how to remove blackheads in Kenya

When I moved back to Mombasa in January, blackheads became a main skin concern. It was so poetic, I move back to my childhood town and the teenage skin concerns instantly return.

Thankfully, this time, armed with information, I knew exactly how to get rid of blackheads. Coz ain't nobody gat tahm for that.

Blackheads are a form of non inflammatory acne. They are caused when hormones stimulate excess oil production inside a pore, preventing it from flowing naturally to the surface.

That excess flow of oil blocks/clogs the pore, and then mixes with accumulated dead skin cells that cannot be shed normally. The combination of too much oil and accumulated dead skin cells results in blackheads.

Many people use pore strips to get rid of blackheads. But the way my pain tolerance is set up? Hell. No. Besides, pore strips aren't effective for 3 reasons...

  • Usually what you think are blackheads are sebaceous filaments (which will be addressed as SF henceforth coz: convenience.) SF are basically a mixture of sebum, bacteria, dead skin cells, and a single hair in a large pore. Ripping out a SF will leave room for dirt and bacteria to fill, so more breakouts. If you would like to get rid of SF, then Fiddy has a great method here.
  • Pore strips can stretch and permanently enlarge pores.
  • Lastly, pore strips only remove the top part of a blackhead, not the excess oil and dead skin cells in the pore. So the blackheads will keeping popping up. Pun intended.

If you would like to get rid of blackheads, go down the gentler, more effective route of chemical exfoliants. BHAs are oil soluble, so they will penetrate the clogged pore and remove the excess oil and dead skin cells. 

So, fresh in Mombasa, I was on a mission to unclog my pores with leave on BHA toners. I found two at the local stores...


Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner

pH 3

Noteworthy ingredients: Glycolic acid, salicylic acid 1%, witch hazel

Great if: your skin can stand alcohol, peppermint, eucalyptus, fragrance

This smells like nearly every African girl's first cleanser, Eskinol Naturals. Maybe because both have a boat load of alcohol. Even though the toner has a high amount of alcohol, it wasn't drying coz it has a boat load of moisturizing ingredients like sodium PCA, sodium lactate and aloe vera. Glycolic acid is humectant as well as exfoliating.

Available in Super Cosmetics. 250 ml for KES 1695


Palmers Skin Success Anti Dark Spot Complexion Toner

pH: Still searching for this

Noteworthy ingredients: Salicylic acid, Lactic acid, Witch hazel, Tea tree oil

Great if: your skin can stand alcohol, fragrance

When I finally got past the choking perfumey-alcoholy smell, I liked this toner. I searched for the pH and BHA% but could not find any, so all the evidence I'm providing is anecdotal. Put simply, it did not dry me out and worked well enough.

However, I reached more for the Neutrogena to deal with hormonal breakouts. This is when I wished I knew the pH and BHA%.

Available in: Supermarkets and pharmacies. 250 ml for KES 400-600


In Conclusion

These are the two BHA exfoliant toners that have been in my daily PM routine for the past 3-4 months. They have worked perfectly in keeping blackheads at bay. During the day, I like to use moisturizers and serums that have niacinamide which improves the shape of pores.

What are some of your favorite exfoliants to get rid of blackheads? Let me know in the comments.

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