There are few things more satisfying than the feeling of an esthetician successfully extracting dirt, gunk, and grime from your pores. But considering a pro-level facial isn’t exactly an option right now (unless, of course, you want to get one on Zoom), we’ve had to turn to the next best thing to clear out our quarantine-clogged pores: The Aveeno Clear Complexion Pure Matte Peel Off Face Mask ($5), which board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, says is basically an at-home extraction facial in a bottle.
Right now, there are many different reasons why our pores might be more backed up than usual, causing blackheads to pop up seemingly everywhere. “Getting fewer facials, touching your face more, and wearing masks can all lead to clogged pores,” says board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach, MD. Stress, too, can cause a spike in oil production which also causes gunk to back up in pores. Since pros generally advise against extracting your blackheads at home (unless you’ve got the right tool), your best bet for getting rid of them the DIY way is with “chemical extraction.”
“Actually pushing the pus out, while satisfying, can push the blocked material further into the skin, leading to a bigger, deeper pimple,” says Dr. Rabach. Instead, she suggests using an active ingredient like retinol, alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) or salicylic acid, which chemically exfoliate your skin to unclog the pore and clear away the gunk inside of it.
That’s where the Aveeno mask comes in. “This one combines lactic and glycolic acids, [which are AHAs], to dissolve and remove excess oil within the pores as you peel the dried mask off your face,” says Dr. Zeichner. Though you won’t get the satisfaction of extracting your own blackheads, you will get the satisfaction of peeling off a mask, which is almost as good. And the best part? It will only put a $5 dent in your wallet on your next run to the drugstore.
In addition to using this mask as needed, board-certified dermatologist Shari Sperling, MD, suggests beating blackheads by avoiding heavy makeup, using a gentle cleanser in the morning and at night, and tapping products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic. A retinol, like Differin Gel ($12), will also help keep pores clear, which means you may not even have to book a pro one post-quarantine, after all.
For more intel on how to get rid of blackheads, check out the video below:
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