Your pimply teenage days may be long over, but your skin might still be susceptible to developing comedones, otherwise known as blackheads and whiteheads.

The stubborn clump of dirt can develop under any circumstance, but the oily-prone will find themselves battling this annoying piece of gunk even more. A collection of dirt and oil, blackheads are annoying as they don’t exactly have an “expiry date”. Unlike pimples which will eventually pop, blackheads often stay under the skin before becoming a pimple.

IMAGE: Imagemore Co. Ltd./Corbis

Depending on your skin type, genes and skin care routine, removing and preventing blackheads may or may not be a walk in the park. The trick is to stick to a skincare routine that helps prevent them, and get your pores professionally cleaned every once in a while.

The reality is that no matter what you do, blackheads will always come back. Blackheads form when your skin’s sebum can’t flow out onto the skin, leaving it to be stuck and clogged in your pores. This is why you’ll always get blackheads: When a blackhead is removed, the continuous sebum production “ensures” that a new blackhead forms once again.

Since you can’t totally stop your sebum flow, using products that slow or control your skin’s production of oil will delay the blackhead forming process. Mattifying or water-based products work great, but if you really want to break down existing blackheads and prevent new ones from forming, look for products containing salicylic and glycolic Acid as these ingredients help unclog pores and shed dead skin cells.

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Most salicylic and glycolic Acid products are made for acne-prone skin, which can be quite drying. Which is why I find DHC’s range of salicylic products pretty neat. The brand uses a two percent concentration of Salicylic Acid, which is enough to target my blackheads without drying out my skin completely.

Without trying to state the obvious, giving your skin a really good clean will help in the anti-blackhead campaign. Apart from scrubbing regularly, you may also want to start using a clay mask every week.

Clay masks work to draw out oily impurities stuck in your pores, and I’ve found that regular use helps in removing my blackheads, too.

If you really must extract them, learn how to squeeze your blackheads properly. The trick with removing blackheads is to ensure that your skin is in the right condition, as well as controlling the amount of pressure you use in removal.

To remove your blackheads without scarring, only extract them after a hot shower (or use a face steamer, if you have one). The heat from the bath will help soften the oil in your pores, making it easier for you to nudge it out. Then, with the aid of a tissue or cloth, position your forefingers across each other and leave a space of a five cent coin in between. A gap will ensure that you’re really pushing the blackhead out, and not just the surface of the skin (since blackheads are stuck deep within).

Start by nudging your skin in different directions, and if the blackheads don’t come out after a few rounds of trying: Stop. Squeezing too hard or in a wrong way might actually inflame the skin, introducing unwanted bacteria into your pores. What’s worse, you might actually break some capillaries or scar yourself along the way.

DHC Salicylic range is available at selected Watsons stores. For more information, visit and follow the brand on Facebook.