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How To Get Rid Of Whiteheads – A Practical Guide

We get it. Whiteheads are unbelievably annoying, unbecoming and generally uncomfortable. If this wasn’t enough, they are also unpredictable and may decide to pop open at any point during the day. In order to successfully combat them, you should probably know how they form.

Whiteheads represent a clogged pore filled with natural oil, your dead skin cells and regular dirt. Throw some bacteria into the mix and you got yourself a problem. Unfortunately, whiteheads are locked inside of your pores so it is particularly hard to get them to come out until they decide to on their own accord. But is there nothing you can do to speed up the process and make them disappear? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make them go away as quickly as they appeared. Here is our comprehensive guide.

Whiteheads are formed through dead skin cells, oil and bacteria that are clogged in the pores.

Keep Off! Do Not Touch Your Skin

Maybe you’ve already heard this thousands of times, but do keep your hands off1 of your whiteheads. No matter how hard you scrub your hands with antibacterial soap, there are types of germs that you just can’t get to. Don’t risk them getting onto your face and exasperating the problem. This will only make your body produce more oil, and it will inflame your skin even more.

While some people may find popping whiteheads fun, it is one of those things that are fun but forbidden. You may make it worse, and you may also end up scarring yourself in the long term. Just don’t do it!

General Rules For Clear Skin And Avoiding Whiteheads

Before we go over the cures that specifically target whiteheads, let’s briefly enumerate the general tips that help you maintain a healthy complexion. If you follow them, you will most likely succeed in avoiding the problem altogether in the future.

Firstly, you should always cleanse your face after a day of being out and about. Avoid fancy concoctions and go for a gentle, simple product. A product from a company like Dove will do. Do this after exercising, as well. In terms of washing your face with water, always keep it at medium temperature. Going to extremes will only unnecessarily disturb your pores.

Your makeup routine matters, too. Use noncomedogenic and oil-free cosmetics and don’t keep them forever. Change your powders every year and your creamy products – a couple of times per year. Moreover, avoid jars and tubes, which can become breeding grounds for germs. Always wash your makeup supplies and don’t let friends use them!

Another thing you need to do to evade white heads is to exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! Getting rid of your dead skin cells2 is an excellent way to prevent them from getting stuck in your pores. Duh. Do this several times a week as opposed to every day, so that you don’t end up removing too thick of a layer of your skin and thus needlessly exposing it to external factors. Likewise, use a mild scrub and don’t rub too hard3. Also, always wear sunscreen to protect your complexion. Make sure that you are using the right sunscreen for your skin type and for the area on which you are applying it.

Your hair routine matters, too. Make sure that your hair is cleaned on a regular basis because the longer and the dirtier your hair is, the more oil your body will produce to care for it.

Targeting Whiteheads With Commercial Products

If you just got your first batch of whiteheads, your first instinct may be to look for commercial products that can help you. Resist the temptation to stock up on these (this will only dry up your face) and try them out one by one. Choose wisely and pick a product that suits you best – it might take weeks or longer until you begin to sense its healing properties.

A go-to product against acne will usually contain salicylic acid. It greatly diminishes your natural oils, and thus helps unplug your pores. It additionally gently dehydrates the affected area, leading to easier exfoliation of unnecessary skin cells4. You can alternatively opt for an exfoliant without salicylic acid, but make sure that it is gentle enough. Use it a few times a day in the form of a toner or any kind of astringent. You might also find it in a moisturizer or in various topical ointments.

Another option is to look for products containing retinoids which feed you with vitamin A. They will unclog your pores, as well, and rejuvenate your complexion5.Ideally, you will look for adapalene which is an OTC kind of retinoid. Lather it in the form of a daily lotion over your whole face. Do this carefully and leave time between applications in the beginning. If that fails, look for a more intense retinoid with the help of your doctor.

Benzoyl peroxide cleanses your face thoroughly6 and removes oil from your pores. It also handles irritation and soothes your skin. Your chosen product should be based on two or more percent of the ingredient. Use it once or twice per day and make sure not to get it on yourself or on your clothes, as it is a whitening agent.

Home-made Cures For Whiteheads

You may be on a budget or you may simply not feel like investing in a commercially-produced ointment. In that case, you can create your own treatment at home, which may prove itself to be just as potent. Make sure you are mixing the right ingredients and only keep using them if they actually seem to work.

There is a wide variety of suggestions on-line, so don’t hesitate to do extensive research before picking the one that sounds most appropriate. Do avoid harsh ingredients like baking soda or sugar, as well as acidic components like lemon and vinegar,

Good Old Natural Cures For Whiteheads

Whiteheads are a natural appearance so it only makes sense that you should be able to fight them off with a natural remedy. Whatever you choose, always tread carefully, as there is no scientific guarantee that it will work.

Aloe vera is one of the most popular natural substances to treat skin conditions. It’s soothing effect is like no other. You can use an extract or you can use it in combination with other products. A similar agent is tea tree oil. It can significantly decrease your skin’s infection7 and cleanse you from germs. Look for an extract or seek it out as an ingredient of a product.

If you are looking to urgently unclog your pores, go for witch hazel. It is an astringent which acts quickly and efficiently. Dab some cotton into it and apply it to your face two times a day.

Vitamin A is one of the most popular vitamin-based cures. It minimizes your skin’s irritation and even refreshes your complexion for a new, healthy group of cells to take over once you are healed. Look for it in products at your local drugstore. Make sure not to expose yourself to sunlight immediately after applying vitamin A, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen – both on the days on which you apply vitamin A, as well as on any other regular day.

Choose which option best suits your lifestyle, and go for it as quickly as possible. The faster that you act, the more likely it is that you will simply and easily reduce your breakouts. Good luck in the fight against whiteheads!


  1. How to control oily skin. American Academy of Dermatology (Website). Accessed 2019.
  2. Evaluate before you exfoliate. American Academy of Dermatology (Website). Accessed 2019.
  3. Skin care for acne-prone skin. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). 2013.
  4. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2015;8:455–461.
  5. Kafi R., Kwak H.S., Schumacher W.E., Cho S., Hanft V.N., Hamilton T.A., King A.L., Neal J.D., Varani J., Fisher G.J., Voorhees J.J., Kang S. Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol). Archives of Dermatology. 2007;143(5):606-12.
  6. Leyden J.J., Wortzman M., Baldwin E.K. Antibiotic-resistant Propionibacterium acnes suppressed by a benzoyl peroxide cleanser 6%. Cutis. 2008;82(6):417-21.
  7. Pazyar N., Yaghoobi R., Bagherani N., Kazerouni A. A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology. International Journal of Dermatology. 2013;52(7):784-90.
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