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Experts weigh in on how to safely use them. DIY Vegetable Mask Machine
I’ll admit it: I’m a serious perfectionist. This means on any given night, you could probably find me examining my pores in the mirror for at least 15 minutes post-cleanse to pinpoint and eradicate every little blemish. On top of choosing the best pimple patches and acne spot treatments to put an end to my merciless picking and prodding, I’ve also turned to some popular blackhead removal tools in my quest for a clearer, purer complexion.
“These tools come in various forms to physically extract blockages from within the pores,” says dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. “They’re designed to be applied to the skin with light pressure and force the blackhead out of the follicle.”
Besides traditional pore strips and comedone extractors, there are a variety of electric blackhead removal tools now available. For instance, “poor vacuums use suction to extract blockages within the pores,” says Dr. Zeichner, mentioning that these are typically best for removing smaller, closer-to-the-surface blackheads. Meanwhile, “poor spatulas are vibrating tools with flat edges that are applied to the skin at an angle to force out blockages,” he says.
According to fellow dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, a blackhead removal tool may offer more precision in removing congestion than your nails. Nevertheless, it’s important to proceed with extreme caution. “Anything that you’re using to press or squeeze the skin with can create some inflammation or swelling,” she says. “All of that can lead to scarring or damage, and possibly a higher risk of the blackhead or pimple coming back in the same spot, if application is done incorrectly.”
“When using these tools at home, first make sure the tools, your skin, and your hands are properly cleansed,” Dr. Zeichner advises. “Apply gentle, downward pressure around the blackhead itself, and if the blackhead does not easily come out using the tool, abort the mission.” With pore suction devices specifically, start on the lowest setting to see how your skin reacts and to avoid any potential bruising. Most brands suggest using their blackhead removal tools no more than twice a week, but check each item’s specific instructions for guidance.
Prior to using a blackhead removal device, Dr. Day also recommends softening the skin by jumping in the shower or using a facial steamer, the latter of which can also provide temporary hydration. “This will help open up the pores, so blackheads come out more easily with less force,” she says.
If you, like me, are curious to safely test out these benefits, keep reading. Below, shop the 12 best blackhead removal tools per these experts, customer reviews, and my own honest feedback.
Since the naked eye can only pick up so much detail, this pore vacuum features a built-in camera and LED lights so you can locate each blackhead you’re dying to go after. The device connects to an app that displays live, up-close footage of your pores and has three suction settings you can adjust based on your degree of sensitivity or congestion. Also included are six interchangeable suction heads and six stainless steel tools for executing any manual extractions.
An Amazon reviewer says: “This helped clear pores that have been blocked for years. The camera is useful for locating the problematic areas, and watching the blackheads get extruded out in gloriously gory magnified detail is a transcendental experience.”
Don’t be fooled by the compact size of this device. Customers say the mini version of Microderm Glo’s best-selling pore vacuum is gentle yet still packs a punch—complete with a simple one-touch function, three-speed settings for comfort, and two suction tips for use on smaller and larger areas. Additionally, the tool is waterproof and comes with a cleaning brush and 20 filter replacements. To exfoliate, you can also add diamond-encrusted tips, sold separately.
An Amazon reviewer says: “The pores on my nose have been large and clogged for years. No amount of washing or exfoliating would make any real difference. This pore vacuum is finally changing that for me. For the first few weeks, I used it on the low setting. Results were noticeable within the first two weeks. After a month of use, my pores are shrinking and look so much better already. I’m using it about every three to five days now on the high setting on the sides of my nose. My skin is usually fairly sensitive, but I’ve had no irritation with this. I wash my face, use the pore vacuum, apply liquid toner, and finish with a gel moisturizer. I wish I’d tried this product sooner!”
Of all the blackhead removal tools on the market, Dr. Day says this simple comedone extractor is by far her favorite. Created by fellow dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, “the stainless steel tool has a hook that pushes out the blackhead when you gently press it against the skin,” explains Dr. Day. On the other end, it features a larger loop for tackling larger blemishes and has a textured pattern in the middle for enhanced grip.
Keep in mind, however, that a number of reviewers mention the tool is quite small and may be more difficult to maneuver.
Boasting a whopping 49,000 reviews, this Amazon Choice kit includes a range of handy tools for removing blackheads and pimples. From a looped instrument to an elbow clamp for pulling out debris, each piece is done in rust-resistant stainless steel with an anti-slip handle. And, everything comes in a sleek leather travel case.
An Amazon reviewer says: “I can’t stress how much this has helped improve my skin instead of trying to pop things on my own. The sharp lance has been a big help, and getting blackheads out is much easier. The tweezers are great and get to the problem quickly. Please buy a kit like this, clean it with a little alcohol spray, and wipe it clean. I recommend this to everyone.”
I have pretty sensitive skin, so using any sort of electric facial device makes me somewhat nervous. But Dermaflash’s ultrasonic pore spatula instantly put me at ease. Thanks to its curved head silhouette, it was simple to maneuver on and around my nose and nudged out blackheads with minimal irritation. All I had to do was wet my face, then press the button once to activate the tool’s extractor setting. Following the instructions, I used light pressure to drag the edge of the tool across my skin, focusing on the congested areas (for me, in the T-zone). I could see the gunk from my pores build up on the spatula, which was decidedly satisfying to wipe away at the end of my session.
By turning the device over and pressing its button twice, the tool can also be used on the “infuse” setting to help products penetrate the skin more deeply. However, I personally prefer using my hands for a massaging effect and quicker application.
After one use, my skin was left feeling tighter, almost as if I had come from a facial. I also love that the colorful, sleek design looks cute on my counter.
Alongside working to suck out gunk from your pores, this popular pore vacuum has an LED blue light built to kill bacteria that can cause breakouts and blackheads. Reviewers mention the suction is powerful and effective, even on the lowest setting, and that the clear LCD screen makes the whole process a bit easier. As a bonus, the tool includes four suction heads and four stainless steel extraction tools—all for under $25.
To note: Because this device has a blue light function, avoid using it before bed, as “blue light can affect melatonin and your circadian rhythm,” Dr. Day says.
An Amazon reviewer says: “This product is amazing. I was absolutely stunned at how well this worked and how affordable it is. I recommend this to anyone who deals with acne or blackheads.”
Another vibrating spatula option, this one from Plum Beauty is Dr. Zeichner’s top pick. “It offers gentle vibrations to help dislodge blockages within the pores as the spatula is being applied to the skin,” he says. “The broad spatula edge is easy to use and minimizes potential irritation.”
Like the Dermaflash option, this one should be used on wet skin, has an infuse setting, and is rechargeable.
This three-in-one tool gives you a full spa-like treatment at home. Featuring an LCD screen and timer function, it has a variety of brush and sponge heads and cleansing modes to help you prep the skin. Plus, it comes with four suction heads and three suction settings for removing blackheads, and four stainless steel extraction tools. For a unique head-to-toe experience, there’s even a pumice stone attachment for combatting rough calluses.
An Amazon reviewer says: “This is the best electric facial cleansing brush I have ever owned. The suction and removal is incredible...save yourself the expense of a dermatologist visit. When using the suction function, make sure to drag the tool from one end of your face to the other; it will make you feel like you got a peel sans any chemicals. Takes years off after one use; skin is super soft and healthy.”
Although exfoliating with a microdermabrasion tool won’t eliminate your blackheads, it can help prevent them by buffing away pore-clogging dead skin cells. (Not to mention, it can help boost circulation, reduce hyperpigmentation, and allow your skin to better absorb products.) This microdermabrasion device from PMD uses spinning crystal discs to slough off flakes and has a suction function to draw out impurities. What’s more, the discs come in varying levels of intensity—from ultra-sensitive to moderate—so you can find the feel that works best for you. The tool has one speed setting made to work for most skin types and includes a slim and larger suction head for targeting the face and body. Oh, and you can choose between five color options, too.
An Amazon reviewer says: “I am really happy with this tool! I’ve used it five times now, and it has made my face so smooth. My pores are getting smaller, and it’s starting to minimize my acne scars. I can tell a big difference in four weeks. So worth the money!”
This waterproof tool from Michael Todd Beauty is designed to clear pores and exfoliate the skin via a range of tips included. And for an extra gentle effect, it has an optional misting function that can be used with water or your favorite toner during or after your treatment. Other highlights include three different speed settings and an LCD screen, in which you can view the device’s remaining battery life and the modes selected. Plus, you get 40 replacement filters.
An Amazon reviewer says: “I have a lot of damaged skin on my chin from where I used to have cystic acne, and I would further cause damage by compulsively and repeatedly squeezing the skin to the point where my chin would temporarily change shape from all the inflammation. I have been using this while watching in my magnified makeup mirror, and my skin feels very smooth after treatments, but it doesn’t remain red or anything.”
“Pore strips contain polymers that adhere directly to the oil within pores and work well to pull out more surface-level blackheads,” explains Dr. Zeichner. If you’re not quite ready to invest in a high-tech device, these top-rated pore strips offer an affordable solution. Simply dampen your skin first and apply the included strips around your nose, cheeks, or forehead for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Then, pull away the strips and watch the aftermath of your day come off with them. In addition to offering a solid clean, customers mention they’re both easy to apply and remove (just remember that these can feel abrasive on sensitive skin).
An Amazon reviewer says: “Absolutely LOVE seeing all the crap these pull out that I didn’t even know I had! My skin is glowing and so smooth. No more squeezing :)”
Vanity Planet makes some of the buzziest skincare tools around, so naturally, its top-rated facial wand is not to be missed. Hundreds of customers rave that the microdermabrasion device with suction helped clear their blackheads and smooth out bumps while being gentle enough to use on a weekly basis. The device has one manual and three customizable settings, as well as three tips for use on the face and body. Finally, there’s a smooth massaging head you can attach to the device to further boost circulation and encourage collagen production.
An Amazon reviewer says: “Ok, can I say WOW! The amount of dead skin that came off was unbelievable. And, my blackheads on my chin were sucked out. My face is a bit pink, but nothing extra, and my skin feels like a baby’s bottom. The suction is strong and appears to work great; my pores are noticeably smaller after the first use. Will be difficult to wait to use again.”
“Blackheads are blockages within the pores caused by oil and dead cells that get trapped within the follicles,” says Dr. Zeichner. “As the oil oxidizes, it turns black, which is what gives the blackhead a dark appearance. These typically occur in areas where there are active oil glands, like the forehead, nose, and chin, and have a wide opening to the surface of the skin—making them easily visible,” he adds.
Per Dr. Day, blackheads can be a result of both biological and external factors. “Hormones, stress, or having too much sugar in your diet can cause them,” she says. “Additionally, they can occur from using products that are irritating or too occlusive (aka thick and unabsorbent). All of these things can affect the way the skin naturally exfoliates and create an imbalance,” she explains.
“When used properly, the procedure can be effective,” says Dr. Zeichner. “However, if the skin is treated with too much force, it can lead to more harm than good. Aggressive use of one of these tools can disrupt the skin barrier, leading to open or raw skin and ultimately potential scarring or infection.”
Both Dr. Zeichner and Dr. Day agree that the best way to treat blackheads is by preventing them in the first place, namely with the help of products containing salicylic acid. "It’s a beta hydroxy acid (or chemical exfoliant) that works to remove dead cells and excess oil that block pores,” says Dr. Zeichner. Specifically, he recommends Jori’s Acne and Oil Control Primer, which contains “maximum strength” two percent salicylic acid and a range of botanicals to address the skin’s needs. “The product does double duty to treat and prevent breakouts, while reducing shine and blurring the pores,” he explains. “It can be worn daily on its own or under makeup to help it go on better and stay on longer.”
Dr. Day says a gentle retinoid can also be used to help treat blackheads. Before committing to any routine, though, she mentions it’s always best to consult an expert. “Make sure to see a dermatologist who can properly assess what might be causing the issue and better guide you—whether that’s with prescription or over-the-counter products that can help keep your skin clear.”
Dr. Joshua Zeichner is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. He is an associate professor of dermatology and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Dr. Dorris Day is a New York-based, board-certified dermatologist specializing in laser, cosmetic, surgical and aesthetic dermatology.
Sam Peters is a seasoned commerce writer and editor with over five years of experience covering fashion, beauty, and lifestyle topics. For this roundup, she spoke with two dermatologists about the best blackhead removal tools and how to safely use them. The author also tested one of these products and considered a range of top-rated blackhead removal tools on the market, evaluating each on their features offered and customer feedback.
Sam Peters is a Commerce Editor at Hearst covering fashion, beauty and more. Her writing has appeared in WWD, Footwear News, Real Simple, PopSugar and Bridal Guide, among others. She enjoys covering the latest trends and testing and reviewing some of the most innovative, emerging products on the market.
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