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How to remove whiteheads
Last updated on May 7, 2022
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Whiteheads are a type of acne that appears as small white or yellow projections that appear on your face.

Getting rid of whiteheads or closed comedones can be hard and can be troublesome sometimes, if left untreated.

If you are frustrated with these stubborn whiteheads, do not worry.

We will show you the best home remedies for removing whiteheads and some useful tips on preventing them.

What are Whiteheads?

Whiteheads also known as comedo, develop when dead skin cells, too much oil or bacteria and dirt clog the pores on the face, chin, and nose.

It is a type of acne pimple formed when dead skin cells, bacteria and oil are trapped inside a pore on the face.

Pores or hair follicles are very tiny pockets underneath the skin and it has different structures which includes the hair root. Next to these pores are glands known as sebaceous glands which secrete oil to the growing hair and also make the pore healthy.

Sebaceous glands release sebum or natural oil on to skin surface at pore structures known as  PSU’s (pilosebaceous units).

Whiteheads are formed when sebum, hair and dead skin cells block the hair follicle and clog these PSU’s. It can draw nearby bacteria which can cause inflammation.

White head or closed comedone looks like tiny white bumps on certain areas of the face. Usually there is no inflammation and they stay tiny but can become red and bigger if infected.

Blackheads vs Whiteheads

Blackheads and whiteheads are formed in a similar way but there is a difference between them. They are both clogged pores but the main difference is in the opening on the skin.

A whitehead is known to be a closed comedone and it is not exposed to oxygen or air. Blackheads are the opposite of whiteheads because they are open and they appear black

The top part of the clogged pore or comedone is exposed to air and is oxidized. That is the main reason for it’s blackish or darker color but when it is extracted, it is whiter or lighter underneath.

Blackheads can be pushed out easily but whiteheads are closed within the pore which can make treatments more challenging.

What Causes Whiteheads?

Clogged pores are the basic reason why whiteheads occur but there are many other underlying factors that influence their formation. Some of the important ones are

  • Hormonal changes- Certain life stages such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can increase the amount of sebum, or oil, your pores produce. The increased oil production causes clogged pores and whiteheads
  • Genetics- Sometimes it can occur due to hereditary factors, so if your parents have a history of whiteheads then chances are high for you also to have them at a certain stage
  • Stress- Study shows that skin cells that control sebum production also contain stress hormone receptors. So if you are under a lot of stress the oil production goes unregulated resulting in more whiteheads
  • Lifestyle Habits- such as skincare routine, eating junk foods , smoking can all affect your skin health and can cause whiteheads
  • Others- Sometimes whiteheads occur from use of certain cosmetic products, clothing, heavy sweating in humid places and air pollution

Where all can Whiteheads Appear?

Since whiteheads are clogged pores, they are not found on the face only. They can appear anywhere on the body like the back and they are pesky and unsightly.

They are more likely to appear on the oiliest areas of the face like the forehead, chin and nose because this is where face oil will build up more easily and quickly. Most people have more blackheads on the nose and a slew of whiteheads on the chin.

You can check for whiteheads on the chin by moving the lower lip inside the mouth, stretching the skin on the chin. If tiny bumps which seems to form a cluster is noticed on the chin, those are whiteheads.

How to get rid of Whiteheads on Face

If you want to know how to get rid of closed comedones on face, read on. Whiteheads or blackheads appear in oiliest parts of the face called the T-zone.

Whether you want to get rid of deep whiteheads or more superficial ones since some pores are deeper than the other, the treatment to use is the same.

There are treatments that can remove whiteheads from face without popping them.

1.  Medical Treatments

The first and best treatments for whiteheads include over the counter products like gels, lotions and soaps that fight whiteheads.

If they are not effective you should consult a dermatologist and go for prescription medicines. Some of the popular over the counter treatments are

a) Benzoyl Peroxide: This can be used for spot and full face treatment as it helps to get rid of bacteria and excess oil.

A product which contains 2% benzoyl peroxide is best applied to the affected area once or twice per day. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after using products with benzoyl peroxide

b) Glycolic acid is a chemical skin exfoliant that promotes cell turnover and prevents the dead skin cells from clogging the pores. It can be used for all-over treatment or spot treatment for whiteheads.

c) Retinoid Creams: Vitamin A is present in high amount in retinoid and when it is used as part of a daily face cream, retinoid can provide anti-aging benefits along with unclogging pores.

Adapalene is a popular over-the-counter retinoid that can be extremely beneficial when applied to the entire face and not only as a spot treatment.

For dry or sensitive skin, retinoid creams can be used every 2 to 3 nights at first, and increased afterwards.

However, care should be taken when using retinoid because they can make the skin become more sensitive to the sun. Sunscreen should be worn every day and direct sunlight should be avoided.

d) Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid can reduce oil production in pores. It also dries out the surface of the skin, and gets rid of dead skin cells which may clog up the pores.

It can also function as a preventive measure against whiteheads and can be applied to the face, chin and nose 1 to 3 times daily.

It’s available in acne toners and astringents, as well as creams, gels, and face moisturizers.

e) Exfoliates: Some exfoliates contain salicylic acid while some don’t. But exfoliates with or without salicylic acids can also help with whiteheads.

Applying exfoliates on the face, chin and nose may not only make the skin smoother but they can also remove excess dead skin cells.

Choosing a gentle formula is the key to choose the right exfoliate which does not cause unnecessary irritation and dryness.

2. Whiteheads Extractors

Adopting the options above when trying to remove whiteheads may take some time and regular application but to get rid of whiteheads very fast or overnight, the portable whitehead extractor machine or whiteheads extractor tools can be used.

Extracting whiteheads always need a professional touch to avoid pores irritation and inflammation that is why it is advisable not to extract whiteheads on your own.

But if you want to do it, avoid using your fingers because it’ll surely lead to scarring and irritation.

Whitehead Extractor Machine

Comedo extractor machine

Whitehead extractor machine is best used to suck all the junk stuck in the pores which may be whitehead or blackhead.

It is a compact automatic hand held device that acts as a vacuum cleaner for pores and sucks everything out.

It is best used on the nose, chin and forehead but if it is to be used under the eyes, extra care should be taken and the lowest setting applied.

Using this extractor on a dry face will not give a positive result, so before using it, the pores should be opened with a hot towel applied on the face for about 15-20 minutes or by using a face sauna machine which will make it much faster and easier.

When using this extractor, care should be taken not to stay too long on the same spot otherwise it will leave ugly marks on the face and always remember to exfoliate the skin regularly so that deeper whiteheads could be reached.

Whitehead or Comedone Extractor Tools

Whiteheads extractor tools

These small tools are designed to pull out the core of whitehead without damaging your skin.

It can be painful to use and care need to be taken to prevent any infection.

These tools are made of stainless steel in the shape of small rods with loops or sharp lancets attached to either ends.

The loops can come in different shapes and sizes so that you can select the best one depending on the whitehead.

The sharp pointed end of the comedone extractor is used to pop open whiteheads before removing them. If you are uncomfortable with this you can use the loop end to gently rock the whitehead from side to side till it comes off.

Do not use excessive force and slight bleeding is common and use alcohol or any disinfectant to clean the tool and face after use. 

3. Home Remedies for Whiteheads

Home remedies are the easiest and most affordable whitehead removal options because they involve using things you may already have in your homes.

Be careful not to use products that may cause potential damage or skin irritation.

The popularity of natural remedies for skin treatment increases everyday though they should be used with caution.

a) Apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an excellent astringent which can dry out the pore to kill bacteria causing whiteheads and also shrink them. Apple cider vinegar also reduce inflammation and has antibacterial and anti-microbial properties.

To use mix apple cider vinegar with warm water and apply directly to the affected skin and leave it on for 15 minutes. This routine can be repeated whenever the face is washed.

b) Tea tree oil

Tea tree Oil

Tea tree oil has a natural anti-inflammatory property and antimicrobial benefits. These properties helps clear up whiteheads.

The oil may be available as an extract applied directly onto the face twice a day. You can also use skincare items such as cleansers, masks, and spot treatments which contain tea tree oil.

c) Aloe Vera

This is a plant-based ingredient also available as an extract or in over-the-counter skincare products. It can reduce inflammation in whiteheads and can heal wounds and scars quickly.

Aloe Vera gel or extract can be used directly on the skin and adding lemon juice along with it can get rid of whiteheads.

d) Witch Hazel

witch hazel

Witch hazel is derived from a flowering plant and it helps heal whiteheads with it’s astringent, pore-opening qualities. It can also tone the skin and control oil production as well as prevent the formation of new blackheads.

It is more convenient to use in astringent form by simply dipping a cotton ball in it and using it twice daily.

e) Baking Soda

baking soda

Baking soda works well for removing whiteheads as it is an astringent and exfoliant. It can removes all the dirt that are clogging the pores. It is also a pH neutralizer and can keep the skin’s oil production under control.

4. Best Face Mask for Whiteheads

Homemade peel off face masks is an effective way to remove whiteheads and also rejuvenate your skin. With regular use of these face masks you can get rid of whiteheads

1. Egg White Lemon Mask

Egg white remove the skin impurities and lightens the skin. They can shrink large pores and regulate the sebum production in the skin.

Lemon juice loosens the dirt around pores and sticks to the egg white which can then be removed easily. Honey will smooth and moisturize the skin while warding off whiteheads.

What You Need

Egg white -1

Lemon Juice – 1 Tablespoon

Honey- 1 Tablespoon

How to use

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of Lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of raw honey and 1 egg white.
  • Apply the mixture and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse off with warm water.

2. Lemon Juice Cinnamon Mask

Cinnamon has good antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a good natural remedy for whitehead removal. Lemon juice will exfoliate and remove the dead skin cells while opening up the pores.

What You Need

Cinnamon Powder- 2 teaspoon

Lemon Juice – 1 Tablespoon

Honey- 1 Tablespoon

How to use

  • Mix Lemon juice, honey and cinnamon powder to make a paste
  • Apply the mixture and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse off with warm water.

3. Clay Mask

Bentonite clay is a highly absorbent compound that efficiently removes impurities, dirt, grime, and excess oil from the skin pores. This can eventually unclog and eliminate the whiteheads.

Bentonite clay contains over 60 natural trace minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and silica which upon contact with liquid gives it special ability to absorb toxins.

 By applying it as a mask, the skin soaks up the minerals while the clay draws out the impurities.

You Will Need

  • 1-2 tablespoons bentonite clay
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Water as required

How to use

Make a thick paste by adding enough water to the clay powder and honey.

Apply this evenly on the face and let it dry by itself.

Rinse it off with lukewarm water.

4. Oatmeal Yoghurt Mask

Oatmeal is an anti-inflammatory anti-oxidant that contains ‘saponins’ that removes dirt from the pores .They are also rich in lipids and provide moisture and proteins to the skin.

Yoghurt contains lactic acid, calcium, zinc and vitamin B that exfoliates the skin by dissolving skin impurities and minimize the appearance of whiteheads. They also work to reduce the scars and brighten your skin.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoon Powdered oatmeal
  • 3 tablespoon yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

How to use

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of powdered oatmeal, 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt, 1 tablespoon each of honey and tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Apply this mask on your face and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Rinse off with water. Repeat twice a week for best results.

5. Green Tea Lemon Honey Mask

Green tea is rich in antioxidants along with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They open up pores, regulate sebum production and boost immunity that can fight off whiteheads.

Green tea also contains catechins that can kill acne causing bacteria. When used with lemon and honey they can remove the impurities and soothe the skin.

You Will Need

1 tablespoon of green tea (tea bag or powdered leaves)

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

3 teaspoons of honey

How to use

  • Mix all the ingredients to form a fine paste and apply on face
  • Rub the paste over the face for 1-2 minutes in slow and circular movements.
  • Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes.
  • Rinse off with warm water

5. Skin Care Routine

The first step to whitehead treatment is the hands-off approach because touching the face will not only bring more dirt, oil, and bacteria but it can also cause irritation.

Picking and popping whiteheads may do more harm than good or it can lead to irritation and permanent scarring.

They are other ways of removing whiteheads on the face, chin and nose which are:

  • Regular cleaning of the face to remove toxins, makeup or dirt’s using a mild cleanser which is not too drying.
  • Using alcohol-free witch hazel toner to tighten the pores.
  • Using a moisturizer (face lotion/cream) with salicylic acid to fight whiteheads and pimples.
  • Regular steaming to open the pores, soften the skin and help with exfoliation as the dead skin cells can be removed more easily after steaming.
  • Using facial masks to regulate secretion of oil and get rid of the whiteheads.

How to Prevent Whiteheads

Taking great care of the skin can help prevent whiteheads. These are some of the things that should be done regularly to prevent Whiteheads.

  • Washing the face once every evening or after working out or playing sports using a mild product.
  • Using lukewarm water for cleansing and bathing which will constantly dissolve any oil clogged on pores.
  • Avoid harsh scrubs, which can cause skin irritation.
  • Always clean up the pillowcase, and sunglasses regularly to get rid of oil, dirt, and bacteria.
  • Exfoliate the skin a few times every week. This helps to get rid of dead skin that fan clog pores, but exfoliating many times weekly could cause irritation and more acne problems.
  • Sunscreen specifically designed for the face should be worn.
  • Since oil from long hairs can clog pores, the hair should be washed regularly.
  • Hair products should be kept away from the face.

But if makeup is worn, there are few things to do:

  • Wash off the makeup every night.
  • Wash all makeup brushes and sponges regularly after each use.
  • Use makeup products labeled “oil-free” or “noncomedogenic” as they are less likely to clog pores.
  • Avoid makeup jars which may harbor bacteria.
  • Avoid sharing makeup or applicators.


Now that you know the popular methods on how to get rid of whiteheads on face effectively, it’s time to try them out and pick the best one for your skin.

If the whiteheads refuse to be eliminated after taking all these measures, you may consult a dermatologist to prescribe stronger medications to get rid of them.

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