No matter who you are, you’ve definitely had a whitehead before. Now that you have an idea of what’s causing your acne, you might guess that not all acne is created equal. Let’s dive into the different types of pimples that can occur, and how to treat them.
Whiteheads are one of the most common types of pimples. They are categorized as non-inflammatory comedones. This just means that they are clogged hair follicles, and the surrounding skin is not raised or red; only the white center is raised. A whitehead is caused by excess sebum and dead skin cells that can’t get out on their own.
Whiteheads are closed comedones. The skin around the pore is closed over the top, giving the appearance of a white head. I know that these are really tempting to pop, but there is absolutely a wrong and right way to do this. A lot of people say not to pop your pimples at all, but I believe there are certain cases where it is okay. Sometimes the bacteria inside a zit can’t get out no matter what topical treatments you use. You’ll will know when you can extract the pimple when all you can see is white. It’s hard to explain in words, but it will look like it could fall off in theory.
If you have a whitehead that is clearly at the surface of the skin and ready to pop, you can get these extracted by a professional dermatologist or esthetician. Don’t have easy access to someone like that? You should be able to do this on your own safely too. When you have a whitehead ready to be extracted, make sure to wash your hands and double cleanse before even touching the area. Once that is all done, get two clean Q-Tips. You’ll want to gently push them towards each other, with the pimple in between them. Slowly nudge the whitehead until it’s out. DO NOT push down, or into the center of the pimple! This will push bacteria down, causing more irritation or damage.
When a whitehead is ready to go, this should be easy as pie. If it doesn’t want to come out, STOP IMMEDIATELY! Forcing a pimple out before it’s ready can cause serious acne scarring, redness, and hyperpigmentation that won’t go away for ages. Trust me, I’ve dealt with these consequences.
If you were able to safely extract the whitehead, there may be some remaining pus or even blood. That is normal. Next, take a small piece of toilet paper and stick it on the open wound (yes, acne is a wound), and let it soak up all that excess pus. Once it has dried up a little, take 100% pure tea tree oil diluted with water on a fresh Q-Tip, and dab onto the area. Tea tree is extremely antibacterial and will stop any spreading of bacteria, and shrink inflammation caused by the extraction. Follow this up with a cleansing toner, cover the area with a pimple patch, and you are good to go! Pimple patches keep you from touching the area and suck out any remaining gunk.
I find extracting a whitehead is only necessary when it’s very apparent and clearly ready to be removed. Sometimes they’re not ready or you might have them spread across a certain area. You might also need to do a little extra work after they’ve been extracted. This is when targeted skincare products can be extremely helpful. Here are some game-changing products I’ve used for extended periods of time, that specifically target whiteheads:
There are a few different clay masks I like to use, but this one is one of the most consistent at tightening pores and pulling out whiteheads. Some key ingredients are bentonite, kaolin clay, and charcoal powder. Just apply to dry skin after your double cleanse. Some whiteheads may even melt away when you rinse this mask off! You’ll see radiant skin the next morning. This mask can be purchased from Sephora too.
This affordable yet powerful peeling solution is a miracle go-to I’ve mentioned time and time again. It’s not only great for whiteheads, but blackheads and hyperpigmentation as well. Exfoliation is so important when it comes to removing whiteheads. Chemical exfoliation is even better, because it does the hard work without the irritation of a physical exfoliant.
The mask fights acne with glycolic acid, aloe water, and salicylic acid. After you double cleanse at night, make sure your face is completely dry. Once it’s dry, apply a few drops of this solution and spread evenly. Let the mask sit for NO MORE than 10 minutes! Rinse off and continue your routine. You’ll notice gleaming results the next morning.
This tea tree toner is just what you need when acne is a concern. There are minimal ingredients, it has a low pH of 6, and the tea tree is very helpful in keeping the skin calm. I’ve found that it helps shrink whiteheads and brings them to the surface, without spreading bacteria. The tea tree scent is non-existant to mild as well. After your double cleanse, exfoliant, and/or mask, add a few drops to a cotton pad and swipe across the skin. You’ll feel refreshed and relaxed. Purchase this toner on Soko Glam.
This superficial exfoliant is perfect for whiteheads. It’s a gentler alternative to The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, and can be used more frequently. It contains hyaluronic acid on top of the lactic acid, to sooth and hydrate the skin. If your skin can handle it, there is a higher percentage you can purchase too. I add this into my routine at night during the serum step. Apply a few drops to the skin, pat in evenly, and wake up to smooth rejuvenated skin, free of whiteheads.
Targeted sheet masks can do a lot for your skin. They look silly, but they’re powerful! I enjoy all of these Peach Slices sheet masks. They all really help calm the skin while moisturizing with natural ingredients. For white heads specifically, I would gravitate to “calm” or “shrink pores”.
Ingredients like willow bark, lemon, chamomile, and lavender really help shrink and soothe the infected area. I typically use sheet masks every night. Apply a sheet mask after your serums and ampoules. A cotton mask like one of these is good to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. When time is up, remove the mask and pat in the remaining essence. Your skin will be dewy, bouncy, and so happy the next day. I usually find these at my local CVS.
I recently tried this sheet mask and was amazed by what it did for my skin. This mask contains tea tree extract, pearl extract, and seaweed extract. It was not only super nourishing for my skin, but it also drastically shrunk my whiteheads by the next morning. I was left with ultra bouncy, dewy, and moisturized tight skin. I highly recommend trying this! You can find it on Soko Glam’s website.
Pimple patches are truly a god send. These are my first form of defense for extracting a whitehead. There are many types of pimple patches, but these work great for whiteheads in my experience. The Missha patches even include hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil. If a pimple patch can remove a whitehead, there is usually no need for you to use force on your skin. You can apply this right after using a treatment like 100% pure tea tree oil, the Dr. Oracle Peeling sticks, or other spot treatments. I also frequently apply these during the day if I’m going to be home, or don’t care who sees me.
When you remove these, the whitehead usually comes right off on the patch. It’s kind of gross, but super satisfying. Once you remove a patch, follow up with your skincare routine and apply more tea tree to kill any remaining bacteria. Sometimes the bacteria may not come all the way out and that’s okay. I just repeat the same steps the next time I do my routine. Eventually it will come out or be pushed out enough to extract. You can purchase these from Soko Glam or Amazon.
While I only covered a few products that help me destroy whiteheads, I know that there are so many great ones out there. One with rave reviews I’ve yet to try is the COSRX, AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid. What products have you guys tried that you swear by for killing whiteheads?