How to Remove Blackheads and Whiteheads with a Comedo Extractor
Blackheads and whiteheads are commonly thought to be caused by dirt, sweat, and poor hygiene — but that's just a myth! The real cause of these "comedones" is clogged pores from excessive sebum (oil) production in the skin.When it touches the oxygen in the air, the comedo "oxidizes," turning it the black color from which we get the term "blackhead." Trying to pop comedones by hand can leave unwanted scars on your skin. But safe use of a comedo extractor will help you achieve clear skin without any blemishes or bleeding.
Preparing Your Skin
Wash your face.You want to work with clean skin, so remove any makeup or other products that may be on your face. Gently pat the skin dry, taking care not to irritate it by rubbing with a towel.
Bring water to a boil over a stove.Comedones are easier to remove when your pores are nice and wide.A little steam facial will not only open your pores up to prepare for extraction, but it will also put you in a nice, relaxed mood!
Place a towel over your head.While you’re waiting for the water to boil, find a towel you can drape over your head during the steaming process. The towel will trap the steam and keep it from escaping, improving the effects of your steam facial.
Bring your face close to the steam.When the boiling water is producing enough steam, remove it from its heat source. Lower your face over the bowl, letting the towel drape over you like a tent, trapping the steam. Stay in this position for 4 to 8 minutes.
- Be careful when handling the hot water container. You may wish to use oven mitts to protect your hands.
- Do not bring your face close enough to the steam to burn your skin. The effect of the steam should be pleasant, not strident.
- A little bit of redness from the steam is normal, but stop the steam facial if your skin begins to feel irritated.
Using the Comedo Extractor
Sanitize the extractor.When you work with the comedo extractor, there will be a small opening in your skin where the blackhead or whitehead comes out. If you’re not working with sterile tools, you may introduce bacteria into your skin, making the outbreak you’re trying to treat even worse! To sterilize the comedo extractor, simply soak it in rubbing alcohol for one minute.
- Keep the rubbing alcohol on hand while using the extractor to continue cleaning it as you go.
- Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly or wear vinyl gloves while working on your skin. Your hands carry many germs that you don’t want to transfer to your skin.
Position the extractor properly.The extractor will have a loop on one end of it. Position the loop around the whitehead or blackhead you are trying to extract.
- If you’re having trouble seeing what you’re doing, try using a magnifying mirror. These can be purchased inexpensively at pharmacies, department stores, or online.
- At the very least, make sure you’re working in a well-lit environment.
Press down gently but firmly.Once the comedo is within the extractor’s loop, you want to apply enough pressure to force the whitehead or blackhead up out of the skin. Press against the base of the comedo from all sides, working all of the material completely out of your skin. Comedones can reach deep down into the skin, so don’t assume you’ve extracted the whole thing as soon as a little bit of material comes out. Keep pressing from different angles until nothing more emerges from your skin.
- When you’re satisfied that you have the whole comedo, simply swipe the extractor loop over it to remove it from your skin.
- Either wash the extractor off in the sink or wipe the material away on a paper towel.
Re-sanitize the extractor before using it again.You should sterilize the extractor for every new comedo, even if you’re treating them all in one sitting. Soak the instrument in rubbing alcohol for a minute, then repeat the process with your next whitehead or blackhead. Continue until you’ve removed all the blemishes on your skin.
Protect your opened pores.When you extract a comedo, you leave an open “wound” of sorts in your skin that, while not very noticeable, will take a little while to heal. Apply a small amount of astringent to the treated areas to protect them from bacteria or debris that might cause another outbreak.
- Moisture your skin after applying your astringent to keep it from drying out.
- Do not apply makeup to your skin until you’ve treated it with an astringent.
QuestionWhat if I don't have an extractor?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut egg whites on a tissue paper and apply to the skin. Let it dry, and slowly peel off.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use baking powder instead of egg?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you're referring to the earlier question and answer, I recommend sticking with the egg.Thanks!
QuestionShould the egg white be raw?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, it should be raw, otherwise you have no way of putting it on your face.Thanks!
QuestionIs this good for sensitive skin?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, because it is all natural and should help any type of skin, even sensitive.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I remove blackheads?AnoushaaaCommunity AnswerExfoliate your skin weekly, particularly in the areas where you have the blackheads. Personally, I find that activated charcoal scrubs are effective.Thanks!
- This will have to be repeated on a weekly to monthly basis depending on your skin type. Getting rid of blackheads is a never-ending job, so be patient.
- You can also apply a very warm towel to the face. Remove the towel before it gets cold or you could cause the pores to constrict.
- Instead of astringent, try using ice to help close up your pores.
- Your pores will temporarily appear larger when you remove blackheads from around your nose, but that's only because the pores are empty. The astringent will help to close them.
- Many people are sensitive to astringent. Apply sparingly until your skin gets used to the formula. Redness will occur at first if you have never used either formula on your face before.
- Be careful when holding your face over the steam. Breathe slowly and don't get too close so as to burn yourself!
- Be sureneverto press too hard with the tool. Not only is it hard on your skin, but it also leave unsightly "loop" marks on your face for a while. If you really go overboard, it can distend your capillaries.
- Avoid putting hydrogen peroxide on your face. As an oxidizing agent, it can have corrosive effects on your skin.
Things You'll Need
Pot of boiling water
Astringent (ex. witch-hazel)
Magnifying/vanity mirror (optional)
Sources and Citations
- Williams, HC; Dellavalle, RP; Garner, S (Jan 28, 2012). "Acne vulgaris." Lancet 379 (9813): 361–72.
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