Are Blackhead Extractors Safe to Use? We Asked an Expert

You can kiss those clogged pores goodbye.

DERMAPORE Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser
Photo: Ultra

The summer is upon us, and with glorious sun also comes plenty of sweat—and clogged pores. If you deal with blackheads regularly, you don't need us telling you how frustrating they are to get rid of. The good news: Handy tools called blackhead extractors work wonders in bringing these pesky spots to the surface. The bad news: Using them incorrectly might do more harm than good. Below, we've tapped Morgan Rackley, an esthetician and owner of Luminous Skin Atlanta, for her best advice on how to use these tools safely at home.

What are blackheads?

Blackheads are a type of acne, also called open comedones, but not technically pimples. "Rather than white/yellow fluid-filled bumps, blackheads look flat and dark, hence their name," explains Rackley. "Blackheads are very common and occur when follicles in your skin get clogged due to excess oil and irritation."

What is a blackhead extractor?

A comedone or blackhead extractor is a stainless steel tool designed to remove the dirt and oil that cause blackheads and whiteheads. "It works by gently pushing the clogged sebum out of the pore," explains Rackley. A comedone extractor can come in multiple forms—there are the traditional stainless steel extractors with two "loops" on either end of the tool, the extractors that look similar to tweezers, and then more modern "pore vacuums" that use suction to suck out gunk from your face.

Are blackhead extractors safe to use?

According to Rackley, a comedone extractor is safe to use, but with the proper precautions. "If using a comedone extractor at home, I recommend using only the rounded side—some come with a pointed side to open the blackhead/whitehead, but unless you're a professional, you run the risk of cutting too deeply and causing injury when using this side," explains Rackley. "One other important thing to remember is that if you see blood, stop—you got it all out! You might think you can squeeze just a little bit more out, but I promise you that there's nothing else and you risk bruising and/or additional injury." And remember that for particularly stubborn breakouts, it's always wisest to consult a pro who is best able to prevent damage and injuries caused by comedone extractors.

How to Use a Blackhead Extractor

To avoid having to press too roughly, Rackley recommends prepping the breakout with a warm compress. "This will help soften the skin and open up the pores, allowing for an easier extraction," she says. You should also clean the comedone extractor with alcohol.

Next, select the wire loop you'd like to use. The smaller the loop the better since it will concentrate the pressure on the affected area. "Make sure your skin and tool are clean, place the tool around the blackhead, and gently press to release the sebum and dead skin clogging your pore." If nothing immediately comes out of the breakout, stop pressing and let it rest for a while before trying again. You can follow up with a quick cleanse of your face once you're done.

Best Blackhead Extractors

If you have a blackhead that needs to be popped ASAP and you can't make it to the derm, these are the best comedone extractors for when you're in a pinch.

01 of 06

Zwilling Beauty Twinox Black-And-Whitehead Remover

blackhead-extractor-Zwilling Beauty Twinox Black-And-Whitehead Remover

If you're seeking something with a more luxurious look and feel—for a relatively affordable price—Rackley loves the Zwilling Beauty Black And Whitehead Remover. "It's under $20 and the ergonomic handle feels sturdy when using," she says.

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Tweezerman No-Slip Skin Care Tool

blackhead-extractor-Tweezerman No-Slip Skin Care Tool

It really doesn't get more classic than the blackhead extractor from Tweezerman. "It's not super-fancy, gets the job done, and is made of stainless steel and has a textured handle for easy grip," says Rackley.

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Ulta Blackhead Extractor

blackhead-extractor-Ulta Blackhead Extractor

Unlike a blackhead extractor that features loops on either end of the tool, this pick uses a fine point tip for precise control when extracting blackheads from your skin. The ends are sharp, so be careful when using them.

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JPNK 6 PCS Blackhead Remover

blackhead-extractor-JPNK 6 PCS Blackhead Remover

With over 42,000 ratings on Amazon, this six-piece set will help you remove not only blackheads, but whiteheads too. Each is made with stainless steel and can be easily transported in this sleek case.

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DERMAFLASH DERMAPORE Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser

blackhead-extractor-DERMAFLASH DERMAPORE Ultrasonic Pore Extractor and Serum Infuser

You've probably never seen a blackhead extractor like this one before. This pick from DERMAFLASH uses ultrasonic technology to help unclog pores while you glide it along your skin. The device has two modes: "Extract Mode" and "Infuse Mode." In Extract Mode, the device works to clean your pores of oil, dirt, and most importantly, blackheads. In Infuse Mode, the tool will allow for deeper absorption of the active ingredients in any of the skincare products you choose to apply afterwards.

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Freeshow 2022 Newest Blackhead Remover Pore Vacuum

blackhead-extractor-Freeshow 2022 Newest Blackhead Remover Pore Vacuum

Just like your traditional vacuum (which collects all the dirt, dust, and debris on your carpets), this pore vacuum works to suck up blackheads on your skin. The best-selling device on Amazon features five suction levels and five suction probes, and can be used on sensitive skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you soften a blackhead to extract it?

    To extract a blackhead, you must first soften the skin. To do this, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and follow with a steam treatment. Then, soak a washcloth in warm water and apply it to your face. Next, use a rich moisturizer to soften the skin before extraction further.

  • How do you draw out a deep blackhead?

    To prevent blackheads, add products that exfoliate, like those with salicylic acid. Never use your nails to extract blackheads. Instead, use facial steamers to prep the skin, along with extraction tools.

  • Is extracting blackheads good for your skin?

    If done correctly, routine extractions can prevent breakouts. But if you are not using clean or proper tools, there is a risk of infection. When in doubt, head to the dermatologist.

  • What happens to a blackhead if they are not extracted?

    Blackheads that are close to the surface of your skin will usually go away on their own, but deep blackheads can turn into inflammatory acne if left untreated. This occurs due to a build-up of oil and bacteria.

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