While receiving a facial at Heyday in New York City, I learned some invaluable lessons when it comes to how to prevent blackheads from coming back after you’ve removed them. Check it out below!
It’s not every day that I get a facial and I leave feeling ten times more knowledgable about my skin. Usually, I just stay quiet during facials and let the aethestician go to work on my skin (if it’s particularly relaxing, I’ll doze off for a minute or two). But my facial at Heyday in New York City was different. Sure, it was relaxing enough, as well as quick, convenient, and effective. But more importantly, it was actually educational.
When I say educational, I don’t mean that the facialist just told me what skin type I have and then went about extracting my blackheads. Instead, my facialist began by asking me to explain my skin care routine and the products I use. She offered great feedback on how often I should be using my acids and what kind of ingredients my skin would react best to.
We then started to have a really organic conversation about skin care. When it came time for the extractions (which Heydey does really well—the facialist actually takes time to extract almost every single blackhead), I admitted that I often spend a good 20 minutes twice a week in my bathroom painstakingly squeezing out every blackhead or sebaceous filament that’s clogging up my nose.
To my surprise, my facialist didn’t scold me. She just asked if I was taking care of my pores the right away after I extract them. I told her that after I remove my blackheads I usually just go right on with the rest of my skin care routine: toner, serum, eye cream, and so on.
And that’s when my life changed. She told me that not tightening up my pores after removing my blackheads was the reason why they keep coming back so fast, and that there’s one particular product that I should use every time I squeeze my blackheads to prevent them from popping up right after.
I had to learn more, so I reached out to Heyday to ask one of their facialists to explain. Here, Melissa, a skin therapist from Heyday, walks us through how to remove blackheads the right way and what to do after the extraction to prevent them from coming back.
First, clean the area and use a hot towel to steam your pores…
During my facial, I noticed that Heyday forgoes the standard steamer found at most spas. They told me that they don’t use steamer machines because it’s hard to clean the appliance on the inside which could result in built up bacteria being misted and spread into your open pores. Pretty gross. When you’re going to be touching and squeezing your pores, you want them to be as clean as possible. Instead, to loosen up pores and get them ready for extraction, Heyday uses a hot towel.
Heat up a clean towel (make sure it’s not too hot by testing the temperature on your arm) and simply lay it over you face until it cools down. Now your pores will be loose and ready for extraction without any extra bacteria.
Use your clean fingers or a comedo remover to extract blackheads…
Okay, before I get into how to remove blackheads on your own, the skin therapist at Heyday strongly advises to not extract your own blackheads. “Licensed skin therapists have been trained in the best techniques to gently extract impacted sebum without damaging the skin, which includes wearing gloves so as to not spread bacteria,” says Melissa.
But! I still like to extract my own blackheads and the facialist who did my facial told me that it’s technically OK to remove them myself as long as I use clean hands and don’t irritate my skin. I usually use my fingers covered by a clean tissue to gently squeeze the sebum out, but if you’re a beginner and scared to damage your skin, you should try using a comedo remover, like the Skinmiso Comedo Remover, which is a dermatologist-approved tool that allows you to easily squeeze out sebum.
After you’ve squeezed out the sebum, take a clean tissue and wipe it away. Do this to all your blackheads until they are gone.
Immediately apply a toner with salicylic acid after you’re done extracting…
“The most important thing to do after extractions is to soothe inflamed, irritated skin while creating an antiseptic environment,” says Melissa. “This is done in treatment by wiping down on extracted areas with salicylic acid and tea tree oil.”
After I extract my blackheads, I grab a cotton pad and immediately apply the Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner. This is the perfect toner to put on skin that’s become slightly inflamed and agitated from being poked and prodded. The first ingredient in it is aloe leaf water which will work to soothe skin and calm it down. It also contains salicylic acid to provide antiseptic benefits, as well as snail slime extract to help prevent any scarring.
After your toner dries, apply a clay mask on the areas where you extracted blackheads…
This was the game-changing tip that my face therapist told me during my facial. So, you know how you open up your pores with the steam to make it easier to get out all the gunk? Well after you’ve cleaned them out, your pore is really stretched out, making it more vulnerable to gunk just filling that pore right back up and creating another blackhead.
“You can’t technically ‘close back up’ a pore,” says Melissa. “What does happen though, when you have blackhead, is the pore is stretched by the debris. Once removed, the pore will remain dilated. This allows it to fill back up easier, causing a seemingly endless cycle of chronic blackheads.”
The key to temporarily tightening up your clean pore is a clay mask. “Clay masks can be helpful for drawling out excess oil and toning or temporarily tightening the pores,” says Melissa. “A clay mask will further work to purify the follicle, minimize the appearance of the follicle, and absorb excess oil. Mineral-based clays, like kaolin and bentonite, have a regulating and refining effect on the skin as they normalize sebum secretions.”
My favorite clay mask for blackheads is the RE:P Bio Fresh with Real Calming Herb. It’s a really light and soothing mask that literally glides on. It contains kaolin, one of the more gentle clays used in masks, and the “calming herbs” highlighted in the product name are chamomile and calendula, two super soothing ingredients that help the redness that pops up after I squeeze my blackheads.
After changing up my routine and including the clay mask after my blackhead extraction sessions for a month, I noticed that I didn’t feel the need to remove my blackheads twice every week. My pores stay clear for longer than a week so now I’m down to spending some quality bathroom time with my nose every other week. So, I’d call it a success!
Also, some bad news: You’ll never be able to get rid of your blackheads forever.
“Blackheads are caused by a combination of dead skin cells, sebum, and sometimes bacteria,” says Melissa. “The color is caused by oxidation of the sebum, resulting in a black or dark appearance. So, unfortunately, blackheads are going to keep coming back eventually. The speed at which they come back is based largely upon genetics—just how much sebum the skin naturally produces and how thick that sebum is. Also, sometimes it looks like a follicle still has a blackhead in it, but that’s just the size and appearance of the follicle.”
Additionally, as much as you can extract your own blackheads (if you follow the right precautions), I must advise that you go to a professional as much as you can (I know it’s expensive, but treat yourself sometimes). “Licensed skin therapists have been trained in the best techniques to gently extract impacted sebum without damaging the skin, which includes wearing gloves so as to not spread bacteria,” says Melissa. “Moreover, everything we do in a treatment that comes before the extractions works to prepare the skin for the extractions—especially the massage and steam compress protocol we use at Heyday, which work to soften the skin and sebum and to relax the follicle openings.”
Oh yeah, and when you do decide to get a treatment and you live in the New York City area, check out Heyday. A 50 minute facial costs $95 and they have a lot of great bundle options. You’ll learn so much and get an amazing extraction experience without sacrificing your weekend money.