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The 14 Best Blackhead Removers of 2022

Dr. Dennis Gross Universal Daily Peel

We can pick, squeeze, and extract without abandon, but days later, blackheads are back, taunting us in the bathroom mirror. When professional extractions aren’t possible, the best way to get rid of blackheads is to treat with a topical formula that can decongest and unclog skin with powerful chemical exfoliants.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is Dr. Dennis Gross’ Universal Daily Peel which contains a blend of AHAs and salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin while improving its tone and texture. For a more affordable pick, consider La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo, which contains a concentration of benzoyl peroxide and lipo-hydroxy acid to regulate sebum production without drying skin.

Blackheads are considered a form of acne that occurs when the pore becomes clogged with sebum and dead skin cells. Further, blackheads occur when the pore is open at the surface level, which causes the contents to become oxidized and become darker in color—thus, the name, blackhead.1

Experts emphasize that picking or squeezing blackheads causes more harm than good, including the exacerbation of acne and potential scarring.2 Instead, dermatologists recommend using chemical exfoliants to unclog the pore without actually squeezing gunk out of your face. Because exfoliants work by loosening the cells of the epidermis, you don’t have to resort to picking—which is tempting, but can scar.3

We conducted hours of research and tapped a handful of dermatologists to help us round up the very best blackhead treatments, from quick-fix clay masks to powerful actives that will change your complexion long-term. We also put some of the top-rated products to the test, our testers using them for weeks at a time and rating how well they worked to decongest and clarify their skin. Our team evaluated dozens of products on their active ingredient list, potential for irritation, and value. We then combined these insights and results with our own research to compile our list of best in show.

Ahead, find the best blackhead treatments for a clear complexion.


Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel


What We Like

  • Contains both AHAs and BHAs to dissolve sebum and prevent oil from building up inside pores
  • Lactic acid gently resurfaces pores
  • Includes deactivator pad to prevent over-exfoliation and irritation
What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

Who else recommends it? Prevention also picked the Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel.4

What do buyers say? 89% of 2,100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

These iconic peel pads are soaked in a dual AHA and BHA exfoliating solution to slough off dull surface cells and improve the look of skin tone, clarity, and texture.5 Also included is salicylic acid, which can dissolve oil within a pore, lessening the severity of acne and blackheads.3 Dermatologist and founder Dr. Dennis Gross told Byrdie that these peel pads are an “effective and easy treatment to target congestion and uneven skin tone without sensitizing the skin, thanks to the unique two-step peel process.”

With thousands of positive reviews on Sephora, the Alpha Beta Universal Daily is a pretty safe bet for improving all skin conditions—especially blackheads.

Price at time of publish: $17

Benefits: Clears congestion, fights dullness, smoothes | Skin Type: Combination, oily | Size: 30 treatments | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes




What We Like

  • AHAs, BHAs dissolve oil and exfoliate skin
  • Niacinamide helps fade discoloration
  • Glycerin and aloe vera soothe and calm skin
What We Don’t Like

  • Contains fragrance

This hard-working liquid from Glossier contains a cocktail of exfoliating acids, plus niacinamide, glycerin, and aloe vera to help fade discoloration, soothe, and calm the skin. Dermatologist Shyamalar Gunthatheesan, MD tells us that this solution is a great alternative to physical scrubs, but the 10% concentration of three acid groups “might be a bit too intense to use regularly,” so be sure to start slow and build up use.

Price at time of publish: $46

Benefits: Fades discoloration, smoothes, clears congestion | Skin Type: Combination, oily | Size: 4.4 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Glossier Solution




What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Adapalene proven to work to dissolve oil and reduce pore size
What We Don’t Like

  • Might be too harsh for sensitive skin

Gunthatheesan tells Byrdie that this treatment from Differin contains adapalene, a “type of retinoid that comes in 0.1% or 0.3% concentration and works to improve skin clarity, luminosity, and reduce pores.” She further explains that adapalene has a more stable chemical structure than other retinoids (like tretinoin) and does not degrade when used alongside other acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide.6 So if you’re dealing with serious acne, you can use it in conjunction with other active ingredients to reduce breakouts and refine your pores.

Price at time of publish: $15

Benefits: Evens skin tone, reduces acne and blackheads | Skin Type: Combination, oily | Size: 0.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Differin gel


The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like

  • Lactic acid dissolves oil and unclogs pores
  • Tasmanian pepperberry and hyaluronic acid reduce inflammation
  • Affordable
What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t contain BHAs

“Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% is an exfoliating formula for those who are experienced users of direct acids,” says Kaka. “Lactic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid, which are comedolytic and keratolytic in nature. This means that they function to promote exfoliation by loosening the topmost layer of dead skin, helping to even out skin tone and reducing textural irregularities,” he adds.

There’s also the added benefit of hyaluronic acid, a humectant that increases skin moisture, resulting in a plumper, more supple complexion.7 Consider trying this pick if you’re prone to dehydration, fine lines, or tight, uncomfortable skin.

Price at time of publish: $8

Benefits: Evens skin tone, clears congestion | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

the ordinary lactic acid 10% + HA

Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor Exfoliating Clay Mask

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like

  • Salicylic acid dissolves oil and unclogs pores
  • Diatomaceous earth helps polish the skin
What We Don’t Like

  • Physical scrub element may irritate sensitive skin

Formulated with white clay, salicylic acid, and diatomaceous earth, this chemical and physical exfoliating treatment promises to refresh and smooth the skin while reducing the look of blackheads. Gunthatheesan says that while it’s not a great long-term management solution, it would make for a “great weekly treatment to instantly improve the look and feel of skin, especially pores around the nose, chin, and forehead.”

Price at time of publish: $37

Benefits: Smoothes and refines | Skin Type: Combination, oily | Size: 2.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

You should never pick a blackhead with your fingers. Although it’s tempting, you may not remove the entire blackhead, but rather push the infection further down into the skin. Additionally, you can introduce oil, bacteria, and exacerbate the acne. Finally, nails can damage the surface of the skin, stretch out a pore, and cause potential scarring.

Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask


What We Like

  • Mineral-rich Umbrian clay reduces shine and absorbs oil
  • Cinnamon bark has clarifying properties
What We Don’t Like

  • Effects may not be long-term

This Umbrian clay mask promises to minimize pores and shine without stripping or dulling the skin. However, Gunthatheesan says that it’s best to view this one as a quick-fix rather than a long-term skin solution, as the ingredient profile isn’t really able to permanently clear out the pores. “This is more of a temporary indulgence, and I don’t particularly see a don’t see a long-term benefit. The initial sebum removal might result in rebound sebum overproduction, so just be sure to follow up with lightweight moisture.”

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