If you look closely in the mirror and notice small dots or clogged pores, there’s nothing to be alarmed of. Clogged pores are a pretty common skin issue. So, no matter your skin type, you are not immune to clogged or congested pores. That being said, some people are more likely to get clogged pores than others.
Clogged pores can result due to many internal and external elements and should be managed effectively before they turn into blackheads or acne breakouts. Clearing clogged pores can save you from serious skin issues, especially acne. There are many ways you can get rid of clogged pores at home. Let’s dive in to find out which options will be the most effective for you!
What are Clogged Pores?
Clogged pores are small dark spots or bumps that usually appear on the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, and chest. These tiny spots can convert into pimples, but not always. The term ‘clogged pores' describes a skin condition in which your pores are blocked by a combination of different substances that build up in the pores. These materials mainly contain oil and gunk from the surroundings.
Pores are small openings in the skin that allow you to release oil and sweat from your glands. When your pores are blocked due to impurities, they also start appearing bigger, giving your skin a bumpy and rough appearance. Furthermore, clogged pores can be a problem because they usually form on the face and give your skin an uneven and dull appearance. They are also likely to pave the way for developing more frustrating and hard-to-treat skin issues, such as acne and blackheads.
What Causes Clogged Pores?
The pores on the skin's surface are part of hair follicles and are called sebaceous glands. The function of these glands is to produce and secrete oil or sebum in the skin, which is the oily substance that helps to keep the skin moisturized and protected. While this naturally formulated oil is essential for preserving the skin’s health and appearance, too much of it can be problematic for the skin.
One of the adverse effects of excessive sebum secretion is clogged pores. When other environmental pollutants and dead skin cells mix with sebum, the outcome is congested or clogged pores. Clogged pores are also sometimes associated with skincare products, pore-clogging makeup products, insufficient cleansing, genetics, poor diet, certain medications, and hormonal imbalance.¹
How to Manage and Treat Clogged Pores?
Getting rid of clogged pores is crucial for maintaining radiant and healthy skin and preventing acne breakouts and blackheads. Luckily there isn’t a shortage of methods to help you avoid and get rid of clogged pores. Below are some of the most effective and safest ways of unclogging your pores:
Cleanse Your Face Thoroughly - It’s needless to reiterate that cleansing is an essential step in any skincare routine as it helps to draw out all types of impurities from the skin. A gentle cleanser morning and night can help remove excess oil, dirt, dead skin, makeup residue, and other substances from your pores. This, in turn, reduces your chances of getting clogged pores.
Look for a formula labeled as non-comedogenic to ensure it doesn’t clog your pores. Also, choose a cleanser specifically for your skin type. Avoid cleansers containing harsh, drying, and pore-clogging ingredients. Some cleansers are formulated with pore-cleansing ingredients, such as charcoal, that deep cleanse the pores, purging out sebum, grime, bacteria, and other pollutants.
Exfoliate Your Skin Regularly - Exfoliation is the practice that involves sloughing away the buildup of dead cells from the outer surface of the skin. As the process of exfoliation wipes out dead skin cells from the pores, it ultimately assists in unclogging the pores. Harsh physical exfoliating products may not suit everyone and can lead to irritation, dryness, and inflammation.² So, it’s preferable to opt for chemical exfoliators. You can pick from various chemical exfoliators to remove dead skin and cleanse your pores.
AHAs and BHAs are exfoliators that penetrate the pores and dissolve the outer dead, dull layer of the skin. They also eliminate oil, dirt, and other debris from the pores. Salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid are commonly used compounds.
Use Products with Retinol - Skincare products that consist of retinol are a powerful method of unclogging the pores and preventing pore congestion.³ So, if you’re only familiar with retinol as an anti-aging or anti-acne compound and aren’t already using it to unclog your pores, it might be time for you to reconsider. The collagen-boosting action of retinol is praised for restoring the skin’s elasticity, which also reduces the appearance of enlarged pores.
Retinol accelerates cell turnover, which gives it a pore-minimizing effect. Moreover, retinol regulates oil secretion, resulting in less oil accumulation in the pores. All these attributes are helpful when struggling with clogged pores, whiteheads, blackheads, and acne.
Use Pore Strips to Deep Cleanse - Since clogged pores usually occur on areas of the face with more sebum, such as the nose, chin, forehead, and cheeks, pore strips can effectively unclog pores. If you’re noticing clogged pores despite cleansing and exfoliating your face regularly, try nose/face strips. These are the most effective and quick ways to banish blocked pores from your face. You may even notice a reduction in pore size with regular use.
All you need to do is apply a pore strip to your washed/cleansed face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Once your pore strip is dry, instantly peel it off and enjoy smooth and clean skin.
Apply a Purifying Facial Mask - Facial masks are one of the magical ways of detoxifying, nourishing, and hydrating the skin. Countless facial masks contain deep purifying or cleansing ingredients that help free the pores from excess oil, dirt, makeup residue, and other debris.
Charcoal and clay masks, in particular, are known for their pore-cleansing properties. Both types of facial masks work by removing impurities from the pores and offering additional skin benefits, such as brightening, hydrating, and soothing effects. These masks control sebum production and constrict enlarged pores, giving the skin a firmer, smoother, and plumper appearance. Since clay masks absorb oil from the skin, applying a moisturizing product afterward is essential to prevent dryness and dehydration.
Buy an Extraction Tool - a pore extraction tool or comedone extractor is designed to lift away dirt, sebum, and other substances lying in your pores without using your finger to pick or squeeze at clogged pores. The extraction tool consists of a small loop that targets and draws out whiteheads, whereas the flat loop on the other end of the tool works to remove blackheads.
However, note that using an extraction tool can be a bit challenging, and if you don’t perform the extraction properly, you may damage your skin or push the impurities further into your pores. In this case, seek help from a skincare expert to get pore extraction done safely.
Consider In-Clinic Treatments - If you’re unsure what to do about your clogged pores or don’t want to risk damaging your skin while unclogging your pores at home, schedule an appointment with your skincare professional.
Dermatologists and skincare estheticians can suggest different treatment options for your skin type and needs, such as chemical peels, facials, extractions, and microdermabrasion. All these procedures are performed in-office to help clear clogged pores, blackheads, and whiteheads and improve overall skin tone and texture. A professional facial at a spa or clinic can help you get rid of clogged pores and other skin issues and allow you to relax and enjoy a soothing self-care experience.
Clogged pores typically appear as tiny dots on your skin that develop due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other impurities from the environment. People with oily skin are more prone to having clogged pores.
Besides giving your skin an uneven and dull appearance, they can also pave the way to more frustrating and difficult-to-handle skin issues, such as acne and blackheads. Therefore, it’s imperative to take timely measures and follow a proper skincare regimen to manage and treat clogged pores before it’s too late. Follow the above tips to help unclog your pores and achieve a smoother, brighter, and healthy-looking complexion.
- Cleveland Clinic. (2021). ‘A Poor Diet Increases Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes’, Cleveland Clinic. Accessed June 15, 2023. Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/a-poor-diet-increases-your-risk-of-dying-from-heart-disease-stroke-diabetes/
- Phillips, Natalie. (2022). ‘Everything You Need to Know About Rashes’, Healthline. Accessed June 15, 2023. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/rashes
- Brooklyn, S. (2023). ‘Retinol vs. Retinoid: All You Need to Know’, Sundree. Accessed June 16, 2023. Available at: https://sundree.com/blogs/news/retinol-vs-retinoids-all-you-need-to-know