What's the best way to keep blackheads at bay?
Exfoliation! Hands down, using a well-formulated BHA product is preferred to routine use of a topical scrub to treat blackheads. Because BHA works through a chemical process, it can penetrate the superficial layers of skin and produce better results than cosmetic scrubs, which work only on the very outermost exposed surface of the skin. The damaged built-up layers of skin are not just those you see on the surface. (Try Paula's Choice Exfoliating 2% BHA Liquid, $18.95; paulaschoice.com)
Exfoliating facial skin unclogs pores by keeping dead skin cells from blocking the pore opening so sebum can flow more normally, which helps reduce blemishes and blackheads. It also allows antibacterial agents to penetrate where the acne-causing bacteria is hiding.
Both dry and oily skin types can benefit from exfoliation. The only difference is that someone with dry skin will want an exfoliant that has a moisturizing base.
Paula Begoun is a skin expert and founder of Paula's Choice cosmetics and skincare.