Blackhead Removers for Clearer, Cleaner Skin

Goodbye, gunk.

best blackhead removers including glow recipe, dermaflesh, and dr. dennis gross exfoliator pads
(Image credit: Future)

Here’s the thing about blackheads: They really shouldn’t be popped. All that pressure and picking is going to leave your skin scratched up, irritated, and quite frankly, not looking any better. You’re much better off shrinking the appearance of your pores by using one of the best blackhead removers. From chemical exfoliants and physical scrubs to pore vacuums, there’s no shortage of products to help ~safely~ clear out the dead skin, oil, and bacteria clogging up your skin. And by using one of these blackhead removal products (we’re rounding up the best of the best below), you’ll likely have fewer comedones from here on out. 

But picking a blackhead removal product isn’t one-size-fits-all. A pretty intense salicylic acid serum might work wonders for someone with uber-oily skin, while a gentler alpha-hydroxy acid (think: lactic or glycolic acid) will do the job for those with more sensitive skin types. Regardless of what you need, we’ve got you covered. 

What Are Blackheads?

A blackhead is quite literally a pimple, specifically an open comedone, that has come to a black-colored head. “They are a type of acne lesion in which a pore accumulates dead skin, oil, and bacteria,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brendan Camp. They then turn black as a result of oxidation. Blackheads are going to be the *most* common in people with oily skin, but just about anyone can deal with ‘em. You can have sensitive skin and blackheads, dry skin and blackheads, combination skin and blackheads—you get the point. 

What to Look For

“Blackhead treatments can come as cleansers, toners, serums, or leave-on treatments,” explains Dr. Camp. “Some facial masks can also be used to draw out impurities on the skin to clean out pores.” Then there’s also pore vacuums, pore strips, and physical scrubs. In short: There’s a lot to choose from. But, the best blackhead remover for you is going to depend largely on your skin type. “People with more sensitive skin may elect to use a chemical exfoliant, as they tend to be more gentle on the skin than physical exfoliants,” says Dr. Camp. Lactic acid, glycolic acid, or poly-hydroxy acids can provide non-abrasive exfoliation. Now while those ingredients are all very, very viable options for oily or combination skin types, too, products with salicylic acid, scrubs, retinoids, or pore vacuums, are also an option. 

How Blackhead Removers Work

How your blackhead remover works is pretty dependent on the type of product you choose. Pore strips, for example, are going to use an adhesive material to grip dead skin and debris, while pore vacuums use suction to achieve the same end. Then there’s more traditional exfoliation. “Chemical exfoliants use ingredients that break apart adhesions between superficial skin cells to gently remove dead skin,” says Dr. Camp. “Physical exfoliants gently abrade the skin to scour away dead skin cells and debris.” 

The Best Blackhead Removers

Meet the Dermatologist

dr. brendan camp
Dr. Brendan Camp

Brendan Camp, MD, is double board-certified in dermatology and dermatopathology and sees patients at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, which has locations in Upper East Side, Hampton Bays, Commack, Smithtown, Plainview, and Midtown East of Manhattan, New York. Patients have been coming to him for his expertise managing medical conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, warts, psoriasis, moles, and skin cancer, as well as cosmetic concerns and treatments with Botox®, fillers, lasers, and other skin rejuvenation devices. Dr. Camp graduated with honors from Cornell University, earning a degree in biochemistry. As a medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, he participated in a one-year epidemiology fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he participated in viral outbreak investigations. He completed his internship in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and later completed additional residency training in dermatology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He also completed a fellowship in dermatopathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2012. He has previously served as an assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and worked in private practice just outside Washington DC in Northern Virginia. Dr. Camp is the author of several scientific articles that have been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. He has also presented at meetings of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Dermatopathology, and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Additionally, he is a reviewer for the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Case Reports, a member of the Curriculum Task Force and previous member of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Dermatology, and a contributor to Men’s Health magazine.

Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.