My Killer Combo To Get Rid Of Blackheads

While I have been blessed with semi-clear skin (thanks Mom and Dad), wearing makeup on a daily basis has given me quite a few nasty blackheads that I constantly struggle to get rid of. So after watching the Live Chat Q&A with ELLE beauty editor Emily Dougherty, I decided to take her advice and try both chemical and physical exfoliation and I think I finally found my perfect blackhead killer combo!

*Step 1. Use a cleanser with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid has been widely known to exfoliate and unclog pores so start using a cleanser with a 1-2% concentration to clean and exfoliate.

* Step 2. Exfoliate physically. The fastest way to smooth away dead skin is through physical exfoliation. Look for products that contain jojoba beads, salt, sugar, synthetic micro-beads etc. and remember to make sure the particles are fine so they do not irritate your skin.

* Step 3. Apply a thin layer of Benzoyl Peroxide. Thanks to its ability to rid the follicle of excess dead skin cells and introduce oxygen into the pore, Benzoyl Peroxide has been commonly used in acne treatment products like Proactiv and Clearasil to kill acne-causing bacteria. Stick with a 2.5% concentration for everyday use.

Below is the products I use for my blackhead killer combo:

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Power-Cream Wash
H20 Plus Sea Pure Gentle Refining Polish
Paula’s Choice Clear 3-Step Acne Fighting Treatment

I have been using this combo everyday for a week now and I swear at least 90% of my blackheads have completely vanished! So try it out and let me know if it works for you too. Would love to hear feedback!

* One word of caution, over-exfoliation can dry out the skin. If you experience flakes or peeling, remember to moisturize with an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer. You can also ease your way in slowly, i.e. using the combo once every 2-3 days before doing it every day. And as always, skincare regimen is a personal thing. What works on me may or may not work on everyone else so please use with discretion.

Phyllis Li is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Makeup For Life, one of the top 50 beauty blogs that focuses on celebrity makeup breakdowns, product reviews, makeup tutorials and all things beauty. Having lived and traveled in North America, Europe and Asia, she was exposed to different techniques and products at an early age and hopes to put a global perspective towards beauty. Phyllis won the Best Content Award by Total Beauty in 2008 and has been featured in various publications and websites including ELLE,, Yahoo Shine!, AOL Stylelist, Nylon Korea, VOGUE China, Ming Pao Daily (Canada) and Shanghai Weekly. In 2010, she was appointed one of the nine Real Women Ambassadors in the United States to take part in the Latisse® Wishes Challenge, working with Hollywood celebrity Kathy Ireland and raised over $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes for approximately 54 children. In 2012, she teamed up with luxury skincare brand TATCHA and released a limited-edition 3-Piece Set of her favorite beauty products. Phyllis currently lives in Chicago, US. She is a regular contributor to Shanghai Daily's StyleHai Magazine and a member of the Glam Beauty Network.


  1. Hi Phylis, I saw in another post regarding your skincare regimen that you use the clarisonic Mia. Do u think that helps with your blackheads? And how often do you use it? I’m thinking about purchasing it.

    • Shanna,

      The Clarisonic Mia does help with blackheads but I don’t use it every day. Even the sensitive brush head is still a teeny bit too harsh for my skin so I only use it 1-2 times a week max.

  2. I found the BodyShop “Blue Corn 3 in 1 Deep Cleansing Scrub Mask” actually help with my blackhead.. Before apply mask, I always scrub the skin to get rid of dead skin cells. After that, follow with steaming ur face to open the pores for about 1-2 min..Make sure it’s not super duper hot water otherwise it’ll damage the skin. I like to put drops of tea tree oil to kill the bacteria. Usually i just do in front of sink, bring my face closer to the hot water and cover my back head with towel to make sure it steam to my face.

    of course it does not disappear after 1 time use, but if you do it dilligently you’ll see less and lesser…

    It’s a bit dry if you have combination skin but apply hydration mask/cold water afterwards will help and makes the pores tighten too…

  3. Nice! It’s usually a pain and expensive to have to go to a dermatologist to get the blackheads out. Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide are good stuff to use to prevent breakouts too. Salicylic Acid keeps the pores unclogged and Benzoyl Peroxide gets oxygen into your skin. P.Acne bacterias cannot live in the presence of oxygen.

    Neutrogena has a product that has both Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide. You might want to check it out too. It’s called Neutrogena Clear Pore Oil-Eliminating Astringent

  4. Great tips! Some of these would be too harsh for my sensitive skin…

    I stick with regular facials and use ‘The Fab Pore’ by Soap & Glory in between. It keeps my pores nice and clean without irritating my skin!

  5. Shielo’s Complexion Scrub is a great way to get rid of blackheads. From what I understand blackheads form when dirt gets into your pores and get stuck. I’ve seen blackhead strips as well as methods of popping blackheads out but I’ve also read that these are only effective in the short term and can do some long-term damage especially the ones where you pop them out. It is a constant maintenance and you will never fully get rid of blackheads but it is nice to know that there are products like Shielo’s Complexion Scrub with a nice scent.

    All I do in my routine is this very simple: I just simply wash my face and then apply a little bit of the shielo complexion scrub on my fingers and gently applied to my face in a circular pattern. I let it sit a little bit while brushing my teeth and then I wash it out with warm water and pat dry with a cloth. It has worked well for me and I can recommend it.

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