The Internet is going crazy for an interesting blackhead removal method. Coined by the SkincareAddiction Reddit community as “skin gritting,” this viral hack uses a mix of oil cleansing and a clay mask to remove the gunk from your pores. The result is something that’s both gross and satisfying: a spattering of black debris left on your hands just aching to be photographed.
The grits method rides this latest wave of fascination with pores and clearing them out. Between the overwhelming number of Dr. Pimple Popper videos, charcoal hacks, and DIY gelatin masks on the web, there’s clearly a trend that isn’t letting up anytime soon.
As a beauty editor and reporter, I’ve tried many DIY blackhead removal hacks, so it felt like my sworn duty to put grits to the test as well. I consulted dermatologists and scoured both the Internet and my face to learn how to get grits, if the process is safe, and—to quote My Cousin Vinny—to find out What is a grit, anyways? Keep reading to get the facts and learn whether the method is worth all the hype.
What exactly are grits?
No, we’re not talking about the Southern breakfast delicacy. Basically, grits are the dark gunk that comes out of your skin after a specific cleansing method (which we’ll get to). It’s not a clinical term, as you might have guessed. Grits started popping up on Reddit about three years ago, but recently the trend resurfaced with DIY skin care lovers sharing images of their hands covered in the speckled results of grit-removing techniques. To get a more scientific explanation of what exactly these grits are composed of, we spoke to dermatologists Joshua Zeichner, M.D., and Ava Shamban, M.D.
“Grits may refer to excess dirt, oil, and dead cells that accumulate around the pores,” explains Dr. Zeichner. If that is, in fact, what this accumulated gunk is—which Dr. Shamban believes it is—it probably gets its dark color through oxidation from exposure to air, like blackheads do. But Dr. Zeichner isn’t convinced grits are actually blackheads themselves. “It is unclear to me whether the grits are in fact derived from blockage within the pores, or rather residual clay mask that has interacted with the oil cleanser,” he says.
How exactly do you remove these (supposed) grits?
For such apparently dramatic results, the process is actually a quite simple. All you do is cleanse using an oil cleanser, apply a clay mask, then use an oil cleanser again, this time massaging more forcibly to loosen blackheads. “Clay naturally absorbs oil and is commonly used in patients with acne-prone skin and high sebum levels,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “Cleansing the face with an oil after applying the mask can help remove any residual clay from the skin [and] also help hydrate the outer skin layer.”