Blackhead masks are cosmetic applications that are applied to the user's face to help get rid of blackheads, which are pores that are clogged with oil. The surface of the oil oxidizes with the air to form a black plug, and if left unchecked, blackheads often turn into acne breakouts. To remove unsightly blackheads, the user places a thick paste on his or her skin, waits for several minutes for it to harden, then either peels off the mask or washes it off using a washcloth and cool tap water. To avoid new blackheads from forming, the use of a blackhead mask should be followed with a liquid astringent or cool water to close the pores that were opened by the mask.
Cosmetic and skin-care companies provide many options for purchase of facial masks. Mud or charcoal are popular ingredients in commercially prepared blackhead masks. As an effective acne-fighting ingredient, salicylic acid is often used in products, such as masks, that are designed to treat acne and blackheads. Salicylic acid should be used with caution, because some users find it too drying when it is used on sensitive skin.
Homemade blackhead masks deliver an alternative to over-the-counter, commercially prepared masks that are often manufactured with synthetic, chemical ingredients. Skin-care masks made at home might mix an active ingredient such as oatmeal with a sticky ingredient such as honey. Proponents of natural blackhead masks tout the homemade version as a better choice because of its lower cost in addition to easily available natural ingredients. A popular natural mask that is easily prepared at home is made by combining a small amount of milk with a packet of unflavored gelatin to form a paste and warming it slightly to bond the ingredients together. The paste is then applied to the skin areas with blackheads, allowed to dry, then peeled off.
Before applying blackhead masks, the user should open his or her pores by applying a very warm washcloth to the face and leaving it on for several minutes. The moist heat will open the skin's pores and make it easier to draw out the blackhead. One should then apply the mask to problem areas and leave on for about 15 minutes to dry. The mask is then either peeled off or washed off with cool water, depending on the type of mask. A liquid astringent or a splash of cool water will then close the pores to prevent new blackheads from forming.