Chances are you've used a blackhead mask or two as a teenager. But even if you’re well past your teen years (raises hand), know that blackheads can still rear their ugly heads. After all, plenty of people experience acne well into their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
“A blackhead forms when an open pore becomes clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria,” explains dermatologist Dr. Marie Hayag. “The mixture forms a waxy substance that builds up inside the pore over time.” As for their characteristic black hue, it's a result of oxidation: “As air mixes with the gunk inside, it turns black,” says Hayag.
That’s where those blackhead masks of your youth come in—although the formulas available today are arguably better than they were years ago. When choosing a blackhead mask, Hayag suggests looking for ingredients like activated charcoal, salicylic acid, and calcium bentonite clay. As for how you go about using a blackhead mask, Hayag advises being cautious, particularly when it comes to peel-off varieties, which can disrupt your skin’s barrier by stripping skin of its natural oils. In general though, blackhead masks “appear to be safe,” says Hayag, “although overuse could cause skin dryness, redness, and sensitivity.”
Here, use our Green Tea Peel Off Mask to cleanse your pores and make your skin brighter and smoother.
This all natural peel off mask uses a blend of green tea and natural botanical extracts to draw out dirt in clogged pores and create that smooth glowing complexion.
Green tea will help calm irritated skin, soothe inflammation, reduce redness, and naturally clean and detox the skin.
Hayag suggests testing a blackhead mask on a small patch of skin before using one for the first time. And “if you have sensitive skin, avoid masks with fragrances, dyes, parabens, and other chemicals that may cause a reaction,” she says.
What to look for when choosing a mask to treat blackheads
What are blackheads?
For all intents and purposes, blackheads occur when the opening of a hair follicle (otherwise known as a pore) becomes clogged or plugged with dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil. The black color occurs when the congestion is exposed to air, thus oxidizing and darkening in color. They’re super common, and most often occur in areas of the face and body where oil flow is at its highest (like the nose, chin, and back).
How can a mask help?
Certain masks can help by softening the pore and absorbing some of the stuff trapped inside. Blackhead-specific masks might also offer a gentle form of exfoliation, working to both clear out an already clogged pore and remove bacteria and sebum that might cause blackheads to occur.
How often should I use one?
Masks targeting blackheads are typically made of clay and can be used once or twice a week. This is a generalized statement though, so following product instructions is the safest way to go. We also suggest using your mask after showering as the steam will relax the pores.