The Blackhead Mask That Actually Works

You guys have to try this. It’s gross and satisfying.

Blackhead Mask Actually Works April 2017 Man Repeller-3597_1200x800

I used to babysit a kid who had a knack for pointing out all sorts of things that you were trying to bury deep down or politely ignore. When he crawled up close to examine my face one night, I was afraid of what he might say: “My mom says she hates you and you were her fourth sitter choice but the first three cancelled and she wanted to have a ‘me night,'” perhaps.

Instead he tapped my nose with his fingers and told me that I had polka dots all over it.

“Those are freckles you sweet, silly, adorable child,” I cooed. Children are great; they’re able to make me feel like I’m part Dalmatian but in a good way. Later that night, while admiring my spots and thinking about how keen his eyesight was for catching them in the dead of winter (they tend to fade), I realized it was possible he was talking about my bevy of blackheads instead.


You can’t see my blackheads here but you can see my faded nose freckles that I mistook for the object of my child-friend’s focused interest.

Blackheads haunt me. I get rid of them for a day or two and do all the face hygiene things you’re supposed to, but they always return, faithfully, like an indoor/outdoor cat. So when a friend told me about the ultimate blackhead mask that I just had to try, I concurred that I just had to try it.

The brand is Pilaten, and I got the three-piece suite at her recommendation because “otherwise it doesn’t work.”

Step one suggests that you wash your face then use a warm washcloth over the blackhead “cluster” (officially the grossest word ever now) to open your pores. I used my kitchen sink because it’s the only waist-level faucet in this apartment where hot water comes out.


^ Live footage of me at a Japanese restaurant after being handed a warm, lemon-scented towel.

The next step is to apply the “export liquid” that is meant to further-loosen your poresYou apply it by soaking cotton pads with the liquid, then pressing the pads to your face like you have a bloody nose for fifteen minutes.


Everyone had fun today.

Once you rinse this off, it’s party time. Apply the face mask to your cluster of blackheads and hang out for what feels like an eternity.


Fifteen/twenty minutes later, once the mask hardens, you peel it off in one single, satisfying swath of sunburned-skin-like swipe. I would peel this mask off myself even it gave me blackheads, that’s how much I enjoyed this part. Then, of course, you have to show it to everyone.


My blackheads are in there!!!! You can’t tell because blackheads and the mask are monochrome, but the IRL visual equivalent is like four-o-clock leg stubble shadow.

You can follow all of this up with the toner that comes with this three-part kit if you want. I didn’t because I wanted to nap instead.

Let me tell you, though, this blackhead mask is amazing. It is better than Bioré wishes it could be. It is my new favorite thing, my Sunday ritual, a cool way to trick someone into thinking you don’t have a nose, like a Jack-O-Lantern, and well-worth the $29.99 plus shipping. Nicole Cohen, who shoots apartments for us, was at my apartment and she literally said, “Wow!” Verdict: I’m all about it.

Let’s talk about blackheads in the comments.

Feature photo by Edith Young.

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  • Charlotte

    I have seen so many of these masks on my social media feed and although I hate my blackheads and I want to wipe them off the face of the earth – or my face that’s okay too – I never truly believed them. Having that said, MR never failed me and I will give it a go!

    PS. Love the freckles!

    • Amelia Diamond

      they love you!

  • Lindsay D

    I need this!!! The only thing that has gotten rid of my black heads for more than 2 days (and I tried everything) was the fractional C02 laser. Cannot
    wait to try 🙂

    • Amelia Diamond

      Is that fraxel? (i’ve done a lot of lasers/lights for skin and they do work so well)

      • Lindsay D

        It’s different, it goes deeper but I do think very similar to fraxel. I got all new baby skin.

  • How does it compare to the Boscia black mask? I tried that one and it didn’t work for my nose – I have small pores – so I’m a little skeptical about trying another black mask.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I’ve never tried that one!

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    Your description of your blackhead struggle fits me to a T. They always returns no matter what I do. The only time they stayed away was when I was on Benzoyl Peroxide. But I had to stop using that and now they are back in full force. $29.99 seems okay if it will get rid of them. Would love to know how long it took for the to return, if they in fact did.

    • Charlotte

      Could you tell me more about Benzoyl Peroxide? Why did you have to stop using it?

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        It is used for acne, which I struggle with. I had been using it for a little over a year and started developing an allergy to it (my skin would break out in a rash in spots where I applied it). I used it along with an AHA cream which obliterated my blackheads. My skin had actually never been clearer! I was devastated when I had to discontinue using it. BUT- my skin is VERY sensitive and Benzoyl Peroxide sensitivity is very rare, so if you have acne I would highly recommend it. Just make sure you are using a decent dosage. I used the one from And like any new acne product your skin WILL freak out for the first couple of weeks you use it. It’s similar to a retinol that way. But your skin acclimates to it and then it’s fine.

        • Charlotte

          I have sensitive skin too so I can only imagine how disappointed you must have been when you discovered you had an allergic reaction. But I’m going to give it a try! I never heard of AHA cream before but looked it up and saw that Paula’s Choice has it (and many other brands). Thank you for replying by the way. My skin has been getting worse as of lately and I always appreciate it when people share their experiences and wisdom! Having that said, have you ever tried Eryacne topical antibiotic (Erythromycin)? It’s a gel and worked wonders for my sister when she had acne. Unfortunately I cannot get a hold of it anymore (it had something to do with expired licenses in the Netherlands or something my pharmacist said so nothing bad). But you can always ask for it. I now use a liquid formula (at moments like this I wish that English was my first language…) containing Erytromycine. I preferred the gel, because this is more drying on the skin but it does help.

          • ValiantlyVarnished

            I feel ya! My skin has been on a roller coaster since I had to stop using the BP. I was on Curology for awhile and it just did nothing for me so I have just started using (started Sunday) Differen. It’s a retinoid gel that is supposed to help with acne and other skin issues. I’m hoping it helps because I’m at my wit’s end right now. I feel like not only am I battling breakouts (which aren’t awful but still…) but also my skin’s need to freak out at every turn. It’s actually gotten more sensitive over the last year or so which is so frustrating. If Differin doesn’t work out I may try the gel you suggested, thank you!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I’ll update you – they’re not fully gone but it made a satisfying difference

    • belle

      There probably aren’t any products that will make them go away forever in one use. A regular routine of AHA/BHA will help keep them controlled.

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        Yes, which is what I was using until I developed an allergy to the product I was using- Benzoyl Peroxide along with an AHA. They were magical fro my skin. Retinols can help as well, which I recently started using for my acne.

  • Mir

    I am usually so game to try anything that might help with my stubborn face congestion but my facial-ist (?) once told me that the extractions may cause your pores to widen as the oil and dirt is peeled out with these type of strip products. Perhaps the “export liquid” you mentioned eased them out to avoid further damage? Would love to learn more if there is any literature on the mysterious liquid.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I’m gonna do some pore research

      • Jessyca Taef

        Truly appreciate the pun… even if it was unintented!

    • Elizabeth

      I’m also curious! That’s what I was thinking..

  • I love extracting blackheads, but I always feel that once they’re pulled out, I have millions of gaping holes in my face screaming, “Bacteria come fill me up!” And I will sometimes break out after doing it. And tips for preventing that?

    • Exact same feeling! I have huge pores so I’m afraid by evicting the current tenants I’m leaving room for who-knows-what.

      • Albina Abdulina

        I believe the last of the three steps is supposed to take care of that: “Shrink Pores & Improve Skin: Our PILATEN Skin Compact Toner quickly penetrates into the bottom of your skin, balances the oil secretions, shrinks pores & improves rough skin.”

        • Kiki F.

          Except pores can’t shrink…

  • The GlamGlow mud mask is literally the only thing that works for me. But it’s like $69 now, so I’m def going to try this one! Thanks for the info!

  • Caitlin

    I think what you’re describing is not actual blackheads, but rather something called sebaceous filaments. I have those too and they refuse to go away. You can read about them in great detail on the SkincareAddiction subreddit.

    • Alex

      Yes, everyone has them and they always recur because they are a part of the skin’s natural system to keep itself hydrated.

      On SkincareAddiction people warn to not remove them, with nose strips or otherwise, because doing so again and again can enlarge your pores, leaving you with permenant gaping holes in your face. Most users there are not dermatologists so I take what they say with a grain of salt, but I’ve seen enough photos people have shared of themselves where this has happened, and it has scared me out of ever trying to remove them again!

      I have started using a liquid exfoliant from Paula’s Choice and it’s greatly reduced the appearance of sebaceous filaments for me, so I recommend checking out something like that.

  • Meg S

    Definitely going to try this. I’ve tried biore. I’ve tried various Korean 3-part blackhead strips. I’m in love with Innisfree’s super volcanic clay pore mask. The large size is $23 plus shipping so for $30 I’ll try it.

  • Kay Nguyen

    I have been using the 3 steps Korean blackhead product, they work but not the well, maybe I will try this out <3

  • I have always been super disappointed by blackhead strips, they’re just never as good as they promise to be, but maybes this one is worth a try!

    – Natalie

  • Elsa Jeanette

    My facialist told me to never, ever do peeling masks – apparently, when you peel it off, it damages the outer layer of your skin. It also pulls out sebaceous filaments as mentioned by @disqus_rUfUwFd52v:disqus below.

    I chose not to confess to my frequent Boscia Black usage (guilty), but I’ve since stopped using it in favor of Glamglow’s Cleansing Mud treatment! Glamglow sells it in sets of 5 single-use packets for $22 on their website. I’ve been buying those instead of spending for the big jar, particularly since I only use it 1-2 times a month.

  • prairie dogs

    Protip, there’s a TonyMoly version of this that’s real cheap and cute (and the strip is millennial pink!):

    I think I got 3 or 4 “packs” when I ordered on amazon.

  • Max
    • Dev

      No, thank you Max, I love the soft lighting framing your face and masked nose, it kind of give softness to your masculinity.

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the info! I will try this since I love to change up products buttt
    For my blackheads I’ve been using this mask:
    Its a two minute mask- which is amazing. And its $16. Also amazing.
    I don’t know how but the mask gets rid of my blackheads.
    The only problem I have is not knowing what to do with my skin after I use this to prevent future blackheads. Serum?

  • Nikka Duarte

    I’ve had blackheads literally my entire life and I’m so over them but I don’t know where to start!!! Is there anything simple I’m supposed to add to my skincare routine?

  • Anne

    the only peel off mask i use! i definitely recommend pilaten

  • Charlotte Webb

    Thanks this is a great way to remove the pollution stuck on my face through my pores! I will definitely try this and will put on some Solvaderm to ease down the swelling if there is any

  • Melissa Locks

    I love trying different face masks! The best one I have tried is the Citrus Clear Pore & Blackhead Mask. Its great for blackheads, pore shrinking, and anti aging. It has a cool tingly feeling to it when applied and the smell is nice too. This dries in about 20 mins depening how thick u put it on. The mask does have great suction to it. My face seems softer after using it.