If you’re like me and a large chunk of the population, you’ll often find pesky blackheads on and around your nose. As a refresher, blackheads are acne before it’s officially acne. Dermatologists call it a “precursor” for acne, since it’s just a clogged, debris-filled pore, and it turns black because it’s the bacteria on your skin mixed with your own face oils (hope you’re not eating). It can either just stay put as a blackhead, or go on to mature into a full-on breakout—but, either way, if you’d rather your pores be cleared of this gunk, there is a path forward.
“Blackheads are more likely to form on the nose because the nose has numerous glands—more so than the rest of your face, which already has more oil glands than the rest of your body,” says Sheel Desai Solomon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in North Carolina. That means it’s a hotspot for clogged pores. There are plenty of ways to deal with (and prevent) blackheads, though—keep scrolling to find which one could work for you.
How to get rid of blackheads on nose areas
1. Try a pore strip: You may have tried this gunk-removing method in middle school (guilty!), and derms say it’s still pretty reliable. “Pore strips work like a bandage. Each strip is coated with a strong adhesive,” says Dr. Solomon. “They work to remove what you currently have, but they do nothing to prevent what is coming.” To use, leave one on for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to bind to the pore-clogging debris. When you pull it off, the strip will “clear the pores temporarily and make them appear smaller,” she says.
2. Exfoliate: Exfoliation is one of the most dependable ways to keep your pores clear and thriving, which bodes well for nose blackheads. “Exfoliate two or three times a week to dissolve dead skin cells,” says Dr. Solomon, who recommends using gentle chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or other alpha hydroxy acids to do the job. Try something like Ren Skincare Clarimatte T-Zone Control Cleansing Gel ($30).
3. Turn to the pros: While there are plenty of blackhead-busting methods you can try from the comfort of your own bathroom, dermatologists can help you out, too, with something like an extracting facial. “You can have microdermabrasion performed in a medical spa or dermatologist’s office, which is a non-invasive procedure that’s like taking a handheld vacuum to your face to slough away dead skin cells from the surface layer,” says Dr. Solomon. It’ll also help stimulate your skin’s collagen production and increase the absorption of your skin-care products, which really helps you get to those pores.
4. Mask it out: You can pretty much find a face mask for every skin concern, blackheads included. Dr. Solomon’s tip? Opt for a clay mask to pull the dirt out of your skin. “Apply one for 15 minutes and rinse, or use it as a spot treatment overnight,” she says. “You can also put the clay mask just on your nose or T-zone to specifically target blackheads in that area.” You could use charcoal to do the same thing. Try Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask ($58) or L’Oréal Paris Detox and Brighten Pure-Clay Face Mask ($10).
5. Slather on the retinol: Retinol, as all dermatologists will tell you, helps with practically every skin concern that exists, from fine lines to acne and, yes, blackheads. Dr. Solomon advises talking to your derm about getting a prescription-strength retinoid product, or you can just find one on the beauty shelves (including the drugstore) to speed up your skin cell’s turnover. Speaking of…
How to prevent nose blackheads
Now that you’ve cleared your blackheads, know that there’s a different method to keeping them from coming back. Rule number one? Always. wash. your. face. “Wash your face at least twice a day,” says Dr. Solomon. “Cleansing properly can go a long way to help prevent dirt and oil from accumulating in your pores.” That means once when you wake up, and once before you hit the hay.
It’s also helpful if one of the products in your cleansing routine is spiked with salicylic acid, which Dr. Solomon says is an MVP at keeping pores clear. “Salicylic acid is great for pores—it penetrates deep in there and loosens them, so the plugs come out on their own,” she says. Be sure to spend extra love on the nose area when you’re washing with one if you’re prone to blackheads there.
Keep your SPF on hand (which you should already be doing, but still), as it goes along with your blackhead-free game plan as well. “SPF products are vital to protect your skin from harmful UV rays,” says Dr. Solomon. “Select oil-free formulations that won’t weigh down the skin or clog your pores.” We like SkinMedica Essential Defense Everyday Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 ($38). Stick with this strategy, and your nose will be as smooth and pore-free as a baby’s bum.