The 12 Best Face Masks For Blackheads, According To A Dermatologist

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by Rebecca Taras and BDG Commerce
Originally Published: 
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When it comes to the best face masks for blackheads, the formulas are abundant: There's everything from sheet masks and pore packs to an acid-infused clay that exfoliates, too. To help you figure out which ingredients are most effective, Bustle spoke with Dr. Neelam A. Vashi, board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Boston University, and Dr. Henriette De La Garza, Research Fellow at Boston University’s Dermatology Vashi Lab.

“The most common cause of blackheads is oil over-production. Excess oil, dirt, and debris build up in the pore and causes clog accumulation,” Dr. Vashi tells Bustle. That’s why many blackhead masks are made from clay or charcoal. “Clay and charcoal masks help to draw oils, dirt, and toxins out of the skin, which helps to unclog the pores. Some masks may also contain sulfur to break down the dead skin cells that make up blackheads,” says Dr. Vashi.

If you have mild blackheads, salicylic acid is the “go-to ingredient,” according to Dr. Vashi. “Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that removes excess oil and exfoliates the cells from the surface of the skin. It penetrates and clears out the pore and also encourages cell turnover,” Dr. Vashi says. “Alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acid are also helpful and have the added benefit of evening out skin tone and texture.” For stubborn blackheads, Dr. Vashi recommends retinoids: “They reduce the stickiness of the cells that clog pores and speeds up the rate at which the skin turns over and regenerates, which helps to push out blackheads.”

In a hurry? These are the best face masks for blackheads:

1. Overall Best: Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor Mask

2. Best Mask For Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Pro Clay Mask

3. The Cult-Favorite Mask: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

4. Best Mask With Retinol: IMAGE Skincare AGELESS Overnight Retinol Masque

5. Best Creamy Clay Mask: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Clay Face Mask

6. Best Overnight Peel: DERMA E Overnight Peel

7. Best Peel-Off Mask: TONYMOLY Tako Pore Black Peel-Off Pack

8. Best Sheet Masks: Burt’s Bees Charcoal Facial Sheet Mask

9. Best Sulfur Mask: Proactiv Skin Purifying Acne Face Mask

10. Best Mask With Skin-Balancing Probiotic Extracts: Tula Skin Care Detox In A Jar Exfoliating Treatment Mask

11. Best Egg White Mask: Skinfood Egg White Pore Mask

12. Best Mask With Absorbent Volcanic Clusters: Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask

Because blackhead masks may dry out the skin, it’s important to follow up with a moisturizer. “We recommend using noncomedogenic moisturizers which are formulated specifically to keep your pores clog-free,” Drs. Vashi and De La Garza say. “If your routine isn’t working, it’s important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to receive professional and personalized guidance according to your specific needs,” they added.

No matter your skin type, keep scrolling for the best face masks for blackheads on Amazon.


The Overall Best Face Mask For Blackheads

Formulated with salicylic acid, white kaolin clay, and natural exfoliants, this pore extractor mask draws dirt and oil out of the skin to help unclog pores. The exfoliating mask also helps scrub away blackheads and remove dry skin, leaving your face smooth and glowy. Just massage the creamy mask — which has a light, fresh scent — onto clean, dry skin, allow it to dry, and rinse with warm water. Best of all, this mask is recommended for all skin types.

A helpful review: “[...] I have always had issues with blackheads around my nose as well as large pores. I was able to see immediate results after using this. It was also gentle on my sensitive skin - no red face after use! I will definitely be using this on a regular basis.”


Best Mask For Sensitive Skin

Cetaphil is usually a go-to brand for those with sensitive skin, and this fragrance-free clay mask is a great example. It’s made with gentle kaolin and bentonite clays to absorb excess oil, draw out impurities, and exfoliate the skin. The mask also contains apple fruit extract and cucumber seed extract to help hydrate and brighten skin tone. And this rich, creamy mask does it all while being hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.

A helpful review: “I have very sensitive skin and yet lots of blackheads. I have tried so many clay masks and even tried to make my own at home and every single one of them makes me super red and over-dries my skin. This is the only clay mask that doesn't do that and I am actually able to use it more than once a week its that gentle. I just make sure to use a hyaluronic acid moisturizing face mask afterwards to replenish and its amazing. My skin feels gently exfoliated and renewed.”


The Cult-Favorite Mask

With more than 62,000 reviews and an impressive 4.6-star overall rating, the Aztec Secret clay mask has a cult-like following on Amazon. It’s made from 100% bentonite clay that draws dirt and oil from the skin, and you can use this mask on your face, body, and hair. You’ll just need to mix with water or apple cider vinegar and stir into a smooth paste before applying. There’s no fragrance added, and the mask is ideal for those with combination skin.

A helpful review: “I washed it off after 20 mins and was shocked to see my clogged pores were much cleaner and less congested. I barely touched my nose and blackheads were coming out but they were dry and easily expelled from my pores. Sorry for the TMI but ive never experienced that with any product. It was so awesome and my face feels so clean and and free of oiliness. Also my skin looks brighter and smooth, not bumpy.”


Best Mask With Retinol

Dr. Vashi recommends retinoids for stubborn blackheads, and this sleep mask is a great option. Along with slow-release retinol, the mask is formulated with collagen, aloe, chamomile, panthenol, and other calming and nourishing ingredients to offset retinol’s potentially drying effects. Just apply the mask after cleansing, leave it on while you sleep, and rinse off in the morning to wake up to clearer, smoother skin.

A helpful review: “I heard that retinol was good for acne so I decided to give this a shot. Basically whenever I had a spot, this made it clear up in half the time! [...] This is light weight, easy to wear to bed and hasn’t irritated my skin at all.”


Best Creamy Clay Mask

If you have oily skin, this oil-free clay face mask helps control shine while removing dirt and pore-clogging impurities. Unlike the Aztec Secret mask, which comes in the form of a powder, this kaolin clay mask has a creamy texture (it’s formulated with glycerin) for a more nourishing feel. It still helps the skin look matte and feel super smooth. It does contain fragrance, but reviewers note there’s no strong scent.

A helpful review: “[...] It keeps my skin glowing and non-shiny, and makeup looks smooth and pores are invisible. This is a great medium strength clay mask, especially if you have oily or slightly oily skin and enlarged pores.”


Best Overnight Peel

  • Also available at Ulta, $19

This overnight peel is formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamins C and E, green tea, and jojoba oil to brighten, hydrate, and calm the skin. Just apply it to a clean face before bed, let it work overnight to exfoliate and smooth the skin, and rinse off in the morning. There’s no synthetic fragrance added, and reviewers note it has almost no scent and a gel-like texture. This peel is ideal for those with combination and oily skin types.

A helpful review: “I swear by this product to keep my face clear, having dealing with acne for over 20 years. I finally got rid of blackheads, whiteheads and all small little bumps. It even helped with my cystic acne. My face has a natural glow now and people ask me what I use to have such beautiful skin [...].”


Best Peel-Off Mask

  • Also available at Ulta, $21

Not only does this peel-off mask come in a portable and adorable octopus-shaped container, but it’s also a powerful purifier that lifts blackheads, dirt, and excess oils. The mask contains charcoal and marine plant extracts and clings to pores, making it easy to extract impurities, and reviewers note it has a mild scent. Just apply the mask, let it dry, and peel off gently. However, since peel-off masks are more aggressive than other options, Dr. Vashi recommends using them sparingly and avoiding them altogether if you have sensitive skin.

A helpful review: “i was very impressed with this product. it is thick, which makes it difficult to move around on your face, but is also nice because it doesn’t slide off or gloop up like other masks sometimes do. this mask did help with my blackheads and pores, although i think it takes a few times for there to be a huge difference. the packaging is just precious and is cute enough to leave out on the counter as a decoration. will definitely be buying this product again!”


Best Sheet Masks

If you prefer sheet masks for your self-care routine, this set of detoxifying charcoal masks from Burt’s Bees are a popular choice with over 1,500 Amazon reviews. Sold in a set of six, each mask contains charcoal and honey to remove impurities and hydrate the skin. The masks have no added fragrance and are safe for all skin types. In addition to charcoal, the brand offers four other hydrating masks within the same listing.

A helpful review: “This product works miracles, completely erased my blackheads! My husband tried one and was amazed too!”


Best Sulfur Mask

  • Also available at Ulta, $40

This deep-cleansing sulfur mask from Proactiv can help unclog pores and reduce redness and irritation. The mask also contains kaolin clay, vitamins E and F, tea tree, and lemongrass to absorb excess oils and help soothe the skin. It can also be used as an acne spot treatment to help clear blemishes. Plus, this mask is safe for all skin types.

A helpful review: “This works fabulous on breakouts or blackheads. Instead of using it as a mask, I put it on spots overnight and they almost always clear up by the morning. It's magical.”


Best Mask With Skin-Balancing Probiotic Extracts

Formulated with probiotic extracts and bentonite and kaolin clays, this TULA face mask can help balance skin while removing dirt and excess oils. The mask also contains volcanic sand to gently buff and exfoliate the skin, leaving it smooth and glowy. It’s recommended for all skin types but does contain synthetic fragrances, so keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to that additive.

A helpful review: “This mask is amazing! I use it 2-3x a week, it helped clear blackheads SO fast and overall makes my skin feel so much cleaner and SO soft after using!!”


Best Egg White Mask

  • Also available at Ulta, $11

While DIY beauty blogs talk about tossing egg white on your face to tighten up pores, this Skinfood mask does a heck of a lot more without the mess. This pore-clearing mask contains egg whites (along with clarifying kaolin clay and plumping hyaluronic acid), which are jam-packed with vitamins and a litany of amino acids. While these ingredients are great for the body internally, for the skin, externally, they work together to regulate oil control, dissolve blackheads, minimize the appearance of pores, and fight off bacteria that causes breakouts. As if that wasn’t enough to make you want to grab a tub of this stuff, egg whites also boast anti-inflammatory properties, which are perfect for those with sensitive skin or acne-prone skin.

A helpful review: “I have combination skin, and sometimes clay masks can be too drying. This drew the impurities out of my skin without stripping it of its moisture. It’s not overly-scented (very pleasant & mild). Great for blackheads and giving tired skin/pores a good “reset.” My pores were visibly smaller after using, and my night cream seemed to absorb better.”


Best Mask With Absorbent Volcanic Clusters

This deep-cleansing mask contains volcanic clusters to absorb excess oil and lactic acid to gently exfoliate and minimize pores, leaving the complexion glowing upon removal. The mask is on the thick side, so allow it to completely dry for 15 to 20 minutes to ensure you receive maximum benefits. The creamy, luxurious mask is recommended for oily and combination skin and contains no added fragrance.

A helpful review: “ I will use this product for the rest of my life. [...] The way my face looks now, the way my pores are cleaned out and shrunken absolutely AMAZES me. I didn't think I would EVER find a product that would actually help. This one does. If you have blackhead issues, enlarged pores, oily skin... DO NOT HESITATE to buy this product. It's worth it!”


Dr. Neelam A. Vashi, board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Boston University

Dr. Henriette De La Garza, Research Fellow at Boston University’s Dermatology Vashi Lab


Dr. Neelam A. Vashi, board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Boston University

With contributions from Dr. Henriette De La Garza, Research Fellow at Boston University’s Dermatology Vashi Lab

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