How To Treat Whiteheads, According To The Pros

Suffering from pesky pimples that won’t budge? We’ve got you sorted…

Whether you suffer from recurrent acne or the occasional breakout, there’s one thing we can all agree on: whiteheads are a nightmare to deal with. They can be irritating, painful and (if not handled correctly) can leave you with acne scarring too.

So we’ve roped in the experts to debunk the myths and give us the low-down of how to zap whiteheads like a pro.

What is a whitehead?

‘Both whiteheads and blackheads are caused by dead skin cells, sebum, dirt, bacteria or sweat trapped in the pores’ says ELEMIS skincare expert, Krystina Dwyer. Both can be attributed to fluctuations in hormones, lifestyle, age, skin type or genetics.

But what makes a whitehead different to a blackhead? ‘A whitehead has a very fine covering of skin over the pore, so it is not exposed to oxygen and remains a whitish colour’ Dwyer tells us. ‘A blackhead, on the other hand, is an open pore on the surface of the skin’. This means that any trapped sebum and dirt inside the pore is therefore exposed to oxygen and it’s this oxidization process that results in it looking a darker colour.

How to treat whiteheads?

It’s the number one rule of thumb that we’re sorry to tell you but it’s true… do not pop your spots! Trying to squeeze your spots yourself can result in scarring, more breakouts and irritation to the area. If you can, let the whitehead go away on its own.

Instead, look to your skincare routine to zap existing zits and prevent new whiteheads from forming.


Packed with salicylic acid and a blend of botanical extracts, this powerful cleanser removes makeup, dirt and impurities without stripping of essential oils and moisture from the skin. Aloe Vera and chamomile help to calm and soothe any irritation, redness and inflamed skin.


These hard-working facial pads contain a complex of glycolic acid, antiseptic tea tree, and ACB fruit extracts to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, boosting the natural exfoliation process, sloughing away dead skin cells and revealing brighter, clearer skin beneath.

This glycolic acid liquid exfoliator is perfect for treating whiteheads at the source. The spot-busting AHA uses 7% Glycolic Acid to help exfoliate the skin whilst specifically targeting whitehead spots. Added hyaluronic acid helps to brighten, hydrate and calm skin meaning there’s less irritation, and more radiant glowy skin!


Packed with salicylic acid, witch hazel and a healthy dose of prebiotic to help soothe and balance the skin, this leave-on blemish paste creates a protective barrier over the spot to clear the pore and stop excess bacteria getting in. Blemishes are reduced and the surrounding skin is left happy and healthy, reducing the appearance of scarring, redness and inflammation.