Before tackling blackheads, know your enemy. “Blackheads are pores that are clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, bacteria, makeup, and dirt,” explains dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD. “The surface of the blackhead is open to air, which lets these contents oxidize, leading to the dark color. “When a client with blackheads comes in for a facial, I start by using steam to help soften hardened oil in the pores and then perform a peel to exfoliate the skin before extractions,” Garnier SkinActive Consulting Aesthetician, Shani Darden. “Using a salicylic acid wash daily can be extremely helpful to gently exfoliate and unclog pores,” adds Dr. Mraz Robinson.