Give Your Pores The Deep Clean They Deserve With These Gentle Blackhead Scrubs

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Everyone gets blackheads from time to time, even those most fastidious with their cleansing routines. That’s because blackheads “have nothing to do with being ‘dirty,’” Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, tells Elite Daily. But if you’ve been noticing more blackheads cropping up on your skin lately than you'd like, try working a blackhead scrub into your weekly routine. That said, most face scrubs definitely aren't created equal, so it's important to make sure you're using the right one. The best blackhead scrubs contain a mix of physical and chemical exfoliants, which work in tandem to give your skin a deep, thorough clean, both on the surface and within your pores.

Kristine Kellner, an Expert Esthetician at BABOR, tells Elite Daily that physical scrubs are most effective for “removing dead cells trapped at the skin’s surface, which can help prevent blackhead formation.” But Both Kellner and Dr. Levin agree that chemical exfoliants — especially salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, and fruit enzymes — are even more effective for squashing active breakouts (hence why all the scrubs on this list contain some combination of chemical exfoliants.)

Scrubs are inherently abrasive — even those that are suitable for sensitive skin — so use them judiciously. Dr. Levin recommends using yours a couple of times per week. Pending your skin’s reaction, you can slowly work up to using them more often. Another tip: Keep your scrub on for a minute or two, rather than washing it off ASAP. That way, you’ll give the actives in the formula time to really sink into your skin and do all the pore-unclogging work they’re there for.

With those tips in mind, scroll on to shop four of the best scrubs for blackheads, plus an even more potent (yet gentle) set of peel pads.

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Best Blackhead Scrub For Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you need to be extra-careful about using physical exfoliants, lest you strip your skin of its precious few oils. But this scrub from TULA is a great choice for your skin type. It harnesses sugar — a natural humectant — as the physical exfoliating agent, so it’ll polish and moisturize your skin at the same time. Meanwhile, lactic acid works as the main chemical exfoliant, while fruit enzymes contribute even more, gentle polishing action. Top it all off with mango seed butter and vitamin E, and your skin will feel soft, silky, and nourished.

Best Blackhead Scrub For Oily Skin

Oily skin types can handle a slightly more intensive exfoliant, like this one from Murad. It’s packed with everything you'd need to treat unwanted blackheads: Jojoba beads gently sweep away dead skin cells on the surface of your skin; salicylic acid does the deep-cleaning work; and glycolic and lactic acids encourage cellular turnover for long-lasting radiance. It’s a cult classic for a reason.

Best Splurge

The Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment has garnered a small army of loyalists, many of whom have dubbed it the best face scrub of all time. The formula combines salicylic acid, lactic acid, and fruit enzymes, which aim to unclog your pores and renew your complexion, while aloe vera and honey help restore hydration and minimize irritation. But what makes this really special is the addition of retinyl palmitate, a gentle retinoid. Dr. Levin calls retinoids “the backbone of acne treatments, since they declog pores, normalize skin cell turnover, and work as an anti-inflammatory.” The price tag is hefty, but a little product goes a long way, so one tube should last you a while.

Best Powder Scrub (Pro Pick)

Powder scrubs are the new guard of face scrubs. These powder-to-emulsion formulas are less abrasive than old-school scrubs, but they're equally effective at exfoliating dead skin cells. (Plus, they're super travel-friendly.) This powder scrub from BABOR is Kellner’s favorite. It’s infused with vitamin C and enzymes, which aim to brighten and even out your complexion, while also “[leaving] your skin feeling soft, refreshed, and renewed,” she says. It’s just as much a cleanser as it is an exfoliator; and since it’s less harsh than a traditional scrub, you can use it daily, in place of your usual cleanser, if you wish.

Bonus: Best Exfoliating Pads (Pro Pick)

Since they're intended to be left on your skin, rather than rinsed off, exfoliating pads deliver more concentrated doses of active ingredients than exfoliating scrubs do, so they’re a more effective way to clear up unwanted blackheads and other forms of acne. There are tons of peel pads on the market, but Dr. Levin recommends these StriVectin Daily Reveal Exfoliating Pads in particular. They’re soaked in “a gentle but effective combination of AHAs, PHAs, and BHAs, along with brightening ingredients like tranexamic acid,” she says. Don’t use these right after a scrub, though, since that can be an overly harsh combo. Choose one or the other at a time, and follow it up with a soothing moisturizer.


Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology

Kristine Kellner, an Expert Esthetician at BABOR

Studies referenced:

Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin, Sheau-Chung Tang and Jen-Hung Yang: