all you really need. Doing too much can cause skin damage.
VGL recommends: An AHA and BHA combo we are currently loving is from Glossier. The solution has 10% of AHA, BHA and PHA, which is safe to use every day. We use it right after cleansing and feel our complexion has become glowier after a month. BUY it here

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3 Moisturize and SPF!

The first level of defense from gunk getting down into your pores? Moisturizer! That’s right, a good moisturizer will separate the grimy top level from getting down under. It will also keep your pores tight and in fighting condition. An SPF will protect your pores from becoming enlarged thanks to the exposure of the sun. Use an SPF in the morning and moisturize twice (a.m. and p.m.) for best results.

VGL recommends: For a light moisturizer try one from Neutrogena’s Oil-Free moisturizer. It’s fragrance-free, feels like nothing when you put it on, and will last you a couple of hours. BUY it here, $9.

For an all-day moisturizer, we’re into Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream, one filled with proteins to fix uneven complexions. BUY it here

A good SPF has always been Neutrogena’s SPF 100+. It’s extra AF but when it comes to your face, you can never be too safe. BUY it here $9.,

4 Use these two power ingredients

For truly getting those pesky blackheads to stay away use vitamin A or a retinol. These help improve skin tone will also promoting cell turnover. Cell turnover promotes skin cells sloughing on their own so that dead ones don’t build up. One product Dr. Bae recommends is Differin gel. BUY it here, $11.

VGL recommends: We love one from Paula’s Choice here. It’s the Resist 1% Retinol Booster. After four weeks, we found our skin smoother, less porous, and with a lot less blackheads. BUY it here, $52.